No Plastics and no VOCs
Our paint is as natural as it comes
OK, bear with us as this is the bit where we get on our soap box. We are not from the paint industry originally and have a different view and opinion on what constitutes a natural and healthy paint.
The problem stated just after World War 2 when the drive for modern building materials gave an exponential rise to the use of concrete, steel, glass and plastics. There was an enormous waste mountain of acrylics and latex from the war effort (a by-product of the crude oil refinery) which saw the drive for cheap plastics. Most of the (building) world, unfortunately still has that mind set. However, one thing we can probably all agree on is the fact that plastics are bad for our planet. Not just in terms of waste but also how it is made. Most conventional paints from the big brands are essentially all the same product: synthetic colourants mixed in acryclics / latex. So, to begin with, all our paints are all completely free from plastics and phthalates or micro beads. Just because linseed paint works so well, doesn't mean that it cannot be healthy, too. You can have your cake and eat it!
The Exterior Range is completely free of VOCs; the Interior Range and Satin Wood Oil contain less than 0.03%. The new international regulation is for paint to contain less than 0.5% VOCs. Brands like Farrow & Ball, Little Greene, Dulux, Crown, Johnston, Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore all still contain enormous amounts of chemicals. The whole new drive by these brands to make their paints 'water-based' (as if the word water makes it a natural or healthy paint), is pure green washing. The reduction of the VOCs in these paints means they have to add all kind of other chemicals (stabilisers, chemical emulsifiers, anti-coagulants, phthalates) to make their products work. These paints are no healthier than their previous generations.
Linseed paint is made from vegetable oil (pressed flax seed) with raw-earth pigments wherever possible. For example, the vast majority of our pigments are natural - some blues however, would be too expensive to make if only raw earlth pigment like lapiz-lazuli was used. So when you see us using a picture of one of those beautiful violet- coloured flax or linseed plants, we are not using it to give the product an air of healthy qualities, that is actually an image of the main ingredient of our paint. Pint used to be a building product: it was needed for protection from the elements, it was a sacrificial layer. Nowadays, it is mostly seen as a decorative coat, whatever that is made of. If we actually go back to looking at paint as a structural element of a building, we solve the biggest problem in one go: use less plastic.
In your home
Our living environments are such an important factor in our health and wellbeing. As always, we seem to be years behind the curve on this as in particular Scandinavian countries, Australia and New Zealand have already done lots of research and give excellent advice on this topic. We think that there are two very distinct categories to address: old or historic buildings and modern properties (very often now built to Passiv-House standards). Whichever way you look at it: the use of paint as a building product, not just a pretty colour is essential. Plastic or petrochemical paints can still evaporate toxic chemicals for up to 5 years after application. So whether you live in a modern or old property, the use of paint is hugely important. In old properties (with solid wall structures or built in timber), the paint should always be wicking or breathable, not just to protect the materials, but also for heathy living conditions. Fortunately, a lot of information on this is available in the UK and for those wanting to find out more, I would recommend checking out Heritage House Building and Restoration. If you're looking to use a paint which helps create a healthy living environment for you, your families and animals, linseed paint ticks that box.
Allergens and professional exposure
Linseed paint only contains very few ingredients, mostly natural. Unfortunately this doesn't mean that allergic reactions cannot be ruled out. Should you be particulalry susceptible to allergic reactions, please make sure to check before use. And of course it is always good practice to ventilate well when using the paint.
Low embodied energy - Low Carbon
Low-embodied energy is still a concept not very well know to consumers but very importsant to most architects as it indicates how much energy was needed for the manufacture and transport of certain materials. Concrete, for instance has one of the highest embodied energies. Traditionally, paint does not perform very well as the base (acrylics and latex) and colourants are derived from crude oil. Since linseed oil is obtained by cold-pressing flax seed (no heat or refineries needed), our paint has a fraction of that of normal conventionally available paints. Our pigments (raw earth) are mostly mined in daylight mining. The pigments and oils are ground into a paste using a triple mill roller - not a machine which requires a lot of energy to run. Therefore, the biggest part of the embodied energy of our linseed paint is in transport and packing. Both areas we continuously look at improving. For our packing we use mainly recyclable and recycled cardboard (we have a big cardboard shredder). For transport we work mainly with DHL as they have one of the most advanced carbon neutral schemes and target. Their size also means they can group a lot of consignemts, bringing the carbon footprint down. More importantly, shipments mostly seem to arrive in one piece without damage, meaning we don't need a second journey to send out replacement goods. We are very much aware that DHL are still a large corporation moving 'stuff' around, but for now, they are the best partner.
A product which leaves no imprint on the environment from the moment when it is conceived, to manufactured, to supplied, to recycled or reabsorbed by mother earth, is the holy grail. This concept is called cradle-2-cradle. Again, better know in arcitectural circles, but something which we believe consumers should at least be aware of. Since linseed paint is the perfect cradle-2-cradle product, we researched getting accreditation. Unfortunately, this already seems to have fallen foul of corporate industry as well as accreditation starts at £10K and has, therefore, a whiff of green-washing about it. Hopefully, this will change soon to include products and companies on the basis of how products actually perform rather than how how much cash they can spend on it.