How to Remove Heat Stains From Wood: Heat stains are a constant concern for experienced homeowners and those who have just made their first furniture purchase. Heat stains, unfortunately, are easy to get, especially for home cooks who regularly bring glistening plates straight from the grill to the table. Heat stains won’t go away on their own, but these pesky stains aren’t difficult to remove from wood with the right techniques and tools.
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However, the fear of making heat scars worse can be exacerbated by the sheer volume of online information on the topic. We’ve researched how to remove heat stains from wood, so woodworkers and DIYers of all skill sets can hit the ground running to fix these pesky imperfections.
What causes heat stains on wood?
Heat stains are formed when a hot object is placed on a wood surface, causing the wood to expand and absorb moisture. This moisture then penetrates the wood and leaves discoloration and hard white heat marks, which remain after the hot object is removed or cooled and the pores of the wood reopen.
Unfortunately, even sealed wood is susceptible to heat stains. In some cases, such as with oiled pizza boxes, things that create heat spots don’t have to be that hot. Liquids such as oils penetrate the wood more easily. It’s best to assume that anything hot on the surface of the wood can cause a heat stain, especially since different types of wood have different levels of durability.
How to Remove Heat Stains from Wood: The Best Way
Regardless of which heat stain removal method you use, it’s important to act quickly to achieve ideal results. Heat stains are similar to water stains in that they don’t clear up over time. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to remove them.
Ironically, with a little heat, you can reduce the size—or even eliminate—of wood stains on your wood furniture. It may seem counterintuitive, but applying high heat in an attempt to remove trapped moisture is quite effective and can be done with common household appliances, such as hair dryers or clothes irons.
Before you begin
If your heat stains are stubborn and the hair dryer won’t remove them, they may require the use of a clothes iron (see step 4). Beforehand, make sure the iron is not set to steam function. Directly injecting steam into the wood is almost guaranteed to cause worse heat stains.
Step 1: Clean the surface of the wood.
When it comes to removing heat stains from wood, the first step is to start with a clean surface. Make sure your table or other stained wood surface is clean and free of dust and debris. This will prevent more contaminants from getting trapped inside the open pores of the wood during the heating process.
Step 2: Turn on the hair dryer and select the lowest heat setting.
Using a hair dryer should be your first attack to remove heat stains. It won’t get as hot as a clothes iron and is less likely to accidentally burn wood. Put in a hair dryer and turn it on to its lowest heat setting. Make sure you don’t let your hair dryer cool. The holes in the wood will not open until they are heated.
Step 3: Pan the hair dryer evenly over the stain.
Hold the hair dryer a few inches away from the surface of the stain and move it slowly from side to side over the heat stain. If the stain isn’t too deep, you’ll start to notice it less within a minute or two of applying the heat.
If you don’t see any change after a few minutes of heating the wood, try increasing the heat level on your hair dryer by a notch or two. Continue moving the hair dryer over the stained surface for a few more minutes. If there is no change in the appearance of the heat stain, go to How to Remove Iron from Clothes below.
Step 4: Iron your clothes and grab a clean towel.
If a hair dryer doesn’t work, try removing the heat stain with a clothes iron. You will also need a dry towel that you can place between the ironing board and the stained surface. The towel will prevent the iron from scorching the wood, but it must be thin enough to allow most of the iron’s heat to reach the surface of the wood.
Step 5: Run the iron over the stained surface.
Turn the iron on to one of its lower heat settings and let it heat up — but don’t use any steam settings or functions. Like moving a hair dryer in a side-to-side motion over the stained surface, run the hot iron across the surface for several minutes. Using an iron to remove heat stains takes a little longer than the hair dryer method, and you have to pause now and then to grab a towel and check your progress.
Repeat this process until you see the white heat marks diminishing. They may not disappear completely, but they should shrink or disappear somewhat. Final thoughts
Removing heat stains from wood is not difficult, and is a good skill to have on hand.
Removing heat stains from wood isn’t difficult, and it’s a good skill to have on hand. Furniture is costly, and although it’s designed to be used all the time, even the highest quality pieces are susceptible to a well-intentioned guest’s piping hot coffee mug or an overzealous sous-chef’s sizzling skillet. Being able to remove heat stains from wood as soon as they appear will save you time and money in the long run.
Using a bit of heat is the easiest, cheapest, and most effective way to remove heat stains from wood furniture. It’s recommended to always use this method before considering one of the above alternative techniques to finish the job.
How do you get a heat ring out of fabric?
Alternatively, go to your fridge and grab the mayonnaise. No, we’re not joking! Cover the mark with a generous smear of mayonnaise and leave for several hours or overnight. Wipe off with a clean cloth.