What is Tung Oil?

Tung Nut Image

The tung nut

The tung tree is indigenous to China. Chinese merchants used tung oil back in the 14th century to waterproof and protect wooden ships from the eroding powers of the sea. The tung tree is named for its heart-shaped leaves (tung is Chinese for heart).

Tung oil is produced by harvesting the nuts that grow in a cluster. They are dried and shucked and the, transparent oil is squeezed from the seeds inside. This rich oil never loses elasticity and penetrates deep into the pores of the wood. The tung tree matures to bear fruit in about 3 years, and an acre of tung trees will produce about 2 tons of tung nuts and yield about 100 gallons of tung oil annually.

Until hurricane Camille in 1969, there were many tung tree plantations in the Gulf States, and while domestic tung oil production is making a comeback, most tung oil comes from China and Argentina.

Waterlox has been using tung oil as the ideal base in wood finishes for over 90 years. Why?

Because tung oil is…

  • Completely Natural and Renewable comes from the nut of the tung tree
  • Time-Tested – used as long ago as the 14th Century to waterproof Chinese ships
  • The best-penetrating drying oil available – smaller molecules penetrate even the densest woods
  • Remains elastic – moves with wood during the changes in seasons and is easy to maintain

However, Tung oil alone is NOT recommended for use on floors, counter tops, and furniture that are heavily used because it doesn’t’t form a film and will therefore water spot, not stand up to foot traffic, attract dirt, and need to be reapplied frequently.

Waterlox’s exclusive process takes tung oil, resin, mineral spirits, and other ingredients to produce a complete wood finish that gives you the look and feel of a naturally-oiled wood, with the additional benefit of forming a surface that is waterproof, stands up to foot traffic, and protects against household spills. Like pure tung oil, Waterlox is easy to apply, repair, and re-coat when necessary.