How to Fix Sticky Danish Oil? (Find Out Now!)

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Reviewed by
Eral Kadrija

Tony Adams

Danish oil has a thick flow and can turn sticky or tacky if you don’t apply it properly. So, how to fix a sticky Danish oil?

If the sticky Danish oil is wet, increase the temperature around the coating using a hairdryer or heater. This will speed up the evaporation rate and help the coating to dry faster.

You can also damp a rag with mineral spirits and wipe off excess wood oil from the surface so the leftover oil can dry faster. If the coating is dry or semi-solid, you must strip it off and re-apply it.

Why Does Danish Oil Turn Sticky?

The main reason Danish oil turns sticky is that you added too much of it. If there’s too much wood oil over the wood, the evaporation rate will be slow (or reduced), which leads to an increased dry time, and the coating turns tacky.

Also, the excess wood oil can’t penetrate the wood (since the pores are already full), and this causes it to turn sticky. That’s why it’s recommended to wipe the excess wood oil off.

Here are other reasons why this happens:

1. Low Room Temperature

You must apply Danish oil when the room temperature is between 50-90 degrees (F). If the temperature is lower, the coating will take longer to dry since the evaporation rate will be slower. This usually happens during cold months when the humidity levels are high.

Also, if you apply it over a wet surface, the finish won’t dry. That’s because the wet surface will prevent the coating from drying, creating a sticky finish.

2. Too Many Coats

Danish oil is a penetrating finish that needs to penetrate the wood to stick. However, if the wood is sealed, you can’t paint over it. That’s because the sealant produces a glossy moisture-resistant layer that prevents liquid, including wood oil, from penetrating its surface.

Since the wood oil can’t penetrate the wood, it won’t stick or dry. You must remove the sealant first and then apply the wood oil.

3. You Recoated Too Soon

Danish oil has a slower dry time than regular paints; you must wait 4-12 hours between coats. If you re-coat too soon, the finish will turn sticky because the existing coat is still wet, and the solvent hasn’t evaporated yet.

If you apply a new coat, the solvent will become trapped between coats, causing the finish to remain wet longer and eventually turn tacky.

Will Tacky Danish Oil Eventually Dry?

Tacky Danish oil will eventually dry if the oiled wood isn’t drying because you re-coated it too soon. That’s because the solvent will evaporate once the temperature increases and the finish will dry.

However, if the sticky finish is caused by a wet surface, water leak, excess wood oil, or improper preparation, the finish won’t dry manually. In this case, you must remove the wood oil, fix the problem, and re-apply it.

On average, if the Danish oil is still tacky after 3 days, it won’t fix itself, and you must remove it.

How To Fix Sticky Danish Oil?

Fixing sticky Danish oil is easy; just increase the heat around the coating, so the evaporation process completes faster. Once the solvent is evaporated, the coating will become rigid.

1. Use A Hairdryer

Use A Hairdryer

To increase the temperature around the wood oil, use a hairdryer. Direct the nozzle of the hairdryer over the coating for a few minutes to speed up the evaporation rate. This method works if the finish is sticky for less than 48 hours or if the problem is caused by low temperature or humid conditions.

Here is a guide for this method:

  1. Move the hairdryer around the wet coating for 5 minutes.
  2. Wait 10 minutes.
  3. Re-do the #1 step.
  4. Leave the coating to dry naturally.

You shouldn’t completely dry the coating using a hairdryer. That’s because the paint particles will dry too fast and won’t have enough time to harden or compact naturally. This produces a weak finish.

2. Use Mineral Spirits

Use Mineral Spirits To Dissolve And Wipe Off The Excess Danish Oil

If there’s too much Danish oil on the surface, damp a rag with mineral spirits and wipe it off. Mineral spirits will remove the excess wood oil and leave the remaining to dry.

Here are the tools you need:

  • Mineral spirits
  • Clean rags
  • A clean bowl
  • A plastic bag

Here is a guide for this method:

  1. Pour mineral spirits into a clean bowl.
  2. Dip and soak a rag in the mineral spirits.
  3. Use the dampened rag to wipe the affected surface.
  4. Wait 10 minutes.
  5. If the finish is too light, apply one coat of Danish oil and leave it to dry.

3. Use Paint Striper

Use Paint Striper To Remove The Sticky Danish Oil

If the tacky finish is caused by a wet surface, water leak, or improper prep work, you must remove it, fix the problem, and re-apply it. To remove Danish oil, use a paint-stripping compound.

The paint-stripping compound will dissolve and remove multiple layers of wood oil. When this is done, inspect the surface to see what you did wrong, fix it, and re-apply the wood oil.

Here are the tools you need:

  • Paint stripping compound.
  • A pair of gloves
  • Sandpaper (80-220 grit)
  • Mineral spirits
  • Paint scraper
  • A drop sheet
  • A plastic bag

Here is a guide for this method:

  1. Wipe the surface to remove dust.
  2. Prep the paint stripper based on the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Apply a thick layer of the stripping compound over the surface.
  4. Wait 30 minutes.
  5. Use a paint scraper to remove the stripping compound (the Danish oil will come off too).
  6. Wipe the surface with mineral spirits to remove the stripping compound residue.
  7. Sand the wood with 150-grit sandpaper.
  8. Remove dust.
  9. Fix surface problems (if any).
  10. Re-apply Danish oil.

Should You Wipe Excess Danish Oil?

You must wipe off excess Danish oil from the surface after application. That’s because Danish oil is a hybrid oil that contains varnish. So, when you apply it on the wood, the wood oil will penetrate the wood, but the varnish won’t. That’s because varnish isn’t a penetrating wood and will stay over the top layer of the surface and become hard.

As a result, you don’t need too much of the varnish since it wouldn’t soak in the wood. This creates a problem because you need thick coats of Danish oil to allow the wood oil particles to penetrate, but you also need light coats so the varnish particles don’t turn sticky.

The solution is to apply thick coats of the Danish oil, wait 30 minutes for it to soak into the wood, and wipe the excess so the varnish doesn’t turn sticky.

How To Prevent Sticky Danish Oil?

To prevent sticky danish oil, do the following.

  1. Always wipe off the excess 30 minutes after application.
  2. Leave enough dry time between coats.
  3. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Apply it only at the right room temperature and drying conditions.
  5. Use a hairdryer to speed up the evaporation rate.
  6. Don’t apply too many coats of Danish oil. 

Final Words

In summary, you can fix a sticky Danish oil by increasing the temperature and evaporation rate. Once the solvent evaporates, the coating will become dry and hard.

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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