Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Results Are In!

    As many of you fellow Pinners and Facebook friends saw in my previous post, I helped clear up the copper and vinegar wood stain conspiracy. Alas I have the results of the 4 mixtures I created. Each with their own recipe and each with their own wood stain sample. Exciting news for any fellow crafter looking to stain wood organically! (Not to mention that when your supplies are all less than $5 you may have just made your wallet grin from ear to ear!)

    Frustrating as it is, testing and trying new concoctions is really the only way to go when you are trying something out for the first time, or even with new material. 

    For the simple ingredients to this project all you need to achieve this lovely colors are the following;
        1. Apple cider vinegar (white works just fine - it just results in less yellow in your stains. aka more blue)
        2. Hydrogen peroxide, buy a big bottle if you plan on testing out various intensities of stain
        3. Copper pieces (Pennies do the trick just fine but require more monitoring and shaking to prevent the zinc inside the penny from leeching out and causing the whole mixture to be tainted with grey ick. Copper pieces of tube/sheet metal/ect work best because they are purely copper.)
        4. A bottle to hold all that mixture
        5. A paint brush to apply the stain
        6. A piece of wood in which to apply stain to (I used a piece of poplar, a great light in color wood if you want variation in your staining. Ash is much better if you want an overall even stain on light colored wood. Also take into consideration, depending on what kind of wood you are staining the wood may react differently to how it accepts the stain, Mainly the color)

    For these mixes do not use any heating to speed the process. The whole point of doing these cold is to get the exact color you want and heat makes the process happen so rapidly that getting the exact color you want is nearly impossible. 

Blue Recipe
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide
Enough copper piece to fill about half the amount of mixture you have. 

1. Place all ingredients inside your container of choice, make sure it is all enough to swirl around the contents with out it spilling over. (DO NOT put a cap on your container at any time while the copper is in the container)
2. Make sure you check it ever 15-20 min to make sure your blue hue isn't sitting at the bottom and not mixing with the rest of the solution. Simple fix - swirl it around to mix them.
3. Your solution should be vibrant blue in  about an hour to an hour and a half
4. REMOVE your copper pieces so further chemical reaction doesn't take place. VERY IMPORTANT!!!
5. Place cap on solution, and BAM! you are ready to apply on wood when ready!

Green Recipe -
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide
Enough copper pieces to fill up half of your solution. 

(Same instructions as blue, except only leave in mixture in for about 20 min depending on how cold your solution is. Just keep an eye on it)

Teal Recipe -
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup hydrogen peroxide
double the amount of copper from the previous 2 recipes

(same instructions as blue, except this processing takes about 45 min to an hour. Just watch to make sure it is the color you want)

Yellow Recipe
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide
Enough copper to fill half the solution

(same instructions as blue. BUT be sure to watch this one closely. Since it is so yellow, the whole evolution for this color takes very little time and should be watched closely)

So now you have the color you want. Now what? I did a 4 row test strip with 4 layers on each color. Here are the results!

The very first application. Seems a little sad doesn't it? All that gorgeous color and nothing to show for it? Be patient! The colors don't start to come out until the stain is DRY on the wood and has time to oxidize on the wood.

After the first layer is allowed to dry. The yellow is very subtle and maybe not worth the effort, but the other three are soaking in marvelously. 

Here are the 4 stains each with 4 layers of stain applied. You'll notice the edges seem much more colorful than the inside of the stripes. This is because the stain isn't all the way dry so it hasn't fully set in yet. 

4 Stains at maximum potential, pretty gorgeous aren't they?

**Side note**
When applying your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, whatever layer DO NOT fret when you are painting on your layers and it looks like the layers below it are vanishing. They are becoming wet again and don't have the levels of oxidation that it had before you applied the new layer. This WILL become darker and more vibrant as you let it dry and set in.

*****A WORD TO THE WISE*****
As I mentioned in my other post pertaining to vinegar stains, please remember that all species of wood reacts differently to the vinegar and copper stain application. Woods have natural tannin levels which is one of the biggest reasons woods accept this stain in the way they do. Please always have a test piece of wood (in the same species as your project, or better - a cut of the same board/block/ect used in the project) or just use the backside/inside/non-visible area to see how your wood reacts to the stain. Some woods soak up the blue like there is no tomorrow, while others only seem to change only minorly. Don't be upset or fret that you made this stain improperly. This is entirely up to nature and as much as it is a bummer, ultimately we have no control as to how well the stain sets on our pieces.

Want more organic wood stains? Stay tuned for my next blogs of how to stain with coffee, berry, and other environmentally happy wood stains.


  1. I've been looking everywhere for this, I remember seeing something about natural stain with copper and vinegar, but for the life of me I couldn't find it back. Thank you so much for these instructions, I'm trying it right not with some old copper electrical wire!

    1. I meant "now", of course, I'm trying it now.

    2. I wish the best of luck with your crafty endeavors! (and I hope your creation comes out just as epic as you planned =])

  2. I have used copper wire. Results are great. Throw it in a barrel and cook off the insulation. Takes about 10 minutes and plenty of copper. Way easier than checking penny dates. Stranded wire works faster than solid also. Great how to, leads to a lot of fun.

  3. Why didn't you take a picture of the sample piece after everything was dry? I want to see how it looks when finished. Seeing the edge of the stain looking a little tealish doesn't give me faith that all of it will look good when dry.

    1. The bottom dry. Except at the very outsides, as stated.