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Faux Tung Oil versus Real

AndrewGS's picture

I have read about Minwax Tung Oil, versus Circa 1850 Tung Oil.  Minwax is an oil/varnish blend, whereas Circa 1850 is the real thing.

Is there ever an advantage of using real Tung Oil?  If I have a piece that I plan on keeping, and passing down, will the real oil have a nicer finish?  Or is it always better to use the varnish blend?

Circa 1850 also has a "tung 'n teak" oil that is supposed to be real Tung oil with the added protection of teak oil.  Would this be better to use than an oil/ varnish faux tung oil, assuming I want a piece that will look beautiful for many years?

Thank you

HowardAcheson's picture

An oil/varnish is more (post #153167, reply #1 of 3)

An oil/varnish is more durable and protective than a pure tung oil.  Tung oil has little water or water vapor resistance and no abrasion resistance.  True oils must be continually re-applied to maintain and of the appearence of the wood surfaces.  The varnish component in an oil/varnish adds long term protection an appearence maintenance.

The description of Circa 1850 Tung N Teak oil is one of the most creative marketing descriptions I have ever read.  It rivals the write-ups you see on some Minwax products.  It seems to be just a thinned tung oil.  Teak does not exude or produce an oil that can be applied to teak in spite of what Circa 1850 claims.

In general, marine "teak oil" is a mixture of varnish, tung or linseed oil (sometimes both) and a thinner.  Some will claim to contain UV inhibitors but a UV inhibitors only work when built up to a thick film.  The amount in a "teak" is is very small.  Teak oils need to be re-applied every couple of months in a marine environment.

WillGeorge's picture

No expert on anything... I (post #153167, reply #2 of 3)

No expert on anything... I have and do use the so called true Tung oil. Rockler and others have it.

I think the real stuff gives a 'richer' color but I have experienced some problems using it in higher humidity as we have here in Chicago. If you are not careful, it may never dry fully!

I mostly use the MinWax and Watco blended oils (Some with different colors). They work well and very forgiving. Not much protection but a very easy 'fix' if it is ever needed. I only use a 'satin' finish so I have no idea how forgiving the high gloss blended oils are.

I sometimes use Watco Satin Wax over the MinWax and Watco Oils... I use the Satin Wax for maintenance.

Again, I am NOT a finishing expert by any stretch of the imagination... Your mind or mine.... 

Have a great day.. Life is wonderful even if you are having a bad day!

SteveSchoene's picture

First, Circa 50 Tung Oil is (post #153167, reply #3 of 3)

First, Circa 50 Tung Oil is NOT pure tung oil, it is highly thinned tung oil.   Thinning the oil may make one think that that product cures much faster than un-thinned oil.  It does, just a little, and the reason is because each application applies so little oil, that the oil molecules do get more exposure to oxygen.  But, just having the thinner evaporate isn't the same as curing the oil.   Since it takes perhaps 4 or 5 unthinned coats to create an even sheen finish, it would likely take a great many more of tung oil thinned with (at least) equal parts of thinner. 

 I haven't a clue as to what they mean by a mix of tung oil and teak oil as the marketing for the Tung n' Teak product proclaims..  Teak Oil is a marketing name for products intended to be used on teak wood and can be anything from tinted mineral oil to oil/varnish mixes.  It sure as heck isn't an oil extracted from teak wood.  Maybe there is a little UV absorbor added to give the impression that it would be more durable in exterior uses, such as on teak   But, since all excess oil needs be wiped from the surface there can't be any meaningful UV protectant properties. 

Of course, when the mineral spirits that make up at least half of the Tung Oil product evaporate you would end up with pure tung oil, but since there isn't much benefit in thinning the stuff to begin with I wouldn't pay tung oil prices for mineral spirits. 

The tung oil alone as a finish is pretty worthless.   It won't prevent water spots if a drop of water is left on horizontal surfaces for very long, it oxidizes and looses it's not all that shiny sheen in pretty short order.  An oil varnish mix will last  considerably longer, by virtually indistinquishable in appearance, and provide significantly more protection.  The Minwas Tung Oil Finish is an oil varnish product, while Formby's Tung Oil Finish is actually not an oil at all it is a varnsih.  In each of those case notice that the NAME of the product is "Finish", while the words "tung oil" constitute adjectives describing the apparance of finish, in the opinion of the manufacturer. 

Test your finish on scrap, FIRST, or risk having to scrap your finish.