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Non-Toxic Oil Painting, Oil Painting Without Toxic Solvents

Oil paints are a beautiful medium and are known for their archival quality.

They have been used over the centuries by Old masters but a lot of beginner artists these days tend to stay away from oil paints because of the fear of toxicity.

While oil painting can be toxic not just for you but for your pets as well ( specially birbs ) it's fairly easy to be safe while using oil paints.

Let's dive a little deep into Oil Painting practices and how you can paint with non-toxic mediums.


Oil paints are made of pigments and oil. While most pigments are non-toxic, some can be really harmful if you consume or inhale the pigment particles. On the other hand, oils used as binders in oil paints are non-toxic.

There are some pigments which contain heavy metals such as cadmiums, lead white etc.

Most of my oil paints are from Sennelier Rive Gauche Artist Oil Color Series.

They contain safflower oil instead of linseed oil so they dry faster in comparison.


Solvents are essentially what you should be wary of. Turpentine and other mineral spirits emit very toxic fumes. You can use them safely by working in a very well-ventilated area and don't use them too much.

I personally get severe headaches because of strong smells even if they are pleasant, so I stay far far away from turpentine.

Non-Toxic Oil Painting

Creating oil paintings without the use of toxic materials is very much a possible option for artists.

Keep reading to know different methods for creating oil paintings without the use of toxic materials.

Pigments As I mentioned earlier most pigments are safe except a few which contain heavy metals like cadmium. If you really want to use cadmium, lead-white or other toxic pigments, you can do so by wearing gloves while painting or ensuring that you wash your hand really well after you are done painting.

Or you can simply use alternative pigments like titanium white instead of lead white.


For thinning down your paint you can simply use linseed ( my preferred oil ), walnut or safflower oil instead of turpentine.

Cleaning Brushes

If you want to use turpentine to clean your brushes you can do that in a well-ventilated area, near an open window, or outside your house and then make sure you close the lid of the turpentine container.

Check out this Sennelier Green for Oil - Thinner. It's non-toxic, a bio solvent and environment friendly.