Did you know that conventional, store-bought fingerpaints 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?
Even the brands labeled “non-toxic” can contain these dangerous ingredients! (How this is legal is anyone’s guess.) And if that weren’t enough, genetically engineered soy, corn and wheat byproducts are also common ingredients too, which can be an unexpected disaster for the allergic child.
Like an increasing number of children, my daughter is allergic and sensitive to these ingredients, so we simply can’t use the off-the-shelf brands of these common craft items.
My friend Michelle, whose daughter also has many food sensitivities, came up with the following recipe for non-toxic, non-allergenic fingerpaints, and it is just great for hours of toddler fun!
Michelle used millet flour and I used coconut flour for the paint, so you should be able to use almost any type of fine flour that isn’t too heavy. (Though coconut flour is really gloppy, and I don’t recommend it!)
Related: Gluten Free Non-Toxic Play Dough
The paint colors are made with India Tree Natural Decorating Colors, which are made from 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 are not exact when you mix them, but they are completely non-toxic and non-allergenic.
I find their earthy pastel shades rustic and charming.
Here is a bit more information about what is in India Tree colors:
Blue: Deionized water, glycerin, red cabbage
Red: Beet juice, citric acid
Yellow: Deionized water, glycerin, curcumin
India Tree uses such basic ingredients, you could make your own copycat colors with food and spices in your kitchen!
On to the fun of making the finger paint…
- 1/2 to 1 cup rice flour (or sub millet or other fine flour. Coconut and nut flours don't work for this.)
- 2 cups purified 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.)
- 6-10 reusable paint cups (or use disposable paper cups)
- 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.
- Stir in additional flour, if needed, until you reach the desired paint consistency.
- Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop out the mixture into each paint cup.
- Put at least 6 drops of color into your paints to make sure they are vibrant and bright. I used about 15-20 drops in my paints. Now stir and see what you get.
- PAINT AND HAVE FUN!