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Mother Nature’s Palette: DIY Milk Paint

Mother Nature’s Palette: DIY Milk Paint

Mirror, mirror on the wall, what’s the purest paint of all? Hands down, the
healthiest paint is milk paint. Read all about it here.

I am done with headaches, done with stinging eyes and done with holding my breath for as long as possible while the paint dries. Since commercially manufactured, traditional paints contain toxic materials or petroleum-based ingredients and are energy intensive to produce, at my home we’re sticking to healthy alternatives.

Recent renovations led me on a research trail to find and try out some paint alternatives. So far, I’ve discovered American Clay and Benjamin Moore’s Nautra with much success. Both are free of nasty VOC’s and exceed industry standards, such as LEED and Green Guard. Both have great coverage and no ill effects on our home’s air quality.

Now I am looking at a few nooks, crannies and moldings in my home that need the warmth of color. I’ve been curious about milk paint because along with being free of VOC’s, it has been known to reduce the growth of mold and mildew.

Ecobites explains how the old recipe of making milk paint originated, “Milk paint was originally made from all organic raw materials; curdled milk, lime, and pigment. Black pigment may have been derived from coal, soot, or charcoal. Red from the earth’s crust or a crushed brick or berries. Yellow Ochre harvested from the earth. The classic red barns are most likely the result of an abundance of milk and the availability of red pigments in the form of rust (iron oxide).”

Here’s how to whip up a batch of Milk Paint, compliments of ecobites:

What you need:
1 Cup Organic Powdered Nonfat Milk1 Cup Water
Optional: Organic Powdered Paint Pigment or Dye (Color)
Optional: Pure Tung Oil

What to do:
1. Mix milk powder and water.
2. Add natural paint pigments to color, if desired. Too much pigment will lessen the durability of the paint.
3. Paint
4. This paint formula should dry to a glossy finish. After the paint has dried, in 3-4 hours you may top coat with Pure Tung Oil. Try the oil in an inconspicuous area first. The color may change.

Here are some tips to consider when making your own paint:
When making your own paint, it is important to experiment, test, experiment, and test some more.
For best results, clean all surfaces thoroughly before painting.
Homemade paints should be used soon after mixing.
You can refrigerate, but the binding ability may diminish.
It may be difficult to create exactly the same color over and over again.
Try to mix as much paint as you can in one batch.

I’d love to hear about your experiences making paint or using eco-friendly paint alternatives. Mother nature loves us!

Ronnie Citron-Fink lives in New York with her husband, two children (when they come home to the nest), two dogs and a cat. Ronnie is a teacher and a writer. She has been a contributing writer for Family Fun magazine. She currently writes articles about education and home design. Her writings are in four books including Family Fun Home and Some Delights of the Hudson Valley.


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Ronnie Citron-Fink

Ronnie Citron-Fink is a writer, editor and educator. She has written hundreds of articles about sustainable living, the environment, design, and family life for websites, books and magazines. Ronnie is the creator of Econesting, and the managing editor of Moms Clean Air Force. Ronnie was named one of the Top Ten Living Green Experts by Yahoo. Ronnie lives in New York with her family.


+ add your own
9:44AM PDT on Aug 11, 2012

Great article! Thanks for the info.

4:28PM PST on Feb 6, 2011

Intresting. They probably used fat free milk because in the old days, skim milk was thought to have no nutritional value

7:03PM PDT on Oct 25, 2010

sounds fun to do

7:03PM PDT on Sep 24, 2010

I have never made my own milk paint before but will certainly try it. IMO Old Fashioned Milk Paint seems to be the best product on the market. I found it at a discounted price at My favorite thing about milk paint is that you can control the look by mixing it thick or thin. Milk paint really gives you a nice authentic aged look. I recommend sanding through it in some areas, glazing it and finishing it with a wax also.

2:46PM PST on Feb 25, 2010


2:45PM PST on Feb 25, 2010


2:44PM PST on Feb 25, 2010

Go green!

2:43PM PST on Feb 25, 2010

Go green!

2:43PM PST on Feb 25, 2010


2:42PM PST on Feb 25, 2010


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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