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Thread: Removing cigarette smoke smell from wood

  1. #1
    TheConfusedChemist Guest

    Default Removing cigarette smoke smell from wood

    I was wondering if this was possible. I acquired a dresser that belonged to a set my mother had. In 2002 when our mom passed away, I had taken the nightstand and the 6 drawer dresser. My older sister took the 5 drawer dresser. She had it for the last 8 years until she passed away in February of this year and I asked my neices for the dresser to reunite the set.

    My sister's boyfriend was a heavy smoker and the smell of cigarettes permeates it. (insert gag icon here)

    Is there anything I can clean it with to rid the dresser of the stench? The whole dresser is painted wood (white) but the top is finished pine. The painted area is also slightly yellowed due to the nicotine from his smoking I guess. I would love to clean that off too but I do not want to damage anything.

    I welcome any suggestions. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Default Re: Removing cigarette smoke smell from wood

    "Smoke smell" is routinely killed in the fire restoration business using shellac....they use something like Xinsser BIN (which is normally white in colour.....HD etc have it)...so you could use that and them paint over it, for the painted part of the dresser.
    For the plain wood then you would use regular clear shellac, two coats should do it....make sure you use de-waxed shellac if you are intending to put anything over that (like clear poly or whatever, if the shellac itself isn't a tough enough finish for you).

    Anyhow, the shellac does work and will kill the smell.

    The other approach involves stripping and refinishing....and even then you would be smart to use a base coat of shellac.

    Julian

  3. #3
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    Ummmm....Frank? :-)

    Default Re: Removing cigarette smoke smell from wood

    No need to get that drastic. 90% of what you are smelling is a film, so you need to remove that first. Wash the outside of the thing down with a TSP solution first, that will get rid of most of the smell. The secret to getting rid of the rest is ozone. Tent the dresser with a tarp and run an air cleaner with a built in ionizer in the tent, or buy an individual ionizer (CT sells one for cars that would be a good size). Run it for a couple of days and the dresser will smell like new.

    Ryan
    I dream of a better world, one where chickens can cross roads without having their motives questioned.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Removing cigarette smoke smell from wood

    Done plenty of these and fire (smoke) damaged ones too.
    The brown film needs to come off. I use paint thinner first, then toluene if there is still some residue. You can use TSP, but if the paint is old, make sure it's a weak solution or you'll end up removing some top layers of the paint.
    Inspect the piece for any unfinished wood/plywood etc........like backs, drawer bottoms etc. These will absorb the smoke and tenaciously retain it. I usually replace the back if it's simple plywood. Also look to see if it has any boards between the drawers and any unfinished wood framing inside the unit. If so, then go the ozone tent route, or be prepared to seal it all up with shellac. There are places you can rent these things or some DR (Disaster Restoration) companies will do it for you, for a reasonable charge. The advantage here is they are set up with large, powerful machines, and you don't have to buy something you will probably never use again.
    When you've done this, put the piece in a unused room for a week and see if there is till a smokey smell. If so, you either didn't get all the pieces or it needs stripping as the finish has become saturated.
    I usually spray shellac over the drawer interiors & exteriors and the inside of the unit, just to be safe. Depending on what the client/insurance company asks for, I may refinish the outside or just "refresh" it.
    Hope that helps................Paul

  5. #5
    TheConfusedChemist Guest

    Default Re: Removing cigarette smoke smell from wood

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Shervill View Post
    No need to get that drastic. 90% of what you are smelling is a film, so you need to remove that first. Wash the outside of the thing down with a TSP solution first, that will get rid of most of the smell.
    I will try this first and see how it goes. Thanks.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Burlington
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    Default If it still stinks

    Fire restoration companies have batches of smoke damaged stuff that they run thru a room with an ozone generator to clear that smell right up. Cost is minimal and results are excellent.

  7. #7
    TheConfusedChemist Guest

    Default Re: If it still stinks

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim in Burlington View Post
    Fire restoration companies have batches of smoke damaged stuff that they run thru a room with an ozone generator to clear that smell right up. Cost is minimal and results are excellent.
    Thanks for the advice Jim. I will look into that as well. It can't hurt calling a few places and getting estimates. I would really like to use this dresser but currently I cannot even walk by it without smelling the stench.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: Removing cigarette smoke smell from wood

    What about cleaning it as suggested and then putting the unit in a large "bag" and spraying Freebreese inside and let it set for a few days.....J

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