Tung oil is a very popular drying oil (one that hardens to a solid, hard layer after setting) that is used to finish and protect items made of wood. There are two reasons why tung oil is so popular in woodworking these days.

  1. Tung Oil is derived from an all-natural source: the seed of the tung tree.
  2. It provides treated surfaces with a very resilient and easy-to-repair finish when properly cured.

However, it does have one rather major downside: Pure Tung oil stinks.

Thankfully, if you want to take advantage of tung oils’ most attractive qualities, you can do so without resigning yourself to its worst aspect. So,

How Do You Get Rid Of The Smell Of Tung Oil?

To get rid of the smell generated by tung oil you must ensure proper ventilation by opening as many windows and doors as you can to allow fresh, clean air to circulate and dissipate the offensive smell.

You can also use activated charcoal products or baking soda to absorb some of the stinks and neutralize the smell.

Finally, diffusing an essential oil can help you mask or get rid of the worst aromas tung oil produces.

What Does Tung Oil Smell Like?

What Does Tung Oil Smell Like?

Tung oil has a very strong, pungent odor that can be best described as a rancid, metallic, or earthy musk.

To be fair, some people don’t find the odor of tung particularly offensive. However, the vast majority of people find the smell unpleasant and quite penetrating.

Complicating matters is the fact that the pungent smell of tung oil can be difficult to remove. This is because the smell is caused by the fact that tung oil releases a large number of VOCs or volatile organic compounds, and these can linger in the air long after the oil has finished drying.

Tips To Get Rid Of Tung Oil Smell

If you have recently used tung oil to finish your wood furniture, countertops, etc. there are a few things you can do to get rid of the pungent and lasting smell.


One of the most effective methods available to those looking to get rid of the tung oil fumes is to ensure proper ventilation of their work area.

Open as many windows and doors as you can in order to provide your work area with a surge of fresh air. This will allow the air inside your work area to circulate out and carry away the lingering volatile compounds that are making the strong odor hang around.

This is especially helpful to those who live in low-humidity environments since dry air tends to make odor molecules concentrate more easily, thus making smells much more intense and noticeable.

Activated Charcoal

Bamboo Charcoal Odor Absorbing BagsAnother effective method to get rid of the tung oil smell is to use an odor absorber containing activated charcoal, such as these Bamboo Charcoal Odor Absorbing Bags (from Amazon).

Placing these bags where the tung oil smell is strongest and most concentrated will significantly reduce the offensive aroma.

This method works because activated charcoal, with its surprisingly large surface area, acts as a magnet trap for the chemicals and molecules that cause smells to linger in the air. Even a small amount of activated charcoal can absorb a large quantity of tung oil VOCs.

If you don’t have immediate access to an odor absorber with activated charcoal, you can use regular baking soda to remove some of the smell.

Simply sprinkle baking soda in and around the area where the smell is the most noticeable and allow it to sit for a few hours before sweeping or vacuuming it away.

Essential Oils

Using essential oils to get rid of the tung oil smell is my favorite method because it is very effective and also leaves your work area smelling just like you want it to.

Humidifier And Essential Oil DiffuserJust add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to a scent diffuser such as this 5-In-1 Humidifier And Essential Oil Diffuser (from Amazon) to get rid of any lingering tung oil smell.

I’m partial to pure lemongrass or pure peppermint essential oil for this task because the cool, invigorating sharpness of these scents cuts right through the earthy muskiness of tung oil.

You can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to a spray bottle filled with clean water and spray your work area to achieve the same effect.

What Does Tung Oil Smell Like?

Final Thoughts On Removing Tung Oil Odor

Tung oil is a wonderful product that has one unfortunate downside: its strong, pungent smell. Fortunately, getting rid of the smell can be done by properly ventilating the area, using an odor absorber with activated charcoal, and diffusing essential oils to mask any lingering odor-causing molecules.

These methods can be used separately or together to quickly and effectively eliminate the pungent musk of drying tung oil. I personally always use all three in combination to make sure that my home stays smelling fresh and clean despite my new tung-oil-finished wood.

Last update on 2024-05-29 at 16:35 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API