At our house we have a wood kitchen-top. We had placed on it a tin can (a typical cookies can), and probably because of some water sitting there, a black ring has been formed where the tin touched the wood. However, the tin does not show any signs of rust.

The kitchen-top appears to be made of hardwood pieces glued together, and only on the top and sides there is some kind of finishing, which has worn off at some places.

The main question is how to remove the ring. Some questions to which the answers would help are also: what is the stain exactly? how can we tell what finishing it has? can I sand it and patch it locally?

The whitening near the ring has been created by using household cleaning material because initially we thought it was rust sitting on top of the wood. We also thought it was a water stain and tried the iron-and-cloth solution, but that didn't work either.

I would like to avoid sanding the whole bench for the hassle that involves as well as the fact that I don't think I'm qualified for that.

Some images:

full ring:

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partial close up:

enter image description here

  • Refinishing is super easy. You just need to sand off the old stain. It's super easy if you have a power sander or can rent one. Then just re-stain and throw some poly on it and you're golden. It's really easy and there are tons of tutorials on the internet. Also, did you try a magic eraser?
    – Jason H
    May 15, 2013 at 18:49

5 Answers 5


Oxalic acid, either in crystal form or as part of a pressure treated deck cleaner/brightner will chemically dissolve the stain. If you use the crystals, use all normal precautions for acids (eye, hand, clothing). You can sparingly apply with a small nylon artists brush. Try 5 min increments (5 on, wipe off, 10 on, wipe off) until the stain starts to disappear.

enter image description here

Once stain disappears, neutralize wood with borax diluted in water or bicarbonate of soda in water.

Replace color with dyes or pigment stains. I like Transtint for its ability to be blended and mixed with either water or alcohol. If you don't like the color direction, you can use bleach and start over.

Once happy with the color, seal it in with a dewaxed shellac. Then top coat with your favorite polyurethane. You may be able to blend the areas by shooting spray poly through a circular mask (5" hole in a 12x12 piece of cardboard, held 5-10 inches away from the floor) which will give you a graduated spray. Practice first.

  • 5
    Oxalic acid is the active ingredient in Barkeeper's Friend cleaning powder. I use this stuff all the time for lots of applications from minor stain removal to polishing glass. May 15, 2013 at 20:07
  • 1
    I just applied a paste of Bar Keepers Friend to a dark ring on a wooden desk and wiped off after several minutes with a damp cloth. Like magic the ring is gone. Genius!
    – user52455
    Apr 8, 2016 at 16:39

Give the area a wipe over so it's slightly damp, then with a very fine paint brush trace the circle with a very fine line of household bleach. Once the stain has faded quickly remove all of the bleach. You may then need to re oil the area.

  • Can you expand your answer and let us know why the bleach would work?
    – Edwin
    Oct 6, 2014 at 4:42

Saw these comments about oxalic acid, brown rings on solid wood worktops, so I researched Barkeepers Friend. I bought some of the powder in a local hardware store, made a creamy thick mix and applied to the first stain. WOW! this stuff really works and is fast and completely removes the brown stains (caused by condensation from the base of beer cans of a well-known brand..) 10 minutes later and over a dozen stains have disappeared as if by magic! Brilliant stuff, great support from this website!


I had far worse stains than this... but I didn't have to sand it.

This actually worked for me:

  1. hot water, washing up liquid, metal scourer pad... and a lot of elbow grease... one by one these stains, even the worst ones, disappeared!

  2. Danish oil... plenty of coats of it... and followed by treating your worktop with "respect", because oak (or whatever) is not granite and never will be. But if you keep scalding pans off it, and re-oil the parts of it which are subject to "heavy duty" punishment every 4 months or so (really not such a big deal) I find it will continue to look lovely.


Those butcher block tops are often poly because it is nice and shiny, but could be oil and wax because it is much more practical.

Either way, sanding those stains is not trivial - it takes a while. But you need to at least get the finish, whatever it is, off the stain before bleaching or sanding or staining the blemish itself. Be sure you have the correct replacement finish before you start!

If the wood was stained before a finish applied, you need to lightly apply a similar stain to get a color match before applying the final finish, it goes without saying. Good luck!

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