There are two kinds of natural oil paint. Emulsion formulas are mixed with water to provide an interior paint that is quick-drying and barely distinguishable from conventional paint in coverage and application. Pure oil paints are slow to dry and require a solvent to dry sufficiently for use as paint. Natural turpentine and citrus solvent are the two most common drying agents for natural oil paint. Solvent content in oil paint can be very high, and even natural solvents contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). During the long drying process for oil paints (though dry to the touch in a matter of days, full drying takes much longer), the oil undergoes a natural polymerization. In recent years, advances in polymerizing natural oils have resulted in oil paints that dry faster and harder without requiring as much solvent. Some of these processes are natural, and others are chemical.
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Lime — Suitable for interior or exterior surfaces, including plaster and drywall.
Powdered, fired limestone is mixed with water and applied to a surface, where it chemically re-carbonizes into a durable material that resembles the original stone. The lime will reach its “working strength” in 30 days, and continue to strengthen over time. Multiple coats require curing time between applications of at least 24 hours to allow time for carbonization to begin. For thicker coats, longer curing time between coats is recommended.
Simple lime washes combine just powdered lime and water. The addition of aggregate, fillers, and/or fiber in the mix gives lime paint enough body to create thicker coats. Pigment can be added to wash or paint. Lime paint can fully cover a substrate, filling small cracks and pores and surface irregularities.
Lime is stable when exposed to water and is naturally anti-microbial.
Clay — Suitable for interior surfaces in dry areas, including plaster and drywall.