enter image description here

I unknowingly overfilled a plant on my wood table. It left a water mark. I looked up how to get rid of it and tried using an iron with a towel and that didn’t seem to work.

I have also tried Vaseline with no success and olive oil/ vinegar.

The stain has gone from light to dark. I am afraid I have now stained it with the oil?

Any tips for how I can get my wood table back? I am completely devastated as this was passed down to me from my late grandparents.

  • 2
    Hi, welcome to StackExchange. Your experience here attempting to remedy the original problem is unfortunately a prime example of how it's possible to get bad guidance from the Internet (in this as well as many other areas of specialist knowledge). While using a hot iron can be at heart a sound method the oil/vinegar thing is, well, frankly nonsensical New Age-ey voodoo! Vinegar is mostly water for starters..... and additionally acetic acid can react with dissolved iron to react to produce a black compound, which is what occurred here I think. And regrettably this has taken what was a [contd]
    – Graphus
    May 15 at 16:09
  • 1
    finish-level problem to an in-the-wood problem. The latter requires a much more involved intervention; although still relatively simple it's a lot more work and will cost a good deal more. As per the great Answer from @WalnutClose oxalic acid is the go-to for darks stains caused by water, and there's an excellent chance it will do exactly what's needed once you get to that stage. There's guidance on using oxalic acid practically in my previous Answer here, with appropriate caution + the often-neglected thing about removal afterwards.
    – Graphus
    May 15 at 16:16

1 Answer 1


The water has penetrated the finish on the table top, and stained the wood underneath. It is probably possible to remove the stain with oxalic acid.

But I doubt you can do it in a way that esthetically matches the rest of table top unless you strip and treat the entire surface. You have to remove the finish in order for the oxalic acid to work, and it's nearly impossible to remove the finish from just the stained area, and then replace/match the look of the old finish in just that area - even a slight difference in tone or sheen in the newly finished patch will stand out on the table surface. The bleaching action of the acid may also subtly change the tone or color of the wood, and you'll want that effect to be uniform or very well blended across the table top. If the entire surface is refinished properly though, any difference between the new finish and the edges, legs, etc of the table won't be apparent, as it separated from the old by edge and shadow effects.

If it's really important to you, I would find a re-finisher, restorer to do the work. It's a tough thing for someone with little experience in wood finishing to get right.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.