News flash. Teak oil can be poisonous to dogs, cats, and other household pets. It’s commonly used to oil teak furniture to prevent fading to a silvery patina. Teak oil poses a serious threat to your extended member of the family and several pet owners have come across this discovery.
Teak oil is commonly recommended and is widely available at local nurseries and hardware shops. Some teak oils will indicate that they can be harmful with notes or a large “X” displayed prominently on the label. The root cause of the danger, a little known ingredient known as Naphtha.
What is Naptha
Naphtha is a colorless and sometimes reddish-brown aromatic liquid very similar to gasoline. It is composed of liquid mixtures of hydrocarbons and can also be a distillation product from petroleum, coal tar, or peat boiling.
Naphtha is primarily used to produce high octane gasoline and is also used as a solvent in the chemical industry. Products that contain naphtha include lighter fluid, camp stove fuel, and some cleaning solvents like teak oil.
Naphtha has carcinogenic properties. It’s very difficult to test the effects of naphtha on living organisms because it is so hard to separate the individual chemical from other chemicals included in the solution.
Symptoms of Teak Oil Poisoning
- If you get naphtha on your skin, it can cause a burning sensation and/or rash within a few minutes.
- If ingested, teak oil may cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. The CDC explicitly states that naphtha can cause damage to the liver and kidney in animals. If your dog does ingest it, you should have him/her drink water immediately so that the oil content is diluted within the stomach.
Some pet owners have noticed their pets behaving oddly, vomiting, and shaking violently. This was without even coming into direct contact with the oil. Simply the aroma was enough to induce negative reactions in some cases. Obviously, this may vary on a case by case basis.
When I wrote my Teak Furniture Maintenance Guide, I wasn’t even aware about Teak Oil Poisoning. Lucky for my conscience, I always advise people to use teak sealer instead of teak oil and not just because of the risk of teak oil poisoning. Teak oil will not prevent fading and it can sometimes cause mildew due to over application.
Teak sealer in contrast, will prevent teak furniture from fading to the grayish patina. That’s not always bad because some people actually like the patina. Case in point, use teak sealer and not teak oil. It can cause mildew, it won’t protect the original hues, and it can be harmful to your pets. For more tips on maintaining teak furniture, you can read the complete guide.
More on Teak Furniture:
- Teak Furniture Care and Maintenance
- How to Remove Watermarks from Teak
- Is Wi-Fi Killing Your Plants
- These Tree Houses Will Make You Wish You Were a Kid Again
About the Author
Cheryl Khan is able to lend her insight on this topic after spending years in the design field. She has learned that all outdoor furniture is not the same. She is a contributing author to the Patio Productions Blog where she shares outdoor living tips to transform your backyard!