Wood care – why we use pure tung oil?

Since the founding of Conte Caserta, it has been our aim to make no compromises in the production of our unique Signature Collection when it comes to the quality of materials and workmanship while observing ecological aspects. For this reason, 100% pure, heated tung oil is the only choice for us for the surface treatment of our unique table items made of solid wood.

Why do we recommend surface treatment / wood care?

Why use tung oil?Wood is a natural material that is constantly reproducing. There is no other material that outperforms wood in ecological aspects. Even after it has been processed, wood remains a “living” material. The wood “breathes” through its open pores. There is an exchange of moisture. Depending on the outside climate, wood absorbs moisture or releases it to its surroundings. This breathability property contributes to a pleasant indoor climate. At the same time, the open pores make the wood susceptible to contamination, in particular from liquids that are drawn in, which cause discoloration of the wood.

If left untreated, wood would become brittle over time and lead to cracking. In order to protect wood from signs of wear and embrittlement in the long term – even over generations – and to maintain its beauty, regular care is necessary. Correct surface treatment and care preserves the positive properties of the wood and protects it at the same time.

Which surface treatment is best for solid wood tables?

Wood slabThere are different ways to protect solid wood tables. Wooden tables can be oiled, waxed, glazed, stained or varnished. When glazed, stained and varnished, wood loses its natural, positive properties. The natural color of the wood is changed, the pores are hermetically sealed and / or the wonderful feel of the wood is lost. In addition, chemically produced additives are mostly used in the processes mentioned, which pollute the environment and can give off harmful vapors through evaporation. Particular attention should be paid to this aspect indoors.

Pure wood oils and waxes are produced using natural processes. They are environmentally friendly, emphasize the naturalness of the wood and preserve the wood feel. In addition, oiled or waxed wooden surfaces are easy to repair – even partially.

What should you watch out for when using oils or waxes?

Wood oil

Wodo oil bottles. Treatment with oil is the classic and most natural way of treating wood. When oiling wood, the wood fibers are soaked in oil. The oil is absorbed deeply into the wood and dries out viscoplastically so that it participates in movements of the wood as it swells and shrinks. The result is a long-term protected and pleasant wooden surface. The feel of the wood is completely retained. Wood treated with wood oil preserves the originality of the wood.

The use of wood oil intensively emphasizes the natural grain of the wood (technically called firing) and brings out the beauty of nature more fascinatingly than any other surface treatment. In the case of oils, a distinction is made between liquid and hardening, as well as between natural, mixed and synthetic oils. All wood oils have a liquid consistency. The main advantage is that wood oil penetrates into the deeper layer of the material, but remains open-pored and breathable. This results in a gentle impregnation, as moisture can only penetrate to a limited extent and is quickly released back into the atmosphere. Wood oils create a semi-gloss finish on the surface. Hardening wood oils harden on contact with oxygen. The hardening process takes a lot of time, which most wood processors are not ready to invest in today’s fast-moving world. By adding chemical additives (siccatives) such as solvents the drying time is significantly accelerated. As a result, wood loses its ecological character, the penetration depth of the oil is reduced and there are harmful vapors. The situation is similar with synthetic wood oils, which are composed purely chemically. With regard to the indoor climate, it should be ensured that no chemical additives have been used.

Liquid, non-hardening oils such as Salad oils, motor oils, etc. tend to go rancid after a while, to stink and to form mold. Liquid oils are not suitable for wood treatment. The only disadvantage of oiled surfaces is that they are subject to wear and tear and require regular post-treatment. Regular, damp wiping and re-oiling of heavily used pieces of furniture such as dining or work tables once or twice a year are sufficient to preserve the furniture for generations.

Wood wax

Wood wax canThe consistency of wood wax is firm, which means that wood wax does not penetrate deep into the wood. After hardening, wood wax forms a solid surface layer that is water-repellent and can be polished. Surfaces treated with wood wax will be shinier than surfaces treated with oil. They also have an antistatic effect, so that dirt hardly adheres to the surface and can be wiped off. Wood wax has some disadvantages compared to wood oil:

  • The surface protective layer formed by wood wax is neither stable nor permanent
  • At slightly higher temperatures, the wax layer becomes soft and sticky areas can form
  • Although moisture rolls off the waxed surface, any liquids must be removed quickly during everyday use, as the wood remains sensitive due to the purely external protective treatment and water stains can appear, among other things.The wax layer is not completely “tight”, so dirt can penetrate under the layer and into the wood
  • Below the wax layer and below the surface, the wood is completely unprotected
  • The disadvantages of wood wax make it clear that the use of wood oil is definitely the best way to care for wood, especially for furniture that is subject to heavy use.

Pure tung oil and its benefits

For the reasons mentioned above, wood oil is the classic in the surface treatment of wood, which makes it perfect for the natural surfaces that are so popular today. The most common wood oils are flaxseed oil, walnut oil, poppy seed oil, diestel oil and tung oil.

Tung oil plant. Tung oil stands out among all wood oils. Tung oil is a vegetable oil made from the oil-rich seeds of various South Asian tree-shaped species of the genus Vernicia. Fresh tung oil is amber, clear, and comparatively thick. The smell is nutty. Pure tung oil differs from other nut oils in its special composition. Tung oil shows a very characteristic behavior when heated, which plays a role in the technical properties: if it is heated strongly, this results in a strong increase in viscosity, which leads to gelatinization.

The specific weight increases while the refractive index is reduced. In contrast to all other natural oils, this makes the tung oil water-repellent and thus prevents the formation of water rings. Tung oil penetrates the wood more deeply than any other wood oil; it penetrates deeply into even the densest wood. In addition, compared to most other oxidative oils, it forms a fine, permanent film that retains its elasticity and moves with the wood. After hardening, the surface is solidified. There is no embrittlement or hairline crack formation on wooden surfaces, as the oil remains elastic even after it has hardened.

The reason why pure tung oil, despite its incomparably good properties, is rarely used by woodworkers, is essentially explained by the following objections:

  • Tung oil is comparatively thick and therefore difficult to process. It penetrates the wood only slowly.
  • The drying time is very long, which is why chemical thinners are often added.
  • High-quality, heated tung oil is comparatively expensive. It costs roughly the same as high-quality French champagne.

History of Tung Oil

History of tung OilThe history of tung oil already gives an idea of ​​its extraordinary nature. How many products do you know that have been manufactured for several thousand years? Over 2,500 years ago, Confucius mentioned the benefits of tung oil for wood finishing and its water-resistant properties in his writings. It is also known that Chinese junks were sealed with tung oil, which started their renaissance as trading ships with the construction of the Han Canal in 468 BC.

Since Conte Caserta was founded, it has been our aim to make no compromises in the production of our unique Signature Collection in terms of the quality of materials and workmanship, taking into account ecological aspects:

We only use sustainable suar wood for our table tops, as no other type of wood is better suited to be processed in one piece.
All table tops we make are made from just one piece of suar wood. This makes our tables so valuable compared to other tables, the surfaces of which are mostly made of panels glued together.
By using only one piece of Suar wood, the incomparably fascinating grain of the wood is not interrupted. This gives each table its own unique sculptural character.

Suar wood table with tung oil.