Mother Earth Living

What are the Best Nontoxic Caulks?

Find out the best nontoxic caulk options for your home.
By Natural Home Staff
September/October 2003
Add to My MSN

Content Tools

Related Content

A Reader’s Request: The Herbs of Shakespeare, Act Two

Lemon Verbena Lady continues her exploration of Shakespeare and the herbal flowers and herbs from hi...

Green City Garden Girl: What Manure is Best for my Garden?

Guest blogger KyLynn Hull explains the different types of manure available for your green garden.

“Cash for Caulkers” Home Star Program Offers Rebates for Energy-Efficient Home Improvement

President Obama revealed plans for his new Home Star Program, also known as Cash for Caulkers, which...

Cash for Caulkers Part 2: Home Star Rebates for Water Heaters, Heating and Cooling Systems

When the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010 passes (as expected) this summer, be prepared by lear...

Q: I’ve found that there are instances when the use of caulk for home improvement projects is unavoidable. What is the relative toxicity of this product, and what are some of the least hazardous brands?
—Stacy Halyard, Malibu, CA

A: Acrylic, latex, and silicone, combined in various ways, are the three basic ingredients used to make caulk. Acrylic and latex are recommended for most applications, and silicone is a necessary ingredient for waterproof caulking around areas such as bathtubs or sinks. The most toxic chemical found in caulks is mineral spirits, a mixture of toxic, petroleum-based solvents that are classified as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Because different waste chemicals from the crude oil refining process are used each time mineral spirits are made, and several different substances are referred to as “mineral spirits,” the specific contents of them are often indeterminable. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, breathing mineral spirits “can affect your nervous system and cause dizziness, headaches, or a prolonged reaction time. It can also cause eye, skin, or throat irritation.”

DAP’s Acrylic Latex Caulk (available with or without silicone) does not contain mineral spirits or any other hazardous chemicals on the required reporting list, according to its Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). One hundred percent silicone formulas such as Dow Corning’s 100 Percent Silicone Sealant are also made without mineral spirits and are inert when dried. Both products are widely available. Another good choice is Safecoat Caulking Compound, a nontoxic, water-based caulk made from a modified acrylic copolymer.

Debra Lynn Dadd is an internationally known expert on healthy home environments and author of Home, Safe Home (Putnam, 1997).

Post a comment below.


Jason Williams
11/5/2012 9:19:40 PM
I am a non-toxic builder that switched to ECO-BOND Adhesives, Caulks and Sealants. Dap Products while having low VOC do not exclude cancer causing chemicals that off-gas. Non of Dap's products meet the California prop 65 certifications for not having cancer causing materials. The only full line of Non-Toxic caulks are ECO-BOND

Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.