3 Natural Finishes for Any Kind of Wood

Most people underestimate the proficiency of natural finishes. Instead, they place trust in synthetic ones that have toxic components in them. Some vegan-friendly finishes are 100% natural and perfectly durable. These will do a fine job in protecting your wooden projects from harsh elements. In this article, we will explore the best 3 natural finishes for any kind of wood.

The best natural finishes for any kind of wood are tung oil, boiled linseed oil, and vegan-friendly wax, known as carnauba, which is considered to be better than beeswax. There are multiple other alternatives such as mineral oil finish which is useful if you are looking for something resistant to heat.

Tung oil is already found in some branded finishes which mix it with varnish for durability. Boiled linseed oil is the choice of traditional carpenters who just like the deep color it brings to the grain. And carnauba is just the most durable wax finish found in nature that can withstand high heat. 

Let us get into the details of these wood finishes in their separate sections.

Tung Oil

Tung oil is extracted from the tung tree that is found in the Southeast Asian region. This oil is the preferred choice for finishing outdoor furniture due to its high heat resistance and resistance to water.

Tung oil also repels water and prevents moisture absorption in wood. So it is also great for keeping your wooden pieces safe from rain and snow. Though you will have to reapply the finish again after a while since it will wear off.

The time in which the tung oil will wear off differs from the climate in your region. If it is too humid or dry then the timing in which you have to reapply the coat will be different. Usually, it lasts for at least a year, after which it will start to dry up.

UV rays have a huge role to play in this, thankfully reapplying isn’t an issue. Just sand off the surface first, to clean off any graying if the sun has caused it. After that, just apply a coat of oil, which will deepen the grain structure of the wood.

The best thing about tung oil is that it does not alter the color of the wood. Just deepens the color of the grain bringing out its inherent beauty further.


  • It does not alter the color of the wood.
  • Deepens the color of the grain.
  • Tung oil prevents moisture absorption in wood.
  • It has high heat resistance making it ideal for outdoor furniture.
  • It can be mixed with other finishes like varnish for longer-lasting effects.
  • Very waterproof and therefore perfect for all kitchen carvings


  • Requires recoat faster than some synthetic finishes like varnish.
  • Takes a lot of time to dry.

Where To Buy Tung Oil

Tung oil can be bought in many local DIY stores and wholesale supermarkets. You can also buy Tung Oil we use from Amazon. This is also a great way to support the website while getting a great product in return. Be sure to take a look a the latest price for WoodRiver Tung Oil.

How to Apply Tung Oil

To use tung oil, just sand the surface of the wood you have to apply it to. You can start off with low grit sandpaper like 150 and take it up to 220. Don’t use fine-grit sandpaper because it might cause the pores to get clogged. If the pores get clogged due to the application of fine-grit sandpaper it won’t be able to absorb any oil. The oil will just cover the surface area only.

After which you can use a natural fiber paintbrush to slowly coat it with a thin layer. Let it sit there for a minute or two after which you can wipe off the excess. After which you let it dry off for at least 24 hours at least.

Once the oil has dried, take a rag or cloth and wipe the board again to clean off any drops of oil that have not been absorbed. Wait 5 minutes and then wipe the board again if it is ‘sweating’ which means that enough oil has been absorbed by the board.

Boiled Linseed Oil

Linseed oil or flaxseed oil is the choice of traditional woodworkers who value the older ways. Usually boiled linseed oil is used instead of raw one, mostly because it takes way longer to dry. It is not impossible to use raw linseed oil though, but it will just be a waste of time.

This oil is boiled in a vacuum to make it more thick and viscous. Which makes it easier to apply and takes less time to dry off.

Boiled flaxseed or linseed oil is one of the main components of Danish oil. Which is one of the best oil-based finishes in the market. 

This oil gives your wood a golden hue which turns amber as time passes. Some people like the yellow or golden hue this oil gives to the grain. Though if you are not a huge fan, you can apply this finish to darker colored woods instead. Something like dark walnut would be perfect for this finish. If you really are a fan of the golden hue, it would be very prominent on something like pine.

Either way, linseed oil protects wood from absorbing moisture. It also has decent heat resistance, but it is not recommended for outdoor furniture. It is more suitable for indoor furniture than anything else.


  • Good against moisture.
  • Protects against rot and mildew.
  • Gives an amber hue to wood.
  • Decent heat resistance.


  • The amber hue might not be to everyone’s taste.
  • Takes a long time to dry.

Carnauba Wax

Carnauba is a vegan-friendly and 100% natural wax finish that is extracted from plants. The main source of this wax is the Brazilian Palm, and it is one of the most durable wax finishes out there.

Woodworkers usually use wax over their other finishes to create an extra layer of gloss and protection. Wax is great against water, but not against heat, but carnauba has high heat resistance, making it way better than beeswax.

Carnauba is usually one of the main components in floor waxes since they go through a lot of abuse. It provides the same glossy and shiny look once polished to perfection.

Carnauba was the main component in hard candies back in the ’80s. It is also the main component in some car polishes. The wax has a very neutral smell, some people associate it with the smell of a beach. 

It is best used for indoor and outdoor wooden projects over any other oil-based finish.


  • Vegan-friendly and 100% natural wax.
  • Fragrant or neutral odor in most cases, unless mixed with other chemicals.
  • Great protection against moisture.
  • High heat resistance.
  • Glossy Finish.


  • Can be hard to apply.

Where To Buy Carnauba Wax

Carnauba wax is pretty rare to come by anywhere you live. It is also quite expensive if you are buying it in small quantities.

The best place is to order Carnauba online is on Amazon. We recommend Carnauba Wax Flakes for an excellent value for a fair price. The packaging comes with 1LB (450 grams) of wax that should be enough for multiple projects before you would have to re-purchase it again.

How to Apply:

Carnauba wax can be a bit tricky to apply to wood. It is usually solid and very hard, which is why it was used in hard candy.

First, you need to melt it off, use a heat gun or any other heat source. Once it is pasty enough to spread, use a rubbing pad to apply it to the carving or furniture. Keep rubbing the wax on the wood until it starts to clear off. If you want a satin and glossy finish, don’t stop there, keep rubbing unless you reach your desired look.

If you want to read about our favorite top 5 finishes, here is an article mentioning them. Note that all of these might not be natural and might contain synthetic ones.

Benefits of Using Vegan-Friendly Wood Finish

While it is true that a scientifically formulated finish is made to mimic natural finishes but with better results, they are not always the best. If you have carved a bowl, you would not always want to finish it with a chemical-based product even if they promise to be toxin-free. At the end of the day, you will be eating from that bowl and not everyone is willing to trust what is said on the packaging.

Tung oil is the best choice in that regard, it is kitchen safe and not to mention it is waterproof. 

Carnauba has a high heat resistance and offers a great satin and glossy finish on the wood. For outdoor furniture, this is the best kind of wax out there, beeswax would melt within moments of putting it in the sun. But carnauba, thanks to its high heat resistance, can withstand the heat of the sun while leaving the furniture shining. 

Using Carnauba Over Oils and Other Finish

So the best part about using a wax finish is that you can use it over other finishes. Most finishes are absorbed by wood grain and when it dries, it creates a layer of protection on the wood surface as a result. Oils are examples of such types of finish where it is absorbed by wood grain. Stain also gets absorbed by the wood, thus providing it with a darker color and hue.

Wax on the other hand sits on top of the wood and does not get absorbed by it at all. So the finish that wood has already absorbed will be unaffected if you apply a layer of wax on top of it. It will just create an added layer of protection on top of the wood while leaving behind a satin feel and a glossy finish.

Final Thoughts

Most people think that natural finishes are weaker than synthetic or chemical-based ones. But it is far from the truth, while it is true that synthetic or chemical-based finishes last longer, they don’t give the kind of results natural finishes Ido. if you are a vegan or trying to live a more green life, then the above-mentioned vegan-friendly and natural finishes will serve you well, in the long run, to keep your wooden carvings protected.

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

Recent Posts