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White Rings in Wood Finish

At Christmas dinner, my son placed a basket with hot rolls on the dark wood china cabinet. That evening, we found a white cloudy area under the basket. I assume the steam from the rolls caused this. What are my options?


A white ring on a wooden coffee table is caused by moisture absorbed into the table’s clear finish. Professional re-finishers call this effect blooming. Most blooming can be removed by rubbing with mild abrasive to remove a thin coat of finish in the white area. Use automobile polishing compound, rottenstone and mineral spirits, 0000 steel wool, or even cigar ashes and mineral spirits.

Carefully rub the area with the abrasive until the white bloom disappears. Be careful, and go slowly; It may take quite a bit of rubbing. Since this removes a fraction of the surface finish, you must re-wax the surface to touch up the gloss. You may even need to touch up the finish if the bloom is deep. Consider using an oil finish for a touch-up.

The good news is that a white bloom is usually only in the clear surface finish. A darker stain indicates wood damage below the surface finish. This could require complete refinishing.