Is Wood Stain Toxic After It Dries

Is Wood Stain Toxic After It Dries?


Once you will be using a wood stain then it can give any wood depth. It is also this one that can enhance the grain color and appearance. This has been done by any woodworkers for hundreds of years.

Wood staining in the past has been done in the simplest ways. They often use a rusty nail soak in vinegar to create that brown stain. In the present though, wood stains have become complicated. Most wood stains these days consists of three different elements.

These elements are the dye or pigment, solvent, and the binder. The dye is the one that penetrates the wood. The pigment is the one that sits on top of the wood pretty much like a paint.

The solvent keeps the colorant and the binder in liquid form. Once it is applied the solvent evaporates and the binder is the one that holds the colorant in place.

Is wood stain really toxic after it dries?

If you consider a petroleum-based wood stain then they are the ones that are considered to be very damaging to the environment. The acrylic and urethane stains are the ones that contain the highest amount of petroleum-derived solvents. The natural oil stains and the water-based is the ones that contain the least.

Whenever the stain dries and its solvent evaporates, it will be releasing a volatile organic compound or VOC. This is the one that can contribute to air pollution and can also cause health problems. That is why when you are looking for wood stain then you need to look at the VOC content of it. The lesser the VOC, the better it is for you.

Types of wood stains

Water-Based Stains

This type of wood stain is the one that contains fewer VOC. This can also be cleaned up using soap and water and can also dry quickly. You need to remember though that stains that contain glycol ether are the ones that you shod avoid. The reason for this is that this substance is toxic.

Natural Oil-Based Stains

The natural or plant-based stains are the ones that are very durable. They will also not need any sealer like the ware based ones. You need to know though that they may contain a higher level of VOC.

Oil or Synthetic-Based Stains

A stain that will contain acrylic or urethane binders is what the oil our synthetic based stations are. These are the ones that can be harmful and can release a high amount of VOC. These stains are often used outdoors since they are more water resistant.

Natural Oil Finishes

Linseed or tung oil are all plant-based wood stains and are considered to be natural oil finishes. By penetrating the wood that they will be able to give protection to the wood that it is applied on. These stains though are less protective compared to that of a varnish or lacquer. This one also contains less VOC.

But when you will choose to use this type of stain then you might need to use more coats for it. These stains tend to dry slowly and will need to be reapplied yearly.


If you are looking the best protection against heat, water, and chemical substance then you must use a varnish which can be acrylic or urethane. This type of stain is great compared to other indoor finishes. Varnish though do contain petroleum and synthetic ingredients that will emit high levels of VOC.

This stain will be able to provide a long-lasting finish, especially when used on floors. They do require solvents though once you will be doing some cleanup. If you are doing some indoor projects then you might as well avoid its one.


Compared to any varnish or water-based sealers that the water acrylic base lacquer may not be as protective. This type is also high in VOC and will likely contain toluene and xylene solvent.


A natural resin that is made from an insect is what this wood stain is all about. This one has a less environmental impact compared to that of lacquer and varnish. This type is also considered to be a renewable resource. It is ethanol that this wood stain uses as a solvent. There are also some that use methanol. The durability of this type of stain is fair but it dries quickly.


Wood stains are a great way to add beauty to any wooden items that you have in your home or office. Using the right wood stain with less impact on the environment as well as the people around is important. This is one way of making sure that you will not only have beautiful but also safe wood pieces as well.