sign up and be entered into our monthly prize draw
 I have read/agree with the terms & conditions

Glossary Of Natural Paint Ingredients

Acetic Acid- its vinegar the same stuff you put on your chips (if you're a Brit that is!)

Alcohol- generally isopropanol is used in natural paints as a thinner and in binding systems as it is harmless.

Calcium Carbonate- used as an extender. It's a component of limestone, chalk and marble and a natural mineral.

Casein- One of the oldest binding agents. It is the protein from milk. Casein paint is therefore rather originally known as Milk Paint. Not great for vegans then!

Cellulose- it is found everywhere and the most abundant organic compound on earth. It's ideal as a binder as it swells into a jelly like form when mixed with water and acts as a thickener to bind all of the other ingredients together. It is generally produced from wood pulp.

Chalk- is soft, white, porous sedimentary rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calsite. It forms under relatively deep marine conditions from the gradual accumulation of minute calsite plates shed from micro-organisms. Used in paint as a filler and also as a white pigment

Clay- Is used as both extender and pigment. It is distinct from china clay which is more commonly used in paints.

Colophony-Rosin, is a solid form of resin obtained from pines and some other plants.

Kaolin or China Clay- its natural adsorbent properties makes it essential in hygiene products and is often found in soaps, scrubs, poultices, deodorants, facial powders and masks. It is the mildest of all clays and iseven suitable to add to products created for people with sensitive skin. In paint it's used as an extender.

Lime (White Lime)- it is a natural mineral and extracted from limestone.

Lecithin- made from soya beans, peanuts and maize. it is used as an emulsifier in paints as on foods.

Linseed Oil- extracted from linseed or flax and used as a drying agent that forms a tough elastic skin when dry.

Methylcellulose- a thickener made from wood pulp. Like cellulose, it is not toxic, and not allergenic.

Natural Latex- used as an elastic binder.

Orange Oil- (D-limonene)- used as a thinner. A cold pressed and steamed distillation of orange peel. it is used as a solvent in paints and a cleaning agent.

Pigments- the pigments used in natural paints are safer alternatives to the toxic compounds and heavy metals used in most petrochemical paints. There is an excellent site giving the history of pigments through the ages click here

Ricinus Oil (castor oil)- used as a binder.

Rosemary Oil-essential oil that has preservative and mild fungicidal properties

Shellac- is a resin secreted by the female lac to form a cocoon, on trees in the forests of Indiaand and Thailand. It is processed and sold as dry flakes, which are dissolved in denatured alchohol to make liquid shellac.(strange world isn't it!)

Titanium Dioxide- is the naturally occurring oxide of titanium. It is used because of it's high opacity. It is noteworthy for its wide range of applications,from sunscreen to food colouring and touth paste. Titanium dioxide is chemically processed to remove impurities, leaving the pure, white pigment available for use. Titanium dioxide has a variety of uses, as it is odorless and absorbent. However pigment grade titanium dioxide is produced from mineral ore by smelting, then treating the slag with chlorine, or by directly introducing it into a sulphuric acid solution. These two processes generate toxic and hazardous wastes. The treatment of such wastes is expensive and complex. Earthborn say that 'the processing can be environmentally harmful, therefore EarthBorn only use titanium dioxide from carefully controlled suppliers which recycle the acids used in manufacture and take measures to minimise the environmental impact of the solid waste (airborne and waterborne)'  New research at the University of Leeds has developed a simpler, cheaper and greener method of extracting higher yields. Lets hope we see this process being widely used soon.

Sodium Hydroxide-(this definition is provided by Earthborn Paints the distributer of Volvox paints in the UK) 'a strongly alkaline, white compound also known as caustic soda. Widely used in household cleaning products including some hand soaps. Breaks down readily in the atmosphere'. It is widely used as a strong chemical base in the manufacture of pulp and paper, soaps and detergents. Don't panic though as there are many processes for sodium hydroxide and it is also widely used in the food industry with no harmful effects. For instance olives are often soaked in sodium hydroxide to soften them, while pretzels are glazed with a sodium hydroxide solution before baking to make them crisp. So I think we are safe here!

Sodium Phosphate- sodium phosphates are added to many foods as an emulsifier to prevent oil separation. It regulates the hardness of water in natural paint production and is in fact a water softener.

Sodium Silicate- is the common name for a compound sodium metasilicate also known as water glass or liquid glass.. Produced by fusing sand (silicate) and sodium carbonate (washing soda).

Sunflower Oil- used as a binder (and to cook chips!)

Synthetic Preservative- Earthborn say: 'essential to prevent mould growth in most water based products. Used in some EarthBorn products, but only in minimal quantities.. Less harmful to health than the moulds it prevents. The paint industry uses different preservatives in rotation, over a number of years, to ensure they retain their potency. EarthBorn currently uses a food grade sulphur preservative'

Talcum- used as an extender (see below) It is a mineral composed of hydrated magnesium silicate and widely used in cosmetics. It is non toxic in paints but there well documented dangers in using it as a cosmetic.

Trinatrium Citrate- a salt from citric acid used as a wetting agent.

Vinegar Ester- is a natural solvent. This is what Earthborn say 'manufactured from alcohol and acetic acid. As paint dries, the polymerisation of vinegar ester monomers binds the paint. There are numerous grades and types of vinegar ester. EarthBorn paints exclusively use a very pure type in which virtually all monomers polymerise, resulting in little or no smell and ‘off gassing’. It is this off gassing, in significant quantities, that causes potential health problems'