Will Coconut Oil Turn Rancid On Wood? What You Should Know

Will Coconut Oil Turn Rancid On Wood? What You Should Know

Coconut oil is widely used plant-derived edible oil. It’s useful in medicine, cooking, skincare, hair care, and biotechnology for many years. You can get it from the coconut fruit by either heating, hydraulic pressing, or cold pressing the meat or milk of the fruit to extract the oil.

Rancidity is the incomplete oxidation of certain exposed fats and oils exposed to air, light, heat, moisture, or bacteria. The oil is converted to different components which give off an unpleasant taste or smell. The oil may also feel or look sticky.

Now, the question is: will coconut oil go rancid on wood?

No, it doesn’t. Coconut oil is very high in saturated fatty acids such as; lauric acid (highest content), capric acid, palmitic acid, myristic acid, caproic acid, and stearic acid. The saturated fat content accounts for about 90% of its fat content, which explains why it’s widely used. Although coconut oil has many uses, experts usually recommend limiting its consumption as food.

Using coconut oil on wood has long been advocated because it does not go rancid on wood. Its high saturated fat content makes it stable, very slow to oxidize, and thus resistant to rancidity. 

Does Oil With High Unsaturated Fat Go Rancid On Wood?

It is not the same for oils with high unsaturated fat content (contain carbon double bonds), making them very unstable. Oils like this are easily broken down by heat, air, water, and microbes and give off undesirable taste and odor. These oils are usually supposed to be stored in the refrigerator or cool dark places where they are not exposed to conditions that may promote rancidity.

You can use other oils such as walnut oil, almond oil, and beeswax for wood treatment because they hardly go rancid. However, do not use vegetable oil or cooking oils such as olive oil for wood treatment, wood polishing, or finishing. They are very prone to rancidity because of their high unsaturated fat content.

Why Is Coconut Oil Used On Wood?

Coconut oil is used on wood because it is an excellent moisturizer and conditioner, making it useful for wood treatment, wood cleaning, and wood finishing. Coconut oil helps make the wood resistant to moisture which might make wood expand, shrink or crack. 

Wood is hygroscopic, which means that it absorbs moisture in relatively high humid conditions, which makes it expand. Conversely, wood loses moisture and shrinks in relatively low humid conditions.

Appropriate wood finishing, treatment, and cleaning are done to ensure that wood is durable. Wood finishing is the last step in wood manufacturing. It is done to improve the appearance of the wood, make it resistant to moisture and other environmental agents that may negatively affect wood. 

It also prevents the growth of bacteria and therefore sanitizes the wood. Different natural materials such as beeswax, tung oil, linseed oil, and jojoba oil are used in wood finishing, and you can use coconut oil too. However, it has been noted to not provide a durable finish for wood as it does not dry to a polymeric topcoat. It is also known to cause ‘staining’ when used in raw unfinished wood.

However, coconut oil has proved to be very useful in wood cleaning, wood polishing, and wood treatment for preservation. Its highly moisturizing effects fill the pores of the wood and keep it moisturized. 

It will prevent the wood from absorbing the moisture that will make it expand or lose moisture that will cause it to shrink. 

It will also prevent the entry of bacteria and the growth of mold, which may decompose the wood as coconut oil has been shown to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.

Using Coconut oil on wood also improves the wood’s natural colors, makes it shiny, minimizes the effects of daily use, and removes tough stains or grease as it dissolves these stains. It can repel dust and help the wood smell better.

How To Use Coconut Oil On Wood

Using coconut oil on wood can be very rewarding. However, to reap the full benefits, the right kind of coconut oil has to be used. There are different kinds of coconut oil. 

They include; Virgin or extra virgin coconut oil, hydrogenated coconut oil, cold-pressed coconut oil, expeller-pressed coconut oil, refined coconut oil, non-hydrogenated coconut oil. 

The virgin coconut oil has undergone the least processing, while the refined coconut oil is also known as bleached or processed coconut oil. It is usually clear and has no taste, and because of its processing has lost a good amount of nutrients.

Hydrogenated coconut oil is a type of coconut oil that has been processed to convert all its unsaturated content to saturated fats. It results in oil that is more solid and has a longer shelf life. This type of oil is not advised for consumption as it is dangerous for heart health. Non-hydrogenated coconut oil has not undergone hydrogenation processing and so still has the unsaturated fat content in it.

For wood cleaning or treatment, the virgin coconut oil type is usually preferred as it retains all the essential fatty acids for its use on wood. You may use a cheaper alternative such as hydrogenated coconut oil too.

Steps In Using The Coconut Oil For Wood Cleaning

  1. Get your wooden material or furniture. Remove all particles on it, wash with soap and water and allow it to dry. Alternatively, you can use a damp towel or dust cloth to wipe the wood’s surface.
  2. Apply the coconut oil to the wood surface using a dry cloth and allow the oil to penetrate the wood’s pores for about 10-20 minutes.
  3. Wipe the surface of the wood clean with the cloth in circular motions until the excess oil is cleaned off.

You can also mix coconut oil with lemon juice to make a better conditioner for wood. Lemon juice is also a good household ingredient for cleaning. It has acids that have antiseptic and antibacterial properties and can help in cleaning and shining the wood. You can mix a quarter cup of lemon juice with virgin coconut oil for your wood cleaning and treatment purposes.

Coconut Oil For A Wooden Cutting Board

The constant use of a cutting board for cutting food and vegetables can cause your board to look worn out. Coconut oil, as well as mineral oil, can be used for seasoning your cutting boards. However, coconut oil is preferred because it is said to be non-toxic. 

Seasoning is the act of using a protective oil coat on your board to protect it from the effects of the knife blades, bacteria, heat, or exposure to constant moisture. Seasoning is good for our cutting boards as it maintains the board’s appearance and maintains health as it prevents harboring of bacteria in the pores of the wood.

To do this, pour some virgin or hydrogenated coconut oil onto both sides of the board, clean with a clean cloth, and allow it to dry. 

How To Use Coconut Oil For Wood Staining Or Natural Wood Finishing

Suppose you have found or bought a piece of wood to construct something, or you want to reuse wood from spoiled or abandoned furniture and would like to stain it or provide a natural finishing for the wood. In that case, coconut oil can be very useful, especially if you have little knowledge of working with professional wood staining and finishing materials.

To provide a good finish for the wood, first sand the wood with sandpaper or any abrasive to make it smoother and remove rough edges. Then, proceed to prepare your coconut oil for the wood staining and finishing.

After preparation, apply the coconut oil with steel wool or a piece of cloth to the surface of the wood. Allow the coconut oil to penetrate the wood’s pores for about 20 minutes and wipe off the excess residue with a clean cloth.

The wood will appear smoother, deep-colored, and shinier. If you want a more uniform color, especially if you worked with woods of different shades, you can buy color pigments.

To use the color pigments, take some amount and mix thoroughly with coconut oil. The coconut oil will act as a sealant and a wood stain carrier and is perfect for DIY wood staining and wood finishing, especially because it will not go rancid.


Coconut oil makes a high-quality item for wood. It keeps the wood supple and shiny, prevents warping, and therefore minimizes the effects of daily use. You can also use coconut oil to wipe off constant fingerprints on wooden surfaces.

Coconut oil, because of its high saturated fat content, is slow to oxidize and therefore cannot go rancid like other oils. That said, there are reports of boards that have been treated with coconut oil beginning to smell after a long period.

The virgin and refined coconut oil work fine, but it is better to use virgin coconut oil. The effect lasts longer, mostly because it has all its ingredients intact, unlike the refined one.

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