Natural Paint, Wood Coatings and Sealers
Natural Paint, Wood Coatings and Sealers
Natural Paint, Wood Coatings and Sealers
Natural Paint, Wood Coatings and Sealers

We interviewed Bernhard Lembeck, The Green Chemist from ProNature, about natural paint, sealers, and chemicals. Bernhard has over 40 years of experience in paint chemistry!

  1. What is organic paint?

Chemistry, including paint chemistry, can be broadly divided into two groups: Organics (chemistry of or designating carbon compounds) and Inorganics. “Organic” or “Natural” paints are made from plant-based materials derived from a non-toxic, sustainable, and eco-friendly source. This source must be managed according to organic or biodynamic principles, refraining from the use of petrochemicals (crude oils), synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, pigments, additives, and genetic modification.

  1. What is in your products? If you don't use petrochemicals, what do you use to make paint?

Paint consists of liquid (resin), additives, binders, and pigments. Our resins (the liquid) are derived from various plant oils, solvents include citrus oils and pure gum turpentine, additives and binders are natural oxides and acids, and all our colors come from mineral pigments.

  1. What do you use to create the beautiful colors we see in your paint and sealants?

Our Ultramarine blue is made from the same minerals as natural lapis lazuli. Chrome oxide is a green mineral pigment derived from chromium ores. Iron oxides are used for yellow, red, and black colors. We also use Carbon black, and of course, Titanium dioxide gives us white. With these base color concentrates, we create all the different colors and shades for wood sealers and wall paints.

  1. Your coatings are not only lead-free but also cobalt-free. Why is this important, and what do you use in place of cobalt?

Recent studies in Europe have confirmed that cobalt is a potentially cancer-causing and water-polluting metal salt. It is commonly used in the paint industry as a drying agent for paints that require oxygen to dry and cure. As the first and only company in Southern Africa, we now use Iron or Manganese-based driers instead.

  1. Does the natural alternative you offer have any ‘side-effects' such as increased drying time?

The drying time of our wood sealers is comparable to any other penetrating oil-based finish. However, the curing time is longer compared to water or oil-based varnishes. During the curing time, full protection has not fully developed yet, so one should avoid standing water, using cleaning agents, and exposure to liquids or items that could stain the surface. Our wall paints have drying and curing times similar to conventional coatings but are more  sensitive to high alkaline on fresh plaster, and the required drying/curing time of plaster must be adhered to.

  1. Is it much more expensive to choose the greener option?

Our raw materials are more expensive compared to the ingredients in conventional paints. However, we manufacture locally, and our wood sealers and accompanying products are much more affordable compared to similar imported products. The wall paints are offered at an average price for a good quality paint.

  1. Is the paint septic tank friendly?

One can say yes, but it depends on the quantity. We wouldn't suggest pouring liters of the coatings or our cleaning products into the tank. However, washing brushes or rinsing containers, as well as wash-water, will not interfere with the health of a septic tank, as the products are biodegradable.

  1. Does your coatings have a strong smell? What about the sealers?

Our products are not odorless, and there's a good reason for that. The only material that is odorless is water, and it requires chemicals to remove odors from coatings, which we do not use. Our products have a subtle smell of plants and some products have a distinct citrus scent deriving from the orange peel oil used in various products (a scent, which is loved by many of our clients).

Editor's note: Here is another article to help you in Making your Home a Green Home

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