Homemade Gluten Free Finger Paint

kids hands covered with homemade gluten free finger paint

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Did you know that conventional, store-bought finger paints can contain toxic chemicals like toluene, ethylene glycol, petroleum-based waxes, polymers, and artificial colors that can be easily absorbed through your child’s skin?

Some paints also contain wheat, soy or oats, which can be an unexpected disaster for the allergic child, so it’s important to read the labels to see if they contain gluten or other food allergens. (Crayola paints are gluten free.)

Like an increasing number of children, my daughter is allergic or sensitive to these ingredients, so we simply can’t use the off-the-shelf brands of a lot of common craft items. So this recipe for non-toxic, non-allergenic finger paints solves the problem, and is just great for hours of toddler fun!

Related: Homemade Gluten Free Play Dough

The paint colors are made with natural food coloring, which are made from fruits and vegetables, though you could easily make your own colors from turmeric, beet juice and more. You do need to use more natural coloring than you would with regular, chemical food dyes, and the colors can be tricky to mix, but I find their earthy pastel shades rustic and charming.

On to the fun of making the finger paint…

kids hands covered with homemade gluten free finger paint

Homemade Gluten Free Finger Paints

Store-bought finger paints can contain toxic chemicals and allergens that can harm your child. Here's a non-toxic, gluten free alternative you can whip up in your kitchen.
Total Time: 15 mins
Approx. Cost: $5
Servings: 2 cups

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1/2 to 1 cup gluten free flour blend, or use rice, millet or other grain-based flour. Coconut and nut flours don't work for this.
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 6-20 drops natural food coloring, or to desired color. You could also make your own colors from turmeric, beet juice, berries and more.

Instructions
 

  • Mix 1/2 cup flour with a bit of water to get out lumps.
  • Add the rest of the water.
  • Cook/stir over medium heat just until thick & shiny. It only takes a few minutes. The mixture should stick to the side of the pan a bit.
    eight cups full of homemade non toxic finger paints in bright colors
  •  Stir in additional flour, if needed, until you reach the desired paint consistency. It should be thick enough to stick to your hands, but not gloppy.
  • Scoop out the mixture equally into several reusable paint cups or disposable paper cups.
  • Put several drops of your choice of food coloring into each cup of paint and mix well. Add more food coloring as needed to create the color you are looking for.
  • PAINT AND HAVE FUN!

NOTES

  • You will likely need to use more natural coloring than you would with chemical food dyes to get dark, rich colors.

17 thoughts on “Homemade Gluten Free Finger Paint”

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  1. 4 stars
    Hi thanks for the recipe! Quick question, does the color stay on your child’s hands for some time? If so, what do you recommend doing to remove the color?

    1. I think it depends on what you are using for color. Food dyes and homemade vegetable colors will behave differently, and some might stain while others don’t—but these colorings are non-toxic on the skin.

    1. Yes, but the paint is thick so it can peel or chip off, and the colors are natural so they fade pretty quickly. But then fingerpaintings were not meant to be museum archival quality!

  2. Hi, I’m excited to use this recipe, but looking into the India Tree Natural Decorating colorings a bit more I found that they contain the chemicals polysorbate and propylene glycol (see the reviews on Amazon). Yikes! These looks good though: http://www.seelecttea.com/index.php/food-color-organic-food-color/organic-food-color-food-color-natural-food-colors.html, or these: http://www.chocolatecraftkits.com/shop/index.php?main_page=page&id=25

    1. I spoke to the company on the phone, and India Tree colors do NOT contain propylene glycol or polysorbate. The woman on the phone said that for a very brief time, they had a run of the product that included these chemicals, but they have since switched back to their original formulation that contains no chemical ingredients at all–just vegetable color and water. And given the SelectTea colors are $20 EACH, that’s a good thing!

  3. This is fantastic, thank you so much. I actually bought my son a set of finger paints from “Melissa & Doug” and no sooner had he put his hands in them, when he broke out in a red rash that looked horrific. There were red blisters all over his hands, they were itchy and inflamed for DAYS! I could not believe it, and tried to find out what on earth could be in these so-called “non-toxic” paints, but couldn’t find anything out over the internet. Ditto for marker pens, paints and pens. We just can’t use any of them, so I was really pleased to see your post here. Thank you so much.

  4. Sarah Schatz - Allergy-Free & GAPS Menu Planners

    This is really awesome – thanks so much for posting this. I had no idea you could use coconut flour as a substitute so that is great. thanks so much!

    1. You will need a bit more than a half cup of coconut flour to get the right consistency. The paint will be a bit grittier and lighter in hue than if you use, say, rice flour, but to a 2 year old, this is totally irrelevant!

      Best,

      Dawn

  5. Cathy Malchiodi, PhD

    Thanks for posting these very helpful articles on children’s art materials– as an art therapist, this is very relevant news to those of us who use media with children. My work has been with traumatized children who have special challenges; we need to pay more attention to what you are offering in these postings! Thanks again and looking forward to reading more!

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