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Make your own ecological paint

also published in the Z.O.Z. in 2013

Some things are so easy to make yourself, you'll never want anything else. Making your own paint is definitely one of those things. No more breathing in chemicals while painting or cleaning brushes with chemical junk and the walls will not breathe out chemical junk for decades. And it also happens to be much cheaper than buying paint: less than a euro per kilo of paint.

You can make paint from clay, milk, oil, chalk, and much more. In 2007, the cover had an article about cottage cheese-based paint. Here we are going to make interior paint in no time with clay powder and chalk. Clay powder is like a kind of loam, but then so fine that you can smear it on the wall (if you buy a big bag of loam, you get too coarse loam). You can buy clay powder and chalk in art shops (such as the Hazelaar in Soest). It don't dispense, and it can be in all colors of the rainbow.

We use flour as a binding agent. The flower cannot be omitted because this makes the paint spreadable, and the wall also gives off a little bit if you don't use a flower (especially with only chalk). So if you ever hear someone say "yes, but clay paint always gives off": then no flour has been added. The flower has no effect on the color because thinly coated flower is almost completely transparent.

We could just eat soup from these bowls a little later.

We could just eat soup from these bowls a little later.

Preparation

Needed:

  • 3 parts clay powder (white firing or red firing, chamotte 0%, not "fat" or "semi-fat" type) and/or chalk (calcium carbonate)
  • 1 part wheat flour or spelled flour (from the supermarket) , you don't need to cook the flour!
  • a fork for mixing (not a kitchen whisk, it will stick in there)
  • a tablespoon to scoop ingredients from the trays
  • a bowl or bucket to put the paint in
  • a vase or measuring cup to get water from
  • a sieve for all the chalk and possibly the flour
  • optionally pigments of your choice (e.g. acrylic paint)

Preparation:

  • Put some water in your bowl or bucket
  • throw in some of the ingredients
  • add some water and stir (a little too watery is okay)
  • repeat the previous two steps until everything is in it
  • halfway through painting: if necessary add a small drop of water and stir

The proportions are not that close. Above is 3 clay and chalk, and 1 flower. What I have often used is 1 clay powder 1 chalk 1 flower. I actually advise you to experiment yourself to see what works best for your base material. We measure proportions with a spoon-plus-cup, so that's not an exact science. The only thing that matters is that the end result is good in terms of spreadability (and color), and that is up to you. For spreadability, always add the water little by little until you have the desired thickness, instead of all the water at once.

It is not necessary, but it is really recommended to use both clay and chalk. The chalk then serves as an extra filler, making the paint slightly more opaque. Only clay or only chalk you can also try; this is opaque, but sometimes only after a second painting.

If you don't want the color of clay but prefer white or something else, simply omit the clay powder and add pigment if needed. Chalk with flower gives an excellent opaque white color, which is of course an excellent basis for colors that do not match the clay color, such as blue. If you would like a nice mixing color with an organic touch, then use clay powder. Here we have mixed clay powder and chalk with a little bit of red acrylic paint to get a very nice organic red color.

It may sound obvious, but if you want to see the final color you have to wait until it dries. After all, this is water-based paint and water has to dry up. The difference between dry and wet is dramatic, so don't be alarmed if you "go further" and think it doesn't match. With paint that you buy in the store, the color fades very little, but the end result is lighter than when you put it on.

Addendum: -4 years after writing this article- I found an article stating that the Swedish red color is made from linseed oil and flour.

Ordinary flower

Ordinary flower

In the bathroom we add EM-X against bacterial growth.

In the bathroom we add EM-X against bacterial growth.

If you suffer from lumps (e.g. with chalk or with flour that has been open for a while), put your ingredients in a sieve and shake stir it into your bowl or bucket afterwards.

If you suffer from lumps (e.g. with chalk or with flour that has been open for a while), put your ingredients in a sieve and shake stir it into your bowl or bucket afterwards.

I've only had it once, but still: do you suffer from small flakes? Don't worry: just sand, degrease with soapy water from lots of washing up liquid and repainting

I've only had it once, but still: do you suffer from small flakes? Don't worry: just sand, degrease with soapy water from lots of washing up liquid and repainting

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