Toxicity of Oil Colours (Always Read the Label!)

Ways you can approach the subject.

  1. You can assume all paints are toxic, and never paint.
  2. You can attempt to take a well balanced view, rather as any competent motorist does when driving a vehicle which could prove potentially lethal.
  3. You can stop caring; after all we all have to die sometime. Take religion more seriously instead.

It may seem to some that the contents of this page are obvious but I have to start from the assumption that some people are either misguided, incompetent or stupid.. So let us also assume option 2 is the most reasonable.

I have no medical or toxicological qualifications, so all advice I give is with the best intentions but with no guarantees. Just take it as axiomatic: ALWAYS CHECK, NEVER TAKE A CHANCE. Just as a sensible motorist does every day, and lives.

Linseed and Poppy Oil are not considered toxic. The wildly eccentric have considered them edible, but I do not recommend them for culinary purposes. Vegetable oils, however, can self-combust (slowly ignite into fire) when on or in rags particularly. Always dispose of with care by soaking in water first.

Flake White / Foundation White / Cremnitz White contain Lead , which can kill or harm an unborn child, even immediately after conception—so if you considering pregnancy, avoid contact. Lead is also known to be toxic for children and adults. Keep these products away from children, even if they are the constituents of a dry, finished painting. Do not eat or smoke while working with these paints. (Do not smoke anyway, it smells and it stains paint surfaces.). Do not sand surfaces containing these or any paints where you can inhale the dust. The alternatives are Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide.

Lemon Yellow must be treated in the same way. It contains Chrome and Barium; both real nasties that cause a lot of other problems. These are several Lake Yellows which can substitute for these when mixed with Titanium White.

Cadmium Colours are not officially subject to the same regulations covering lead-based products, but in my opinion this does not mean that we should dub them “non- toxic”. I am told that if they are burnt. cadmium is released in a form which is highly toxic.

As a general precaution, do not allow paint into contact with your skin in such a volume that might cause skin sensitivity. There are also possibilities that some toxic pigments might be able to enter through the skin when used in conjunction with solvents.

Always wash well after use and before eating. Make sure your studio is well ventilated. Please call if you need more help.

2 Responses to “Toxicity of Oil Colours (Always Read the Label!)”

August 16, 2017 at 12:05 am, Danna said:

Is bright yellow lake toxic, what pigments make the color?


December 07, 2017 at 1:10 pm, Joelle Harding said:


Bright yellow lake is not toxic. PY3 makes the colour 🙂


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