Have you ever made wood stain using the apple cider vinegar/steel wool method? White vinegar and rusty nails? How about coffee or tea? Well, I never have, but I plan to do some experimenting this weekend!
I read a great blog post from A Piece Of Rainbow. She tested several wood staining methods on several wood species. The great thing about all of them? No smelly chemicals! All of her methods used natural ingredients, and I bet most of us already have them at home! That means, it's almost free! I like that!
HBS/Miniatures.com has a little tutorial on this topic, so that tells me it must be a tried and true method for miniaturists.
For my experiment, I am using the Apple Cider Vinegar and Steel Wool concoction. I want to achieve a very dark brown (to compliment the wood floors in Alki Point) or a very dark and weathered grey (this is a common finish seen in wood siding here in the Northwest). The Apple Cider Vinegar is supposed to achieve a darker stain. How handy is that? It is just what I found in my cupboard!
I started with a non metallic container. Apparently, this is very important. The acid in the vinegar reacts with metal, and will ruin any metal container. I had a Rubbermaid salad dressing bottle, so that's what I used.
I took a piece of steel wool, about the size of an S.O.S. pad and dropped it in the bottle. My steel wool does not have the blue sticky soap stuff like S.O.S. pads. It is the kind that woodworkers use to sand fine finishes. It would be interesting to see how the soap effected the stain... Then I poured in the Apple Cider Vinegar until the steel wool was completely covered.
Everything I read about the process said to leave the lid open. Not because the metal and acid would cause a dangerous reaction of any kind, but because the process that is happening is actually oxidation! The pair needs air to work! Man, science just geeks me out!
Reportedly, the longer you leave them stewing, the darker the stain will be. After 24 hours, I am not seeing much change in the color of the liquid in the bottle. Is that because the color of Apple Cider Vinegar is already so rusty looking? Time will tell. Unfortunately, I don't have any White Vinegar on hand. It would be interesting to watch the color change happen. Oh well. Someday...
I'll probably just let them hang out together until Saturday. Then I'll try the stain on a couple of different scrap pieces. In the blog post, Ananda added concentrated brewed coffee to her vinegar stain and got darker results. The tannins react with the wood.
I may just experiment with that a little, too. The miniatures.com tutorial recommends straining the liquid to eliminate the tiny shards of steel that are left behind. I like it! I'll get out my trusty funnel, put a coffee filter in it, then pour it into another sealable container. Gosh! I hope I made enough!