Milky white.. what did I just do to my table?!?!

Hello,
I recently stained a pine table with an oil-based stain. Its cool and wet around here right now so it has been taking its time to dry. I wiped it down with some mineral spirits about 10 minutes ago. After a couple of minutes everywhere I wiped is now milky white. Anyone have a clue what I just did wrong? Is it fixable or do I have to start all over?
Thanks!
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BTW, I just noticed that I can scrape the white stuff off with my fingernail. Perhaps another sanding will save the day?
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BTW, I just noticed that I can scrape the white stuff off with my fingernail. Perhaps another sanding will save the day?
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What exactly was rubbing it down with mineral spirits supposed to do? I'm thinking you're correct, the white stuff is a film caused by reaction of the spirits with the oil in the stain that you can probably rub off or sand off, but since I've never rubbed mineral spirits on a freshly stained piece I can't say for sure.
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Greg wrote:

Is it raining where you are? Maybe you included humidity in the mix someplace. I had stained a table top and then after12 hours put on a coat of Minwax oil poly and then realized it was raining. This morning it was nearly wet but not sticky and I said "duh" a couple of times and wiped the surface with mineral spirits but it didn't turn milky white. Now I'm waiting impatiently for the rain to quit and the air to dry before I touch it again.
I used exactly the same combination of stain and oil poly a few days ago when it wasn't raining and that piece looks fine. I'm guessing the rain added something to the mix I didn't need and wonder the the same might have happened to you?
Josie
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Wiping it down with mineral spirits was what you did wrong. Why mineral spirits? You can try to wipe it off with a damp rag. If that doesn't work, you may have to lightly sand all of the stain area and re-apply stain. SH
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What stain was it?
Barry
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Why? Not being critical - just wondering what that's supposed to do?
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Well, I put the table outside in the sun to help it dry (it was very cool and dark in the garage). The table accumulated a lot of grit and dust from the wind. I figured mineral spirits was better than water. I didn't think it would have any effect. That was obviously a bad guess. I definately won't do it again. :-)
Several people are confused why I used mineral spirits. Im curious why it would ruin the stain? I obviously lack some fundamental understanding of how all these chemicals interact. Thanks, everyone, for all the info and advice!
Greg
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It won't hurt it your stain, Greg. It will, however, spread it about just a bit if you rub too hard.
Sounds like you got a bad cure due to age of finish - partially cross-linked - or the temperature, which will give you a partial cure. As mineral spirits is a solvent for the oil, it tried, but all it did was yank the partially cured sticky stuff to the surface.
Temperature first, then look seriously at your oil stain and see if it's sedimented. Take some wet/dry and some mineral spirits for solvent, clear the top to even it out, perhaps a stain and fast wipe for color. Keep things up near 20C/68F or be prepared for more of the same.

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Sounds like there may be water under your finish.
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OK here's a down and dirty solution. What you are experiencing is called "blush" in auto paint terminology. Lacquers blush when there is too much humidity. Painting a car with lacquer in on a rainy day is disaster. There is a solution when you just have to do it. I am including a couple paragraphs from a book I wrote a few years ago. It is about auto painting, but I found it worked when painting polyurethene on wood. With a minor experiment, you may find it works with stain. I also included a paragraph on "fish-eye", I hope this helps. For wiid working, I would measure a teaspoon of Retarder to a cup of stain, and try it on pine.
Retarder- In highly humid areas or on rainy days, lacquer will show moisture in the paint finish. This is called "blush", and will show as a white area, and can make a paint finish appear blotched with color variation. The better the grade of thinner, the less chance for blush. The only remedy for a blushed finish is refinishing unless you catch the blushing immediately. Blush can be eliminated by adding "Retarder" (buy at auto paint supply) to the mixture of paint and thinner in the spray cup. A little retarder goes a long way. It is "chemically hot" lacquer thinner. Essentially it turns cheap thinner into a slower drying medium thinner, which allows time for the moisture to rise out of the paint. Retarder will raise a medium thinner to a good thinner grade for drying purposes. Retarder is not recommended for use on every paint job because it eats into the previous paint and plastic filler, raising imperfections where they wouldn't normally show. When blush begins to appear, I add 3 oz. of retarder to each quart of thinned paint in the cup. It is advisable to wait for several minutes between coats of paint to see if blush will reappear. If it does, you may want to add another ounce of retarder to the paint cup, or wait for more ideal painting conditions. If blush appears after the final coat of paint, spray a mixture of 80% thinner and 20% retarder quickly over the entire surface. Overlap onto the older surface. This will assure a good blend, it cleans the spray gun, and helps eliminate blush. Remember, if blush is persistent, you have the option of stopping until a less humid day.
When you have finished painting, return the paint remaining in the spray cup to the can. Avoid problems, DO NOT return paint with retarder to the can.
Fish-eye Remover-
Painters occasionally rely on an additive called fish-eye remover. It is usually packaged in 4 ounce and 8 ounce plastic bottles with pump tops. This product is an additive that only requires one to four squirts of liquid in an entire quart of thinned or reduced paint to do its job. Fish-eye remover eliminates spots in the paint which resemble fish eyes. The surface will show circles like oil drops on water, and unless corrected, the paint finish will be ruined. The condition is caused by oil vapor in the air (from spraying a silicone lubricant or exhaust fumes), finger prints, contaminated paint, and dirt.
At the first indication of fish-eye, the painter adds one to four squirts of fish-eye remover to his paint cup, and continues spraying. Fish-eye remover will retard the hardening process and increase flow out, which helps remove the fish-eye condition. Some painters use the product in every cup of paint they spray, as insurance against fish-eye. I don't recommend doing this, because it changes the properties of the paint, and you may not get uniform results in color and flow out.
Once fish-eye remover is used, continue using it for the rest of the paint job, or the fish-eye remover may cause a fish-eye condition of its own. Use fish-eye remover in both acrylic enamel and acrylic lacquer. Follow the directions on the bottle label. Fish-eye remover sold in a plain bottle without directions or without a label has been transferred from a name brand bottle, and could be contaminated or diluted.
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