Non-Toxic Art Supplies

artwork by jdurham via morgefile

As a parent, there is nothing quite as special as the drawings, paintings and other artwork made by my children. I proudly display them on the walls and tables in our home and finally tuck them into a box to save for later, when childhood is just a memory.

The power of children’s artwork is why Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families is holding an art contest this month.  It is a great opportunity to get creative with our kids and also send a powerful message to our Senators.  We need Congress to pass the Safe Chemicals Act, so let’s create artwork with our children to show our nation’s leaders how our children see a healthy and safe future.

The best way to encourage artistic creativity for this contest is to talk with your kids about people, places and things in their life they want to be safe and healthy – then ask them to paint or draw something that helps to show that.

To do this fun project with your kids, you’ll need to have plenty of art supplies at the ready. But before you run out and stock up on supplies, keep in mind that not all art supplies are created equal. Many popular art materials contain toxic ingredients and may actually be detrimental to your child’s health.

Because of the lax regulations governing the use of chemicals in our country, untested, dangerous chemicals are allowed in many products that we use every day, including art supplies. Children are especially vulnerable to these hidden health hazards because of their small size and immature immune systems.

Lucky for us, there are plenty of non-toxic art supplies available to keep our little artists in business! Keep these tips and suggestions in mind next time you purchase art supplies:

Paints

Beware of oil based paints containing chemical solvents like methyl alcohol and toluene that emit dangerous volatile organic compounds or VOCs. Also avoid paints colored with pigments made from highly toxic metals such as cadmium, arsenic, and lead. Children should always use water-based paints instead of oil based paints.

Safer alternatives:

  • Glob – Water based paints made with pigments found in vegetables, fruits, roots, herbs and spices.
  • Clementine Art – Tempura paints made with Mayan mineral earth pigments.
  • Eco-Kids  – Finger paint made with fruit, plant and vegetable extracts from annatto seed, beets, carrots, purple sweet potato, red cabbage and spinach, and other natural ingredients.

Markers

Many markers contain highly toxic chemical solvents like xylene or are alcohol-based. Stick to water-based markers for kids.

Safer alternatives:

  • Clementine Art – Markers made from naturally derived ingredients.
  • Liqui-Mark – Non-toxic water-based markers made with 25% recycled plastic.
  • Note: Water-based markers are safer and easier to clean up too!

Crayons

Conventional crayons are made with petroleum based paraffin wax and artificial, chemical-based colors.

Safer alternatives:

  • Clementine Art – Natural soy and beeswax crayons colored with mineral pigments.
  • Stockmar – Beeswax crayons made with food-grade pigments that pass tests for detection of pesticide residues, PCB’s and heavy metals.
  • Earth Grown Crayons – Etsy shop selling fun-shaped crayons made with natural soy wax and nontoxic mineral pigments.

Colored pencils

Traditional colored pencils use chemical based pigments and may be coated with toxic varnish.

Safer alternatives:

  • Artemis – Cedarwood pencils with natural, plant-based colors.
  • Trimax – Natural pencils made from reforested wood with a safe lacquer finish.

Modeling clay and play dough

Polymer clay, used for modeling, is typically made with PVC material and softened with toxic phthalates. Most play dough, although labeled non-toxic, is colored with artificial colors.

Safer alternatives:

  • Pastilina – Vegetable based modeling clay
  • Clementine Art – Modeling dough from made with simple ingredients plus natural colorings like turmeric and spinach.
  • Eco Kids – Handmade eco-dough colored with real ingredients like blueberries, beets and carrots.
  • DIY play dough – Here’s a recipe from Katie at Non-Toxic Kids.

Glue

Avoid rubber cement and model glues that emit toxic VOCs. Stick to water-based glue instead.

Safer alternatives:

  • Clementine Art – Washable, natural glue
  • Eco Kids – Rice flour and corn starch are the base of this non-toxic eco-paste for kids.

Art Smocks

Skip smocks made with toxic PVC vinyl material.

Safer alternatives:

  • Mimi the Sardine – Organic cotton with a water-based acrylic coating in adorable prints.

Drawing Pads

Choose eco-friendly art pads to go along with your non-toxic art supplies.

  • Eco Kids – “treeless” paper made from banana fibers and recycled materials
  • Glob – Art pad made from 100% post consumer, recycled, chlorine-free paper.

Resources:

Clementine Art

Glob – paints –  http://www.globiton.com/index.html

Hazelnut Kids –

ChildTrek – http://www.childtrek.com/arts-crafts-toys.html

Eco Kids http://www.ecokidsusa.com/index.html

Eco Art Works http://www.ecoartworks.com

Stubby pencil studio http://www.stubbypencilstudio.com

Nature of Art Kids http://nature-of-art-kids.com

Mighty Nest http://mightynest.com/shop/toys-art-supplies/art-supplies

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Note: It has come to my attention that P’kolino paints contain a toxic para-formaldehyde ingredient. Because of this, I have removed P’kolino products from my list of recommendations.

(Image credit: jdurham via MorgueFile)

About Micaela

Micaela Preston is a marketing and communications consultant specializing in natural, organic and eco-friendly products and the health and wellness space. Micaela is available as a social media manager, green lifestyle writer, public speaker, brand ambassador and marketing manager.

Comments

  1. Thanks! I am looking into getting little E her first set of crayons! And am in the process of looking of course for non-toxic and safe ones!!!

  2. I once called Crayola to find out what is in their “nontoxic” crayons. After five minutes of talking around the subject, all I knew for sure is that their crayons are free of peanuts. We immediately switched to Stockmar.

    Thanks for this excellent list!

    Elizabeth Monaghan
    http://mysweetwilliam.org

  3. Love this post. I wish it was as easy to buy all this stuff at Target like the traditional art supplies, but having it all listed here makes it one step easier. Thanks!

  4. Great post! It’s so awesome to see that people are searching for better options. You can also check out Artterro eco art kits at http://www.artterro.com, if you’re looking for a convenient collection of materials. I work there, so I’m biased, but it’s a great, mom-owned company with very creative products.

  5. Stephanie – have fun with the crayons! Before you know it your house will be full of art supplies!

  6. Elizabeth – peanut-free crayons – LOL! Hope the Stockmar crayons are working well for you!

  7. I'm kind of surprised Target hasn't gone down the non-toxic art supply path. They have a lot of recycled notebooks and paper but I haven't seen any "better" crayons and markers yet.

  8. Hi Jessica – Thanks for letting me know about Artterro. The kits look really fun – and how great that they are eco-friendly as well!

  9. I am so glad to have come across this. My son is a toddler who loves to scribble and paint. I have been looking for non-toxic alternatives to the markers and paints that are out there. Thanks so much for this info.;)

  10. Glad you found this post useful Maria. Hope you little guy has lots of fun doing artwork!
     
     

  11. We love Stockmar and Clementine. I’m pinning this and am looking forward to checking out your other suggestions – thanks!

  12. Thanks for pinning my post IThoughtIKnewMa!!

  13. CelloMom says:

    Thanks for putting this list together: there were a few I don’t know yet but I’m going to try! For those ready to move beyond crayons, I would like to recommend Lyra pencils: intense colours, super-soft, great for on-paper blending, several sizes for growing hands. (Not that we will ever let go of the Stockmar crayons…)

  14. Hi CelloMom – thanks for the tip about Lyra pencils. I had not heard of them.

  15. Hello Micaela! I like your post for this Non-Toxic Art and I know someday I can make it on my own. I enjoy reading your blog thank you for sharing it!

    -Shelena-

  16. Micaela, the link to the Eco Kids glue does not work. I could not find the glue on their site, so I contacted them about it. They are discontinuing it.

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