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Milk Paint Recipe




 As the name suggests, milk is a principal ingredient in the material, acting as a binder for pigments the same way polymers do in latex paints and oils do in oil-based ones. People have been mixing milk paint for a long time; it has been found on artifacts dating to ancient Egypt, although it's perhaps most commonly associated with colonial-era furniture. The fact that the material doesn't give off noxious vapors (often called VOCs) accounts for its continued appeal within today's green building community. Craftspeople, meanwhile, value its saturated colors and translucent finish, which can be used to give wooden furniture, terra-cotta pots, and other textured surfaces an antique look.

You can't, however, simply mix milk with color pigment and spread it on the walls. The following recipe will yield enough paint to cover a bureau or other large furnishing.


  • Lemon
  • 1 quart skim milk
  • Sieve
  • Cheesecloth
  • Dry color pigment or artists' acrylic paint


  1. Step 1

    Mix the juice of a lemon with 1 quart of skim milk in a large bowl. Leave the mixture overnight at room temperature to induce curdling.

  2. Step 2

    Pour it through a sieve lined with cheesecloth to separate the solid curds from the liquid whey. Add 4 tablespoons of dry color pigment (available at art-supply stores) to the curd; be sure to wear a mask, and stir until the pigment is evenly dispersed.

  3. Step 3

    Artists' acrylic paint also can be used in place of powdered pigment. Add it one drop at a time, and stir constantly until you achieve the desired hue. Whether pigment- or acrylic-based, milk paint will spoil quickly, so it should be applied within a few hours of mixing. Rest assured, its sour smell will disappear once the paint dries. If you prefer, you can purchase milk paint rather than make it yourself.

Healthy Home 2008, Spring 2008



Reviews (9)

  • NicolaBurn 27 Apr, 2012

    I love this paint! I tried the recipe, adding the Borax someone suggested and a bunch of water to make it less like blue cottage cheese....but the clock I painted looks amazing, the milk paint has the most interesting finish :)

  • hugosleestak 6 May, 2011

    Milk-based paint (also known as casein paint) is wonderful stuff, but this recipe leaves out an important step. After the milk has curdled, it will look like cottage cheese. Drain and rinse. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of Borax to the curds and stir periodically for about an hour. An Elmer's Glue-like substance is the result. Store in a jar in the fridge - lasts about a week. Mix with pigments or even watercolour. Can last centuries. Use on wood, masonite, etc. since it gets brittle with age.

  • RichardScott 16 Sep, 2010

    I love Genuine Old Fashioned Milk Paint. It has the most authentic properties and looks great with any glaze or finish. A great place to get some at a reasonable price is

  • nburke 29 May, 2010

    Has anyone used this and did it work? I would like to try it. I would say mix lemon and milk leave it overnight,then pour through cloth. Then add the color which ever one you decide to use. add it one drop at a time. Stir until color is reached.

  • grace_hagemeyer 27 Feb, 2010

    I tried this recipe twice. Neither time worked. After much time and research, I've discovered it is missing additional steps and ingredients. Try another recipe, I'm still looking for a good one.

  • capricorn56 20 Dec, 2008

    3. is the directions for using artist acrylic paint in place of powdered pigment.
    Just add one drop at a time to the curd ( what is in the cheese cloth after seperating) and stir constantly until you have your desired hue ( add more acrylic paint if needed)

  • KellySpears 25 Nov, 2008

    #3= add colored curd(step 2) to lemon

  • jendajen 6 Sep, 2008

    I think this means, add the pigment to the paint one drop at a time until the desired color is achieved.

  • shizly 22 Aug, 2008

    #3, add it (the mixture from #2?) one drop at a time TO WHAT?