Does Tung Oil Go Bad? (4 Methods To Keep Tung Oil Fresh)

does tung oil go bad

Tung oil is an environmentally friendly finisher that is made by crushing seeds of tung trees. Tung oil is a food-safe oil that provides waterproofing ability to your furniture or woodwork while enhancing the wood’s appearance.

But we need to know how to use our tung oil for a long time for different projects by taking the necessary steps after using it for the first time. So, let’s talk about, Does Tung oil go bad?

Yes, Tung oil goes bad when it is not stored well. Tung oil has a high shelf life when the can is tightly closed and keeps the air at a minimum. Fill the tung oil can with pebbles or crush the square sides of the container to make it full. Or put shielding gas or Bloxygen to replace the air space in the tung can.

But that’s a quick snapshot of the question does tung oil go bad?

So, in this article, we’ll deeply discuss, does tung oil get old, how can you tell if tung oil is bad, how tung oil age, how to stop tung oil from going bad, and so much more.

Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about tung oil aging issues.

Does Tung Oil Get Old?

Yes, tung oil gets old when it is not stored well. You keep keeping the tung oil can in a cool dry place without letting the oil get contact with outside air.

Make sure to replace the air of the can with some other materials to minimize the air in the container.

When the can is not opened or properly sealed tung oil has good shelf life just like teak oil and Danish oil.

After using the tung oil for the first time, its shelf life can be 2 or more years when stored properly.

If tung oil gets contact or mixes with moisture, water, and atmospheric oxygen, the oil will get contaminated and lose its strength.

When tung oil gets contact with outside air, it will go through an oxidation reaction forming hard catalysts which reduce the performance of tung oil.

Once the oil gets fully oxidized and hardened, there’s no use for tung oil. Therefore, sealing can is so important.

How To Stop Tung Oil from Getting Old?

You can prevent tung oil from getting old by preventing contact with outside air, and moisture. Here’s how to do that!

  • Keep tung oil in a sealed air-free container.
  • Fill the tung oil can with pebbles to replace air space.
  • Crush-tung oil square can form edges to make it looks full and have no spaces for outside air.
  • Replace air space with shielding gas or Bloxygen.

Let’s discuss each of the above methods separately to get a clear idea about how to stop tung oil from going bad.

1. Keep Tung Oil in A Sealed Air-Free Container

After using tung oil for the first time, close its lid tightly without letting outside air go in.

Outside air, moisture and other chemical substances react with tung oil and make the oil contaminated.

Tung oil dries and hardens upon oxidation. So, use a tight lid to keep tung oil for a long time without any contamination issues.

With proper sealing, you’ll be able to keep tung oil easily for around 6 to 7 years.

2. Fill Tung Oil Can with Pebbles

After using tung oil, fill the empty space with pebbles to keep the can full. Here pebbles will take up the space of air and prevent air from going inside the can.

With no air inside, tung oil won’t go bad and can increase its shelf life with this method.

You can use marbles or aquarium pebbles for this task. With the addition of pebbles, the oil level gets increased, and appears as if the can is nearly full.

This helps to minimize oxygen levels inside the can.

3. Crush Tung Oil Can

After using tung oil, crush square shapes of tung oil can to increase the oil level and prevent outside air from filling out the spaces.

You should do this carefully without cracking the can.

By crushing the tung oil container from corners, you can make it looks nearly full and keep the air minimal in the container.

4. Add Shielding Gas or Bloxygen

You can use inert gas like Argon to fill up space after using Tung oil to replace oxygen left in the can. Or you can use Bloxygen to displace oxygen left in the can.

You just have to hold the tung oil can lid by hand and insert a little amount of shielding gas into the can and place the lid tightly.

This is the most popular method of preventing tung oil from getting bad or old.

How Can You Tell If Tung Oil Is Bad?

When teak oil is bad, it develops a characteristic unpleasant odor that happens due to oil rotting or spoiling.

Plus, tung oil doesn’t dry well when it went bad.

Tung oil goes bad because of outside air, moisture, and other chemical substances.

They will polymerize the tung oil catalyst and lose its strength. When tung oil gets bad, it appears different than the fresh ones.

Here’s a simple test to determine whether your tung oil is bad or not.

  1. Take a plastic laminate or glass.
  2. Add Tung oil to the tip of those surfaces
  3. Angle it for 45 degrees by allowing Tung oil to flow through the surface.
  4. Then check how long it takes to dry.

If Tung oil dries so well within 4 to 6 hours, it is good to use.

If it doesn’t dry within 12 – 24 hours, sorry to say, Tung oil is already gone bad.

So, as a summary, here’re the tests you can identify when Tung oil is bad.

  • Does not dry well
  • Unpleasant odor
  • Oil is rancid

How Does Tung Oil Age?

Tung oil doesn’t age when it is not contaminated. Not like teak oil or Danish oil, Tung oil doesn’t darken wood over time.

But once it went bad, tung oil may mold and rancid due to the contaminations from environmental elements like moisture, chemicals, and oxygen in the air.

Tung oil has infinite shelf life when it is not opened. But as soon as it opens outside air will go inside the tung oil can and start tung oil aging.

Generally, tung oil lasts for about 2 to 3 years with proper care and with minimum contact with atmospheric oxygen.

How Long Does Tung Oil Last on Wood?

Tung oil lasts on wood for about 1 to 2 years with proper care and regular maintenance.

Apply tung oil at least once per year on your woodwork or furniture to keep them protected from outside moisture, and other elements while enhancing their natural beauty.

Once tung oil went bad, it will lose its protection and beautiful appearance.

When tung oil is bad, the water will easily penetrate through tung oil layers and start damaging the wood. this will cause wood to rot.

Rotted wood cannot be restored using tung oil, you need to use special products like Flex seal to restore rotted wood.

Make sure to clean tung oil applied furniture surfaces regularly with lint-free cloths to eliminate dust and dirt.

Dust, dirt, grease, and other chemical elements damage tung oil and reduce its lifetime.

How Long Does Tung Oil Last Outdoors?

Tung oil lasts one year outdoors with proper care and regular maintenance.

Reapply tung oil by removing previous ones at least once per year to protect your outdoor furniture from elements like moisture, insect attacks, temperature variations, rotting, and more.

With rain, humidity, and other environmental factors, tung oil coatings tend to wear off. You can prevent this by reapplying tung oil as soon as when you notice the difference in the wood finish.

The waterproofing ability of tung oil will reduce dramatically when it hits more than one year.

To apply tung oil over your outdoor furniture over and over you need to keep the tung oil can in a cool dry place with proper storing techniques.

If tung oil already went bad when you think to apply after one year of using, you’ll have to spend on a new can, which is a waste of money.

You need to care for outside furniture that was protected by tung oil twice as much as indoor furniture since they regularly get impacted by harsh weather.

Does Tung Oil Get Rancid?

Tung oil doesn’t go rancid like other oil finishes. Therefore, you’ll be able to keep it fresh as new for so long.

But once the oil gets bad due to the contamination with oxygen, moisture, and other elements, it may go rancid by losing performance.

How Long Can Tung Oil Be Stored?

Unopened tung oil can be stored for even more than decades. Once it is opened and properly sealed by minimizing oxygen level, you will be able to store tung oil for 2 to 3 years.

But without proper storing the oil will get oxidized by outside air and won’t last even 2 – 3 months.

Proper storing is the key to extending the shelf life of tung oil.

Problems That Occur When Tung Oil Go Bad With Solutions

When you apply bad tung oil on wood, there’re several issues you will notice.

Some of them are easy to cure, but others don’t so better to check whether your tung oil is in a fresh state before applying it to your loving furniture.

Here’re some common issues that occur when tung oil is bad with proper solutions.

  • Tung oil Is Sticky

This is a common issue that happens because of using outdated, bad, contaminated tung oil. Usually, tung oil dries and fully cures within 10 – 12 hours under normal environmental conditions.

But sometimes tung oil coats don’t dry quickly and keep sticky for more than weeks.

Here’re the possible reasons why tung oil is sticky for so long.

  • Using the incorrect process when applying oil.
  • Didn’t get enough time to dry between coats.
  • Tung oil is already going bad.

Apply tung oil along the direction of the wood for better absorption without making a mess. Plus, make sure to check the status of tung oil to confirm whether it’s good to use.


Wipe the entire surface by soaking a lint-free soft cloth in mineral spirit to eliminate tung oil coatings.

Then start with fresh tung oil can by following the correct application guidelines as in the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Tung Oil Uneven

Uneven tung oil surface occurs due to improper application process and when tung oil is bad to use.

When tung oil is bad some tung oils were already polymerized due to atmospheric oxygen and they don’t absorb well into the surface. This may cause surface blotchiness and bubbles.


Wipe the entire surface with mineral spirit to eliminate tung oil coatings and start with a fresh tung oil can.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Does Tung Oil Go Bad?

In this article, we have deeply discussed does tung oil go bad and how to stop that using proper storing techniques.

Plus we have talked about how can you tell if tung oil is bad and how to increase its shelf life as well.

Tung oil goes bad easily when getting contact with atmospheric oxygen. Oxygen reacts with tung oil and loses its strength. Store tung oil in an airtight container and fill up empty spaces with pebbles or crush the edges of a square container to make the tung oil can nearly full to minimize the oxygen level.

Furthermore, I’ve answered some frequently asked questions about does tung oil go bad with examples and solutions.

Hope you have gained good knowledge about the shelf life of tung oil.

Make sure to apply things you have learned in this article when storing tung oil after the first use of wood finishing.

Happy woodworking!

Related Posts

Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him! Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Leave a Comment