Since there is always something to paint around the homestead, it becomes necessary not only to find economical paint, but non-toxic.  Especially when there are many people very sensitive to paint smells, fumes and chemicals.

So, here is TWO RECIPES from Michael Smith, who also has an INTENTIONAL COMMUNITY “Emerald Earth” at   Being knowledgable and experienced all forms of eco-building using all natural flowing means possible, he offers a work-trade experience to people between the months of April through September.  They also offer classes on cob-building, building with straw, earthen floors, earthbag foundations, and much more.


Paints are one of the biggest sources of VOCs- Volatile Organic Compounds- inside the home and their synthetic ingredients have been linked to many carcinogens.

It’s fairly easy to make your own paint for any wall surface. This can be an inexpensive way to create your own non-toxic alternative to a conventional paint.

Two common natural paint recipes are clay-based and milk-based. For visuals of clay paint, we have a video with natural building expert Michael Smith where he shows us a sample wall of natural paints.

The basic elements in natural paints  To make a paint- synthetic or natural- you need:

* Binder- the main ingredient of the paint. Natural options include: lime, clay, chalk, casein (non-fat milk curds), oil and flour paste.

* Pigment- the color. Natural options include: clay, nuts, berries, herbs, charcoal, bark and soot.

* Filler/stabilizer (*optional)- for texture. Natural options include: chalk, clay and talcum.


Recipe for a clay paint

Starch Paste:

1. Add 1 part white flour to 2 parts cold water & set aside.

2. Add above mix to 1 1/2 parts boiling water.

3. Cook mixture on low heat until thickened.

Paint mix:

1. Dilute 1 part starch paste with 2 parts water.

2. Add clay (bought as a clay powder or it can be found naturally near a riverbed– though needs to be cleaned and strained before use). Mix enough clay into the paste so that it becomes like a thick cream.

3. Add pigment (optional: if you like the color of the paint this is not necessary). You can find natural pigments, in powder form, at art supply stores.

Use a brush to apply to wall. When paint is nearly dry (but still moist), it can be polished with a damp tile sponge.

Recipe for milk paint –  Ingredients:

* 8 parts skim milk

* 1 part hydrated lime (AKA builders lime). Avoid quick lime.

* 2 parts linseed oil ( boiled type )

* 1/4 part salt

* Pigment

Mix ingredients, strain through cheese cloth, use right away or keep cool.  Can be refrigerated a few days.

Homemade stains can also be made using leaves.

You can also find other videos featuring Michael Smith on the site


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