How to Care for Acacia Wood

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Dear Home-Ec 101,
I have a dispute to settle. My husband and I recently bought the most beautiful, rustic acacia wood dining table. However, a couple of days ago we noticed that it is starting to crack here and there. Yes, we are young and with a house full of Ikea furniture it did not even dawn on us that we would have to take special care with our new lovely table in this dry, desert climate (we live in Las Vegas.) We did some googling and found that it is recommended to use a wax on acacia wood. However, my husband’s parents said NOT to use a wax but an oil instead. Help!
Confused in Las Vegas

how to care for acacia wood

Heather says:

Photo Credit: Justin

Do you know what I love about Home-Ec 101? I’ve been running this site for just about 4.5 years and I learn things almost every week, researching answers to reader questions.

I had heard of acacia trees, but I only pictured them as the scrubby trees seen in movies like The Gods Must Be Crazy. I was trying to picture how these trees would be useful for furniture, so I began to research. It turns out there is an Australian species of acacia that is quite large and useful for timber and furniture. Neat.

The important thing to remember about all wood is that it was a living organism. Just like you, plants are made of cells that contain a lot of water and just like you would dry out in Las Vegas, so will your table. We coat wood with different protective coatings* to try to keep the moisture at the proper level. Too much moisture and the cells will swell, too little and they will shrink to the point cracks, that can lead to splitting occur.

The interesting thing about your argument is that you are both right, just not at the same time. It doesn’t really matter whether you choose an oil or a wax, just that you don’t switch between the two.

Furniture oils and waxes both create a protective barrier between the wood and the air and as with any debate on the Interwebz, people tend to defend their choice with vehemence.

So, how do you choose?

Furniture oils must be applied often, but the application is quite painless.

Furniture wax or paste wax creates a harder finish that can last up to a year on high-use furniture (like tables) and much longer on items that serve a more decorative function. However paste wax is a pain in the rear to apply and you’ll probably spend a good morning or afternoon on the application, but a quick buffing will keep the piece looking good between applications.

furniture care guide
Click the picture for more tips!

Finally, keep in mind we are discussing furniture polish, not finish. The finish of a piece of wood is the stain or varnish and that also acts as a protective barrier for your table. The furniture wax or polish also helps preserve the finish.

Whatever you do, stay far, far away from any product with silicone. You’ll thank me later when it comes time to strip and refinish your table.

Good luck!

*It rubs the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again.

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13 thoughts on “How to Care for Acacia Wood”

  1. Silence of the Lambs quote…loved that movie!

    Is a beeswax with orange oil the same as regular wax or does it need to be reapplied often? I have one really nice end table that is as old as I am. I would like to keep it from drying out. How often should I apply the beeswax?

  2. @JanKennedyHouston I couldn’t help myself.

    I need to do a little more research. Typically paste waxes with some carnuba are preferred because they give a harder, more durable finish than just beeswax. Most of the time plain beeswax isn’t recommended due to cost and the fact that a blend is usually better. (Obviously what you are using is a blend)

    It’ll take me a couple of days to get this up (the queue is backed up at the moment) and I want to be sure I answer it fully for you. 🙂

  3. I used Howard’s beeswax and orange oil on all of my wood as it appears to moisturize as well as coat. It applies like an oil, requires little rubbing, and leaves a fairly durable finish behind. I typically wax quarterly, but right now am waxing monthly to keep the delicate veneers on my Danish modern and Ikea pieces protected against this year’s 100+ temps and severe drought. (I have no AC in most of my house right now due to remodeling, so most of my best pieces are getting some rough treatment this year.)

  4. My acacia wood console table is pale so I waxed it with the darkest Minwas available — it dried and on the second or third day had faded back to its pale color. Any ideas for that? Do you know if I stained the table, would I have to do something special to clean off the wax?

  5. My name is Shirley. Read the above, but my acacia wood product is a cutting board and I am
    wondering how I clean it after each usage. Thanks.

  6. I have just bought a collection of acacia furniture and I wanted to know how to care for it. I was told that it has a waterproof finish and just dust it and wipe over with a damp rag and then a dry rag. If you spill anything on it just wipe up with a damp rag and then a dry rag. Has anyone else been told that their acacia furniture is waterproofed? I bought it as a reputable furniture store.

    I can’t find any information on the internet regarding waterproofed acacia furniture.

  7. I just bought an acacia wood table for my new home and it has a very funky smell to it. It was made in china per the sticker on the bottom (as are most things these days) but it is just beyond me why on earth it smells like that. It also has been making me sneeze some. Any tips or suggestions are much appreciated. Thank you!

    • VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are in a lot of wood finishes and are what allow the finishes to stick to the wood. Unfortunately, they also give off a lot of odor, too. Keep the table in a well-ventilated room for as long as possible. Due to their volatility, they will eventually dissipate, but it can take a while depending on the finish used.

    • Hi Blanca, I am going to assume that your Acacia furniture is REAL wood… and not that particle board stuff ?
      I bought a complete bedroom set of dresser, queen bed, end tables , Acacia wood, from Vietnam. I had awful Off Gassing when I 1st got it. Try to keep your room well ventilated if you can. The smell will eventually go away … but it is horrible until it does. If you are having health problems from the smell… some people air it in their garage for a week or so, until the smell dissipates. Hope this helps? I love my Acacia furniture……. Penny


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