Glossary of paint ingredients
Acetic acid: Vinegar, commonly found in the kitchen. A component of vinegar ester, the binding system used in many VOLVOX water based paints.
Acrylic: polymer used as a binder in many wall paints; usually a petrochemical derivative. In order to make them usable, acrylics are normally combined with softeners. It is the ‘off gassing’ of the softeners, not the acrylic itself, which is potentially harmful. VOLVOX paints are acrylic free. VOLVOX paints do not contain acrylic softeners.
Alcohol: used as a thinning agent and as a component of vinegar ester, the binding system used in many VOLVOX water based paints. VOLVOX paints use isopropanol, a harmless alcohol used widely in cosmetics.
Calcium Carbonate: One of the commonest minerals, calcium carbonate is found in a great variety of crystalline forms: a major constituent of limestone, marble, and chalk. Used as an extender.
Calcspar: Also known as calcite, a form of Calcium Carbonate.
Casein: Principal protein in milk. Used as a binder in Casein Paint (sometimes known as Milk Paint). Its curds are used to make cheese.
Cellulose: see Methylcellulose
Chalk: a soft, natural carbonate mineral used as an extender.
China clay: see Kaolin
Clay: a basic ingredient of VOLVOX Clay Décor, in which it is used as an extender and pigment. Clay provides VOLVOX Clay Décor with its unique properties. Clay of differing colours is obtained from various pits throughout Europe, providing the distinctive natural hues and visual ‘softness’ of many colours in the VOLVOX Clay Décor. Rarely found in other paints. Not to be confused with China clay (kaolin), this is a common ingredient in paints.
Kaolin: also known as China clay, very fine, soft, white clay resulting from the natural decomposition of other clays or feldspar. Used as an extender.
Lime (White Lime): A naturally occurring mineral, extracted from limestone (calcium carbonate) used in numerous forms in construction materials since prehistoric times. Lime is used to produce quick lime, slaked lime and other carbonates.
Methylcellulose: manufactured from wood pulp. Used as a thickener in paint and many wallpaper pastes to help prevent the ingredients settling out.
Pigments: an ingredient ‘group’. Pigments provide colour or whiteness and covering power. They include titanium dioxide, inorganic (earth) pigments and organic pigments. Organic pigments tend to include the brighter colours, while earth pigments are more durable.
Sodium hydroxide: a strongly alkaline, white compound also known as caustic soda. Widely used in household cleaning products including some hand soaps; breaks down readily in the atmosphere.
Sodium Phosphate: mineral derived, water softening product also widely used in the soap and food industry. Sodium Phosphate regulates the hardness of water during manufacture to ensure consistent quality.
Sodium silicate: Commonly known as water glass. It is produced by fusing sand (silicate) and sodium carbonate (washing soda).
Styrene: Although occurring naturally in low levels in plants and some foods, styrene is weakly toxic. Styrene is produced in industrial quantities from benzene and ethylene. Its use in Silicate Paint (in which its use as a stabiliser is unavoidable) is kept to a minimum.
Synthetic preservative: essential to prevent mould growth in most water based products. Used in some VOLVOX products, but only in minimal quantities. Less harmful to health than the moulds it prevents. The paint industry uses different preservatives in rotation, over a number of years, to ensure they retain their potency. VOLVOX currently uses food grade sulphur preservative; also used in sterilising glass bottles, preserving wine, grapes, sultanas etc.
Talcum: a natural white, soft mineral comprising hydrated magnesium silicate. Has a soft waxy feel. Used as an extender and also used widely in cosmetics.
Titanium dioxide: a processed mineral used as a whitener in paint and many household products. The processing can be environmentally harmful, therefore VOLVOX only use titanium dioxide from carefully controlled suppliers which recycle the acids used in manufacture and take measures to minimise the environmental impact of the solid waste (airborne and waterborne).
Trinatrium citrate: a salt from citric acid used as a wetting agent.
Vinegar ester: manufactured from alcohol and acetic acid. As paint dries, the polymerisation of vinegar ester monomers binds the paint. There are numerous grades and types of vinegar ester. VOLVOX paints exclusively use a very pure type in which virtually all monomers polymerise, resulting in little or no smell and ‘off gassing’. It is this off gassing, in significant quantities that causes potential health problems.
Glossary of terms and common paint ingredients
Alkyd: Obtained by combining through heat an oil and a resin; commonly used in water born paints and varnishes. VOLVOX paints do not contain any oils and therefore do not contain alkyds.
Binder: an ingredient ‘group’. Binders hold the paint together and provide adhesion. They also contribute to the flow of the paint and its resistance to abrasion. VOLVOX Clay Décor, Emulsion and Wall Glaze use a vinegar ester binder.
Breathability: Sometimes referred to as micro porosity; the beneficial ability to allow the passage of moisture through the paint film. All VOLVOX paints have exceptionally high levels of breathability. Painting surfaces with modern paints which may have low breathability can ‘seal in’ dampness, causing rapid deterioration of the building fabric and the tendency for the surface coating to ‘blow off’ the wall. Using a highly breathable paint is important on new walls and plaster, which can take a number of years to dry thoroughly and on lime products. Low breathable paints will also result in increased condensation, encouraging harmful mould growth.
Citrus oil or citrus terpene: a natural oil from citrus fruit peel. Used as a solvent and perfume. Now classified as a hazardous pollutant and when used as an active ingredient requires labels to carry the orange and yellow ‘pollution hazard’ symbol. Still used in some paints as a ‘natural’ alternative to petrochemical solvents. No longer used in any VOLVOX products.
Cobalt salts: a mineral used as a lead free drying agent (in combination with zinc salts and zirconium salts).
Lemon: see Citrus oil.
Extender: an ingredient ‘group’. Extenders include clay, silica, chalk and talcum. They provide paint with bulk and contribute to many of its properties such as sheen and resistance to abrasion.
Inorganic: not derived from animals or plants e.g. minerals and salts. See also Organic
Iso-paraffin: a clear liquid used as a solvent in some oil-based paints; a by product of the petrochemical industry. It is generally considered harmless to health and is also widely used for medicinal purposes.
Linoleic acid: derived from flax (linseed) or soya oil. VOLVOX only uses supervised, organically grown flax crops. Used as a drying agent in oil based paints
Organic: derived from animal or vegetable matter; therefore a carbon based structure. The term can cause confusion for the consumer when used in connection with paints because it includes petro chemical derived products and therefore has the opposite meaning to that understood by many.
Soya based alkyd: obtained by heating soya oil and a resin together. See Alkyd
VOC: volatile organic compounds are carbon based chemical compounds found in most paints. VOCs are harmful to health and the environment.
Most solvents contain high levels of VOCs and therefore solvent based paints will normally have a high VOC content. However most water born paints also contain VOCs.