My kids LOVE to get messy with art and craft supplies. What kid doesn’t? Their favorite thing to play with (and make a mess with) just so happens to be paint – homemade, non-toxic kids paint!


Now as I’ve learned and grown more into natural, toxic-free living, I’ve learned a lot about so-called children’s “non-toxic” arts and crafts products. I recently wrote a post called The Toxic Truth Behind Children’s “Non-Toxic” Art And Craft Supplies where I discussed my concerns for small children using these supposedly “non-toxic” products.

Homemade Paint

As I’ve discovered more and more I’m not thrilled with when it comes to store-bought children’s arts and crafts supplies, I’ve decided to do my best at finding recipes for many of these supplies and making them at home with my children. Not only is it safer for my kids and cheaper on my wallet, but we have a blast doing it together! Plus, it instills a bit of self-sufficiency in them which is something else I love. I want them to be creative and not feel like they have to run to the store every time they need something.

So today I want to teach you how to make some homemade, non-toxic kids paint. It’s called Herbal Earth Paint, and I’m sure you and your kids will love it!

How To Make Herbal Earth Paint

The first thing you’re going to need to do is to gather up your supplies. The great thing about this DIY recipe for homemade kid’s paint is that you only need 3 things.


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  • Powdered herbs in varying colors (find our recommended source below)
  • Clay (kaolin/white cosmetic clay)
  • Liquid: water, egg whites, glycerin

Okay, so let’s talk about each of the ingredients.

Powdered Herbs

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You can find high quality organic herbs online at Mountain Rose Herbs.

Just be sure to choose herbs that are colored and powdered. Below are some powdered herbs and the colors you’ll get from them.

The great thing about using herbs for your coloring is that it really works, but more than that, it makes your paints taste, well, not always so great. This way you don’t have to worry about your toddler eating too much of it if he decides to put his paint brush in his mouth instead of on his paper. Plus, by using herbs, you don’t have to worry about having toxic pigments in your paint. Another reassuring thing about most herbs that you’ll be using to color your paints is that they’re not harmful to kids. The above herbs are all non-toxic and many of them are in fact nutritious! Now I’m definitely not encouraging you to tell your kids to eat their paint, I’m just saying that you don’t have to stress about it if they do!

Clay

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Kaolin clay is the best clay to use for making homemade, non-toxic kid’s paint. One reason is because kaolin clay is fairly inexpensive clay, and the other reason is because it’s white so it won’t change the color of your paints like bentonite or colored clays will. (Find kaolin/white cosmetic clay here.)

The reason you need clay in your paint is to thicken it up. It would be too expensive to use only powdered herbs, so adding in clay helps it to go further. It acts as a filler – it bulks your paints up.

Liquid

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You also need some sort of liquid to help your paint spread. Here you have a few options depending upon what you want your paint to do and how long you want it to last.

Water – You can use water to liquefy your paints, and this makes it the cheapest of all the liquids you can use. If you decide to go with water, know that it will cause your paints to act like any watercolor paint would and absorb right into your paper. The plus side to this is that your paints won’t be used up as quickly and you can paint on upright surfaces since your paint won’t run. The downside is that water paints don’t last as long since water grows bacteria. You’ll only be able to store these paints in the refrigerator for a week or so before needing to make more.

Egg Whites – Egg whites are great to use for making homemade, non-toxic paint because they make your paints a bit thicker and help it to easily spread around. They also hold your paints to the surface of your paper which is nice if your kid is painting using an easel and his paper is upright, but the downside to using eggs is that it can be expensive and they won’t store. These paints will only last the day.

GlycerinGlycerin is a sweet liquid that can be found online and sometimes in the pharmacy section of your grocery store. If you’re concerned with your kids eating the paint, be sure you get “food-grade” glycerin. Glycerin is what many children’s herbal tinctures are made out of since it is sweet and masks the flavor of the herbs. The great thing about using glycerin is that it will last a good while, at least a month if it’s kept in an airtight container, and it makes your paints very spreadable. The downside is that it can make the paints a bit on the runny side so only use this kind if your child is painting on a flat surface.

The next step is to mix your ingredients. You’ll need equal parts powdered herbs and clay. I used 1 TBSP of each in our bowls. Next add in a small amount of your liquid, about a teaspoon at a time, and mix. If your paint is too thick add more liquid. If it’s too thin add more herbs and clay. Easy peasy! Check out the photos below.

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Now your kids are all set to get creative and play with their safe, healthy, homemade, non-toxin herbal earth paints. Enjoy! I know we do!!

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Do you make your children’s arts and crafts supplies? If so, what are you always making because your kids love it so much?

Meagan Visser


Meagan Visser is the owner of Growing Up Herbal on Etsy where she offers natural, herbal skin care products for children. She also teaches parents how to take charge of their children’s health naturally on her blog, GrowingUpHerbal.com, and she enjoys living a simple and healthy life with her husband and 3 little boys in the southern Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee. Connect with her on Facebook and Pinterest.

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Comments

  1. Christina Hauri says

    Fantastic post! I have twin two year olds that love to paint and end up painting themselves many times :) I’ll definitely try making this paint. Thank you!!! :D

  2. says

    I’m wondering, if you added just a little water, could you press these into little disks & let them dry to use like store-bought water colors? Would they keep? I make & sell a lot of nontoxic household products, it might be fun at the farmer’s market to add some nontoxic kid products too, but if the shelf life is short, it wouldn’t make sense.

    • says

      That seems like a great idea, but I’ve never tried it. I think if you use distilled water you’ll have less chance of bacterial issues anyway. If you try it, let us know how things turn out. I may try it too just for curiosities sake. Anyway, great idea!

    • says

      It’s actually really simple to make homemade dry watercolor paints. Here’s the recipe we use. http://www.examiner.com/article/make-your-own-wet-or-dry-watercolor-paints The ingredients are natural, usually in your kitchen already, and cheap. :) We make them up in bottle caps a lot and keep them in little baggies with ribbons, but we also sometimes do it in empty watercolor containers, weekly pill boxes (the kind with the days of the week that snap open that you get at the dollar store) or in paint pallets.

      • says

        Love it! Thanks for sharing!! I’d try arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch and herbs instead of food coloring… just to see how that turns out. You may have to decrease the powders by doing this since the herbs are powdered.

  3. Camille Caggiano says

    I am an adult artist who has severe chemical sensitivities. I love this kind of info! Bring it on!

  4. says

    I’ve been slowly converting everything in my house to organic based products. First I started off with my food, and then clothes. Now, I want to remodel my house to not only be organic, but to incorporate as much green technology as possible. After researching tons of organic clay paint, or milk paints, I’ve decided on my brand and now I just need to pick out colors. What color’s would you suggest for a room with a medium grey carpet?