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