How to Remove Heat Stains From Wood Table- Expert Tips

Lumber is a preferred surface for furniture as it features an inherent ability to make a space more elegant. However, the significant tradeoff for the above attribute makes it more susceptible to heat stains. And worse still, these ugly, white blemishes are inevitable on wood tables due to repeated use. So, let’s engage in the topic, How to Remove Heat Stains From Wood Table, to learn how to remove these blemishes.

The most common strategy involves toothpaste and baking soda. But first, clean the wood table with a dry or damp rag. Then mix two tablespoons of baking soda to one tablespoon of toothpaste in a bowl. Proceed to rub the mixture to the heat stains and wait for ten minutes. Finally, wipe off the paste gently.

That said, check out more detailed information about heat stains, their causes, and the best way to handle wood tables for more longevity.

What Are Heat Stains?

Heat marks or heat stains are slight discolorations that appear on wood furniture. They result from hot objects sitting on the lumber for extended durations. Please note that hot items include everything from hot coffee to hot dishes and even a hot pizza box.

In addition, although wood tables are often sturdy and durable, they do not react well to too much heat. Thus, you’ll observe gray and white stains after placing hot substances on the surface.

It would be best to remove these stains as soon as you notice them. Otherwise, they will persist for many years, adversely affecting the table’s aesthetics. So, constantly assess your furniture for blemishes to remove them ASAP!

What Causes White Heat Marks on Wood?

Heat marks on lumber are a product of heat and moisture combinations. The heat from hot substances opens up the wood’s pores, creating a perfect space for water to enter the material. Then, as the lumber cools, the pores close and trap the moisture.

The moisture changes the wood’s color and alters its overall appearance. Even worse, it leaves an ugly stain that may be hard to remove. Also, please note that heat marks are white, not black. Black stains are a result of rot, charring, or oxidation.

On top of that, although heat stains are a heat result, hot objects are not the only culprits. Moisture also contributes to the blemishes and changes the wood’s look. Worse still, it may leave white stains all over the surface.

Lastly, it is prudent to know the cause of heat marks on your wood furniture. Unlike white heat stains, black stains do not involve moisture. And thus, they require a different removal technique.

How to Get White Heat Marks off Wood Table

Heat stains are a blend of moisture and heat. Wood pores expand when the material contacts hot objects and absorbs moisture. Then, as the lumber cools, the water remains trapped and leaves notable heat marks.

Also, remember that various heat marks need different removal strategies. So, check the following methods that will help restore your wood’s natural and natural look.

  • Removing White Heat Stains On Wood Table Using Toothpaste

Over time, toothpaste has been a fantastic approach to attacking and removing stains. It is an alkaline product and reacts to blemishes uniquely. And even better, you do not need the gel kind to yield results as the regular paste is enough.

Most toothpaste kinds contain baking soda and may give a satisfactory result. But it is best to mix it with more baking soda before application. This way, you’ll guarantee the best possible outcome.

Interestingly, you cannot use any toothpaste, though. Gel and white toothpaste do not have the same ingredients, and gel products will not work for heat stains. Therefore, only go for the regular paste.

The materials needed for this project include toothpaste, baking soda, and a clean cloth. Then, follow the procedure below for accurate results.

  • Use the cloth to clean the surface. Also, it is okay to use a damp rag to remove stubborn dirt. But ensure that the surface is dry before proceeding.
  • Get a small bowl and blend the baking soda and toothpaste to create a paste. You can add some water drops if the paste does not form well. But it is best to try without water first.
  • Rub the baking soda/toothpaste mixture on the stained wood table. Then, wait for ten minutes for the formula to interact with the wood’s moisture.
  • Use a clean cloth to remove the paste. However, be careful not to press the surface too hard.

Fortunately, there are other multiple techniques to remove stains. Therefore, check these different strategies if the toothpaste one does not work.

  • How to Remove Heat Stains From Wood Using Hairdryers

Removing heat stains by applying more heat to the wood seems counterintuitive, but it is a proven and effective strategy to remove white stains. Fortunately, tools to use are widely available and among them is a hairdryer.

Remember that heat got the stains in the wood, and it can also remove them. In addition, the heat reopens the lumber’s pores and removes the trapped moisture. Check out the procedure below to deliver an excellent outcome.

  • Get the correct supplies for the project. They include a hairdryer and a cloth.
  • Use the rag to clean the table’s surface and allow it to dry completely.
  • Adjust the hairdryer to the lowest heat setting.
  • Move the accessory gently over the heat mark till it disappears.

Also, use a moderate heat level on the lumber to avoid leaving more heat stains or a charred surface.

  • How to Remove Heat Stains from Wooden Table Using Iron

Iron is another appliance you can use to remove heat stains from a wooden table. The heat will reopen the wood pores, removing moisture from the material. It will also help reverse the staining process and eventually remove the heat mark.

The materials needed for an excellent outcome are steam, iron, a cloth, and wood finish. Also, check out the tips below. 

  • Clean the wooden table or surface. Also, it is okay to use a damp cloth, but ensure that the wood is dry before proceeding.
  • Place a cloth or towel over the heat mark.
  • Adjust the iron to a low heat setting and run it over the cloth. In addition, keep the iron moving to keep the heat from being too intense. Otherwise, some wood furniture items will warp.
  • Apply steam when ironing tougher stains. Some blemishes have been on the surface for an extended duration and thus need steam for removal. However, only use steam when you are sure that the stain is stubborn.
  • Alternatively, sprinkle some water drops on the iron and towel until the water becomes steam.
  • Keep the towel on the surface to protect the wood table from direct moisture and heat. Also, apply the steam in small amounts and for a short duration.
  • Lift the towel and assess the wood to see if the stain disappears. Then, stop applying the heat when you get the desired result.
  • Finally, apply a finish to protect the wood table from further damage. Also, invest in some heat coasters and mats.

Old wood is susceptible to warping under heat. Thus, ensure that you use the recommended heat level. In addition, use a towel to protect the wood during ironing and steaming and keep checking it to know when to stop applying heat.

  • Removing Heat Stains from Wood Using Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise, like some oil-based products, proves helpful in removing heat stains. Also, despite the paste being unconventional, it could be the solution you are looking for to revive your wooden table.

On top of that, mayonnaise releases the trapped moisture in the lumber’s fibers, which causes heat stains. And fortunately, all you need to have are the correct supplies and then follow the instructions below for a perfect result.

  • The primary materials needed for this project are a piece of cloth and the mayonnaise formula. Luckily, they are widely available and easy to get.
  • Use the cloth to clean the surface. And you can also utilize a damp rag, only that you allow the wood to dry well before going to the next step.
  • Apply the mayonnaise over the heat mark and let it settle for about two hours.
  • Wipe the excess formula with a dry cloth.

Lately, you can use whatever mayonnaise amount that gives the best outcome. But, please avoid applying too much for easy cleaning.

  • How to Remove Heat Marks on Wood Table with Oil and Salt

Oil and salt use the same concept as mayonnaise. They release the trapped water in the wood, eliminating the heat marks. Also, you can use either lemon or olive oil, depending on what is available.

Olive oil is pretty easy to use; 

  • Get enough olive oil for your work, some salt, and a piece of cloth.
  • Start by cleaning the wood’s surface to remove dirt and debris. In addition, it is okay to use wood veneer for a better result when dealing with deep-seated dirt.
  • Mix the oil product and salt in a container to form a paste. 
  • Apply the formula on the heat mark and let it work for an hour.
  • Wipe off the mixture with a clean rag. But please avoid pressing too hard on the surface.

Note that lemon oil needs fine-grade steel wool to remove the stains. So, ensure that you pick the correct grade level and rub the wood in back and forth motions. Also, follow the wood grain during rubbing to avoid damaging the wood’s finish.

  • How to Remove Heat Marks from Wood with Vinegar and Olive Oil

Vinegar has an impressive history of cleaning wood and gives an effective stain removal formula when mixed with oil. Also, you can use olive or lemon oil for the process, so the ingredients are easy to get.

The other supplies needed include a piece of cloth. Then, follow the instructions below for a satisfactory outcome.

  • Clean the lumber’s surface thoroughly and allow it to dry.
  • Blend equal parts of vinegar and the preferred oil in a bowl.
  • Rub the mixture over the heat marks and let it act for an hour.
  • Wipe off the excess formula with a dry cloth.

Always wipe the wood gently to avoid compromising the existing finish. You wouldn’t want to create more problems.

  • How to get Heat Marks off Wood with Steel Wool 

Believe it or not, super-fine steel wool is an effective way to get heat marks off wood furniture. All you need is fine-grade steel wool, preferably 0000 type, oil, and a clean cloth.


  • Clean the wood’s surface and give it enough time to dry. The goal of the process is to remove trapped moisture from the lumber’s surface. Thus, avoid working on damp wood.
  • Soak the steel wool ball in the oil, either lemon or olive oil.
  • Rub the heat mark with the wool and avoid overdoing it.

Please get the correct steel wool grit size to avoid having scratches on the surface. Also, scratches will look worse than the stain. So, adhere to the recommended tips.

  • How to Remove White Heat Stains from Wood Table By Wood Restoration

The above remedies are quick, DIY ones, but they may not handle much tougher stains. Thus, you need more extensive treatment for the wood, such as an overall wood restoration to remove deep stains.

Unfortunately, wood restoration requires more work as you first have to sand down the wood’s surface. In addition, it would be best to continue rubbing until you remove the stains. Otherwise, your efforts will be futile.

However, the process works magic for old wood and stubborn stains. Therefore, your efforts will pay off. Also, the supplies needed for the procedure include sandpaper and wood finish, which are widely available.

Check out the instructions below for the application process.

  • Sand the lumber’s surface thoroughly until you get to the stain. This step may also require you to remove the existing wood finish. So, exercise some patience until you eliminate the heat marks.
  • Replace the wood varnish or finish with your preferred top coat. Also, it is okay to repaint the wood if necessary.

Lastly, you can consider wood restoration for deeply embedded white marks or old furniture. However, this strategy is only ideal for tough stains. Let it be your last resort after trying all the other techniques.

That said, sometimes, you may have to try out various stain removal methods before you get the desired result. So, let me give some bonus tips on removing heat stains from your wood furniture.

  • Consult an Expert. When seeking 100% protection for your precious wood items, the best thing is to consult a woodworking professional. The person encounters a fair share of heat stains in their work. And thus, they can give expert advice on what to do.
  • Try Different Solutions. I have listed so many stain removal strategies for a reason. Your project may not respond to all of them, so it is prudent to try the other techniques when one fails. In addition, it is easy to know after a few hours if a method works, and you can switch gears ASAP!

Besides, if a method does not work the first time, it may not work even with subsequent attempts. Therefore, be open to other remedies when you do not observe any significant changes on the wood.

  • Always check the Surface. Ensure that you check the wood from time to time when applying the above stain removal processes. Some stains may leave within minutes, while some may take more time.

Also, it would be best to wipe off the formula once the stain disappears to avoid damaging the table. This advice is more critical when applying a heat-related technique.

  • Proceed with Moderation. This point is perhaps the most important tip. Avoid overdoing the above processes; instead, proceed with moderation. You may be desperate to remove the stain but overdoing any of the above steps will worsen the damage.

Here’s One Way to Remove White Heat Stain:

How to Prevent Heat Marks on Wood Table

Prevention is better than cure. And the best way to remove heat marks from your wooden table is by ensuring that you do not deal with them in the first place. Therefore, practice using heat mats, coasters, and placemats to keep heat stains away.

In addition, these accessories will prevent direct contact between the wooden surface and hot items. Thus, you do not have to forego placing your hot pizza box, cups, and dishes on the living room table.

Alternatively, you can prevent heat marks from appearing on your table by varnishing or waxing the wood. Also, it is okay to place books and trays on the surface in the absence of wood mats and coasters.

Do Heat Stains Go Away?

Heat stains appear due to placing hot items directly on wood surfaces. However, what’s interesting is that heat can also remove them. One way is to take an iron or hairdryer and apply heat to the gray stains.

But before you proceed, it is advisable to wash the surface and give it time to dry well before heating. In addition, place a towel or a piece of cloth on the wood furniture to prevent more heat damage.

Let the iron sit on the stained area for a minute and turn on the steam. Otherwise, the process may not yield the desired result. Also, it would be best to wipe the moisture afterward.

Unfortunately, the above solution may not work in all cases. Some stains are more stubborn than others, and different furniture types may respond to other remedies. Therefore, please determine the best solution for your surface to avoid damaging the finish.

On top of that, the type of finish or varnish will determine the method to use. Also, if in doubt of the outcome, cover the surface and move the iron over stained spots. Alternatively, you can use some steam on the wood for a quicker stain removal process.

The good thing is that there are other multiple ways to remove stains if you find the above strategy too aggressive. For example, you can mix baking soda and toothpaste and apply the blend to the surface.

Also, other strategies include: making a paste with salt and olive oil and allowing it to settle for an hour, rubbing some Vaseline on the heat mark and leaving it overnight, or creating a paste with a few water drops and baking soda.

Finally, remember that the above are suggestions that worked in various cases. But they have not undergone testing. So, it would not be prudent to guarantee one method for all wood surfaces.

How Do You Remove Heat Marks From French Polished Wood?

Fortunately, you can employ various methods to remove heat marks from French polished lumber. They include adding more heat to the surface, using mayonnaise or petroleum jelly, and applying toothpaste.

  • More Heat

Applying more heat appears counterproductive, but it is one of the best methods to remove heat stains. Moreover, adding more heat to the equation reopens the wood pores and releases the trapped moisture. Therefore, it reverses the staining process.

Fortunately, there are various accessories to use for this technique. For instance, break out your hairdryer, set it on the lowest heat setting, and aim it directly at the heat mark until it disappears. In addition, use a side-to-side motion and stay a few inches from the surface to avoid heat damage.

Alternatively, you can get an iron for pesky stains. Place a clean cloth or towel on the heat mark and adjust the iron settings. Then, set the tool to the lowest possible setting and run it back and forth over the stain.

Lastly, keep checking the stain to see if the stain disappears. Also, please avoid using steam unless necessary, as it can pronounce the blemish.

  • Toothpaste

Toothpaste is another excellent way to remove heat marks on French polished wood. The trick is in its alkaline ingredients, which react with the heat mark. In addition, the paste lifts the stain, and thus it is easy to remove.

It would be better to use plain white toothpaste without gel, or the procedure won’t work. Then, combine baking soda in 2:1 proportions with the paste to create a thick mixture.

Apply formula to the white mark and give it some minutes to settle before wiping it from the wood. In addition, you may need to repeat the procedure a few times for the stain to disappear. So, allocate enough time for the task.

Also, ensure that the toothpaste and baking soda mixture does not spill to unstained wood surfaces, or else it can remove the existing finish. Thus, use only enough formula on the project.

  • Mayonnaise Or Petroleum Jelly

Oil is a valuable tool in removing heat marks on your French polished wood. Its dense qualities penetrate the wood pores and free up trapped moisture. Thus, since mayonnaise and petroleum jelly are oil products, they work perfectly in this scenario.

Apply the product carefully to the heat stains using a clean cloth for the best results. Also, avoid slopping the formula on, but do not be stingy with it either. Too much oil may compromise the existing finish, while less of it won’t remove the stain.

On top of that, allow the product to settle on the wood’s surface for a few hours. Better still, you can leave it overnight when the stain is particularly stubborn or large. Also, remember to wipe the mayonnaise or petroleum jelly with a clean cloth.

Frequently Asked Questions

 Some of the most common questions on this subject include:

  • How Do I Protect My Wood Table from Heat Marks?

The best way to protect wooden tables from heat marks is to use heat mats or coasters. They keep the wood from direct contact with hot substances. Even better, the accessories will keep the surface free from scratches during use.

In addition, you can also use a book to protect the surface from heat stains and burns. But please ensure that it does not have delicate pages. Otherwise, the heat will damage both the book and the wooden table.

  • Are Heat Stains on Wood Permanent?

Heat stains are not permanent on wood surfaces. They result from water and heat, and it is possible to reverse the staining process. For instance, heat marks occur when wood pores trap moisture.

Therefore, you can restore the wood to its original state by removing this moisture. In addition, multiple techniques help restore the wood’s lovely appearance with no permanent damage.


Whether you are enjoying freshly delivered pizza, a cup of coffee, or anything hot in general, these activities can cause heat stains on wooden surfaces. Worse still, these stains take away the wonder from your furniture, and it would help to learn about heat stains removal. So, check out the detailed discussion on:

How to Remove Heat Stains From Wood Table

Although heat stains are a regular occurrence, we have many solutions to help you deal with the situation. For instance, you can use a baking soda and toothpaste mixture, a fine grade steel wool with some lemon oil, or mayonnaise and petroleum jelly. Also, it is okay to adopt a wood restoration strategy for stubborn stains.

However, avoid overdoing stain removal techniques as it may make matters worse. It is better to remain with a slight heat stain than destroy a whole table.

Image of a woodworker wearing hearing protectors for woodworking

Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

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