From Antivist


Milk Paint Recipe

from the Homestead Mailing List

Milk paint holds up great outside - very waterproof, almost plastic-like. Pioneers painted canvas roofs of sheds and waterproofed their covered wagons with it. You can color it with any sort of water soluble powdered dye. Art stores usually carry them, or you could even use RIT or any of those cheapie dyes from the drugstore. Just experiment first with the color to see how much of it you need to put in.

To make 5 gallons of milk paint :

  • Stir 2 quarts of builder's lime, OR 3 quarts of sifted white hardwood ashes (one or the other, not both) into 4 gallons of skim milk. Stir very thoroughly. Then, stir in one gallon of boiled linseed oil. Then add your dye. Last, strain the paint through a piece of cheesecloth to get any lumps out. That's it! Just be sure you use it within 2 days of mixing it.

Whitewash Recipe

Quick Lime can be used. When lime is added to moisture it heats up. Really heats up. Do not use plastic buckets or utensils. They will melt.

Whitewash is really only lime and water. Other ingredients added for durability. We use one cup salt (table salt - sodium chloride), 2 cups lime, 2 cups calcium chloride to a gallon of water. The consistency should be like milk. For larger amounts - a stiff paste can be made of 38 lbs quicklime to 8 gallons of water or 50 lbs hydrated lime to 6 gallons of water, then thinned with additional water to the milk consistency.

Other names of the limes used are chemical hydrate, ag spray hydrate, finishing lime, pressure hydrated lime. The more refined the lime the smoother the paint, especially important if you plan to spray the paint.

Prepare whitewash in well ventilated areas - always do this outside! Hydrated Lime or option is casein, which makes the solution oil-based also. In the days when they had an abundance of milk, it was used as the liquid - this gives the whitewash a latex-like quality. The calcium chloride added keeps the paint from being so chalky and adds to the durability, nice if used where temperature get very cold. White glue or white Portland cement can also be added to get a heavy cream consistency if you want a thicker paint.

Mix only what you think you can use each time - it doesn't keep well.

Wood Stain and Preservative

Mixture 1 - water repellant preservative :

2 qts Penta concentrate 10:1
1 3/4 qts Boiled Linseed Oil
1/4 to 1/2 lb Paraffin Wax
4 gallons Mineral spirits, Turpentine, or #1 or #2 fuel oil
2 to 6 fluid oz Color Pigment / gallon of the above mix

Mixture 2 - pigmented stain :

3 gallons Boiled Linseed Oil
2 qts. Penta concentrate
1/2 lb. paraffin wax
1 qt. colors in oil (tinting colors)
1 gallon paint thinner, mineral spirits, turpentine, or #1 or #2 fuel oil
  • In warm, humid climates where fungal growth may be a problem, double the amount of Penta. Dissolve the paraffin by melting it in a double boiler before adding it to the other ingredients. Paraffin is highly flammable: do not attempt to melt it in a regular pan. Use only a double boiler. Allow the solution to stand overnight before use, stirring occassionally to keep the pigments in suspension.

Mixture 3 - alternative preservative w/o penta :

3 c Exterior Varnish
1 oz paraffin wax (by weight)
3 1/4 qts. Mineral Spirits, Turpentine, or Paint Thinner
(to make 1 gallon total)
  • This is a decay-resistant formula which should prevent wood from reabsorbing moisture. Its preservative effects are not as great as either of the other two mixtures but for those sensitive to chemicals such as Penta this is an option. Reapply more frequently than you would for other stains and preservatives.

Notes on all stain/preservative recipes :

Your first application of stain will not last as long as subsequent applications. You will need to reapply after one year. Subsequent applications may be made on two to five year intervals, depending on your climate and the wood in question. You will have to use your judgement.

All stain recipes are the product of the USDA Forest Products Laboratory, PO Box 5130, Madison, WI 53705. All the above recipes are intended for above ground use only.

"Penta" is pentachlorphenol and is extremely hazardous - read and follow all label recommendations carefully. Mineral spirits, turpentine, paint thinner, must also be carefully handled. A rag soaked in one of these substances and left wadded up and wet may spontaneously combust. That goes for a rag soaked in the stain you make from them as well. Read and follow ALL label recomendations carefully when handling these substances..

Care and caution should be exercised at all times during the mixing process. Ingredients are highly flammable and volatile. Mix in a well ventilated area. Keep away from heat, sparks, or flame. Don't blame the Forest Products laboratory (or me, either!) if you set yourself on fire or pass out from breathing the fumes because you didn't exercise due caution. You have been warned! (*grin*)

Making Wax from Bayberries

Myrica cerifera is the wax myrtle, a tall shrub or small tree with grey berries. M. pennsylvanica, the regular bayberry, is a smaller plant, growing 3 to about 8 feet tall. Both are common on the East Coast.

There's no reason why you couldn't make bayberry candles like our ancestors did, or at least make enough bayberry wax to scent tallow wax candles. Pick the berries around November 1 and boil them in water until the mixture reaches the consistency of thick syrup. Strain out the berry skins and seeds. When cooled the wax hardens, of course. Reheat and melt it for dipping candles.

To dip homemade candles without using candle molds, a piece of wick is dipped into the hot wax and drawn out immediately. Some wax adheres to the wick and dries. Then the wick is dipped and dried again. Eventually the wax builds up with succeeding layers to a candle of normal size.

Baybery wax can also be used to make soap, using it in place of animal fat tallow.


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