Tung Oil Smell – How to Reduce It and Is It Dangerous?

Tung oil is a common and effective product in terms of the beautification and protection of surfaces where it is applied. Although with so many benefits, it is known for a distinctive disadvantage which is its smell.

Tung oil smell has been proved offensive by a lot of its users. And in this article, you’ll get to learn more about the Tung oil smell, how to reduce it, and if it is toxic or not.

Tung Oil

Tung oil which was first seen and used in China and South America is extracted from Tung nut. And in some parts of the world, it is used in the combination of paint ingredients for making paint while in other places, it is plainly used to oil woods.

Tung oil is one of the most effective and widely known natural oils that will help you in the enhancing of your fine wood furnishings by giving them a clear and wet look. Aside from giving your wood a lovely finish, this environmentally friendly oil will also serve as a protective agent against different environmental factors.

Before we proceed to discuss the smell of Tung oil, the dangers it poses, and how to minimize these dangers, let’s take a look at the merits of using Tung oil and some of its demerits.

Merits Of Tung oil

1. Waterproof

With its waterproof feature, Tung oil will help preserve your wood from moisture. And you can as well agree with the fact that moisture does no good than harm to woods and furniture.

Another good thing about Tung oil is that even if you’ve got another type of paint or oil, you can still apply Tung oil as an additive to the paint after curing your wood. And it will still give your furniture the similar benefits it gives when used on its own.

2. Non-Toxic

Unlike some modern paints, Tung oil is not toxic at all either to you as a human or to your pets (animals) at home. This factor is a good reason why you should consider using Tung oil for your furniture at home or in the office.

3. Attractive

Just as has been stated earlier, Tung oil will give a clear and attractive color whenever you apply it. Oiling with Tung oil will require a lot of patience from your end if you truly would like to get a perfect and attractive look.

The exceptional advantage of Tung oil is that it doesn’t give the wood a flashy and awkward look, rather it gives it a warm and pleasant look that will give you a great feeling whenever you take a glance at it.

Demerits of Tung Oil

1. Time-Consuming

When compared to other oil types, the time needed for Tung oil to penetrate your wood is relatively slow. Also, the time used in drying the wood is quite lengthy.

2. Unpleasant Odor

Tung oil poses an offensive odor when it is not yet cured. So, you should get your mask before you start oiling. Though some persons claim that the odor from the oiling process is not in any way offensive. To prevent respiratory problems, you’re advised to wear your mask.

3. Difficult to Store

Tung oil is difficult to store in the sense that any form of exposure to sunlight or heat will greatly affect it.

So, ensure you see to it that your unused Tung oil is placed safely in a dark room where it can be adequately preserved.

How to Apply Tung Oil

  1. Before you apply the oil, sand the surface of the wood and clean off the sawdust.
  2. Oil the surface with the first coat. Then, leave the wood to get totally dried up.
  3. Immediately after the wood gets dried, use your sandpaper to gently rub the surface before you apply the next coat.
  4. Allow the surface to dry completely. Repeat this procedure for 6-8 coats to get a perfect surface finish.

Tung Oil Smell

Does Tung oil have a smell? Of course, it does.

Tung oil emits a mildly offensive smell. Many of its users tend to find the odor quite unpleasant.

The tung oil smell would always be very strong especially when your oiled wood or furniture is damp.

For most wood types, the smell reduces with time. As the wood gets dried up.

Although a few people claim that they do not find the smell in any way offensive, you should prepare yourself to protect yourself or reduce it should you find the smell unpleasant.

Tung Oil Smell Types

Basically, there are two types of Tung oil smell. Irrespective of the type you’d be using, take your time to go through each of the smell types to be on the safer side.

Pure tung oil smell

When you hear the words “pure Tung oil” note that it’s simply Tung oil in its original form or state.

For this oil type, when you use it on your wood, your wood wouldn’t completely switch from damp to dry as it will never get completely dry.

With a distinct odor, it has a similar physical appearance to that of a black acacia, which sponsors the fine finish it gives. While letting off the scent of rosewood.

Minwax tung oil smell

When you come across the Minwax Tung oil, you may likely mistake it for the pure tung oil because of their physical similarities.

But, unlike Pure Tung oil, whenever you apply the Minwax oil (which is a mixture) to your wood, it will switch from its damp state to a dry state without letting off any significant odor.

Is Tung Oil Dangerous?

Tung oil is not in any way toxic but if you are allergic to its nuts, there is the tendency that you will be opened up to some reactions like irritation as a result of the released fumes.

And you’ve got to take utmost care if your body reacts negatively to the oil because sometimes, the reactions may get so harsh. Meaning that you’ll be requiring a high level and instant medical attention to prevent extreme adverse effects.

Tung oil does not comprise a large percentage of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) so the rate at which you may get respiratory diseases or issues in your body is low. Allergies are the major harsh effects that the Tung oil may pose on your body.

Is tung oil toxic to breathe?

Aldehydes, Peroxides, Alcohols, Ketones, and Hydrocarbons which may cause irritation would be emitted via oxidation while your wood is getting cured.

Although the level of VOCs released by the Tung oil is not so high, you must exercise all forms of carefulness when using it.

The Tung oil you’d be using will take long hours to penetrate your wood or furniture, the emission of these gases cannot be avoided.

Is tung oil toxic to animals?

If you’ve got a pet around you, take special note of this. The tung oil consists of materials that are poisonous when inhaled by animals.

The toxins, saponins, and glycosides in your animal’s ingestion system are dangerous and you must administer instant medical attention from a veterinary doctor to your pet.

How to Reduce Tung Oil Smell

Reducing or permanently eliminating the Tung oil smell is very much possible when you cover up the oil remnant in a closed cabinet and seal it with wax, shellac, lacquer, or polyurethane.

Also, you can reduce the smell and irritation caused by it by putting on goggles to shield your eyes and masks for your nose and mouth simultaneously.

How long does tung oil take to cure?

Tung Oil takes a maximum of a full month (30 days) to cure. But the curing rate is also dependent on environmental factors like air, humidity, and so on. And note that in between coats, you’ll need to wait for each coat to get dried before sanding within the time frame of 2-3 days.

Does the tung oil smell go away?

If you’re using a pure Tung oil that had no additive, your Tung oil smell may never go away totally. As you’ll still be perceiving the smell although, faintly after a long while.

Overall, just see to it that you put on your protective devices.


It is obvious that this natural oil, Tung oil is great for oiling irrespective of its smell or odor which you can as well reduce or eliminate by following the procedures in this article.

We hope that you get the best surface finish in your painting as you work with the information given in this article.