Every time I need to buy a new piece of furniture, I try to think of how I can get something eco-friendly and non-toxic, and most of the time I’m doing it on a tight budget. My son was moving from a crib to a twin bed, and he needed a bed frame.
Ideally, when it comes to what I bring in my home, I want it to be edible. Not that I would want to eat paint or stain or a wood bed for that matter, but my goal is that if I did take a “bite” it wouldn’t hurt me. I also want to hypothetically be able to bury it in my garden and not worry about growing vegetables on top of it. Again, I would never just bury a bed frame in my garden, but some day (hopefully very many decades from now) that bed frame will probably end up in the dump or maybe a compost pile. I want it to give life and health back to the earth as it decomposes, not toxins and chemicals. As weird as these seem, they are two “ideals” that keep me from bringing things into my home that can harm me and my family.
I found a lady on Craigslist that made these beautiful wood bed frames. She did custom work, and the prices were very reasonable. I asked for an unfinished wood twin bed which cost me $325.
The bed was beautiful but a very dull plain wood color when we picked it up. I knew I wanted to stain instead of paint it, but I knew I didn’t want to use commercial stain. I also didn’t have money for the eco-friendly non-toxic versions I found online. I read of some DIY options online instead. I had read that coffee can be used as a stain so I figured it was simple enough I’d give it a try. My husband brewed me a batch of strong coffee and off I went to stain. Disappointingly, there was barely a noticeable difference, and the difference I could see was slightly orange. Not what I was going for.
I had also read you could dissolve steel wool in vinegar, and the photos online I had seen were exactly the color I was going for. The process takes about a week though that’s why I steered clear of it initially.
But now that coffee wasn’t working, it was on to the steel wool. All I had to do is fill a container (I used a ½ gallon mason jar) with white vinegar and add a steel wool pad. At first, I used an extra coarse steel wool, and it didn’t dissolve well at all. The steel wool in the photos is the original “too coarse” wool. After a few days of it not dissolving at all, I made a new batch with really fine steel wool. I let it sit a week. You can do less time if you’d like. Just test it every day on a piece of wood until you get the desired shade. I just waited until most of the steel wool was dissolved in the vinegar. You can strain it if you want, but I didn’t.
Next, I applied it to the wood with a brush. Immediately, I knew I had the color I wanted. I ended up doing three coats to get good evenness. I then sealed it with a homemade beeswax and olive oil sealant which I’ll write more about later and buffed it with a rag. This is how the bed turned out. I am so happy!
And as a side note, the stain is edible, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I store it in the fridge and foolishly didn’t label it. My husband thought it was tea and took a huge sip and swallowed it before he realized what was happening. Although I’m sure it wasn’t ideal for his digestive system, he didn’t even get a stomach ache from it. And now, I’ve been clearly instructed by him to ALWAYS label my homemade furniture stain!
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