I'm concerned about the health risks of using the cedar as indoor furniture. Had no idea about the toxicity of cedar before making a bed with my friend out of cedar from Home Depot. Apparently the fumes/oil are bad for you long term? Is there anything I can do to protect ourselves from this?

I did put one coat of wipe on Danish fruitwood oil on the bed, but thats about it. I also realised that the planks that the mattress sits on are also cedar and these were NOT sealed with anything, not even the danish oil. Should I perhaps seal those to be on the safe side. Its a very small bedroom with not much ventilation, so I want to be safe.

Additionally, I also read that using Danish oil on cedar anyway is a bad idea as doesn't fully cure? Can someone advise on the impact of this.

What does it ultimately mean if it does not fully cure. What impacts does that have? I've had the bed fully done and in use for about 7 months now.

It's a lovely bed, but I want to ensure I treat it properly to ensure any offgassing does not cause health concerns, we plan to have this bed a long time if possible.

So any suggestions on what I can do to make this safer, would be greatly appreciated.

Update 22/May/2017:

The bedhead is about 6ft high, which is basically panelling almost most of one side of the bedroom, as its a small bedroom. So theres a lot of Cedar in this small room.

The concern I had was around the plicatic acid contained in the Cedar. It also depends what Cedar, I know Western and Eastern are different. Mine was from Home Depot in BC, which I would assume is Western Cedar, as well, we’re in Western Canada, is that a good assumption? :P

And WRC is one to contain a lot of this acid…

I’m also new to Canada (coming from the UK) and Cedar is something I had not yet worked with before.

Most of the research was from google, I’ll include a few below, but it also includes the wood database page that someone else had quoted above.

I’m still however wondering if its worth adding an extra coat of ‘something’ as Cedar is traditionally used outdoor rather than indoor. Someone suggested Tung oil to me today, any thoughts on that? I’m hoping I can do something that does not involve having to do it outside, as all I have is a balcony in my apartment.

http://www.wood-database.com/wood-ar...s-and-toxicity http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...r-really-toxic https://www.instructables.com/answer...dar-Poisonous/

As per the 2nd link, Australian Red Cedar, has been banned as a furniture making timber, at the Canberra School of the Arts, in their Fine Furniture Workshop, as Aussie Red is carcinogenic. Not sure about whatever Cedar is over in Canada.

Again, thanks for all your comments. I really appreciate it and the efforts that you have gone to to look it up. My girlfriend will be moving in soon, and I want to make sure its all good to go. Anything I can do before then to finish off the bed is what is driving me to look into all this right now. From the googling, it has been shown dust, shavings or the wood can aggravate or even cause breathing problems, so I naturally came here to see what others more experienced than me thought about it, cos I don’t want to end up causing Asthma or whatever breathing issues for me and my girlfriend. That wood database even mentioned a cancer in relation to Cedar, so it leaves me a bit clueless as what to think of the next step.

  • 2
    Nobody can really answer this for you, because individual sensitivities vary so much (and the Internet is not a good place to get health advice anyway). Bottom line is you could have no problems while another person does and it's impossible to predict in advance which way it'll be, unless one of you already shows signs of sensitivity to touching WRC or when exposed to its dust in which case it's best to minimise or avoid exposure.
    – Graphus
    May 18 '17 at 6:53
  • 1
    Re. the follow-on question about Danish oil not fully curing best to ask this in its own Question.
    – Graphus
    May 18 '17 at 6:53
  • I have a couple of cedar tables my wife's grandpa made. As far as I can tell, I've had no ill effects. Also, aromatic cedar is often used as chests to store clothes in. Anecdotes aren't data, but I would think if it were as toxic as, say, lead pipes, we'd have heard about it by now. As Graphus says, individuals may have their own sensitivities, but as far as general effects go, I personally am comfortable that they are minimal to nonexistent. May 18 '17 at 14:31
  • I guess that depends on what you are doing with it. May 19 '17 at 21:53
  • @TreowWyrhta I made a Cedar bedframe with it.
    – redfox05
    May 23 '17 at 2:20

Here is a link to a wood-allergy database. Two main things about wood allergens are stated:

All inhaled wood dust is hazardous to your long-term health. This chart simply lists specific woods that can aggravate symptoms through allergic reactions, or woods that are outright toxic in and of themselves. However, all woods produce fine dust when worked, which in turn can damage your lungs and cause a number of other adverse health reactions.


...very few woods are actually toxic in and of themselves. But what a great number of woods do have the potential to do is cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. This risk for finished wood projects is greatly lessened (but not eliminated) with the application of a food-safe finish.

It should also be pointed out that the product you're using to finish the wood could potentially cause reactions.

ETA (by @mmathis): As for the cedar mentioned in the question, the database lists most species of cedar as skin / respiratory irritants, with a potency of 2-3 (out of 4) on their scale.

  • Thanks, yes, I saw this link in my research, and it was one of the sources that had me concerned and looking into this. My bed is not fully finished, as the back of it is still the original raw wood, and even the 'finished' surfaces are just one coat of Danish oil, which from what I understand only has a very small amount of poly in it.
    – redfox05
    May 23 '17 at 2:22
  • Totally forgot to accept this answer. All done now :)
    – redfox05
    Jul 29 '19 at 17:21

Cedar is ABSOLUTELY TOXIC TO WORK with because of off gassing — Tribes let it rest a year or more before working with it. I know this because I’m a weaver and have carved my own paddles for traditional ceremonies.

  • 2
    Hi, welcome to StackExchange. SE is not like a conventional forum, as the introductory tour should have made clear it is a Q&A venue and what you've posted doesn't appear to attempt to Answer the Question, instead it reads like a polemic. Also, with your mention of indigenous communities are you sure you're referring to the same wood the OP's query is about?
    – Graphus
    Jul 21 '20 at 6:23
  • 3
    Considering Western Red Cedar is sold in planks for cooking on, this answer needs more clarification. They probably mean Eastern Red Cedar or Juniper, which are considered toxic. The latter is used for anti-pest closets, for example. As in all things woodworking, what someone means by "cedar" changes based on their locale, and whether not not some species has been over-logged until it is so rare we need a replacement!
    – jdv
    Jul 21 '20 at 13:51
  • Can you clarify your answer around the absolutely toxic off-gassing? I have since learned that it depends on what type of Cedar, as there are differences, but it surely cant be a case too dangerous to use, else they couldn't sell it right? And to clarify, I am talking about store bought cedar, already cut into planks. Would your warning apply to those too? I understand you have separate concerns around the use of cedar in general, which I can appreciate, but my OP was more around how dangerous and what can you do about it for indoor use.
    – redfox05
    Jul 29 '20 at 17:22

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