Get Rid Of Wood Stain Smell

How to Get Rid of Wood Stain Smell


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Doing a DIY project with wood stain may be interesting and save a good amount of money for you. You might have used wood stain on multiple items like wooden tables, bed posts, bed frames, wooden decks, etc. however, getting rid of the wood stain smell is always a painful task. Since the wood stain seeps into the pores of the wood, it releases fumes which fill up the work studio and adjoining areas with the strong smell of wood stain.

Now the question arises, how to get rid of wood stain smell? After doing your first DIY project using wood stains, you might have realized this practical problem and might be looking for a solution for it. Let’s have a look at some of the easy methods to get rid of wood stain smell.

It takes about eight hours for the wood stain smell to subside. However, if you keep the room well-ventilated, it may happen faster. As long as the wood stain on the wooden board cures or dries, the wood stain smell will linger in the air.

The science behind the Wood Stain Smell

Wood stains contain chemicals and compounds which after coming in contact with oxygen produce a strong smell. Wood stain fumes are harmful to your health, and hence you need to take care of them while you are doing the DIY project.

Wood stains have been used for thousands of years to give color and a smooth appearance to seasoned wood. In the olden days, wood stains were made from natural ingredients. Hence, they did not pose health hazards. Till a few centuries ago, rusty nails were allowed to immerse in vinegar to produce the brown color which was applied on the wooden planks to give it a beautiful brown hue.

But with the advent of chemical engineering, a lot of complex chemicals were produced which have replaced the simple natural ingredients.

Wood stains have three main components- pigment or colorant dye, solvents, and binders. Dyes normally infiltrate the wood and make strong bonds with the wood particles to give it a long-lasting color. The pigments settle atop the wood and they too give a long-lasting color to the wooden plank.

Health Hazards of the Chemical Compounds

Solvents are derived from petroleum during the refining process. They are quite harmful and acrylic stains contain a larger quantity of petroleum-based solvents. It is extremely important to use solvents in wood stains and many other chemicals as they keep the binder and colorant dyes in liquid form. Since the petroleum-based solvents evaporate once the container of the wood stain is opened, they mix with the oxygen and create toxic compounds.

During this process, volatile organic compounds are formed which are known to cause skin allergies like eczema and some of them are carcinogenic too. One should not expose himself or herself for prolonged durations to wood stains as the health hazards are irreversible.

Due to the health hazards that wood stains pose, many environment-friendly options are available now. Try to use them instead of the traditional ones. Use water-based wood stains compared to oil-based ones. Even after the wood stain has dried, it is toxic as it contains VOC.

Ingredients Needed- How to Get Rid of Wood Stain Smell

You would need exhaust fans, table fans to get rid of the wood stain smell by blowing the air away. Air purifiers too are needed in this process. You can use activated charcoal, lemon, and baking soda to get rid of the strong smell. You will need small containers to keep activated charcoal. Use of incense sticks, scented candles, traditional Indian, Chinese, and Arabic herbs like cloves, saffron, etc. is recommended.

Coat Encapsulating Sealer

Even before applying wood stain on the wooden plank or wooden post, coat the wood with a coat of encapsulating sealer. That will reduce the fumes and hence the odor will be less. It will increase the life of wood stain on your wooden board too.

Step-by-Step Instruction – How to Get Rid of Wood Stain Smell

Step 1- Use a Face Mask

Before you start working with wood stains, use a good quality face mask and face shield to safeguard your eyes, nose, and mouth. Always use gloves and do not touch the wood stain with bare fingers.

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Step 2- Use Wood Stain in Open area

Whenever you need to use wood stain, always do it in an open area. The stain will soak into the wood and create fumes which in turn will cause watery eyes, itchy eyes, running nose, and sore throat. Put some table fans and use a well-ventilated area to apply wood stains. If you do not have an open area where you can complete this DIY project, then ensure that your windows are open. Use an exhaust fan to pull out the inside air.

Allow cross-ventilation to happen. Open all the windows in your work area, and if required keep two fans to expedite the process of air circulation. Keep one fan near the window which will allow the old smelly air to move out faster.

Even ceiling fans are very effective in removing the old air from the room. Turn on the fans in full-speed and leave them on until the smell completely goes away. Do not stay in the work studio for a long time as the smelly air contains toxic chemicals which are harmful to your body. Keep your children and pets away from the work area.

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Step 3- Disposing of the Paint Brush, Rags, etc.

After you have finished using the wood stain on the desired wooden block, or wooden deck, do not throw away the paintbrush, gloves, rags, etc. Put them in zip pouches or airtight containers and dispose of them. Else the smell will be carried throughout the house where the trash can is kept.

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Step 4- Place Container filled with Activated Charcoal or Baking Soda

Activated charcoal from time immemorial is used as an agent for removing bad odors and impurities. Fill up the containers with activated charcoal and keep them in your work studio. Until the smell completely vanishes, keep replacing the activated charcoal in the containers.

You can buy activated charcoal from hardware stores, home building material stores, or drug stores.

Baking soda is often used to neutralize the smell of multiple ingredients in refrigerators. You may even fill the container with baking soda if activated charcoal pieces are not available. It will do the same job, and you might have to keep the container for a few days for the smell to completely vanish. Fresh air needs to be drawn in, and the smelly air needs to be drawn out for the odor to completely go away.

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Step 5- Use air-purifier

Use an air purifier that uses charcoal or HEPA filter. They are the most effective ones in removing odors from rooms and work studios. They are even effective in removing smells caused due to cigarette fumes or fumes in fireplaces.

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Step 6- Use Scented Candles and Incense Sticks

Now since the process of refilling your rooms with fresh air is on, burn some incense sticks and scented candles all around in the house. This will replace the strong odor of wood stain with the pleasant ones from the candles and incense sticks.

There are Indian herbs known as ‘’dhuno’’ which can be used for this purpose. Burning camphor too will help you to get rid of the smell of wood stain.

Muslims use “Bukhoor” to purify their homes. These small wood chips or bricks are very good in producing great fragrance. They are used in charcoal burners. These wood chips are immersed in a fragrance made of resin, musk, essential oils, sandalwood, agarwood, saffron, camphor, etc.

These wood chips are often soaked in ‘’itra’’ the Arabic name for perfumes. Since natural ingredients are used to manufacture this perfume, it is safe for everyone. Some of them have an extremely strong smell and can even give you a headache. So, burn a small number of wood chips in the charcoal burner and carry it to the work area where the wood staining is happening. After a few hours, the place will be filled with a pleasant smell and not the bad odor of wood stain.

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Step 7- Use Lemon

Using natural ingredients like lemon is always advisable. Cut slices of lemon and pour them in bowls of warm water. Place those bowls in the work area. You will need to keep this solution overnight and change the pieces of lemon after 5-6 hours for the process to be effective.

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There are wood stains that are available for woods that are kept outdoors like the ones in the decks around the swimming pool, outside porch, etc. Do not use those wood stains for any wooden plank, or wooden board which will be placed indoors. Normally the wood stains meant for outdoor purposes are stronger, and the dyes are harsher.


Now since you have learned how to get rid of wood stain smell, use these methods while doing your next project. Ventilating the work area is mandatory, and activated charcoal gives very good results. So, keep enjoying doing your DIY projects, and do not get hassled by these problems. Remember, every problem has a solution. We just need to look for it.