How to Remove Smoke Stains from My Cupboards

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Hi Home-Ec 101
I had a candle burning under the edge of my cabinet, and it got hot enough to burn it. Some of it is light, and some a pretty dark burn.  I have attached pictures. I tried baking soda and water, didn’t work. The furniture markers and crayons did not work. I’ve read about a super fine 0000 steel wool but need to buy some first.
I thought I would write to you to see if you have any suggestions.

Burnt in Brunswick

Heather says:

Well, there are a few things we can learn from this picture. First, the burn has gone a little deeper than just that protective lacquer/varnish/finish of the cupboard. These cupboards appear to be real wood instead of the laminate-type cabinets you find in many apartments or rental situations.

You are on the right track with the steel wool suggestion. Steel wool can sometimes be tricky to find in the hardware store and lately going to one of those big box stores has not been my favorite experience, so I’m going to suggest heading to your locally owned hardware store. They probably really need the business and know exactly what aisle the super fine steel wool 0000 is on and may even go and grab the box/bag for you.

Bring this picture with you and ask for a very small can of stain that closely matches your cabinet. Why? Because as soon as you have removed the dark patch, you are going to need to replace the finish to protect the bare wood below. While the stain is not going to match while wet, you may want to test on the bottom portion to make sure you are pretty close in color. (Wait until the stain is dry before deciding to do the whole patch.)

If the steel wool isn’t removing the burnt area at a reasonable pace, you can switch up to sandpaper, but do not go any coarser than 220 grit. Why? You’re not trying to sand a divot into your cabinet. You’re trying to delicately remove as little as possible until you reach the unburnt material below.

Good luck. I hope you don’t need this advice in the future!

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