On the top is a freshly turned Red Alder bowl.


As it dries, the alder bowl turns splotchy red. Different bowl redden different amounts. How can I control the amount the bowl turns red? Ideally it would either not turn red, or completely turn red.

  • 1
    embrace the splotchyness? IMO those patterns are quite attractive. Jun 6 '17 at 16:10
  • That's been my strategy so far--but I have a lot of alder and I was wondering if it's possible to get some different looks!
    – schmmd
    Jun 6 '17 at 16:46
  • 1
    Pure speculation (so not an answer) - I know that steaming causes color to move in black walnut - so I wonder if popping a bowl in the top of a pressure cooker/canner (on a rack over the water) and steaming it for a bit would have some sort of effect? But I also agree with "embrace the attractive/natural splotches." They clearly didn't come out of a can...
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 6 '17 at 18:28
  • I have microwaved my bowls, which provides some short-term steaming. It didn't have much effect. I will try steaming a bowl to see if it changes the color as it shouldn't be harmful to the bowl w.r.t. drying and cracking.
    – schmmd
    Jun 6 '17 at 18:51
  • 1
    My 2c is if you don't like the colour changes in red alder use a different wood. If you're making these to sell though you might want to hold off on that, you should allow for other people loving the very thing you don't. Where you see splotchiness they see interesting figure.
    – Graphus
    Jun 7 '17 at 7:55

Streaming the alder for 15 minutes in a vegetable steamer prevented any reddening. I think I'd also get a different color if i used more aged wood. Thanks for the suggestion @encnerwal!

Update: oxalic acid will remove all reddening and vinegar will remove most. The bowl ends up a bit more of a yellow color overall.

enter image description here

  • When you say "remove" in your update, did you apply the various chemicals before allowing the bowl to dry naturally, before steaming then allowing to dry, or after drying to actually remove the color that had appeared?
    – FreeMan
    Sep 7 '18 at 12:03
  • If you apply oxalic acid before any reddening then the bowl remains ivory, but if you apply it after reddening then it turns orangish.
    – schmmd
    Dec 15 '20 at 5:39

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