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Work miracles on wooden with oxalic acid.

Watering a potted plant could be disastrous if the plant lives on prime of one thing made out of wooden. We’ve all seen the white spots and black rings that may end result when water seeps by the pot. And for those who’ve ever tried to sand out these marks, you already know it’s a tricky job that may depart telltale depressions on the floor. Fortunately, in lots of instances, this sort of injury could be virtually magically undone by treating the wooden’s floor with oxalic acid.

Oxalic acid removes the grey coloration from oxidized wooden, with out altering the wooden’s pure coloration. That’s why it’s generally used because the energetic ingredient in deck cleaners, and why restorers use it to take away grey or black water stains on furnishings (see “Oxalic Acid Undoes Rust,” under). Oxalic acid can be utilized in some family cleansing merchandise for eradicating laborious water stains, and it has many industrial makes use of as effectively. Although it’s discovered as a pure ingredient in some greens (spinach and rhubarb), oxalic acid is kind of poisonous if ingested in concentrated type.

Identify the stains

Every end restore job is exclusive, in fact, so step one is to totally look at the issue. The chest lid proven right here has each whitish marks (additionally known as blushing or bloom), and darkish grey and black discolorations. White marks are often within the end; darkish discolorations from water point out extra vital injury, as a result of they’re down within the wooden.

To assist formulate a plan to restore this end, I dampened your complete lid with mineral spirits (paint thinner). This testing technique is helpful anytime you wish to look carefully at both previous dry end or naked wooden. The look of the paint thinner-dampened floor is just like how it might look if shellac or a transparent oil primarily based end had been utilized. In this case, dampening the floor makes the whitish marks quickly disappear (they reappear when the mineral spirits evaporates). That means a coat or two of end is all that’s wanted to handle the white marks. (This is a stroke of luck; if the white marks hadn’t disappeared, extra restore steps can be essential to take away them, and that’s a subject for one more story.)

Now I can deal with the black rings. The mineral spirits take a look at exhibits that they get darker, and that makes them good candidates for remedy with oxalic acid. If the oxalic acid works, I received’t need to aggressively sand your complete lid. Not solely would sanding take away the remaining intact end (80%, on this case), it might additionally lighten the lid’s aged cherry coloration, so it might now not match the remainder of the chest that it belongs to.

Treat the stains

1. Start by totally cleansing the floor. First, wipe it down with mineral spirits, to take away polish and different crud that’s greasy or waxy. Mineral spirits additionally exhibits what the broken areas will appear like with a transparent end utilized.

Every step of this remedy ought to be completed persistently to your complete floor, not simply the broken space. The process includes flooding the floor with water. Fortunately, the injury proven right here is on stable wooden—utilizing this remedy on a veneered floor could be dangerous.

2. When the mineral spirits has evaporated, full the cleansing course of by wiping the floor with cleaning soap and water, utilizing a delicate material, to take away water-soluble residue. Allow the floor to dry fully.

The first step is a radical cleansing, utilizing two completely different cleaners. Mineral spirits removes greasy residue, similar to previous wax or polish (Photo 1). Mild dish cleaning soap and water removes any water-soluble crud (Photo 2). Neither of those processes will injury an intact end.

3. Sand frivolously, utilizing superb paper, a delicate block and little or no strain. Although the objective is to take away the raised grain from the broken space, it’s essential to sand your complete floor to keep up consistency.

The grain is raised very barely within the water-damaged space, so just a little sanding with 400 grit paper is critical (Photo 3). This step ought to take about one minute.

4. Mix a saturated resolution of oxalic acid in a non-metal container. Add a spoonful at a time to the water and stir, till a layer of non-dissolved oxalic acid stays on the backside.

Mix up a saturated resolution of oxalic acid by including the crystals to a jar of heat water with a plastic spoon (Photo 4). Do not use any steel containers or utensils—the acid might react with the steel. Add crystals a spoonful at a time and stir till no extra will dissolve into the water. I at all times use a saturated resolution, in order that I’ve a maximum-strength drawback solver.

5. Wipe on the oxalic acid resolution. Leave it on the floor for about 5 minutes to attain the utmost impact. Then wipe off the surplus and let the floor dry totally. The impact could be virtually instantaneous.

Wearing gloves and eye safety, use a rag or sponge to saturate your complete floor being handled, not simply the darkish spots (Photo 5). Keep the floor moist for about 5 minutes to permit for the utmost impact. Then wipe off the surplus and let the floor dry fully. You may even see the impact instantly as you apply the acid, or the spots could disappear steadily, because the acid dries. If a second software of acid is critical, wait to use it till the primary software has totally dried, or it received’t work. If two or three functions don’t take away the stain fully, extra acid isn’t seemingly to assist. You’ll need to reside with the remaining discoloration or resort to sanding to take away it. However, don’t sand till you’ve totally rinsed the floor—respiration mud that incorporates oxalic acid is extraordinarily disagreeable and probably hazardous.

6. Flood the floor with water repeatedly, to take away any remaining oxalic acid crystals.

When you’ve accomplished the oxalic functions, it’s crucial to totally rinse the handled floor with numerous clear water, to flush away any acid that is still on the wooden (Photo 6). Flood the floor a number of instances and dry it with a clear material or paper towel every time. Let the floor dry between every flooding.

Attempting to “neutralize” the acid that is still on the floor with a light alkali similar to baking soda, borax or ammonia is a cleaning possibility that’s ceaselessly talked about as a substitute for rinsing. However, I’ve by no means seen any correct formulation that might make this chemical balancing act a sensible risk. Besides, I do know that thorough rinsing works.

Dampen the sur- face with mineral spirits to check the outcomes. Here, the whitish blush areas nearly disappear and the black marks are 99.9% gone. The restore is full; it’s time to rebuild the end.

After the lid has totally dried, don a respirator and frivolously sand your complete floor with 400 grit paper, to chop again any grain raised by the oxalic remedies. Test the floor once more with mineral spirits, to gauge the outcomes (Photo 7). The take a look at on this lid signifies that the floor is prepared for ending (Photo 8). 

In this case, the end is blonde shellac, the identical end as the unique. Adding a water-resistant end over the shellac might assist to forestall future injury. Moving the plant could also be a greater possibility.

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