Skip to main content

How to Make Natural Paint

Up until the discovery of petrolatum and the introduction of toxic chemicals, paints were created using natural ingredients such as: linseed oil, lime, casein from milk, turpentine, citrus oils, chalk and hemp oil.

Natural pigments were also used to color the paint. However, this is not the case anymore.

Although major paint manufacturers are now producing more environmentally friendly paints, a good majority of them can still contain more than 450 hazardous substances, mainly voc's.

Voc's (Volatile Organic Compounds) belong to a family of chemicals that evaporate quickly and leave an undesirable odor such as toluene, xylene and formaldehyde.

  • How to Test for Lead Paint
    It's no surprise that you want to test for lead paint. Lead paint can pose a hazard to people in many households, particularly to young children living in older homes. Lead paint testing is done to prevent...


Toluene, also known as methyl-benzene or phenylmethane is a clear, water-insoluble liquid and is derived from the tropical Columbian tree Myroxylon Balsamum. Low levels also occur naturally in crude oil.

Toluene is typically found in paints, paint thinners, chemical reactants, rubber, printing ink, adhesives, lacquers, leather tanners and disinfectants. The toxic fumes enter the human body through vapor evaporation and soil contamination.

Long term effects of deliberately inhaling toluene can cause an array of damage, mostly to the brain. Low exposure can also have side effects, especially to women who are pregnant.


Xylene is a highly flammable solvent that is used in the printing, rubber and leather industries. It is a colorless sweet smelling liquid that is often inhaled deliberately because of it's intoxicating properties. It can be found, among others, in paint, paint thinners and varnishes.

Xylene is very toxic to the brain causing a variety of symptoms depending on the levels of exposure. It can cause headaches, confusion, skin and eye irritation, difficulty in breathing and at very high levels can cause death.


Formaldehyde is a toxic gas used predominantly in the embalming industry to preserve human remains and fix the tissues. Textile industries use it on fabric to maintain crease resistance. It is also used by paint manufactured.

Formaldehyde can trigger allergies, asthma, irritate the eyes and cause headaches. It is a known toxin, allergen and carcinogen.

Oil paints are the worst offenders, containing up to 60% of voc's while water-based latex can carry up to 10%. Wood stains can also be just as toxic. Fumes can trigger allergies, asthma and disorders of the nervous system. They are also responsible, in part, to ground levels of smog.

Reducing any ill symptoms due to voc's can be as simple as choosing eco-friendly varieties or making your own.

Create you own!

So, if you'd rather not use chemically laden paints, then whip up your own batch using the recipes below. Have fun!


Milk Paint Recipe #1

1 Quart skim milk (room temperature)

1 Once of hydrated lime by weight ( Do not use quick lime)

Scroll to Continue

1 to 2 1/2 pounds of chalk may also be added as a filler.

Stir together milk and lime to form a smooth paste. Add color pigment of your choice and apply with a natural bristle brush. Allow first coat to dry sufficiently before applying another. Finish off with an oil finish if desitred.

Check Out More Kids Paint Recipes!

Milk Paint Recipe #2

One Gallon Skim Milk

Two Cups Builders Lime (Do NOT use Quick Lime)

One Quart Linseed Oil (the boiled type)

1/2 Cup of Salt

Dye (Color) add in as needed

Mix all ingredients together and strain through a cheesecloth. Use within a day or two.

Environmentally Friendly Paint Companies

    This company was founded by chemists John Farrow and Richard Ball in the 1930s in a little town called Dorset, England. They built their reputation by manufacturing paints using the finest raw materials and maintaining traditional formulations.

Milk Paint Recipe #3

Powdered Skim Milk


Food Coloring

Mix just enough pwoder and water to create the consistency of paint. Add food coloring of your choice or make a tincture with various herbs and vegetables. Strain through a cheesecloth.

Flour Finger Paint


  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • Saucepan
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • Wire whisk or eggbeater
  • 1 1/4 cups hot water
  • Food coloring or powdered tempera paint

Mix the flour and salt in the saucepan. Beat in the cold water until the mixture is smooth. Mix in the hot water and boil the mixture until it's thick, then beat it again until it's smooth. Tint the paint however you like with food coloring or powdered tempera paint. Cover the paint and refrigerate it for storage.

  • Old Fashioned Milk Paint
    Milk Paint is now gaining an even wider usage because it contains only ingredients that are all-natural and will not harm the environment. Our authentic real milk paint is truly a "green paint".
  • Milk Paint Samples
    Gallagher's Milk Paint distributes sample kits of Genuine Old Fashioned Home Made Milk Paint. Our 1 oz. sample sizes are perfect for new users who wish to try Milk Paint for the first time
    Eco House Inc takes great pride in offering consumers products that are manufactured with minimal environmental impact, renewable natural raw material when possible, while offering the highest health safety standards.
  • AFM Safecoat
    AFM has become the only company in the world to offer a complete line of chemically responsible, non-polluting paint and building products that not only meet the highest performance standards.
  • Hempola
    Hempola Valley Farms store offers a wide variety of hemp products from soaps to salad dressings, paper to clothing and yes, even wood finishes.


Ayush Surana from Aurangabad, India on May 08, 2020:

That a lot of study!

I love how you have gone into all the details and covered all possible topics.

Imran Dullu on February 21, 2019:

I love your all natural paint recipe. Because i have interested in natural paint....

Marilyn from Nevada on November 07, 2018:

Great idea! I love the concept of natural paint. Less contact with chemicals that can cause health issues, the better! Great content. Thank you for the recipes.

bushraib on April 26, 2018:

This sounds so fun, but idk if I'd ever do it just because im lazy, lol.

Mylindaminka on May 03, 2013:

До Вершины 15 минут, но бежать ради встречи на ней первых лучей – форменный кретинизм, учитывая наше состояние. За время Последнего Боя многие из команд нас обогнали. Вот, блин, вам и БАНДА! Банда Рыг и Безногих Карликов.

advappica on March 08, 2013:

When i used to acquire high on lifetime but lately I've truly built up any opposition.

katie on February 08, 2013:

Careful with linseed. If left out for long periods of time, it can combust. I'm not kidding!

nichole on September 16, 2012:

i thought i will be hard but is not it is fun

doll on September 09, 2012:

what tuyp of flour we use plzzzzzzzzzzz tall me ok :(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(

doll on September 09, 2012:

i try it my home its good

Mahaveer Sanglikar from Pune, India on September 06, 2012:

Great Hub, thank you for sharing this useful information.

carol stanley from Arizona on August 18, 2012:

I love all your natural recipes for paint. I never thought of making my own paints. Thanks for sharing this most interesting hub. Voted UP

nikka on August 15, 2012:

is it possible to use Kans grass as a pigment and to establish an eco-friendly paints that can be used on walls and woods?? please.. need it on my Investigatory project.. =)

Ashlee Gaylor on April 14, 2012:


Ashlee on April 13, 2012:

Well i made paint with my mum and these are some of the colours:







anonymous on April 05, 2012:

also will the paint spoil or mould after a while??? is it safe to use on walls?

anonymous on April 05, 2012:

what kind of natural ingredients would you say to use for colouring??? please reply as i need to know asap;)

iamaudraleigh on February 21, 2012:

Thank you for writing something refreshing :). My aunt would like this hub ( I do too)! She is very crafty. Plenty of good ideas here!

squiggle666 on February 19, 2012:

Having lived in England all my life, I was surprised to learn that Dorset is a small village. I was always taught it was a county, which is marginally larger than a village.

Paapa on February 14, 2012:

I cant believe this specks combine for something as good as beauty,Well i wanna learn more from you.

Better Yourself from North Carolina on February 12, 2012:

Really enjoyed this hub! Thanks for sharing you knowledge of paint and especially the recipes for natural paints!

Jane Conner from New York on February 06, 2012:

Very cool! I have heard from my friends that are artist that some red paint comes from beetles crushed up in India. Kinda gross, but very natural.

aliana on November 14, 2011:


Sarah on October 30, 2011:

great tips - can any of the recipe used to paint on natural fabrics - clothing - cotton, silk etc ? and if not, do you have any tips, links or other suggestions ? I am having such a hard time finding a recipe to print on fabric.

thank youuuuuu

kamal gupta on October 13, 2011:

it help a lot

hannah on September 22, 2011:

awesome paint i love it

Timmy on September 22, 2011:

this helped so much with my homework thxs

BLAHBLAH on September 19, 2011:

yeah thanks a lot!!! geez

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on September 08, 2011:

interesting, thanks for sharing

Hendry Richard on September 04, 2011:

this is so nice paintaing nature

marimccants on August 30, 2011:

Great hub! Natural painting promotes clean and green environment. Voted up!

Tracy on May 26, 2011:

Not sure if the people looking for eco fabric paint got their answers but I found this company via "Crafting a Green World" It's not a recipe but it's good eco screen printing ink/paint:

Liz Goltra on May 15, 2011:

Great article. Thank you for posting!

Jessica Pfohl on May 09, 2011:

This is great information. It is really a shame that we've moved away from using natural, safe ingredients and that conventional paints today are full of chemicals, many of which are not even disclosed by the manufacturers. To your list of natural paint companies, I would add our company, Unearthed Paints. All of our products are zero-VOC, all natural, and vegan. We also disclose all of our ingredients and hope that other paint companies will follow our lead.

Jessica Pfohl on May 09, 2011:

This is great information. It is really a shame that we've moved away from using natural, safe ingredients and that conventional paints today are full of chemicals, many of which are not even disclosed by the manufacturers. To your list of natural paint companies, I would aadd

LaurieK from Minneapolis, MN, USA on April 25, 2011:

Very interesting to learn how to make paint they way they did it before all our modern, toxic chemicals were invented!

Wendy Malowany from Wainfleet, ON, Canada on April 06, 2011:

Good information, but I thought I would add some info. from the artist's perspective. Actually casein is a milk paint used by artists for centuries and is very archival. Also, I was just reading in the book, Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond that any milk paint should be made with the casein, which is the milk curd, rather than the milk itself. She said that when milk paint is made with milk instead of casein it is not durable and spoils. A good source for natural artist pigments and recipes is

Great topic! I wrote a free ebook that I put on my Homeschooling-Freedom site called Save Green the Smart Way and am currently researching more eco-friendly ways to be more self-sufficient and save money, so I really like to see articles like this!

rag on March 10, 2011:

this is fantastic i will try it you people realy helped cause i had a presentation and cause it is a good idea .

luisa may jumawan on February 28, 2011:

it is a wonderfull creation it can help us to reduce the use of chemicals

michael emala on February 25, 2011:

i will use this page to make a natural paint in my science investigator projects

Remy Francis from Dubai on December 02, 2010:

Extremely informative hub!! This is just the thing I have been looking for in ages. I can't wait to try it out.

ribena nutlicker on November 21, 2010:

um this really helped me with my home work

Ivie on November 16, 2010:

thankx a lot. i love to use and make anything useful and unharmful with toxics so thankx muches!!

phoenixzebra on September 27, 2010:

This is not intended in any to be a criticism of your excellent article.

Re: Farrow and Ball. Dorset is not a little town but a county probably close to the size of Rhode Island.

MKayo from Texas on September 01, 2010:

Great info. I have been a painter for almost 40 years and I always wonderd about the toxicity levels in some paints and paint chemicals. Thanks for the Hub.

starreviewer from CT, USA on August 31, 2010:

the milk paint recipes are great... guess i should give it a try. thanks for sharing this info.

Life Unplugged on June 16, 2010:

Hi Chante ,sounds really ecofriendly ,I have strong aversion for oil colours ,coz the chemicals used are quite hazardous ,as mentioned by you as well, so natural colours are better option.

But I really wonder about their sustainability and longetivity ,if you could add that too in your hub ,it would complete your hub in all sense.

Ava and *unknown* on June 16, 2010:

The naturel paint is just amazing! me and my friend made some and add some glitter! It looked amazing:D

Rose on May 01, 2010:

Im a good painter. its awesome how i can easily make paint like this :D

festmeny from Hungary on April 27, 2010:

Very exciting to read and ver informative. Gotta try some of this. Thanks chantelg.

Ros Webb from Ireland on February 01, 2010:

Great hub.

Juliana on February 01, 2010:

Have anyone tried to make the art oil paint mixing it with the food coloring and possibly safe oil paints? All of my favorite colors, bright red, orange and yellow contain cadmium,, led ...

What about the chalk dust with safe oil paints you can purchase?

I am trying to make more profesional paint for my art work, then the milk paint.

Any advise? I trully appreciate it.

Handmade-Crafts on January 24, 2010:

Some really useful tips. Will definitely being experimenting. Thank you for sharing.

kenbera on December 23, 2009:

that is so good of ider i must go try it now

Priscilla Chan from Normal, Illinois on November 11, 2009:

Very interesting! I heard of milk paint. I never knew how to make it or where to get them. Thanks for sharing!

camille on November 07, 2009: can make a paint from a fruit?can you help me tnx...

nikki1 on October 27, 2009:

great information, thanx for sharing.

dreamghurl on October 25, 2009:

how about fruit paint? can i do that?

sheryld30 from California on October 11, 2009:

This is awesome!! Always wanted to know how to make natural paints, but mine just never seemed to work out. Thank you sooo much for the tips!! :)

benjie on September 05, 2009:

well my mother wanted me to get info on this, and i think this is it :)

joy on August 21, 2009:

great, give me an idea for my research..thank you

Bredavies on August 08, 2009:

Nice Hub!

windflare from USA on June 12, 2009:

My guess is that milk paint is not archival (and therefore not for the serious artist). 

By the way, you buy CHALK DUST in a good hardware store and probably places like home depot. Chalk dust can also be added to paper mache to make it stronger.

Barbara on June 11, 2009:

Thank you for the receipe Has anyone out there tried it? Does it smell like spoiled milk? How is the finish? Does it really wash off as someone mentioned? Is there a way to glaze it if this is true? I am really interested in this if it works. Please write if you have tried it. Thanks

Celly on June 06, 2009:

i think it a good idea to make paint from home use able's it good not to spend money some times.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on May 26, 2009:

thanks for great tips, I like painting, but I just know the natural paint material from this hub.

johnny stafford on May 11, 2009:

can you make paint out of what our body produces? i know blood but is there any way to really make paint with any body chmicals or liquids?

Lgali on April 07, 2009:

Just wonderful, Chantel!

Loreto on March 24, 2009:

Does anyone have any advice on how to make your own eco-friencly fabric paint? I can't find much anywhere!

girl interupted on February 14, 2009:

can you use milk paint on any walls of the house i read that it's not good on damp or humid walls please let me know

K on January 29, 2009:

will the paint mold? I heard of adding wint o green or clove to homemade glue/paste to slow it from molding.

austin on December 27, 2008:

there are actually some good quality paints that are not very toxic at all. the sherwin williams Harmony paint has 0 VOC's and i'm pretty sure Duron's Genesis also has 0 VOC's. the problem with making your own paint is that it won't dry with a film over the pigment. if you wash it, you might take it down to the original color

filarecki from United States on October 11, 2008:

Great info. I'm an artist and use all different mediums. I'm also into natural alternative medicines. It sound like natural home-made paints would be worth a try. I'm always experimenting with paints that are decreasingly toxic since I am asthmatic. Do you have any suggested resources I could look into?

pooten on September 16, 2008:

is one of these paints good for painting on clothes?

if not can someone tell me where to make paint for clothes

chantelg4 (author) from Northern Ontario on September 11, 2008:

As far as chalk is concerned, it really depends on how paint is needed. For small projects, you can grind chalksticks, however, for bigger projects, I would use the chalk dust. Chalk dust is easier for obvious reasons and you may find the colors to be more vivid plus you can add your own coloring.

lizzie14 on September 11, 2008:

what chalk?! chalkdust or grinded chalk!! can you tell your answer to me pls!! we and my classmates were making thesis: paint out of chalk

Brett445 from Bangkok and Sydney on June 08, 2008:

Fantastic hub. Thanks for this. I'm going to give it a go and make my own paint.

Ashok Rajagopalan from Chennai on March 10, 2008:

Just wonderful, Chantel! This will set me off on a delightful, natural route to finger paints!

topstuff on February 23, 2008:

That seems to be easy.

RainbowRecognizer from Midwest on February 22, 2008:

Thank you very much - I love to do whatever I can naturally :o)

Peter M. Lopez from Sweetwater, TX on February 22, 2008:

This is really interesting. Great hub.

singpec476 from Not Too Far Away on February 21, 2008:

Amazing hub I never thought about making paint it is one of those things you just go and buy and never consider that with a little thought you can make your own. Thanks

Blueassea from Ontario Canada on February 20, 2008:

well i will have to try doing my own paint will try on one of my old dressers

Related Articles