Is Chalk Paint Toxic

Paint, especially oil-based paint, contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can be toxic to your health and the environment. The higher the level of VOCs, the more toxic the paint is.

Fortunately, there are water-based paints that release little to no VOCs. Among these water-based paints is chalk paint.

Chalk paint is a popular choice for furniture flipping due to its ease of use. Clean-up is easy too. You only need water and soap!

But even though chalk paint is water-based, how safe really is it? 

In this post, we’ll discuss if chalk paint is toxic.


Chalk paint has low toxicity. After all, it has low levels of VOCs relative to other paint like oil-based paint. To be extra safe, choose a chalk paint brand that has little to no VOCs such as Annie Sloan, Retique It, Chalk Mountain, or Country Chic.

Is Chalk Paint Toxic?

As a water-based paint, Annie Sloan chalk paint and other chalky-type paint brands are non-toxic and have little to no VOC content. VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, are gases emitted generally from human-made chemicals. These chemicals are found in a wide range of products from furniture to cleaning products. 

Although some chalk paint brands contain small amounts of VOCs, these products are still less toxic than many other paints such as enamel and oil-based paints. If you’re extra vigilant, you can always check the label of any given paint product to find information on its VOC content. 

While chalk paint does not typically make people sick, it can be a source of irritation to some people. That said, to be extra safe, wear rubber gloves and a long-sleeved shirt while using chalk paint to prevent it from getting on your skin. 

Related: Chalk Paint Techniques and Tips for Furniture

Is Chalk Paint Food Safe and Toy Safe?

Since chalk paint is non-toxic, it’s both food-safe and toy-safe once it’s fully cured. However, there is a caveat. Although it’s food and toy-safe once cured, chalk paint isn’t very durable without a top coat. That said, you should never leave an unprotected coat of chalk paint on kitchen items in close vicinity to food. The unprotected chalk paint can easily rub off and potentially contaminate your food. And while chalk paint isn’t hazardous, it’s certainly not made for eating. 

For items like serving trays, kitchen cabinets, or kitchen tables that don’t come in direct contact with food, after applying your chalk paint, be sure to protect your chalk paint finish with a protective finish like lacquer or polyclic. For kitchen items like utensils or plates that come in direct contact with food, it’s best to avoid applying chalk paint to these items in the first place. 

Related: 5 of the Biggest Chalk Paint Problems

Chalk Paint Ingredients

The composition of chalk paint will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. However, you can find common ingredients among all chalk paint brands. Most chalk paints will have a mix of calcium carbonate, titanium dioxide white pigment, diiron trioxide, and water. Fortunately, these ingredients are safe and non-hazardous. Not only that but just like other water-based paint, chalk paint doesn’t emit a strong chemical odor when applied. Naturally, this makes for a pleasant painting experience.

In comparison, typical enamel paint contains petroleum spirit, white lead, oil, and resinous materials. Petroleum spirit alone is harmful when inhaled in high concentrations or ingested. Additionally, the oil found in this paint (and other oil-based paint) tends to be high in VOCs. 

Non-Toxic Chalk Paint Brands 

Again, generally speaking, all chalk paint is non-toxic. However, some brands have lower levels of toxicity than others; not all brands have the same ingredients. That said, it’s best to choose brands that clearly state that they have minimal amounts of VOCs. The labels of chalk paint products should clearly indicate how toxic they are. 

The following chalk paint brands boast very little to zero VOCs in their composition:

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Annie Sloan is the company that invented chalky paint. Since 1990, Annie Sloan has been transforming the furniture painting world with its revolutionary paint product. As Annie Sloan began to grow a following, other chalky paint brands began popping up. 

You can purchase Annie Sloan paint directly from the company’s website or through independent retailers that sell the product. 

Retique It Renaissance Chalk Furniture Paint

This made-in-the-USA chalk paint brand has zero VOCs and is completely odorless. This is great for those who are sensitive to the smell of paint. 

Renaissance Chalk Furniture Paint is a well-rated product on Amazon, averaging 4.6 out of 5 from over 7.5 thousand reviews all over the world, making it a popular chalk paint option. Most customers have positive comments on its smoothness and color selection.

Aside from Amazon, you can directly purchase Retique It Renaissance Chalk Paint from their website. You can also buy it from Walmart. It’s a bit expensive (about a dollar per ounce), so be sure to choose your color wisely. 

Chalk Mountain Furniture Paint

Chalk Mountain Furniture is another zero VOC chalk paint. On their website, it states that their paint has “low low odor”, allowing you to paint indoors without a hitch. You won’t have any issues with fumes.

Chalk Mountain also offers all-natural waxes that go well with their zero VOC chalk paint. These waxes only have natural ingredients in their composition. They do not contain any harsh chemicals or additives. This is perfect if you’re looking for a food-safe finish.

You can purchase this chalk paint brand directly from their website. Currently, you can choose from 54 colors. You can also read customer testimonials about their chalk paint and other products from their website.

Country Chic Chalk Style Paint

Unlike the previous two brands, this chalk paint brand does not have zero VOC, but it does have an ultra-low level of VOC. What’s reassuring about Country Chic Chalk Style Paint though is that fully they display their testing results on their website. You can be sure that this chalk paint is true to its word regarding its toxicity.

Their paint is tested independently via the strict European Toy Safety Standards (BS EN 71-3). They passed the test, which means that their paint is proven safe for use even on children’s toys and furniture (which are usually chewed on by children).

You can purchase their products directly from their website. Their paints are a bit pricey, but you can get free shipping on orders of $49+ USD or $59+ CAD.

Dixie Belle Chalk Mineral Paint

Dixie Belle Chalk Mineral Paint is another paint brand that has zero VOCs. It contains no harsh chemicals or additives.

This product is one of the most well-known and highly respected brands of chalk paint. While it’s not as popular as Annie Sloan chalk paint (the original chalk paint brand), it’s certainly one of the most popular chalk paint brands. It’s a great choice for chalk painting furniture

It’s safe to use on children’s toys. It doesn’t release any odors, and it’s safe to use around pets too.

You can purchase Dixie Belle products directly from their website. They also have a nifty tool that lets you search local retailers near your location.

How To Apply Chalk Paint Safely 

While chalk paint is unlikely to cause any allergic reactions or irritations (especially the brands mentioned above), it’s still better to err on the side of caution.

For starters, always paint in a well-ventilated area. Open any windows, doors, or anything that can make air flow better. While chalk paint is non-toxic and odorless for the most part, it’s still best practice to have proper ventilation. This is especially true if you plan to sand to prep your furniture before chalk painting or applying certain finishes. 

Chalk paint is unlikely to cause allergic reactions, but it’s important to take the right precautions if you have a history of allergic reactions to other paints (e.g. enamel, latex, acrylic). To avoid getting paint on your hands or skin, wearing gloves, long sleeves, and pants will do the trick. Worst comes to worse, you can always wash the chalk paint off with soap and water.

You should always apply a top coat to your chalk paint before introducing the painted furniture to pets and children. Without a top coat, chalk paint can easily rub off. Although it’s non-toxic, for the sake of sanitation, its best if the chalk paint is protected. 



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