Tung Oil and Horses

We have been getting questions while consulting with horse farm clients concerning using Tung Oil based products as the best choice for barn wood waterproofing and beautifying. We are asked whether pure tung oil is toxic or poisonous to horses.

While PURE Tung Oil can be toxic to horses if ingested in large amounts, such as eating the nuts of a Tung Tree, we believe it is safe for use as a component in wood finishes used for equine structures. We would not recommend PURE Tung Oil on surfaces where a horse can possibly chew, even though the quantity ingested would likely be miniscule.

Waterlox is a polymerized Tung Oil Finish combined with a resin that is used to waterproof and beautify numerous surfaces in a horse barn such as stalls, walls, and wood ceilings.

Waterlox does not create a film on the wood , unlike multiple coats of polyurethane that could be easily ingested when Polyurethane peels or flakes.

Waterlox and Horse Barns

Once Waterlox has fully cured, it typically forms a hard, inert coating within the surface. This curing process can reduce the likelihood of any potentially harmful substances being released. Waterlox is widely used for wood countertops, and even wooden bowls and classifies as a “food safe surface.

However, horses that chew or “crib” on wood may still ingest small amounts of any finish that is impregnated in the wood. The safety in this scenario would depend on several factors:

Curing Time: If the finish has not fully cured, there might be a miniscule risk of tung oil exposure. Allow 24 to 48 hrs cure time before putting stall into service.

Quantity Ingested: Even if a substance is not highly toxic, ingesting large amounts could be harmful.

Specific Formulation: Different formulations of other Tung Oil based products might have varying levels of toxicity. Waterlox has served as the finish of choice among our equine industry clients in Lexington, and across the country for many years.

Individual Sensitivity: Some horses may be more sensitive to certain substances.

For clients who have elevated concern determining their best wood sealer and finish, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian familiar with equine health, as well as reviewing the specific product information for any other finish being used. If there is any concern about toxicity or the health of the horses, it may be prudent to use a different type of finish in some cases.

We are available to clients to discuss this or any wood finish topic.

Consult with an Expert here for your project.

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