Did you know that toxic stains and paints can be harmful to newborn babies? Many parents are choosing to paint with baby safe stain to protect their newborns from harmful toxins. There aren’t any 100% baby safe stains available in the market today though. Most people believe shellac and mineral oils are the best options for preserving your baby’s health. This is because shellac and mineral oils don’t have as much chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOC) as other types of stains and finishes.
For this article, baby safe stains are referred to as non-toxic stains that are safe for both humans and the environment.
Non-Toxic Paints And Finishes
There are three main categories of non-toxic paints and finishes that can be used as baby safe stain. They are usually labeled as either natural, low VOC, and no VOC paint and finishes. Natural paints and finishes are the safest to use since they are made from natural ingredients and minerals. There are rare cases where some of the natural paint ingredients, like latex milk protein, cause allergic reactions, but this type of paint is still the safest among all the others. Like other paints, they can either be water-based or oil-based. Water-based natural paints are usually odorless while oil-based ones can have pleasant fragrances.
This is explained more in our post discussing the differences between water-based and oil-based polyurethane.
It may be difficult to find natural paints since only alternative paint companies manufacture them. They are available online though. These kinds of paints and finishes may not show the same results as regular paints and finishes because of the difference in their properties. Low VOC paint and finishes can also be used as baby safe stain because they are water-based, so they emit fewer chemicals than solvent-based ones. However, they may still give out a certain smell until they are dried. Finally, there are no VOC paints and finishes. Contrary to their name, these actually contain some VOC’s, but at a very minimal amount. If you are going to use these, it is best to buy the colorless ones since color tints usually add VOC. Other paints and finishes that can be used as baby safe stain are those that are free from ethylene glycol, and those that don’t absorb VOC.
Ethylene glycol is a very hazardous substance that may cause different kinds of illnesses. For your babies’ protection, you should use paints that are free from this substance. Paints that absorb VOC’s actually keep the substances trapped in instead of emitting the VOC’s into the air.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)
VOC’s were, until recently, a fundamental ingredient in paints. They are harmful to both humans and the environment because they release toxins into the air for years. However, with the popularization of “going green”, or being concerned about the environment, more and more paint manufacturers are producing non-toxic, low VOC or zero VOC paint. These types of paints are perfect baby safe stains because they are not only environmentally friendly finishes, but also sturdy, cost-effective, and less dangerous to human health. Furthermore, because they are water-based, they are more or less odorless and can easily be cleaned up by soap and water. They are also much easier to dispose of than products with VOC’s because they are classified as non-hazardous wastes.
Shellac is a popular finish that brings out wood grain and makes it look natural. It can be used as a baby safe stain because it is composed of a natural resin that is non-toxic and hypoallergenic. In fact, it has even been used as protective glaze for both candies and medicines. Shellic is also quick to dry and semi-oderless. I’t's great for outdoor furniture since it’s UV resistant, non-yellowing, and non-darkening.
For more info about shellac finishes please refer to this post: Shellac Vs. Polyurethane
Mineral oils are liquid petrolatums composed of hydrocarbons. They are commonly used to remove make-up, which implies that they are not harmful to humans. They can be even be used as a baby safe stain if you’d like. It is not widely known but baby oil is actually mineral oil mixed with some fragrance. Mineral oils can also be used as conditioners in wooden or soapstone furniture. They can help the wood stay flexible, soften its appearance and scratches, and make the surface look brand new. Mineral oils are very cheap and have many different uses.
Applying Baby Safe Stains
It is very easy to apply baby safe stain on your baby’s crib. The first thing you need to do is use non-toxic soap and hot water to wash the crib. Let it dry and use a low-grit sandpaper to sand the crib down. This will allow the stain to penetrate the wood. Clean the area by wiping it with a damp rag or sponge. Non-toxic wood conditioners should be painted onto the crib and allowed to dry for maximum results. Finally, apply the non-toxic stain and allow it to fully dry. Finishing up with a non-toxic sealer is optional but recommended.
For more tips on how to apply stain to furniture please read our post titled: Wood Finishing Techniques.
Baby safe stain, or stains that are non-toxic and with low or no VOC’s, are will help protect your baby from irritation or other more serious illnesses.