How To Waterproof A Wooden Mug?

The aesthetic and eco-friendliness of wooden mugs appeal to most mug lovers and woodworking enthusiasts. Wooden mugs make beautiful gifts and are highly popular among camp goers. There is, however, some reservation in creating wooden mugs, and that is due to the waterproofing. The wooden mug is susceptible to cracking and warping without the correct waterproofing method.

A non-toxic sealant is used to waterproof a wooden mug. A Polyurethane sealant is the most waterproof than oil or wax-based sealants. Oil and wax-based sealants can be used but are better suited to antique mugs. A wooden mug will need more than a single coat of sealant to ensure it is watertight.

Boiling liquids do not hold up well with wooden mugs. Unfortunately, oil, wax, and other sealants are better suited for cooler liquids. Hot liquids may also change the shape of your mug over time or could cause some sealants to fade, affecting the longevity of the wooden mug. Wooden mugs may also give off strange flavors or odors if not waterproofed adequately.

What Steps Are Required To Waterproof A Wooden Mug?

Waterproofing sealants are available in most hardware supply stores, although it may be a bit more difficult to find a sealant in a hardware store that is food safe. Many sealants carry toxic substances which are harmful and could be released when a wooden mug is used. The correct sealant and waterproofing technique will ensure your mug is safe to drink from.

It is also good to ensure your wooden mug is sealed correctly to avoid any liquids from seeping into the wood. If liquids seep into the wood, it could affect the taste of future liquids held in the mug. The most important step in sealing the wooden mug is ensuring that every coat is painted on equally. If some areas do not have the same amount of sealant as the others, it may not be as waterproof as the rest of the mug.

Coat The Mug With A Sealant To Waterproof The Wooden Mug

Place your wooden mug on a prepared surface, using a small brush and gloves, start applying the first coat of your Polyurethane sealant to the mug. If you prefer to use the oil or wax-based alternative, apply a coat of the oil or wax-based sealant to your wooden mug.

Leave The First Sealant Coat To Dry

The first coat of sealant should be left to dry for a few hours. Once dry, sand the mug with sandpaper and repeat the sealing process until there is a total of four coats of sealant applied to the wooden mug. You can repeat the coating process using the oil or wax alternative once the first layer is dry. As the oil or wax coating fades or cracks over time, the wooden mug will need to be coated again.

Wooden mugs require a bit more care than ceramic mugs. It is recommended that you also rinse the mug once to twice per day. If a wooden mug is rinsed correctly, then the mug will not soak up any liquids, odors, or flavors that may have previously been in the mug. Regular upkeep of a wooden mug, including re-applying sealant, will keep the wood in its original condition.

What Finish Can You Use To Waterproof A Wooden Mug?

Wax, non-toxic oils, and Polyurethane can be used as a finish to finish a wooden mug. Wax does tend to build on the outer surface, but clear mineral oil soaks into the surface of a wooden mug and does not affect the wood’s original color.

If opting for an oil-based sealant and not a Polyurethane sealant, Linseed and Tung oil are popular choices. The oil used to waterproof a wooden mug must also be food safe. Many seed-based oils are edible and safe for waterproofing a wooden mug.

It’s also important to consider the type of wood used in making a wooden mug. Some types of wood are better suited to oil-based sealants. With unique hand-crafted items, it may be necessary to keep the organic texture and feel of a wooden mug, then a wax or oil sealant would fare better in waterproofing the mug.

Polyurethane For Making A Wooden Mug Water Resistant

Polyurethane makes a wooden mug water-resistant. This sealant is thin and most effective when used in multiple layers. The polyurethane coating may be more prone to scratches and damage than the more natural oil-based sealants. Buffing and re-coating of the Polyurethane layers are recommended to extend the lifespan of the wooden mug.

Mineral Oil Offers Greater Water Protection For A Wooden Mug

Clear mineral oil will not affect the original color of a wooden mug when waterproofing it. This oil can offer greater water protection than beeswax because it soaks into the surface of the wood and does not just remain on the outside of the wooden mug.

Tung Oil Preserves Wooden Mugs And Is Water Resistant

Tung oil is also a clear oil that will not impact the color of a wooden mug. This oil also steeps into the wood and hardens to protect the outer layer of the mug. When Tung oil is used, the oil does not get absorbed by the liquid in the mug.

Walnut Oil Adds A Darker Finish And Waterproofs A Wooden Mug

Walnut oil is another alternative sealant for waterproofing a wooden mug. Although some walnut oils can be dangerous due to some variants containing toxic chemicals, other sealants are safe to use. Walnut oil differs from the other oils, and some may prefer using it because it adds a darker finish to the wood.

For Water Resistance And A Yellow Tint Use Linseed Oil

Linseed oil gives a wooden mug a yellow tint, further enhancing the natural beauty of the wood. Multiple coats are needed to keep the wood waterproof. The downside to this oil is the long drying period and possibly toxic chemicals, but natural versions are also available.

Using Beeswax To Seal A Wooden Mug Avoids Harmful Substances

Beeswax is a relatively good sealant for waterproofing a wooden mug. There are no harmful substances in beeswax. The beeswax can provide great water resistance but must be re-applied regularly. Beeswax is flavorless and will fade over time. When a wooden mug starts to look chalky and loses its shine, then it will need to be re-coated.

Beeswax is also good at keeping your wooden mug stain-free and keeps it from drying out. Woodwork enthusiasts also make their wood polish using a combination of beeswax and mineral oil, and this also works well as a sealant in waterproofing a wooden mug.

Can A Wooden Mug Be Completely Waterproof?

In theory, a wooden mug can be waterproof. All of the sealants provide water resistance but need to be maintained over the lifespan of the wooden mug. Extra coats are needed as previous coats lose their effectiveness.

Wood is porous, and maintaining water resistance can be challenging. Many wooden mugs are made from wood and other materials as well. Hand-crafted wooden mugs often have an insert of a different material, like stainless steel, to ensure it is water-resistant.

Some finer grains of wood offers more water resistance than others. Even with finer grains of wood, there is always a chance that a wooden mug can retain moisture or leak if the correct waterproofing technique isn’t implemented.

Must You Waterproof A Wooden Mug On The Inside And Outside?

It is best to seal the inside and outside of your wooden mug. When the inner and outer layers are sealed, there is less room for moisture to get trapped. Sealing the mug on a single side has been used in some wooden mug projects, but as a precaution, it’s best to seal both sides for water resistance. If cold and hot liquids are used interchangeably in a wooden mug, moisture may soak in, and the wood can also expand due to the temperature change.

If a sealant is used inside and outside of a wooden mug, there’s a greater chance the mug won’t absorb moisture and leak.

Are Some Types Of Wood Better For A Waterproof Wooden Mug?

There are two types of wood that fare better in being water-resistant. The white oak and the olive wood. The white oak and olive wood are known for durability and strength. White oak may be difficult to work with because of its strength. Olive wood is also a very tough wood to carve and very strong and keeps the temperature of your drink at the same temperature for a longer period.

Other popular types of wood used for carving mugs and other objects are Cherry, Cedar, and Black Walnut.

Cherry Wood’s Grain is Water Resistant For Wooden Mugs

Cherry wood ages easily and is more expensive than other woods. It does shrink while carving but adds a sophisticated look to your wooden mug. This wood is easy to carve and resists warping and shrinkage exceptionally due to its close grain. Cherry wood also makes it a good option as it’s slightly more water-resistant than other wood types.

Water Resistant Wooden Mugs With Cedar Wood

Cedar wood is a colorful wood with palettes ranging from dark browns to creams and yellows. This wood makes any carved object look beautiful. It is easy to carve and offers the same water resistance as other varieties. The natural scent of the cedar wood may be lost when applying sealant.

Strong And Water Resistant Wooden Mugs With Black Walnut

Black walnut wood comes in a light brown and dark brown color. This wood is strong and fine-textured, and when exposed to water, it does not warp or shrink, making it a suitable option for a waterproof mug. The finer texture of the grain in the walnut wood will also be less prone to water getting through.

Are There Other Methods To Waterproofing A Wooden Mug?

There are alternative methods to sealing a wooden mug. The most popular alternative way to waterproof a wooden mug is by using stainless steel, plastic, or a glass insert for the inside of the mug, while the rest of the mug is made out of wood. This waterproofing method is more reliable and will not need extra care or re-coating in the future.

Stainless steel inserts are more widely used compared to glass and plastic inserts. The stainless steel inserts are easily inserted into the center of the mug and can be used for both hot and cold liquids. The look of this type of mug can resemble a traveling mug, but it does depend on the design. Stainless steel inserts will prevent water from seeping into the wood and preserve the design of the wooden mug.

Glass inserts are not often used for wooden mugs and are much more difficult to find. Glass inserts offer the same amount of waterproofing as stainless steel inserts. They can be a good alternative in waterproofing a wooden mug if using an insert over a sealant.

Glass also risks cracking or shattering if dropped and may not handle wood’s expanding and contracting nature compared to the stainless steel liner. The glass insert is also very appealing and can add a sense of luxury when used inside a wooden mug.

Plastic inserts are also used in a wooden mug. Plastic is not very environmentally friendly, but it works well as an insert in wooden mugs. It may affect the natural authenticity of a wooden mug, but it offers excellent water resistance. Many wooden mug manufacturers and woodworkers use plastic inside of their mugs and a plastic coating on the outside to waterproof their wooden mugs.


There are a few different options to waterproof a wooden mug. Natural sealants and polyurethane are more widely used and easily available when waterproofing a wooden mug; these sealants can also be used to enhance the color of the wood while offering water resistance.

Alternative waterproofing products, including glass, plastic, and stainless steel inserts, can be used; these are less maintenance and extend the longevity of a wooden mug. No waterproofing option trumps the others, and the best waterproofing method will depend on the woodworker and their wooden mug design.


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