What we called Bug Juice is an aging product that helps take the new out of unfinished wood. It reacts differently to different woods, sometimes by greying the wood, sometimes but just taking out “the new.” We used it on our projects under all exterior surfaces. Acrylic washes can be used to enhance the color once the wood has dried. It is based on an old aging formula used by gunsmiths. For us, it is a combination of white vinegar and old rust, our old rust being tools found under an abandoned house, and rusted machinery parts. New rust doesn’t seem to get the same results.
Many have asked why we named it Famous Thomas Bug Juice. No, it had no real bug juice in it. It was just a silly name we dreamed up one night— a combination of Noel remembering they called grape juice Bug Juice at Y Camp, and borrowing from the name of onetime cookie king “Famous” Amos, hence Famous Thomas Bug Juice.
Note as of May 9, 2020: Alas, we no longer make Bug Juice due to a recent downsizing to a small apartment—please feel free to try making this on your own. We started by wirebrushing old, rusted metal—hand tools, horseshoes, railroad spikes, the heavier the better. After getting rid of must of the rust, rinse the iron in fresh water, put it in a bucket, and cover it with white vinegar. You can size down the operation to make a jarful, but don’t be tempted shortcut by using steel wool, iron shavings, cheese graters–it just makes for mucky, murky juice. The idea is to get a clear product at the end. Let the iron soak overnight, or 24 hours, then pour the liquid off into a clean container, leaving the sediment behind. What you have poured off should look pretty clear to start, not rusty—the rust color develops over time, but isn’t necessary for the Juice to do its work. It may take a few soakings and brsuhings to get your iron primed for Bug Juice, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t seem to work at first. Happy Bug Juicing!