Non-Toxic Play

What you need to know about wood finishes and babies & toddlers


Wooden toys and furniture have become increasingly popular in recent years, as parents opt for natural and eco-friendly materials for their little ones. However, choosing the right wood finishes can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to ensuring safety for children.

Many traditional wood finishes contain harmful chemicals such as solvents, heavy metals or formaldehyde that can emit gasses and potentially harm children's health. This is especially concerning as young children are more vulnerable to the effects of toxins due to their smaller size and developing bodies.

Fortunately, there are safe and natural alternatives available for creating non-toxic play spaces for your kids. In this guide, we will explore different options for wood finishes and how to create a safe environment for your little ones.


Understanding Non-Toxic Wood Finishes

Children are inherently explorative. Their world is one big laboratory, with every object a potential experiment. Unfortunately, many conventional wood finishes contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), heavy metals, and other harmful substances that can emit gasses into the environment or linger on the surface of toys and furniture. When children come into contact with these surfaces - often with their hands or mouths - they risk ingesting or inhaling these toxins.

Hence, the push towards non-toxic living, especially for households with young children, has never been more important. When choosing wood finishes for children's toys and furniture, it is important to understand what makes them non-toxic. Here are some key characteristics to look out for:

  • Low or zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs): VOCs are chemicals that can easily vaporise into the air at room temperature, causing indoor air pollution. Look for finishes labelled as "low VOC" or "zero VOC."
  • Look for Labels: Certifications and labels such as "food-safe" or "toy-safe" and the absence of VOCs can guide you towards safer choices. These products adhere to stricter standards, ensuring they're safe for contact with children's skin and mouths.
  • No toxic chemicals: This includes substances like formaldehyde, heavy metals, and harmful solvents.
  • Natural Oils and Waxes: Products derived from natural sources – like beeswax, carnauba wax and jojoba oil – provide durable, non-toxic wood finishes.
  • No harsh odours: Especially important for anyone with allergies or sensitivities to strong smelling substances.

It's also important to note that just because a finish is labelled as "natural" or "organic," it doesn't necessarily mean it is non-toxic. Always read the ingredients list and do your research before purchasing a product.

Read and Understand Labels: Not all finishes that claim to be "non-toxic" are created equal. Scrutinise labels for any specific application warnings and follow the manufacturer's safety instructions.


Beyond the Surface - Creating Non-Toxic Play Environments

While selecting the right finishes is vital, fostering a non-toxic environment for children extends beyond just the woodwork. Consider these additional steps to minimise chemical exposure:

  • Opt for Organic and Natural Materials: Where possible, choose toys and furniture made from natural materials like organic cotton, wool, and untreated wood.
  • Educate and Advocate: Share your knowledge with fellow parents, homeowners, and woodworkers. Advocacy for safer products can drive demand, encouraging retailers to prioritise non-toxic options.

Safe Wood Finishes for Children

Here are some of the safest wood finishes to consider for your children's play spaces:

Whittle Waxes Evolution Hardwax Oils

Made from natural, sustainable raw materials (such as beeswax, carnauba wax and jojoba oil) – it is a completely natural and non-toxic wood finish that is safe for children. It creates a durable, water-resistant seal on wood and brings out the natural beauty of the grain. The Beeswax provides a soft sheen and is safe for children to handle and play on. Independently Tested Safe for use on children’s toys: DIN EN 71-3


Whittle Waxes Evolution Colours

Evolution Colours are made using a base of Evolution Hardwax Oil. The colours are created using colourfast natural pigments and the oils are cobalt and oxime free, making them suitable for children's toys and furniture as well as wooden floors. Independently Tested Safe for use on children’s toys: DIN EN 71-3


Overall, when it comes to children's play spaces and furniture, it's important to prioritise non-toxic wood finishes for their safety and well-being. By choosing natural options like Whittle Waxes Evolution Hardwax Oils and Evolution Colours, you can create a beautiful and safe environment for your children to play in. With the right precautions and choices, you can create a fun and healthy space for your little ones to enjoy. So go ahead, let their imaginations run wild on their wooden toys and furniture, knowing that they are safe from harsh chemicals. With Whittle Waxes non-toxic, child safe wood finishes, you can have peace of mind while your children play, learn, and grow.


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