Tools + Supplies

Published on June 25th, 2012 | by Julie Finn


Reader Question: Non-Toxic Paint for Wooden Toys

Reader Question

painted wooden toys image via Shutterstock

Here’s a question from one of our readers:

I want to make wooden toys for my daughter, but cannot figure out what kind of paint to use. I want to use something non-toxic & safe to chew on as she is 9 months old & everything goes in her mouth! I would like to use something vibrant & am willing to seal them as well. I have read that beeswax is a good sealant; is this correct?

Non-toxic paint and non-toxic wood sealant…you BET we’ve got some suggestions!

wooden acorns stained with liquid watercolors

For non-toxic, kid-friendly dyes, check out these possibilities:

  1. liquid watercolors: Liquid watercolors make a vibrant and non-toxic stain for wooden toys. For the best results with no color bleed, rinse or briefly soak each piece in vinegar to set the color, and seal each piece with a non-toxic sealant.
  2. Earth Paint: Earth Paint is a line of completely natural mineral paints; my kiddos and I use Earth Paints, and we’re smitten with them. Because they’re made from earth, the colors are a little more “earthy” than most store-bought paints, but still vibrant, and they do you one better by being natural and organic, not just non-toxic. Seal each piece with a non-toxic sealant.
  3. melted crayon: While your average crayon is made from petroleum by-products (unless you’re using soy crayons or beeswax crayons), they are still non-toxic, and The Artful Parent has a tutorial on her blog showing you how to draw with crayons on heated wood, allowing the crayons to melt over the wood as you draw. Since crayons have a high wax component, these may not necessarily even need to be sealed, if you’ve covered the block completely and you’re comfortable with the crayon’s ingredient list.

Most stains and paints, however, will need to be sealed, so here are some suggestions for non-toxic wood sealants:

  1. beeswax: I use this particular beeswax wood polish recipe on all our wooden toys, our wooden cutting boards, and our wooden furniture–it gets a lot of use!
  2. vegan beeswax alternatives: Becky, who’s a vegan crafter, offers options for non-toxic vegan waxes that can be substituted for beeswax in most recipes. One reader notes that Candelilla wax, if substituted for beeswax, can be reduced by half the amount of beeswax called for in a recipe, since Candelilla wax is stiffer than beeswax–fortunately, my beeswax wood polish recipe is very forgiving, so there’s plenty of room to play around with ingredients until you find the consistency that you prefer.

Of course, and as always, our best resource for answering reader questions is YOU! If you have another suggestion for non-toxic wood stains or wood sealants, or an opinion about any of the options that I’ve listed here, please comment below.

(painted wooden toys image via Shutterstock)

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

15 Responses to Reader Question: Non-Toxic Paint for Wooden Toys

  1. I used to keep pet rats and one suggestion I read was to “dye” wooden blocks with food coloring in water. It washes off, of course, but is safe to consume. =)

  2. Pingback: Eco-Friendly Stamp Ink | Crafting a Green World

  3. Melissa says:

    I am looking for a non toxic sealer to apply to my wooden toys before I paint with acrylic paints. Can you help me please. Non toxic is most important Thank you.

  4. Andrew Thom says:

    There are many different brands of non toxic paint , I have found several to choose from at my local hardware store. My question is are any of the others better than the other, from manufactured non-toxic paint, to natural? Has anyone used either or?

  5. Lucy N. says:

    Hi Julie,
    Do you know where I can buy unfinished animals and tress like you have pictured?

    Thank you!

  6. Shenee Simon says:

    Hi There! Love The Info. To Confirm The Beeswax Recipient Can Be Used As A Sealant After Painting Blocks? After Painting With A Paint Like Earth Paint How Long Should They Dry, IS There Another Step Between Painting And Sealing?

    • Julie Finn says:

      I generally like to let painted objects cure for quite a long time before sealing–an entire week, sometimes. Depending on the paint that you use, you may need to do a quick vinegar soak/rinse with the wooden objects, too. Even after being sealed, some paint can still bleed unless you’ve done that extra step to remove excess pigment.

  7. Aubree Hazard says:

    So helpful! I’ve been looking for a non-toxic solution to make a painted wood bead necklace for my daughter, I hope it works out. Thanks for your suggestions! —

  8. Kristy says:

    Hi! I am so happy to have found your page! What brand of liquid water colors do you use? Thank you!

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Hi, Is there a sealant that you can recommend that is toxin-free that can be used for item that will hold food? Normally, I use beeswax, but how about for something I want to be able to wash in the sink or at least wiped down, like a handmade, painted cake plate…beeswax wouldn’t hold up.

    • Julie Finn says:

      Honestly, I don’t think there is one. If you coated it well in beeswax–you can look for my beeswax paper or beeswax fabric tutorials, if you’re interested–the item would be washable and wipeable for longer, but since beeswax isn’t transparent, only translucent, you’d certainly lose a lot of the visibility of the paint.

  10. Theresa says:

    Hi, please, which paints can I use for wooden toys for small animals? I need non toxic, eco friendly natural paints. Thank you 😉

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