6 Best Environmentally Friendly Wood Oils

6 Best Environmentally Friendly Wood Oils

See the most eco-friendly wood oils to use as a safe and non-toxic wood finish

6 Best Environmentally Friendly Wood Oils

Did you know that the wood oil on your furniture could be damaging the environment? Many wood oils, varnishes, and clear sealants for wood have volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and these can pollute the air, and even contribute to health issues.

With that in mind, many people are switching to environmentally-friendly wood oil options to provide a smooth, clear, and classy finish, but to keep the eco impacts to a minimum.

So, what is the best environmentally friendly wood oil to use?

The best eco-friendly wood oils are those that don’t contain petroleum distillates and other VOCs but still give a smooth and protective finish to your wood. Natural oils like tung oil, raw linseed oil, and hemp oil are some of the very best options.

There is still a lot to learn about environmentally friendly wood finishes. The best oil for furniture might be different from the best oil for structures, boats, or other purposes. We dive into eco-friendly wood finishing below to give you an idea of which to use.

Tung oil

Tung oil comes from the nut of the tung tree. You might also hear people refer to this as “China wood oil” as the oil originates from China and is thought to have been used there for thousands of years.

Is tung oil environmentally friendly? Absolutely. As long as you are buying pure, non-toxic tung oil that is free of VOCs then you will know that it is environmentally safe to use.

Tung oil has quite a unique end result, the non-toxic tung oil finish doesn’t give any sort of glossy finish. It doesn’t peel off your furniture and is very good at preventing mould and wood-destroying diseases.

Tung oil keeps the wood flexible as well as durable, and it is good for furniture, instruments, and many other uses.

Dark raw tung oil

What is the best oil to use on wood? Well, if you want it to be water-resistant then dark raw tung oil could be the best non-toxic oil finish.

It is the same as pure tung oil except for the fact that there is an additional hydrocarbon included in the product, which forms a more protective surface by oxidation. This means a waterproof seal, so it can provide a good option for outdoor use. 

In fact, the waterproof properties have made this a good choice for things like boatmaking. If waterproof properties are high on your list of priorities then this is the best eco-friendly wood oil that can repel the conditions.

Like its counterpart, this is eco-friendly and doesn’t give a glossy finish.

Raw Linseed oil

Linseed oil comes from the flax plant and has been used a lot on items including baseball and cricket bats to help to protect the wood.

What wood finish is best for the environment? Well, linseed is certainly a contender, and gives a beautiful finish on wood, especially if it is going to be used indoors. The only downside is that this oil can take a long time to dry. You can buy “boiled” linseed oil. This dries much more quickly. 

Annoyingly, linseed oil may need a lot of layers to give the protection you need. If you’ve ever performed maintenance on a bat using linseed oil you’ll know it can be a lengthy process of waiting for it to dry, and then applying another coat. 

A word to the wise; linseed oil is not suitable for external oak, as it doesn’t provide enough protection against the elements.

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Hemp oil

Is there anything hemp plants can’t do? Their oil is very popular among the DIY and craft scenes. 

If you are wondering what the least toxic wood finish is then hemp oil is a contender. The hemp plant is incredibly sustainable and easy to grow.

Hemp oil leaves a nice nutty smell and is a good option for staining wood. The matte finish is ideal for many internal uses and is easy to apply. The thin oil penetrates well in porous wood to give fresh life to some older furniture, too. 

Hemp oil is easy to find and buy and works well on oak panelling, furniture, and wood flooring. 

Kunos oil

How do you seal eco-friendly wood? With eco-friendly sealant like Kunos oil.

This is made from kunos, a wood oil that bonds with the wood in your home but also lets the wood breathe and interact with its surroundings, so the end result is something with lots of protection, but no glossy finish.

Kunos oil is popular for use in things like children’s toys and food preparation surfaces. So, not only is it safe to breathe the air around wood that has been treated with the oil, you could eat your dinner off it.

The oil can dye wood as well as seal it and the end result is a really strong finish that doesn’t tend to wear easily. If your wood does wear down over time, kunos oil can be used to reinvigorate existing wood.

Walnut oil

A lot of people use walnut oil for wood furniture and kitchen utensils.

Make sure you are using raw walnut oil. You can buy some walnut oils from the supermarket but they aren’t necessarily the best wood finish. 

Walnut oil comes from the nuts grown on the juglans Regia tree. It isn’t exactly the same as juglans nigra, which is the type of walnut most commonly used to make furniture itself.

Walnut oil is good for things like chopping boards and other food uses as it is totally environmentally safe. It takes a long time to cure and dry, so it may be processed with mineral spirits to cut down on the time. This is great if you want to save time when drying, but make sure you buy a version that doesn’t have any added VOCs.

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Can you use olive oil as a wood finish?

You can use olive oil as a wood finish and it does have some benefits. This is a bonus as it is so easy to get your hands on quality olive oil from the supermarket.

The oil can give a protective coating to wood and is popular on interior furniture. Use better-quality oil (first pressing) for the best results. Olive oil can nourish and protect the wood, but it isn’t as effective as some of the other options on the list and certainly doesn’t have any waterproof properties.

A lot of people use an olive oil solution that can be made at home. You can achieve a nice smell this way and even give the wood more protection. Essential oils may even be antimicrobial.

You will need:

  • Quality olive oil
  • Essential oils to suit. Lemon, tea tree, and eucalyptus can combine to create beautiful smells.
  • A bowl to combine the ingredients
  • Clean cloths or an old (washed) t-shirt

Pour a cup of olive oil into the bowl and add 25-30 drops of essential oils to suit. Dip your cloth into the solution and rub it in long strokes, working the oil into all of the areas of the wood including joins. Ensure an even coating and leave to dry. Repeat the steps as needed until you have beautiful, nourished wood with a great aroma.