Stains are an important part of the final look of wooden furniture, and they preserve the wood from everyday wear and tear. Finishing a piece off with a stain is a no-brainer, but what should be considered – by both the makers and customers – is what makes the stain in the first place. Wooden furniture will often have toxic stains that are made with chemically-derived components that create fumes. Those in the market should know that there are alternatives to these ingredients for all types of wooden furniture!
Why Are Some Toxic Stains Dangerous?
People often think that safe stains are just suitable for baby furniture. Babies like to chew things, so cribs should have safe dyes; for “grown-up” tables and chairs, regular stains are fine, right? This idea is incorrect. Furniture can release toxic chemicals into the air we breathe through a process called “off-gassing.” This is the by-product of the toxic chemicals used to coat wooden furniture. Off-gassing has a strong odour sometimes, and other times the symptoms are all you feel.
The effect comes from toxic stains that use chemically-derived or petroleum-based solvents to seal the wood. One example of a harmful ingredient in these solvents is formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a probable carcinogen, and furniture polishes and stains often use it as an adhesive. It is also a “volatile organic compound” or VOC, and it can come off the furniture and pollute the air. VOCs aggravate allergy and asthmatic symptoms. These chemicals can build up in the air of your home over time, causing air pollution and worse symptoms.
The Effects Of Off-Gassing
The rate of off-gassing diminishes over time, but it never truly goes away. VOCs can come off the furniture as long as the stain is there. Off-gassing can last long after the lustre these materials give is lost. However, the rate can increase when a room is hot and humid, and the effects can be greater in tighter spaces. You’ll be exposed to off-gassing all the time when furniture with toxic stains is placed in a small, poorly ventilated room.
Some stains will give off an overwhelming odour that can cause dizziness and nausea, but the problem doesn’t have to be so overt. Even if there isn’t any odour, many people still experience headaches, allergic reactions, skin and eye irritations, and even asthma. Long-term exposure can cause liver and kidney damage, and even damage to the central nervous system.
Safe, Beautiful Furniture From Wood On Steel
These long-term health effects are why furniture-buyers must make sure everything they take home is safe for the entire family. We make all of our furniture with the same non-toxic stain and clear coat. Restaurant tables often use this clear coat, meaning it’s super durable and resistant to damage – you could leave a spot of red wine on a table overnight and just wipe it off the next morning without any lasting stain.
Working only with safe stains keeps us safe, too! When your job is working closely with wood and stains all day, you have to use proper safety gear. We can make that easier on ourselves by choosing the right materials and making the final product safe for our customers, too.