Interior Decorating | Wood Finish

Tried & True Wood Finishes

This wood finish is now being used on many wood products that choose to eliminate toxic exposures. “Made from all-natural renwable ingredients that do not contain solvents, toxins, or heavy metal dryers. Safe for food and skin contact…made from sustainable agricultural resources. Linseed oil is a plant derived material, pressed from the seeds of the flax plant. The beeswax used in Original Wood Finish is a by-product of honey production, and varnish resin used in Varnish Oil (hardened tree sap) is a natural forest product…After the impurities are removed, the linseed oils we use are polymerized or “aged”, this means they have enhanced drying properties. No petroleum distillates, or other solvents, or their derivatives are added. No heavy metal driers are used. The methods we employ are adapted from 18th to early 20th century finish making. We combine quality control, current technology and traditional formulations to enhance the properties of the natural ingredients used in Tried & True…All Tried & True wood finishes comply with the product safety standards established by the FDA: “safe for food contact surfaces” (FDA 21, Sec 175.300). Beeswax and natural varnish resin are FDA approved as non-allergic and non-hazardous. Our products, or any of its ingredients, are not regulated under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (Title 40) or the EPA Resource and Recovery Act (Title 49).”

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Earthpaint

Created by a professional painter who was poisoned by the paints and wood finishes he was told were safe, Earthpaint has a deep commitment to making safe paints and finishes. “Our biodegradable paint and wood finish contain non-toxic and natural ingredients derived from plants, vegetables, trees, minerals and elements. Nearly all of these finishing components are gathered locally (within a day’s drive of Asheville, NC) and are domestically produced and harvested… Earthpaint will not poison the earth for profit and that is our promise. You get long lasting finishes without the poison. Locally sourced and manufactured our finishes have the lowest ecological footprint possible. We demand long life cycle and sustainability, from manufacture to landfill. Most of our products can be grown back, forever! We do not use vinyl, mineral spirits or any other toxic petrochemical. ”

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Rubio Monocoat

A completely different type of wood finish…a VOC-free oil for floors and furniture that colors and protects in one layer. You can apply it to all types of wood. Water and heat resistant (think radiant flooring). Adheres with the wood through molecular bonding, so there are no marks where application overlaps. Damaged areas or scratches are easy to repair because any exposed new wood will absorb the oil and look the same as the original. “allows an intense and deep colouring in one single layer, without influencing the natural look and feel of the wood.”

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Zinsser Bull’s Eye Shellac

This wood finish is composed of a natural resin secreted by the tiny lac insect. After laying its eggs on certain trees in India and Thailand, and ingesting the sap of those trees, the lac secretes the digested tree sap to cover it's swarm of eggs. Upon contact with air, the secretion forms into a hard shell, thus the name. It's literally the shell of the lac insect. After the young insects are born, the remaining shell is harvested to make shellac. It is soaked in water and dried in the sun. It is then dissolved into ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, and methyl isobutyl ketone. Once it is applied and the volatile solvents evaporate, what is left is the natural shell, just as it is produced by the insect. Shellac gives a natural protective coating to wood, can block odors (can be used to seal formaldehyde odors from particleboard), and can be tinted. Shellac is UV resistant and will not yellow or darken with age. Dry shellac is so safe, it is certified by the Food and Drug Administration as a protective glaze for candy and pharmaceuticals. Read their detailed brochure "The Story of Shellac" which details the history and manufacturing process. NOTE: While dry shellac is completely natural and nontoxic when dry, in the can it has toxic solvents. Be sure to apply in a well-ventilated area and take appropriate precautions.

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Vermont Natural Coatings

This is currently the wood finish I use. High performance water-based wood finishes made using whey, a by-product of local cheese making. Whey “has a high BOD (biochemical oxygen demand) that can increase the burden on waste treatment facilities and can pollute rivers, lakes, and even the ocean…By reformulating whey into a durable, natural wood finish, a potential waste product is taken out of the waste stream and put to a useful purpose.” The VOC level is about 180g/L (grams per liter), which is lower than California’s 250g/L–the toughest indoor air quality standard in the United States. I smelled a sample and it is remarkably low in odor (though it does still contain small amount of toxic chemicals, according to their MSDS). Once cured, it is very “food-safe”, not toxic if child or pet chews on it. Cans are made with post consumer materials which can be recycled when discarded.

Listen to my interview with Vermont Natural Coatings Founder and President Andrew Meyer./a>

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