Does Coconut Oil Darken Wood?

There are plenty of tips and tricks that can help you get that perfect wood finish. For generations, artisans and DIYers have used natural oils, such as coconut oil, for the conditioning, protection, and treatment of wood. But does coconut oil darken wood? 

Yes, coconut oil does darken the wood. All oils will darken the wood to some degree and coconut oil is no different. But more than that, coconut oil makes for an excellent wood conditioner and wood stain carrier. It can even be used for wood treatment. Coconut oil is inexpensive, readily available, and has a high saturated fat content which means it won’t go rancid on wood, unlike other natural oils.

There are, however, many types of oils that can be used to treat or darken the wood. Certain oils are better for certain wood types than others. If you are curious to learn more read on! 

Why Choose Coconut Oil For Wood?

Coconut oil, when applied correctly on wood surfaces, can act as an effective cleanser and polisher. Its moisturizing and conditioning properties make it useful for wood treatment, wood cleaning, and wood refinishing. 

Coconut oil has a 90% saturated fat content (more than any other natural cooking oil). This makes it resistant to rancidity helping prevent the growth of mold and bacteria that can decompose wood. 

Coconut oil’s moisturizing abilities stop wood from losing moisture preventing it from expanding and contracting. 

Coconut oil is also well-renowned for being an effective cleaning solution to repel dust and eliminate tough stains and grease; while offering a pleasant lasting aroma.

To sum up, coconut oil helps bring out a wood’s natural colors and darken it ever so slightly. It makes the wood look glossy and new while minimizing wear and tear from daily use. It is also inexpensive, readily available, comes in many varieties, and is an all-natural product that has zero toxic chemicals or additives.

Coconut oil is most effective when combined with beeswax as it can offer a much more durable and lasting wood finish. When applied on its own coconut oil isn’t altogether that effective and depending on the woodworking project you are working on there could be oils far better suited for the purpose you have in mind.

What Type Of Oils Are Best For Wood?

Wood oils are predominantly used to provide a decorative finish that offers an attractive sheen over wood grain bringing out the natural characteristics of the wood used in the build. 

These oils are used to preserve the wood and protect it against the elements. When applied correctly they can help revive and rejuvenate wood surfaces back to their original color and shine. 

Some oils can help darken the color of wood while others can be used to enhance the wood’s natural color. Other oils such as decking oils can even offer durable-weatherproof-coating that make them ideal for outdoor furniture, as well as wooden patios and decks.

So what are these wood oils? Well, let’s take a look.

Different Types Of Wood Oils

There are many types of oils that can be applied to wood. Today, we will be looking at some of the most popular and effective wood oils used by master craftsmen, DIYers, and hobbyists alike. 

Linseed Oil

This is by far one of the most popular oils for wood finishes. It is inexpensive, readily available, and made from seeds of the linseed-flax plant. If you are a cricketer like me you would want to use linseed oil on your cricket bats. By doing so you will ensure your bats last longer as the wood would be able to better retain moisture making it harder to crack or split.

Linseed oil also helps darken the wood color. The color will continue to darken further as the wood ages.

Tung Oil

If you are seeking that ‘wet finish’ look on your newest woodworking project you can’t go wrong with tung oil. Produced from the seed or nut of the tung tree this is a favored oil amongst artisans as it is easy to apply and helps bring out an attractive finish by enhancing the wood’s natural appearance. 

Danish Oil

Another popular choice for those of you working on new or untreated wood. Danish oil is thinner than linseed oil and dries much quicker as it soaks through the wood. A few layers of danish oil over the course of a few days would give your wood a thick and durable coating. It also works great for darkening oak.

Beeswax/Soy wax/Hardwax oil

Wax offers much better protection against the elements as compared to oils. This is why natural oils mixed with wax are the ideal way to protect your woodwork for years to come. Hard wax oil offers a lot more protection than other natural oils by forming a much tougher barrier on both soft and hardwoods that protect it against water, moisture, dirt, heat, stains, as well as, wear and tear.

Cooking Oils

Refrain from using any type of vegetable oil or cooking oil to treat or finish a wooden surface. These oils can easily turn rancid and should be avoided at all costs. However, oils such as coconut oil, walnut oil, almond oil, and even mineral oil are considered safe for use on wood.

These oils are non-toxic and when mixed with wax can offer durable protection and an attractive finish. However, it is best to NOT use any cooking oils for finishing or sealing wood. This includes coconut oil as well. 

When Not To Use Coconut Oil For Wood?

Please note that coconut oil on its own should never be used as a wood finisher as it doesn’t offer a durable lasting finish. This is because coconut oil seeps through wood and helps moisturize it but the oil doesn’t dry to form a polymeric topcoat. This polymeric topcoat is needed to protect the wood from the elements along with general wear and tear.

Coconut oil should also not be used on raw unfinished wood as it is known to cause ‘staining’. 

Luckily, as mentioned above, there are plenty of other options you can choose to help you achieve that durable lasting wood finish while also helping you darken the wood to the desired level. 

How To Apply Coconut Oil On Wood?

Applying coconut oil to wooden furniture or a wood surface is easy. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Using sandpaper, sand back the wooden surface until smooth
  2. Wipe the surface with a wet soapy sponge and wait for it to dry
  3. Use a dry clean cloth to apply the coconut oil to the wood surface
  4. Wait for 15-20 min for the coconut oil to fully soak into the wood
  5. Use a dry cloth and wipe the surface in circular motions until all the excess oil is gone
  6. Use beeswax to coat the wood to provide that polished durable finish


Q1) What oil is best for darkening wood?

Hard wax oil, danish oil, and linseed oil are all great for darkening wood. For oak and other darker woods, we would recommend using danish oil or hard wax oil for a deeper darker finish. When finishing pine or other light-woods we would recommend using linseed oil. 

Q2) How to remove wood oils?

Removing wood oils is a fairly simple process. As oils don’t soak into the wood that deep one can simply sand back the top layer of wood revealing the bare wood underneath. You now have the option of applying whatever varnish, paint, or oil you want to re-treat the wood.

Final Thoughts

Coconut oil can be great to use on certain woods. But to darken wood? Not so much. However, if you plan on using coconut oil to finish your woodworking project, or to help with wood restoration work, and this article has helped you in some way, let us know how that experience went. Best of luck!

Martin Swizz

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

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