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Thread: Non toxic clear coat suggestions

  1. #1

    Non toxic clear coat suggestions

    A friend of mine who is an artist has been finishing her paintings with oil based varethane fro several years. I am trying to wean her from this product and would like to steer her to the best non toxic clear finish. I have used some water based clears with very good results. What products do you recommend that would have a nice deep clear finish, offer Good UV protection and durability, as well as safer to use on a long term basis.

    Thanks in advance.
    Bob S.
    http://www.lancasterfm104.com/history.html

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Whats wrong with Varathane? Once the finish has fully cured, a week or two, it's not toxic. In fact all finishes are non toxic when cured. However if you're worried about the fumes, good ventilation and a mask will solve the issue.

    Brian
    The significant problems we encounter cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.

    Never let your fears decide your fate

  3. #3

    Food Safe

    I echo what Brian said above - it's my understanding that all varnishes are 'food safe' after they fully cure. Check the manufacturer's MSDS to make sure. Then there is the product called 'Salad Bowl Finish' which specifically says it is food safe. I've used it. And the FDA says Shellac is food safe (cured of course) - it's even used to coat pills. Mike

  4. #4
    The problem as I see it is that she lives where this stuff is curing. I smell it when I visit. She wears a mask when she applies it, but it must off gas for a while when it is curing. I have used some water based stuff that smells very little. I think it was Delfane. (I forget the name). Not that your nose is the final judge of toxicity.
    Bob S.
    http://www.lancasterfm104.com/history.html

  5. #5
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    If she is painting in a water color medium, I would think using a water based clear coat would be disastrous.

    Whether she is painting in water color, acrylics or oils, the art supply places have the proper clear coats all figured out.

    If she is using varnish to save money, or to get a special effect -- well, that's another issue.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    What makes you think the fumes are toxic? As opposed to malodourous?
    From the workshop under the staircase, Clinton Township, MI
    Semper Audere!

  7. #7
    I don't know they are. I would rather live in a fume free place myself. I guess I equate non natural odors with with health hazards. Might be no linkage really.
    Bob S.
    http://www.lancasterfm104.com/history.html

  8. #8
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    If the fumes are that bad then more ventilation is the answer. Be aware that even water based finishes still outgas VOC's but to a somewhat lesser extent and they may not smell as strong but the danger is still there. I know it's not the answer you're looking for but there needs to more airflow as the finish cures or the painting needs to be moved to a different location.

    The points brought up by Loren are very valid and only your friend can answer to those issues.

    For a water base finish, look at Highland Woorking's website for their WB finishes, some have a very good reputation but then again ventilation is the key issue that needs to be dealt with here.

    Brian
    The significant problems we encounter cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.

    Never let your fears decide your fate

  9. #9
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    I don't have answers for you, but I do know that it depends on what paint you put it on top of. With too profound differences in expansion, one type of coating can pull off a different sort underneath. And what your is goal -- do you want it to bond well, or to protect but be removable later without damage to the paint? I might look for a web forum dealing in art restoration to answer this question. While most are likely traditional, some may have tried newer things of low toxicity.

    But I would agree that if it smells bad, it's a good idea to avoid breathing it by better ventilation or some other means. Even if it doesn't smell too bad, it's a good idea to avoid exposure to organic solvents.

  10. #10
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    I use a lot of water based acrylic finishes in my vintage travel trailer restorations. If you are located in Arizona and want to stop by I will give you a gallon free!

    Looks like all your other responders like the oil stuff????

    Stinks, takes too long to dry, harder to clean up, not as good for the environment. I guess it might last longer?

    A proper respirator should be worn while applying either finish.

    I am confidant that within my lifetime the oil based finishes will no longer be available.

    Craig McCormick

  11. #11
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    Technically there's a difference between "food safe" and "non-toxic". All finishes are non-toxic when cured. But none have been declared "food safe" by any governmental authority. Some manufactureres make that claim based on using chemicals or compounds that are classified as non-toxic and/or approved for human consumption. The product called "Salad Bowl Finish" is made from varnish (non-toxic), linseed oil (food safe as flaxseed oil) and a thinner that is completely evaporated when cured. Of course, we know the product as an oil/varnish so any oil varnish could make the same claim.

    That said, waterborne finishes all contain solvents in addition to water. They have less odor than solvent and oil based finishes but they are drinkable and do off-gas somewhat while curing.
    Howie.........

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Craig McCormick View Post
    I use a lot of water based acrylic finishes in my vintage travel trailer restorations. If you are located in Arizona and want to stop by I will give you a gallon free!

    Looks like all your other responders like the oil stuff????

    Stinks, takes too long to dry, harder to clean up, not as good for the environment. I guess it might last longer?

    A proper respirator should be worn while applying either finish.

    I am confidant that within my lifetime the oil based finishes will no longer be available.

    Craig McCormick
    Nice offer. Thanks. I will be by next week if the fuel prices go to $.45 per gallon!

  13. #13
    Maybe I should re title this thread to best, most pleasant, fast curing clear finish. I found the can of stuff I used a few years ago. It is DEFT clear wood finish. I remember this being a very nice product to work with, and has been very durable on our kitchen table. Any other favorites?

  14. #14
    Join Date
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    I would suggest your friend visit this site as it as products specifically designed for artist's mediums. The needs of artists are very different from the needs of woodworkers.

    http://www.goldenpaints.com/index.php

    Burt

  15. #15
    Thanks for the link, she paints mostly on MDF if that puts her in the woodworker domain.

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