ARE CRAYONS SAFE?
Crayons are probably the most used art materials for kids, but are they safe?
The answer is NO! Mainstream crayons are full of harmful products like paraffin wax (petroleum), plastic (glitter), chemical pigments and even carcinogens like phthalates (fragrances), lead and asbestos (in 2015)! Asbestos is deadly both if ingested and inhaled (even in very small amounts) so obviously not something to have around children. Lead can lead to lead poisoning and the destruction of the nervous system. Like asbestos, even small amounts of exposure can cause this type of harm. In the last three years, both asbestos and lead were found in mainstream crayons! In addition, because children’s skin is so much more sensitive and absorbs what it touches quicker, all chemical substances are to be avoided as they can accumulate in their bodies faster. Certain chemicals and fragrances can also give children allergies, digestive issues, etc.Some people might say that we come in contact with so many harmful chemicals on daily basis, why bother with crayons? But the truth is that it’s chemicals in all these little things which accumulate – and if we can limit the exposure by choosing the right products, then we can help our children live healthier lives.
So, what are the healthy, natural alternatives to crayons?
Making crayons yourself is a fun, educational activity. It’s ideal for school aged kids, but preschoolers can also participate in indirect ways. Making crayons involves melting hot wax and requires working quickly, so little ones can help you assemble all the ingredients and pick out the pigment. And of course, once the crayons are dry and cool, they’ll be the first to test them out. 😉 Here is how we make ours:
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- 5 tbsp Beeswax Organic Pastilles
- Food colouring or any other non-toxic pigment
- Molds (Or ask your child to find small hollow toys such as LEGO DUPLO. Just make sure it’s something that you could clean easily.)
- You can also use aluminium foil to make your own shapes.
- Melt wax in a double boiler. (If you don’t have one, boil a pot of water and put a smaller pot or metal container inside as pictured.)
- Mix the melted wax with pigment. Work quickly and make sure there are no lumps.
- Pour your mixture into moulds.
- Let it cool down and dry completely before taking it out of the molds.
- For better crayons use 3 tbsp beeswax plus 3 tbsp Organic Carnauba Wax Flakes.
- Also, as a vegan alternative, you can use Organic Soy Wax Flakes instead of beeswax!
- Try household spices like turmeric powder for yellow.
- Experiment with color – you can adjust it by adding less/more pigment.
- If you use activated charcoal for your teeth, try some to make black crayons.
- To clean the pot, wipe it while the wax is still hot.
- Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work the first time. Ours didn’t, but Adèle still loved making them. Regardless of the results, your child will learn the process of making crayons and that in itself is a very unique educational experience.
As an alternative to DIY crayons, here is also a list of our favourite non-toxic ready-made crayons. We often get these as gifts as they can be used by kids of all ages and encourage creativity.
- Honeysticks 100% Pure Beeswax Crayons – 12 pack toddler crayons, 8 Pack Thin Crayons or 6 Pack Long Crayons – These last for what seems like forever. We have the 12 pack and it 3 years they look almost new. It might seem like a big investment, but one pack will last you for years, so in the long run it’s very economical. Not to mention that these are the safest crayons on the marker. They are hand-made from beeswax in New Zealand and smell of honey. The colours work well and are bright enough. None of our crayons are broken nor chipped, so that should say something about the quality. Highly, highly recommended!
- Wee Can Too Organic Veggie Crayons – Made from plant based materials, these crayons are made with soy waxes and are dairy and wheat free.
- Eco-Crayon Sticks – 20 pack – Made with a mixture of beeswax and soy wax
- Eco-kids Eco-Crayons – 5 pack – These are shaped like rocks and are good for learning the “tripod grip.”
- Azafran Organic Crayons – 8 pack – USDA certified organic crayons.
- Crayon Rocks – 32 Pack but also available as a 16 pack and a 8 pack – Soy wax crayons will help your child “pinch” in order to draw, encouraging the “tripod grip.” They are a great learning tool for children who have difficulties holding pens/pencils.
BOOKS ABOUT CRAYONS
If you are going to have a “crayon day,” then a good way to wrap things up is with a fun book about crayons. Adèle just loves Drew Daywalt award-winning books. These books are written for both kids and adults and have funny subtexts which I really appreciate as a reader. Adèle also enjoys Oliver Jeffers’ child-like illustrations.
- The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
- The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
- The Crayons’ Book of Numbers by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
Do you know of any other non-toxic crayon brands? If so, let me know and I will test and review them.