How To Thin Tung Oil? [2 Easy and Simple Steps]

Tung oil is used as one of the highly recommended wood finishers. A coat of tung oil will protect and enhance the beauty of the woodwork. To get the perfect finish, you might be needing to thin the oil for a perfect finish. 

So, how to thin tung oil?

Thinning tung oil is one of the easiest processes with 2 simple steps. Thinning can be done using mineral solvents or other natural oils. However, it is better to thin the oil gradually. If you thin the oil at once, it might not give out the best result. 

We have explained in detail the two simple steps. Reading this article will give out a clear explanation to your question. Also, you will know more about thinning and thinners.

Let’s begin!

Why Should You Thin Tung Oil?

To thin the tung oil, first, you should know why you need to thin any oil.

People usually think thinner is a kind of oil. They think it is used to take off the paints from brushes. Which is right. But there is more use of thinner oil than just taking off the paints. 

The reason behind thinning oil depends on the preference of the user. Again the different types of thinners give different results. Thinning with solvents like minerals lowers the viscosity and gives a matte finish. 

On the other hand, thinning oil with other oils will give you a glossier finish. And decreases the drying time but increases the viscosity.

Furthermore, adding thinner makes the oil easier to use. It also makes the oil dry faster than usual. But there is no need to thin the first coat.

Thinner also makes the oil penetrate through the wood smoothly. Thinner smooth outs the brush strokes of the previous layer too.

Again, it can be seen that any oil in your warehouse has been sitting there for a long time. What happens is that it can get thicker or harder. Which makes it not usable. Adding thinner can make it reusable even after months. 

So, that’s all the benefits of thinning tung oil. Now, you just have to ensure that you are properly thinning the tung oil.  

How to Thin Tung Oil Properly?

Thinning the tung oil makes the oil dry faster and increases penetration. However, you should not thin the oil first if the wood is weathered wood. This goes for concrete, old, highly absorbent unfinished woods too.

Often, people suggest using tung oil at full strength. But others suggest using it with thinner. It actually depends on you, which one you prefer to go with. 

Thinning  Pure Tung Oil

So, let’s start with how to thin pure tung oil. The process is nothing complex. Rather with just two simple steps, you can thin your tung oil. 

Step 1:Pick the Best Thinner for Yourself!

The first thing to do is choose a suitable thinner to use. To thin tung oil, you can go with oil-based thinner or choose all-natural thinners. 

Among different thinners. The popular ones are- citrus Solvent, mineral spirit (petroleum-based solvent), naphtha, turpentine, paint thinner, etc. 

But all of these aren’t eco-friendly and are often wrongly marketed as eco-friendly. The all-natural thinner is citrus solvent. And odorless mineral spirit is a much greener option. 

Still before using the thinner make sure it’s not any oil-based thinner. 

For oil-based thinners, turpentine, paint thinner, naphtha, mineral spirits, etc are good. And for all-natural thinner citrus solvent or odorless mineral spirit is a good choice. 

Step 2: Apply the Thinner

Firstly, know that you might need 5-8 layers for the perfect finish. The less thin the oil is the more difficult it is to absorb.

Also, the deeper it gets to the wood, the better. So, we will have to add the thinner accordingly.

It is suggested to thin the oil coat by coat. In every coat, you should use 1:1 oil and thinner. If it still seems thick you can go for a 3:1 oil and thinner combination.

After applying the first coat. You can add thinner on the next coat accordingly. Give 2-3 days to fully cure the previous coat before applying the next coat.

So, with these two simple and easy steps, you can thin your tung oil. 

Do’s And Don’ts of Thinning Tung Oil

Do’s And Don'ts of Thinning Tung Oil 

Now, while thinning tung oil, you definitely know a few things. These will help you thin the oil properly. These do’s and don’ts are mentioned below-

Pick the Best thinner for Pure Tung Oil

In the case of thinning pure tung oil, citrus solvent and mineral spirit are the best choices. But do not go for acetone or lacquer thinner. It will make the oil go bland and affect your woods. 

Don’t Pick Marketed Eco-friendly Tung Oil

In the case of eco-friendly thinners, the marketed tung oils aren’t usually eco-friendly. If mixed with them, the finish of the wood will not be smooth. 

Apply Thin Coats

If you are planning to use tung oil at full strength, make sure you apply thin coats. Thick coats will take time to dry and might not give you a smooth finish. 

Don’t Use Naptha

Lastly, it is recommended not to use naphtha unless you want to dry the oil very fast. 

Keep these pointers in mind while you thin tung oil. 


How long does tung oil finish last?

Usually, the re-application should be done every 6 months. Pure tung oil finish doesn’t go bad that fast. But the polymerized one has a limited lifespan.

Is tung oil Food Safe?

Yes, the pure or raw version of the tung oil is food safe. However, tung oil found in the market is not food safe because of the added chemical. So, make sure to check before using. 

Do I need to sand between the coats of Tung oil?

Yes. Sanding should be done with  400-600 grit sandpaper. If the sanding produces white dust, the oil has dried completely for the next layer. However, do not sand the final coat. 

On what projects can I use Tung oil?

Tung oil can be used as a wood finish for both indoor and outdoor work. Starting from kitchen utensils to boats, you can use tung oil for a shiny glaze.  


So a brief summary of how to thin tung oil has been given. Hope this article has helped you to give a clear-cut idea. And now you know how to thin tung oil and which thinner to go for. 

That’s all for today. Stay safe and have a good day!

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