Published on October 22nd, 2007 | by Stephanie Evans
Natural Options for Wood Floor Polish
It can be tough to find a wood floor polish that is healthy for you, kind to the environment, and gets the job done. There are natural options out there and sometimes something simple works best!
Before petroleum products dominated store shelves, many homeowners used natural oils to finish their wood floors…
Here’s a fact file on a few of the most common natural floor polishes:
You’ve probably spied this super nourishing oil at your local grocery store or your favorite natural health food spot. Jojoba is not only a great pick-me-up for dry skin—it’s an excellent waxy refresher for tired flooring because it dries quickly and completely and it does not spoil on the shelf. Keep in mind that jojoba oil does run on the high end of natural oil prices.
- Apply a bit straight onto your floor by rubbing it in with a cloth. Dab off any excess.
Linseed is another name for flax, the omega-3 rich seed that is popular among health food advocates. Clearly pure linseed oil won’t be a health hazard on your floors, but it can take much longer to dry than solvent-based finishes and it often requires several coats. For a faster finish, use boiled linseed or Danish oil—the heating process helps the oil to react with oxygen, causing it to dry faster.
Remember to check the label before purchasing one of these products. Some oils that display “boiled” on their labels aren’t boiled at all—chemicals and heavy metals have been added to help dry the oil faster.
- When using linseed oil, apply just a bit and keep the floors dry by dabbing off excess. These precautions helps to ensure that the floor dries completely, as soaking the floor or lengthy drying times can create mildew. The result is stunning—linseed oil will permeate and nourish the very pores of your wood floor, leaving a shiny gloss on the surface.
Tung oil is a great option—it dries relatively quickly, making the application process a bit less involved than that of linseed oil. The oil is derived from the nut of the tung tree that grows naturally in regions of China. It does not yellow over time, which makes it ideal for use on light woods. Tung oil is comparable in price to linseed oil and can be purchased from natural paint stores or antique dealers.
No matter which oil you choose, if you’re looking for a safe, VOC-free, and renewable floor finish, be sure to get 100% pure oil—many modern linseed and tung products are cut with solvents and other chemicals. Pure oils nourish and condition as they absorb deep into the wood, creating a matte finish that exposes natural wood grain instead of simply coating the floor with a thick, glossy veneer.