Make your own eco-friendly paint

Job description: From prehistoric times, paint is one of the oldest synthetic substances known.For more than 35 000 years ago, paint has been made by prehistoric man as they mixed clays and chalks with animal fats and used these paints to depict their hunts on cave walls. Various recipes included substances such as: olive oil, linseed oil, eggs, animal glue, or waxes. Although major paint manufacturers are now producing more environmentally friendly paints, a good majority of them can still contain hazardous substances. VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds) belong to a family of chemicals that evaporate quickly and leave an undesirable odour, such as toluene, xylene and formaldehyde, and are main components of modern day paint. They are toxic to humans, particularly children or the elderly, as well as toxic to the environment. Here is a quick guide about making your own milk paint.

Skill level: 1 – Beginner

Materials required:

  • 2 litres of skimmed milk.
  • 20 cl of white vinegar
  • 12 g of borax
  • water
  • 400g of Meudon white (also called kaolin or chalk, Meudon white is used as a charging pigment to increase the covering power of paints and coatings. Meudon white is also used to polish steel, marble, silverware, glass, copper, and other non-ferrous metals.)
  • Natural pigments if you would like a different colour than white
Step by step guide to making your own eco-friendly paint:

1. Heat softly the milk with vinegar for 5 minutes. When the milk is curdled, remove the remaining liquid and strain the rest through a filter coffee. Let the curd settle for a few hours. Add the borax.

2. Mix 400 g white of natural chalk with 3 litres of water. To get another colour, change the Meudon white by natural pigments.

3. Gently mix the two preparations and your mixture is finally ready.

Pigments serve three main functions: they provide colour, opacity and gloss; they protect the surface underneath the paint and reinforce the paint.

There are some natural pigment colours made by washing and toasting minerals and earth pigments to achieve subtle ochre colours and some more dynamic pinks and purples. Great if you want to achieve that Mediterranean look!