How to remove heat marks from wood

How To Remove Heat Marks From Wood

Learn how to remove heat marks from wood with this guide from Wood Furniture Store, experts in real wood furniture. Removing heat stains isn’t too hard with the right technique and materials. The real trick is doing it without damaging the furniture’s surface! Read our top tricks and step-by-step instructions.


Heat Stains

Heat marks happen. From placing a coffee mug on a wood table to putting down a hot pizza box, heat can damage the surface of your wooden furniture, making it unsightly and damaging the material. 

Skip to how to remove heat marks from wood, or continue reading for information on causes and prevention.


What Causes Heat Marks On Wood?

Heat marks on wood are caused through a combination of heat and moisture. When a hot item comes in contact with real wood, the heat opens up the pores in the material and water enters the wood’s surface. As it cools, the pores close, trapping the moisture.

The moisture alters the appearance of the wood, changing its colour and leaving behind a stain. 

Heat marks are white. If the mark is black, then it’s likely to have been caused by charring, rot or a process of oxidation — this is most common in older furniture. It will require different techniques to remove those kinds of stains.



The best thing to do is to prevent heat marks. This is easier than removing them!

To prevent heat marks, protect the surface of your wooden furniture with coasters, heat mats or similar. Keep hot items from directly interacting with your table or other surface by placing something between them.

Coasters and heat mats are inexpensive, but if you’re in a fix you can always use a book or something similar as an emergency coaster!

preventing heat marks with a coaster

Removing Heat Marks

There are various methods you can use to remove heat marks from your wooden surface. Mostly, the idea is that you need to open up the pores and remove the moisture, but there are various techniques and materials that can help you to do this.


1. Toothpaste

Toothpaste can be a great way to lift stains because it’s an alkaline and can react with stains to remove them. Toothpaste commonly contains baking soda, but we suggest mixing it with more baking soda to ensure it has the best possible effect.

Be sure to use ‘white’ or non-gel toothpaste. Gel toothpastes don’t contain the same ingredients and therefore won’t work!


Baking soda to remove heat stain


1. Clean the wood

Use a dry or damp cloth to clean the wood surface. Make sure it’s completely dry before continuing.

2. Mix toothpaste with baking soda

Mix toothpaste and baking soda together in a small dish to create a paste. You might need to add a very small amount of water if you’re struggling to get it into a paste, but try without first.

3. Apply the paste

Apply your toothpaste/baking soda paste onto the stain. Wait 10 minutes as this gives the solution time to interact with the moisture in the wood.

4. Remove

Gently remove the paste with a clean cloth. Be careful not to press down too hard.


If the toothpaste method doesn’t work, try one of the other techniques.


2. Using an Iron

Applying heat will reopen the pores, allowing the moisture to come out. It might seem counter-intuitive to use more heat, but this will help reverse the staining and remove the mark.



1. Clean the table (or surface)

Make sure the table, or the surface in question, has been cleaned properly. You can use a dry or damp cloth to wipe it down — just ensure that the surface is completely dry afterwards.

2. Heat your iron

Set your iron onto low, dry heat — as opposed to steam — and allow it to warm up.

3. Apply the heat

Use an old towel and cover the stain, then apply the iron over it. It’s a good idea to keep the iron moving so the heat isn’t too intense. Some older wood furniture items might warp if in contact with too much heat for too long, so use caution.

4. Use Steam

If you have a particularly tough stain, perhaps one that has been there for a long time, it might require the use of steam to remove it. We recommend not trying steam until you’re sure that the stain can’t be lifted without.

When using steam, still do so on top of a towel to protect the table from direct heat and moisture. Only apply steam in small amounts and not for prolonged periods.

5. Check

Check if the heat has completely removed the stain by lifting the towel and inspecting the surface. Once the stain has been removed, stop applying the heat.

6. Apply a Finish

Once the stains have all been removed, apply a wood finish to protect the table, or other surface, from further damage — and be sure to invest in some heat mats and coasters!


3. Lemon oil

Some people recommend using lemon oil to remove heat stains.

  1. Apply lemon oil to a clean cloth.
  2. Rub the cloth over the stain until the stain is removed.


4. Wood Restoration

Sometimes heat stains are too deep and old to remove with the above methods. When this happens, it’s still possible to restore your wood furniture, but it requires more work.

You have to sand down the surface of your table or other wood furniture until the stain is removed.

It’s essential that you then resurface the table with an oil or lacquer to protect it and finish it once the stain is removed.

Wood surface of table


How To Remove Heat Marks From Wood

White heat marks can be removed from wood with a little patience and getting the right technique. Remember that the older the stain, the more work it is likely to take to remove it. We recommend that you always test a solution on a very small area of your wood table or other item before using it on a larger scale.

If you’re unsure, always consult an expert!

If you want any more advice and tips on how to remove heat marks from wood, then talk to us at Wood Furniture Store. We have a showroom in Grimsby, or you can drop us an email. We’re experts in wood furniture and have a huge collection of quality furniture items available online and in store.

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