Is Watercolor Paint Toxic?

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Wondering if watercolor is safe? With scary sounding chemical names, it’s natural to wonder about the toxicity of watercolor paint. So is watercolor paint toxic?

You may also be interested in my favorite watercolor supplies for beginners.

is watercolor toxic

This post contains affiliate links. By purchasing an item through an affiliate link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I’ve included links to Blick where available because they often have better prices than Amazon. Plus, it’s so much fun to shop at Blick!

Is Watercolor Paint Toxic?

Watercolors consist of binders and pigments. The beautiful, bright pigments are composed of chemicals that help with lightfastness.

Some colors are labeled hazardous. These include cadmium, zinc white and some cobalts.

However, you would need to ingest a ton of paint to die from it. So that accidental sip from your water cup isn’t going to kill you.

water cups and paint palettes

Things to Do to Protect Yourself

Don’t Eat or Lick the Paint

This is a given for most people, but it also applies to using dishes for your art supplies. It’s real tempting to grab a coffee mug for a water cup and a ceramic plate would make a great mixing palette, but stick with dedicated dishes.

Fun fact: in the 1940’s there were factories that employed women who painted uranium onto clock faces. The paint was hard to work with, so the women licked their brushes to make the paint flow easier….

Don’t do that.

watercolor pans, tubes and liquids

If you’re letting kids watercolor, choose the non-toxic variety. Crayola is great to start with for kids! But if you want them to experience nicer paint, Mijello Mission Gold Watercolors is also non-toxic and looks to be good quality.

Blick link for Mijello Watercolors

Make hand washing a habit after painting. Like I said, it would take a lot of paint to hurt you, but it’s still a good habit.

If you have pets, keep them away from your supplies. My dog loves licking weird stuff, so I paint up high, out of her reach. It’s probably harder to keep cats away.

watercolor paints and palettes

Read the Directions

Pay attention to the ingredients. Every tube is labeled with the ingredients. If you’re having trouble finding the information, the manufacturer’s website is a good place to look, as well as art supply shops, like Blick, who clearly label the warnings.

Paints such as cadmium instruct you to not spray them. If you need to spray them, use protection.

Use Protection if You’re Concerned

Wear gloves and a mask if you’re worried. Some people wear gloves just to keep their hands from getting stained, so it’s not totally weird.

Use Alternatives to Toxic Colors

Colors like cadmium based colors have so many non-toxic alternatives that it’s easy to replaces them with safer options.

Avoid colors with the following in the names: antimony, barium, umbers, cadmiums, chrome, cobalt, lead, manganese or zinc.

Here’s a complete list of toxic watercolors.

watercolor paints in use

The Verdict: Is Watercolor Paint Toxic?

Personally, I believe that it’s safe when you take the right precautions and remember to not eat your art supplies. I will continue using my watercolors and even allowing my kids to use them.

There are plenty of alternatives if you’re concerned about toxicity.

Ebb and Flow Creative Co has provided this information for your consideration only. Make your own decisions based on your own research. Ebb and Flow Creative Co is not liable for anything based on inaccuracy of this information.

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