Some say that if you want to make your home inviting to all guests, paint it a warm, welcoming color. And to some extent, this actually works for many people; there’s nothing quite like a solid layer of paint to bring a room together. However, it is well known that traditional paint is full of chemicals, toxins, and is produced unsustainably. That said, if you’re planning to repaint your home, you may want to consider an eco-friendly, all-natural alternative.
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Benefits of Non-Toxic
To begin, there are a number of benefits with non-toxic paint and its use. First, there are immediate health benefits. Old, traditional paint contains heavy metals and toxic compounds for coloration. In some cases, your house’s old paint may actually contain high levels of lead. In addition to having fewer harsh ingredients contained in it, non-toxic paint also has low odor during the application and no off-gassing, meaning you can get fumes out of your house sooner and with ease. Repainting your home with non-toxic paint is one of many great ways of making a chemical free atmosphere.
Environmentally, because non-toxic paint doesn’t require the same energy intensive manufacturing, there is less waste to be dumped into landfills, less groundwater needed, and fewer ozone depleting pollutants emitted. Partially due to the base being largely water, natural and non-toxic paint doesn’t produce hazardous waste, making for easy and eco-safe clean up.
If you’re still concerned about the manufacturing of your paint and would like an even greener method, try making your own!
Make Your Own
For every gallon of paint, there are five things you will need to bring together: the pigment, binder, filler, solvent, and any other additives. Despite it seeming like a tall job to get all this done yourself, most cities or towns have a local paint shop or art supply store that carries most of what you will need.
Rather than use the traditional ingredients for pigment coloration (i.e. synthetic compounds, metals), choose all natural pigment sources like plants, insects, minerals, and iron oxides. These are often found in powder form, but it tends to vary depending on the producer.
Traditionally, the binder used for paint has its roots in crude oil. Using the byproducts of the refinement process for oil, commercial manufactures produce acrylic and vinyl binders. For all natural paint, you can use the popular linseed oil (pressed flax seeds), casein (protein derived from milk), or even starch (flour).
A filler’s job is exactly what the name implies – it adds mass and texture to the paint base. There are many types of fillers and depending on your binder, some may be more appropriate than others. Clay, for example, reinforces the binding ability of starch (plus, its free if you have clay in your backyard!). Other ideas include powered chalk, marble, or limestone.
Conventionally, these are what produce that “new paint smell”. Unfortunately, what you’re smelling is volatile organic compounds that can cause headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Choose natural solvents like natural turpentine or citrus thinner, but beware, these also emit levels of VOCs, albeit much lower.
These are any extra ingredients you would like to add into the mix. Generally, these are used to prevent the growth of mold and improve water resistance. If you’re going all natural, there are sand additives you can use among other things.
Find any recipe online or simply peruse your local art store for ideas and suggestions. If you’re looking for a simple start, you can try with flour paint and then move on to more complicated oil based paints, primers, and glaze.
Keeping Safety in Mind
If you do plan to repaint your home, consider removing the old toxic paint first. Doing this, however, can be toxic itself, so you’ll want to be careful. Luckily, there are a number of paint strippers that are eco-safe, biodegradable, and non-toxic. EFS-2500, for example, is generally seen as a better alternative to traditional paint removers. This is usually used for more industrial jobs, but products like it come in smaller versions for the local homeowner. See some eco-safe products here.
Continuing in the spirit of safety, be sure you have all of your ingredients for paint clearly organized, out of reach of children, and in a cool, dry place depending on the ingredient. Non-toxic paint is a great idea if you are looking for preventative care for newborn; however, while non-toxic paint supplies are much better for people and the environment, it’s still important to take every precaution.
That said, if you and your family feel comfortable trying your hand at paint making, it makes a great home activity over the weekend. Just be sure to supervise!