watercolors have a chemical odor

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Ritas Art wrote
on 4 Feb 2014 10:14 PM

I bought the reeves watercolors and like them, but, that chemical smell makes me sometimes stop in the middle of my work and open the windows to get some fresh air,
Do you have the same problem with those paints, or which ones do you use and have not that chemical smell?
I also tried the Windsor @ Newton, they are fine, but most of those paints are toxic

Did anybody ever tried the ShinHan Premium Artist watercolors?


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on 6 May 2014 2:23 PM


I just read several artist's reviews of ShinHan on "Wet Canvas".

You mentioned That Winsor Newton was good but they were toxic. Almost all watercolor paint is toxic to some extent. Gum arabic, the binder for watercolor paint, is toxic. Many of the hues such as cadmium and cobalt are toxic also. However, you would have to sit down and have several tubes for lunch before you would experience symptoms. With a few common sense precautions there should be no reason for fear.

If this bothers you, check it on the Internet. There are several good reports to refer to.


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shark lasers wrote
on 28 May 2014 11:40 AM

Gum Arabic is not "toxic"  it is acutally used in food.  From Wikipedia article:

"Gum arabic is used primarily in the food industry as a stabilizer. It is edible and has E number E414."

The OTHER stuff (metal salts etc.) can be very bad!


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on 28 May 2014 12:10 PM


You are correct. Gum arabic is not considered toxic. It is used in foods and some medications. However, the website MedicinePlus
considers the effects of watercolor paint—such as swallowing—and lists gum arabic as "poisonous".

I am not a chemist and Wikipedia is not the end-all of information. It is best to take precautions when using any paint. We usually consider watercolor paint harmless. Many of the man made and natural pigments used in watercolor are poisonous.

I find it best to have a package of hand wipes nearby when working. 


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