If you’ve ever had an item constructed from wood or worked with wood, you know the frustration of finding sticky tree sap clinging to your hands or staining your wood surfaces.

Tree sap can be a stubborn and unsightly nuisance on any wood surface.

Not only does it make the wood difficult to work with, but it can also cause stains and prevent finishes from adhering properly.

That’s why it’s essential to remove sap from wood.

Remove SAP from wood

Learn the best techniques for removing tree sap from wood. From home remedies to commercial products, we will provide you with all the tips and tricks you need to get rid of sticky tree sap.

How Sap Affects The Appearance & Functionality of Wood

Sap can be a real issue for woodworkers and homeowners alike. Not only does it make the wood surface sticky and difficult to work with but it can also cause several other issues including:

1. Staining

Sap from trees can be particularly troublesome when it comes to wood surfaces as it tends to leave behind unsightly and hard-to-remove stains if it is left to dry on its own.

These stains can be time-consuming to clean making prevention the best strategy for keeping your wooden furniture and other items looking pristine.

2. Odor

Certain types of sap have an incredibly strong and unpleasant odor which can be difficult to get rid of even with the most effective deodorizing techniques.

The smell is so pungent that it can linger in the air for days or even weeks.

3. Finish Failure

It is absolutely essential to ensure that all sap is removed from wood surfaces before applying a finish.

Otherwise, it will prevent the finish from properly adhering and may result in poor quality, uneven, or patchy surface.

Moreover, any trapped sap on the surface of the wood may react with the finish and cause discoloration.

4. Attracting Dirt & Debris

Sticky sap residue is not only hard to remove, but it can also be a magnet for dirt, dust, and other debris; making the wood surface even more challenging to clean.

As such, it is essential to act quickly to remove the sap before any additional buildup can occur.

How To Remove Sap From Wood?

The key to successfully removing sap from wood surfaces is to catch it early before it has a chance to dry and harden. Here are some signs that you may have fresh sap on your wood surface:

  • A sticky or tacky feeling when you touch the wood
  • A shiny or wet appearance
  • A slightly sweet or resinous smell

If you notice any of these signs, it is time to take action and remove the sap before it becomes a more stubborn problem.

Method 1: Using Rubbing Alcohol

Dealing with sap on wood can be a frustrating experience, but fortunately, there are several effective methods to remove it.

One of the simplest and most readily available solutions is using rubbing alcohol.

Gathering Materials

Before you begin removing sap from your wood surface using rubbing alcohol, you’ll need to gather the following materials:

  • Rubber Gloves: Sap can be sticky and difficult to remove so it is a good idea to protect your hands with rubber gloves.
  • Cotton Balls: You will need something absorbent to help soak up the sap and rubbing alcohol.
  • Rubbing Alcohol: Rubbing alcohol is a solvent that can dissolve the sap and make it easier to wipe away.
  • Kitchen Paper

Steps For Using Rubbing Alcohol To Remove Sap from Wood

Once you have all the necessary materials, you can begin using rubbing alcohol to remove sap from your wood surface. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Put on your rubber gloves to protect your hands.
  2. Soak a large-sized cotton ball in rubbing alcohol.
  3. Gently rub the soaked cotton ball over the sap making sure to cover the entire affected area.
  4. Repeat steps 2 to 3 till there is no more sap on your wood.
  5. Soak up any remaining rubbing alcohol and dissolved sap by gently pressing a piece of kitchen paper onto the affected area. Afterward, wash the wood surface thoroughly to remove any traces of alcohol or sap residue.

Advantages of Using Rubbing Alcohol To Remove Sap

  • One advantage of using rubbing alcohol to remove sap from wood is that it is a relatively gentle and safe method that won’t damage the wood surface.
  • It is also readily available at most drug stores and supermarkets.


  • Rubbing alcohol can be less effective on dried and hardened sap, and it can also be more time-consuming to remove sap using this method compared to other more aggressive solvents.
  • Additionally, it may not work well on certain types of wood, so it is important to test a small area first to ensure it won’t damage or discolor the wood.

Method 2: Using Heavy-Duty Stain Remover

If rubbing alcohol alone is not effective at removing the sap from your wood surface, you may want to try a heavy-duty stain remover. Here is what you will need to gather before you get started:

Materials Required

  • Stain Remover: If you need to remove stubborn sap, it is worth considering a product specially designed for stains. It’s essential to choose one that is safe for wood surfaces though, so be sure that the product you go with meets these criteria.
  • Soft-Bristled Brush or Toothbrush: A soft-bristled brush can help you scrub the stain remover into the affected area without damaging the wood surface.
  • Protective Gloves: Stain removers can contain harsh chemicals that may irritate your skin, so it’s necessary to wear protective gloves when handling them.

Steps For Using Stain Remover To Remove Sap From Wood

  1. Put on your protective gloves.
  2. Apply a small amount of the stain remover directly onto the sap.
  3. Let the stain remover sit on the sap for about 15 minutes.
  4. Use a soft-bristled brush or toothbrush to gently scrub the sap in a circular motion.
  5. Rinse the dissolved sap and stain remover thoroughly with water.

Advantages of Using Stain Remover

  • Heavy-duty stain removers can effectively dissolve and remove tough sap stains.
  • Some stain removers are formulated to be safe for use on wood surfaces.
  • This method is less time-consuming than some other methods.


  • Stain removers can contain harsh chemicals that may be harmful to the environment or your health.
  • Some stain removers may damage or discolor certain types of wood.
  • If not used correctly, stain removers can potentially damage the wood surface.

Method 3: Using Mineral Spirits

Some materials needed for this method are:

  • Mineral Spirits: Mineral spirits are a type of organic solvent with many uses. Removing paint and cleaning surfaces are two common applications, while they can also be used to remove sap from wood.
  • Soft-bristled Brush or Toothbrush: Using a brush with soft bristles is beneficial when scrubbing wood surfaces as it prevents any kind of damage to the wood.
  • Clean Cloth or Rag: This is used to apply the mineral spirits and wipe off the sap.
  • Gloves: Protects your hands from mineral spirits and sap.
  • Protective Eyewear: To protect your eyes from mineral spirits.
  • Respirator or Mask: To protect your lungs from the fumes of the white spirit.
  • All-purpose cleaners.

Steps For Using Mineral Spirits To Remove Sap From Wood

  1. Wear protective gear. Put on gloves, protective eyewear, and a respirator or mask to protect yourself from the fumes of the mineral spirits.
  2. Dip a clean cloth or rag into mineral spirits and apply it to the sap. Make sure the cloth is wet but not dripping.
  3. Allow the mineral spirits to sit on the sap for a few minutes for it to effectively dissolve it.
  4. Scrub the area with a soft brush. Be gentle and don’t scrub too hard as it can damage the wood.
  5. If there is still sap remaining, repeat the process until all the sap is removed.
  6. After the sap is scrubbed out, rinse the wood to remove any residue from the mineral spirits.
  7. Afterward, use an all-purpose cleaner and rinse off the surface again.
  8. Use a dry cloth to wipe off the water and allow the wood to air dry completely.


  • Mineral spirits are readily available in most stores.
  • It is effective in removing sap and other types of stains from wood surfaces.
  • It is relatively easy to use.


  • Mineral spirits are highly flammable and should be used with caution.
  • The fumes from the mineral spirits can be harmful if inhaled.
  • It can be harsh on some types of wood finishes so it is important to test it on a small area first.

Method 4: Using Turpentine

Turpentine is derived from the resin of pine trees and has been utilized throughout history to thin paint, clean oil-based products, and dissolve sap from wood surfaces.

Its natural solvent properties make it an ideal cleaning solution for a variety of tasks.

List of Materials Needed

  • Turpentine: It is a great way to dissolve sap that has accumulated on wooden objects. Its solvent properties provide an efficient and effective cleaning solution.
  • Sponge: To use turpentine, it is necessary to have a sponge handy to apply it and subsequently wipe away any sap residue.
  • Protective Gloves: It is essential to don gloves before handling a strong solvent as it can be abrasive and cause skin irritation.
  • Bristle Brush: Bristle brushes are effective in removing any sap and other residue stuck to wood surfaces without causing damage.
  • Blunt Knife: A blunt knife or plastic scraper can be used to gently scrape away any hardened sap that is stuck to the surface of the wood.

Steps For Using Turpentine To Remove Sap From Wood

  1. Gather the materials needed; turpentine, a rough sponge, a blunt knife, a stiff bristle brush, and safety gear such as gloves and a face mask.
  2. Using a rough sponge, apply turpentine to the sap and thoroughly rub it in. Exercise caution while applying turpentine on wood, as too much of it can ruin the color and shine of the wood.
  3. Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area and away from any sources of flames or sparks.
  4. If any sap remains on the wood’s surface, use a blunt knife or plastic scraper to remove it.
  5. Scrub the area with a stiff-bristled brush, following the grain of the wood. Doing so will help you remove any sap and residue left on it.

Advantages of Using Turpentine

  • Turpentine, which is widely available at most stores, is a perfect solvent for various applications.
  • It is an efficient method of eliminating sap from wooden surfaces.


  • Turpentine is a highly flammable and toxic chemical that requires careful handling and storage.
  • It can be harmful if ingested, inhaled, or if it comes into contact with the skin or eyes.
  • Turpentine may also discolor or damage the wood if overused or applied incorrectly.

Method 5: Using Heat

Applying heat to sap has the benefit of solidifying it into a crystal-like form, which makes it easier to extract from wood. As the temperature increases, water vapors escape, thus resulting in a more concentrated & hardened state.

Materials Needed

  • Heat Gun or Hair Dryer: Heating tools are used to draw the sap out of wooden surfaces by heating the area and helping solidify the sap, making it easier to extract.
  • 220-Grit Sandpaper: This is used to gently sand the area.

Steps For Using Heat To Remove Sap From Wood

  1. Start by using a heat gun or hair dryer to apply heat to the sap on the wood surface. Move the heat source back and forth until the sap begins to melt and soften.
  2. As the sap is heated, it will begin to crystallize, which makes it easier to remove.
  3. Keep scraping away the sap crystals until no further sap drips out of the wood.
  4. Carefully use a fine 220-grit sandpaper to clean the area and make sure not to be too rough, to avoid damaging the wood.

Advantages of Using Heat To Remove Sap From Wood

  • This way of removing sap is not only kinder to the environment but also avoids using harsh solvents. It is especially suitable for those who may have allergies and sensitivities to chemical-based cleaning products.
  • Leaves the wood surface relatively unharmed as long as the heat is applied carefully.

Disadvantages of Using Heat To Remove Sap From Wood

  • It requires the use of a heat gun or hair dryer – which may not be readily available.
  • Using too much heat or leaving the heat source in one spot for too long can cause damage to the wood surface. It is important to use caution and to continually move the heat source around to prevent any damage.

Method 6: Using Soap Solution

Soap solution is another method that can be effective for removing sap from wood.

Materials To Use

  • Soap: This mild soap is effective in removing grime, dirt, and grease from wood surfaces. It is safe to use on finished and unfinished wood.
  • Hot Water: Hot water is beneficial to use when trying to take away sap as it softens and helps it come off with ease.
  • Clean Cloth: Used to apply the soap solution and to wipe off the sap and soap residue.
  • Fiber Brush: The brush scrubs off the sap without damaging the wood surface.

Steps For Using Soap Solution To Remove Sap From Wood

  1. Mix a solution of warm water and any mild soap in a bowl.
  2. Dip a clean cloth into the solution and apply it to the affected area, making sure to saturate the sap thoroughly.
  3. Let the solution sit on the sap for a few minutes to allow it to break down.
  4. After evenly spreading the solution, use a fiber brush to scrub the wet surface.
  5. Rinse the area with hot water to remove any remaining cleaning solution and residue.
  6. Dry the wood thoroughly with a clean cloth.

Advantages of Using Soap Solution

  • The combination of soap and hot water creates an effective and safe cleaning solution that won’t harm the wood surface.
  • The soap solution can be used safely on various wood types.
  • Soap solution is non-toxic and mild compared to some of the harsher chemical cleaners available on the market.

Disadvantages of Using Soap Solution

  • The method may not be as effective for stubborn sap stains.
  • Soap solution may not work for all types of sap like those that are particularly sticky or have dried onto the wood surface.
  • This process may take a bit more time than others such as the use of solvents or heat, but it can be well worth it.

Safety Precautions When Removing Tree Sap

When removing tree sap from wood, you need to be cautious.

Potential Hazards When Working with Solvents and Chemicals

  • Some solvents are flammable and can pose a fire hazard.
  • If you are working in a poorly ventilated area, you run the risk of inhaling fumes which can be harmful to your health.
  • Prolonged contact with certain chemicals and solvents can cause serious skin and eye irritation; they may cause respiratory problems, chemical burns, or other health-related issues.

Protective Gear To Wear When Removing Sap From Wood

To minimize the risks associated with working with solvents and chemicals, wear the appropriate protective gear. Here are some items you should consider wearing:

  • Gloves: These will protect your hands from coming into contact with toxic materials.
  • Eye Protection: Wear safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from splashes or fumes.
  • Mask: If you are working in a poorly ventilated area, a respirator protects your lungs from inhaling fumes.
  • Long-Sleeved Shirt &Pants: Covering your skin can help protect it from coming into direct contact with harsh chemicals.

Tips For Working Safely & Minimizing Risks

  1. Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when working with products.
  2. Make sure to use solvents in a place where there is adequate ventilation. Furthermore, steer clear of any heat sources or flames when utilizing them.
  3. In case you come in contact with any chemicals, ensure you quickly cleanse it off using soap and water.
  4. Never mix different solvents; this may create dangerous reactions.
  5. Before applying any cleaning agents or solvents to a larger area, test them on a small, inconspicuous spot first to ensure they don’t cause any damage or discoloration.
  6. If using a heat gun or hair dryer to soften the sap, be careful not to hold the tool too close to the wood surface, as this could damage the wood or cause a fire.


There are several effective methods for removing tree sap from wood surfaces – from using household items like soap solutions to more specialized products like mineral spirits and turpentine.

It is worth trying a few to find what works best for your specific situation.

Beyond removing tree sap, it’s crucial to properly maintain and care for your wood surfaces to prevent further damage and ensure their longevity.

Regular cleaning, sealing, and protection can go a long way in preserving the beauty and durability of your wood.

So don’t be afraid to experiment with different methods and take the necessary safety precautions while working.


Baking soda can absolutely come in handy when removing sap. Simply combine a few spoonfuls of baking soda with some lukewarm water to make a paste.

Once prepared, apply the paste to the area and let it sit for a few minutes before thoroughly wiping it off with a clean cloth.

Goo Gone is a commercial adhesive remover that can be effective on a variety of surfaces.

Apply Goo Gone to the affected area and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping away any residue. Goof Off is another product that removes sap.

Absolutely. Apply olive oil to the affected area to help break down the sap on the table.

However, note that this method may require more time and effort to remove the sap completely. Use a scrubbing tool to work on the affected area.

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