How many of you pass up a vintage bookshelf or a dresser at a garage sale because a previous owner had never heard of a coaster? Instead they sloshed down their moist glass and left ghostly white rings all over their wood surfaces. Up until 8 years ago, I had no idea that these rings for the most part could disappear.
We used to own a 1940's mahogany buffet and hutch. They were in beautiful condition until I brought home a thrifted home fountain. It was a bubbly kind that was meant to create a relaxed sound in your home. I mistakenly placed it on the buffet hoping to be magically taken away to a Hawaiian island. Instead I discovered a week later that my peaceful fountain had leaked ever so slightly and left a nasty white mark on my nearly perfect hutch. The fountain went straight to the garage and my peace went out the window.
I couldn't believe that I had placed a thrifted fountain on my beautiful wood buffet. How was I going to hide it from Dave was my first question. How was I going to fix it was my second one. Luckily I didn't go out to the garage and grab a sander. Instead I grabbed my favorite natural cleaning book Clean House Clean Planet and searched there.
The answer was so simple: Oil & Salt. I first sprinkled salt down on the buffet and added some olive oil to a paper cloth. (I don't remember if the suggestion was another oil but I used what I had on hand and haven't switched to anything else) Next I slowly scrubbed the salt into the white mark with the oil as a base. Slowly the white started to fade away. It wasn't as if it was never there but it did take most of the obvious mark away. Dave didn't notice a thing.
This is a Jens Quistgaard design by Dansk. It is made of teak and is very sought after by those that collect Mid Century Modern. hi+lo modern has a wonderful range of Dansk products including many of wood items. Take a look at their prices on some of these items. This piece originally had a glass dome. You can see a sold one here. I always pick them up if they are a good price.
I used a brush over the sink to wipe away all the salt. When the salt was removed I took another paper towel and I really worked the oil into the wood until it was nearly dry. One site mentioned that you shouldn't use olive oil because it can go rancid. We've used it on our cutting boards for years and haven't really noticed an apparent rancid smell but I probably should look into a better oil. WoodBin Woodworking mentions a few good eco-friendly suggestions for wood.
If you want to do this on a piece of your own furniture, I would suggest just trying a little spot to make sure that you are happy with the process and the result. Without saying too much....let's just say this works in emergency situations when you aren't at home and the children start water coloring in a place they shouldn't be painting.
Hopefully this tip will open up your choices for buying furniture and wood items at future sales and thrift stores. If you ReSell this could be helpful for making sure your wood items look the best they can before you list them.