06:36PM | 07/20/04
Member Since: 07/19/04
1 lifetime posts
When I asked the hardware store clerk today how to remove water stains (from a rainstorm leak) on my pine wood wall, he suggested using a wood bleach. When he couldn't find any on the shelf, he told me I could use regular chlorine household bleach mixed 50/50. I did and applied it with fine steel wool. Now I have an entire pine wood wall that is grey! It is horrible and doesn't match the rest of the pine ceiling. Can you please help me!!! Thanks.


07:12AM | 07/21/04
Member Since: 07/01/03
549 lifetime posts
Chlorine bleach and oxalic acid are clearly different animals. Chlorine bleach is an alkaline oxidizer, and oxalic acid is an acidic reducer that in the environment completely breaks down to CO2 and water, leaving no residual. The term "bleach" simply refers to the lightening action of oxalic acid on wood. It actually removes oxygen and forms CO2, so its not an oxidizer. This renders tannin pigments colorless causing a lightening of the wood. A 50% mix of chlorine bleach is much too strong for most applications. It leaves an alkaline soapy residue. The alkaline residue can be neutalized with a weak acidic acid (1 part vinegar 2 parts water).

Sorry about the chemistry. Now, what to do. Tannin bleed was the problem you had. You never needed to bleach the wood to remove color, just redistribute it. I have evened out tannin bleed on cedar and pine with plain water, lightly soaking the surface and using a brush to even the spread of the water. It allows the uneven tannins (water soluble) to even out, and removes some of the excess stain. You may be able to restore color by neutralizing the surface evenly with the acidic acid described above. Try a small area first and observe the effect. Keep an evenly wetted surface along the length of any board you treat to prevent rings of tannin from forming at the wet/dry interface.

An alternative may be to stain the wood. First get an oil base stain color that you like on the pine and apply it to a small area to confirm it enhances the color and grain. Apply to whole area if you like the effect.

If you actually need to lighten the wood, use oxalic acid or a product like house and siding or deck cleaner that contains oxalic acid as an ingredient. I don't think you actually need to do further bleaching.

Hope this helps, I apologize for the length.
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