Can I Use Coffee Grounds to Stain Wood?

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Use coffee for staining wood safely and naturally.
Use coffee for staining wood safely and naturally. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Strong coffee and teas make good dye or stain for many items. Crafters use coffee and tea for dying cloth, yarn and wood. Coffee and tea make excellent dyes and stains because both produce a warm brown color without dangerous chemicals. Chemical dyes contain caustic chemicals capable of doing serious eye and fingernail cuticle damage. Using coffee for staining gives wood a rich, medium brown color that looks wonderful, especially after applying wax or a clear spray varnish.

Making Coffee Dye With a Coffeemaker

Measure the amount of coffee into the coffeemaker for your dye color. If you want a light brown, use 4 tbsp. of coffee per cup of water. For medium colored dye, use 6 tbsp. of coffee per cup of water. To make dark colored dye, use 8 tbsp. of coffee per cup of water. Pour the water into the coffeemaker, and brew the coffee according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Making Coffee Dye Without a Coffeemaker

Measure the amount of coffee into a piece of cheesecloth for your dye color. If you want a light brown, use 4 tbsp. of coffee per cup of water. For medium colored dye, use 6 tbsp. of coffee per cup of water. To make dark colored dye, use 8 tbsp. of coffee per cup of water. Pull the ends together, and seal the coffee into the cheesecloth using a rubber band. Put the required amount of water in a 2 qt. saucepan, and bring the water to a full boil. Place the coffee into the pan, and let it sit for at least 20 minutes. Remove the cloth with the coffee grounds, and squeeze the liquid out of the cloth with your hand.

Using the Coffee Dye on the Wood

Paint the coffee across the wood. Every few minutes, paint another coating on the wood until it reaches an even brown color. If the color gets too dark, wipe a soft cloth across the wood. It sucks up any excess liquid and color. Let the wood dry for several hours. If the color is too light, repeat the process until you reach the desired color. Let the wood dry overnight.

Sealing the Finish With Paste Wax or Spray Varnish

Apply a thin coat of paste wax across the stained wood with a soft cloth creating a thin, even coating of wax. Let dry. Wipe the waxed surface, and remove any excess wax. Polish the wood using a clean, soft cloth until it gets a light sheen to the wood. If you use a clear spray varnish for sealing the wood, hold the can 12 to 14 inches away from the wood as you spray a light coat of sealant on the wood. Let it dry thoroughly, and apply a second coating. Let it dry thoroughly for several hours before moving the stained wood.

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