Can Used Motor Oil Preserve Wood? Find Out Here!

  • By: HOP Posting
  • Date: November 26, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

People are always looking for ways to preserve wood from rotting away. Some will discover new methods while some will stick to ‘old tricks. Motor oil has been widely used over the years and it seems to gain momentum and popularity by the minute. This, therefore, begs the question; can you use used motor oil to preserve the word?

Used motor oil can help preserve wood by preventing it from drying out and cracking. This is because wood coated with oil attracts black fungi and forms a ‘biofinish’, which then protects it from sun degradation and rot. Other benefits of used motor oil on wood include: 

  • It helps keep moisture out of the wood and is also effective in keeping insects from boring into the wood.
  • Motor oil can also help repel water, dirt, and other debris from the surface of the wood.

Keep reading to find much more on the effectiveness of used motor oil and how you can use it to preserve the wood.

Using Motor Oil for Wood Preservation 

No one would want to put money into paints and preservatives when the solution is sitting right there in your garage. Stains and cracks on wooden furniture, trailer decks and fences can cost you in repair bills. However, used motor oil can prevent wood rotting by soaking into the wood and stabilizing it. 

You can also mix motor oil with diesel in a 1:1 ratio or add coloring followed by applying it on wooden surfaces for a glossy brown finish. It can be reapplied as needed, depending on the amount of sun exposure. That said, I wouldn’t use it on indoor woods since it doesn’t dry off quickly and will always have a weird smell to it. 

This practice is suitable for all types of wood, except exterior oak. The most commonly used wood oils are Danish oil, Teak oil, Tung oil and Linseed oil. 

It is important to note that used motor oil should not be applied directly to the wood, as this can cause staining and other damage. Instead, it should be diluted with a solvent such as mineral spirits before being applied.

Here is a video that might help. 

Does Oil and Diesel Mixed Treat Wood? 

Most petroleum-based solvents are excellent wood preservatives. Diesel is particularly one of the best for this purpose, and it can also be used for staining. This is because diesel solvents can easily and quickly be absorbed into the woods.

Using oil and diesel on wood will help condition it. It also makes it water & rot-resistant by soaking into the wood pores. This process will slow down the absorption of water into the wood, thus making it durable and rot-free.

Keep in mind that used motor oil should be applied liberally to the surface of the wood.

Here is a video that might help. 

How to Stain Wood with Oil and Diesel? 

Applying diesel and oil on wood for preservation and staining purposes is easy and effective. You do not need a professional to do it for you unless you don’t have time in your hands. All you need is the oil and a piece of sponge or cloth. Follow these steps for application.

Step 1: Examine Your Wood

Examine your wood before staining for any rot and other inconsistencies. Choose a suitable color and decide on whether to use either used motor oil or diesel or a mixture of both. Whatever you choose, it is good to note that they both need hours to dry.

Step 2: Mix your Oil and Diesel in the Right Proportion

Measure the oil and diesel in the right ratio and mix them well. Use a metal container for mixing and ensure that you are working in a well-ventilated area. Thoroughly stir the mixture until they are completely infused.

Step 3: Stain Your Wood

Now you are ready to stain your wood. Either use a sponge or a cloth to apply the mixture to the wood. If you are using a reusable brush, wash it thoroughly with spirit.

Here is a video that might help. 

Best Oil for Wood Preserving

An oil finish is the best thing you can ever give to your wood. They are mostly eco-friendly and non-toxic. This method of preservation is the best for an even textural grain pattern and protection of the wood. Here is a list of some of the oils you can use on wood.

1. Linseed Oil

It is also known as flaxseed. This oil is one of the most popular wood finishes. It works by saturating deep into the wood. It prevents scratches and effects from environmental changes that alter the look and the composition of wood.

You will love the satin finish from this oil. A smooth layer will accentuate the true color of your wood and the grains underneath. On the flip side, it gets hard for the linseed oil to dry. It can take weeks. It also contains toxic components and chemical compounds.

2. Tung Oil

This plant-based oil finish will enhance and protect your wood. It is clear and can dry easily. It works best by penetrating deep into the grains of the wood and keeps it from drying & cracking. Tung oil has become a staple for most artisans over the years, and it does an excellent job for them.

This oil is all-natural and is extracted by cold pressing tung seeds. It is also non-toxic and eco-friendly. It maintains the original color of the wood over the years, and unlike other oils, its quality and effectiveness do not degrade.

3. Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is derived from petroleum. It is clear and odorless. It is also non-toxic and edible without causing any poisoning. Mineral oil is mostly used in chopping boards, wood utensils, tables, among other food carriers and containers.

Besides having a sophisticated wood finish, it has been dermatologically approved for use in manufacturing skin products. Most baby oils contain this oil, and this should tell you how gentle and effective it is. On the flip side, when it comes to serious wood oiling, this oil does not have the best effectiveness compared to others. 

4. Walnut Oil

Just like the mineral oil, this oil is used as a wood finish for food holders. It is non-toxic and contains food-safe properties. This multipurpose wood protectant is made from a walnut tree which is edible and non-poisonous. This oil takes time to cure completely. However, if you must speed up the process, you can use mineral spirits. It is ideally good to let your oil naturally dry off to reap a bounty from it.

5. Danish Oil

This exquisite wood finish is one of the most popular among wood preservatives. This wood finish is not as natural as most other oils because it contains several other chemicals & toxins along with thickeners and thinners. It protects your wood from the inside out. 

This oil is an excellent drying oil that is very easy to cure. It contains all the natural oils in it for outstanding performance. One of its outstanding traits is its resistance to a chemical reaction. It also protects against scratches, heat, and stains.

Here is a video that might help. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the used motor oil need to be changed? 

You should apply a new oil coat twice a year. This also depends on factors such as the finish, how often you use that piece of furniture and the type of wood. 

How long will it take for the used motor oil to preserve the wood? 

Depending upon application, the number of layers applied and the temperature, motor oil should take about 24-72 hours to dry enough in-between coats. 

Is there a certain type of wood that works best with used motor oil?

Motor oil works well with all types of wood, except for exterior oak. However, you should only use motor oils on exterior woods due to the off-putting smell they have. 


Can used motor oil preserve wood? Yes, it can, however, using used motor oil is only best for outdoor woodwork. It is one of the less expensive methods for preserving wood as compared to linseed oil and other premium preservatives, especially for large-scale projects. Be sure to apply multiple layers and oil your wood at least twice a year for the best results. 

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