Tung oil is a natural drying oil that’s been in use for centuries, it is also one of the many wood finishes available today. But, you might be wondering, “How long does Tung oil take to dry?”

Time is essential for a Tung oil project and other projects in general. That said, knowing how long it takes for Tung oil to dry enables you to plan and allocate enough time.

The worst you can do is underestimate the time you need to complete your projects. Please find out how long it takes for Tung oil to dry, the difference between Tung oil curing time and drying time, and other helpful tips.

Let’s get started.

How Long Does Tung Oil Take To Dry?

If you’re using pure Tung oil (without any dryers added and mixed with it), it will take around 24-72 hours to dry enough in-between coats. On the other hand, modified Tung oil product needs about 30 minutes to dry to the touch. 

Origins of Tung Oil

Tung oil is extracted from Tung tree nuts whose origins are primarily in China. This oil is a natural drying oil used to coat the wooden surface with a transparent and lustrous finish.

It enhances the wood grain, offers excellent protection, and is eco-friendly. No wonder it can’t always miss on the list of the best furniture oil for wood.

Factors that Influence Tung Oil Drying Time

Tung oil is one of the drying oils, but the waiting time before it dries can be painstakingly unbearable. Several factors play a role in how fast pure Tung oil will dry.

You ought to know about them to decide how to remedy and optimize the drying environment.

  • First issue, humid or cold weather conditions make it difficult for Tung oil to dry and eventually cure. Low temperatures and higher humidity slow down the drying time of surfaces coated with Tung oil.
  • Over application of Tung oil or applying thick coats can take your project forever to dry. It could also be a case of applying the oil and failing to wipe off the excess oil on the surface.
  • Poor ventilation and less air circulation in the area where Tung oil has been applied could stall the drying process of Tung oil.

How To Make Tung Oil Dry Faster

Knowing the factors affecting Tung oil dry time, you can optimize the drying conditions to finish your project faster.

Tung oil dries faster in warm and dry weather like any stain or paint project. That means your best bet is to work during high temperatures and low humidity.

However, if warm weather isn’t in the forecast, consider using a space heater, air conditioner, or turning up the thermostat to warm up the space. Using a dehumidifier is also a good idea when working in a highly humid atmosphere.

You can also make Tung oil dry faster by applying thin oil coats at a time. It is also recommended to always wipe off excess oil after a few minutes of application.

Ensure there’s adequate ventilation throughout the  Tung oil project. Ventilation guarantees fresh air exchanges, promoting a faster drying process. Ventilation can be done by opening windows, turning on fans –overhead and portable fans.

Another practice you can try, especially if you are using pure Tung oil, you can thin the oil using the recommended thinner like turpentine. Use the thinned oil for the first few coats.

What Is The Difference Between Tung Oil Dry And Cure Time?

Drying time and curing time refer to two different scenarios. Yet, it is easy to confuse or use them interchangeably. So first, let’s clear the air about these two terms before we proceed.

Dry time means the recommended length of time you should wait between coats of product applied –recoat time.

While cure time refers to the recommended amount of time, a finished project should wait before being subjected to daily use and heavy traffic.

Generally speaking, drying time is much shorter (days) than curing time (weeks to months).

How Long Does Tung Oil take to Cure?

Pure Tung oil will take anywhere between 30-45 days to cure under optimal curing conditions. However, Polymerized Tung oil should be able to cure fully in approximately one week.

How Many Coats of Tung Oil Should You Apply?

You need to apply at least five Tung oil coats (or more) to your project. These layers provide sufficient coating and the desired structural strength to your project.

The more oil coats applied, the more lustrous the final output looks, while fewer oil coats translate to a matte and antique-like finish.

Choose The Right Type Of Tung Oil Finish

Tung oil polishes come in three variations: pure Tung oil, oil and varnish blends, and wiping varnishes. These three products possess the same durability, water resistance, resilient hardness, and color stability that Tung oil adds to a surface.

However, these benefits depend on the actual oil content in the product.

Pure Tung Oil

Pure Tung oil is easily identifiable because it doesn’t contain any solvents or poisonous Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). This makes it a safe option to use on wood and any other material that could contact food. (Read on to find more on tung oil food safety and discover its various uses in the culinary world)

However, using this oil for your projects requires a lot of patience imaginable. It has poor penetration properties, and that’s why you will have to wait a day or two for each coat to harden.

Rushing through the process or applying too thick a coat might cause wrinkling or a tacky surface.

Oil and Varnish Blends

As the name suggests, Oil and varnish blends refer to Tung oil mixed with varnish. Manufacturers create this blend to speed up the slow drying times and simplify application.

Since you will hardly find a product described as an oil and varnish blend, you can still figure it out by reading the application instructions on the can.

For a blend, the instructions often recommend applying the finish and then waiting for the specified minutes before wiping or buffing off the excess product.

In any case, this product is your best choice if you want a faster drying product that still gives the soft luster of an oil finish.

Wiping Varnishes

Wiping varnishes are varnishes that have been thinned or modified enough to be applied by wiping them on with a cloth.

Again, you can tell that a Tung oil product is a wiping varnish if the instructions don’t require you to do a follow-up wipe after application.

That said, choose a wiping varnish if durability and ease of application are factors that appeal to you the most about a product.

Uses of Tung Oil

Tung oil was first used in china as protective oil for ships and structures above and below the ground. However, its usage has been widespread and adopted by woodworkers, hobbyists and crafters.

Tung oil can be used as a beautiful and protective finish on wood floors, decks, siding, cabinetry, furniture, musical instruments, wooden utensils, and even bamboo items.

Tung oil is also suitable for other materials such as metal, concrete, brick, and even stone surfaces.

Recommended Reading: Does tung oil darken wood?

Advantages of Using Tung Oil

Tung oil has a lot to love, and the most popular reason is the eco-friendly properties that make it food safe. In addition, this product is flexible and durable, guarantees waterproofing features to a surface, and keeps it from darkening or developing mold.

Tung oil is also known to cure to a gorgeous matte finish that adds personality to the wood grain, creating an antique-style finish on any surface.

Tung Oil Safety Tips

Pure Tung oil isn’t a problem, but the cloths or stain pads used to apply it can be dangerous –it can cause an unintentional fire –if discarded haphazardly.

Dispose of tung oil rags by soaking them in water in an airtight metal container and taking them to a hazardous waste unit within your region.

Alternatively, you can air them on a non-combustible surface away from direct heat. Once it’s completely dry, it can be disposed of with the rest of the household trash.

Still, if you are using modified Tung oil products, you should wear gloves, masks, and goggles and, most importantly, use them in an open or ventilated space. Also, remember to keep the cap or lid tightly closed whenever the product isn’t in use.

Related Posts: Can You Put Tung Oil Over Stain


How long does Tung oil take to dry to touch?

Tung oil can take anywhere between 24 to 72 hours to dry to the touch. The variation in time frame highly depends on the weather conditions, the mode of application, and the thickness of a coat. It dries faster in a warm and dry atmosphere than in cold and humid ones.

Is Tung oil fast drying?

No, (pure) Tung oil is one of the slowest drying products. However, you can purchase a modified version of Tung oil that’s been blended with other products to improve its penetration properties and, therefore, can dry faster.

Does Tung oil dry tacky?

No. When applied correctly and given enough time to dry, it dries sleek and even. It could be a matte or glossy finish but hardly tacky.

Do you have to sand between coats of Tung oil?

No, you don’t have to sand between coats of tung oil. However, sanding gently between coats can help you achieve a sleek and glossy finish. In which case, you should ensure the coat is dry before sanding. Otherwise, you will ruin what you have created so far.

See also: How to dull a glossy wood finish

How long does Tung oil last?

Pure Tung doesn’t go bad but tung oil polyurethane has a specific shelf life. So regardless of the version of Tung oil, you’re using, you will need to schedule regular reapplication of Tung oil –say once every six months.

Interesting read: Tung oil vs polyurethane.

How long does it take for Minwax Tung oil finish to dry?

Minwax Tung oil takes about 24 hours to dry enough and be ready for recoating. Remember to buff excess product from the surface using a clean, lint-free cloth after about 5-10 minutes of application.

Minwax Tung oil finishes cure time

Minwax Tung oil finish should cure fully after 5 -7 days. Although you can subject the finished surface to light use after 24 hours, you should let it cure fully for a week.


Knowing how long it takes for Tung oil to dry helps you budget for enough time between recoating and the final curing time.

How long does Tung oil take to dry? Drying time should be no more than 24 hours in favorable conditions. But if it needs more time, allow it.

Still, if your concern is on how to strip old or messy Tung oil finish from wooden surfaces, then you should read our article on how to remove Tung oil.

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