Non-toxic bathtub toy finish

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Forum topic by trictle posted 04-26-2015 03:10 PM 528 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 549 days

04-26-2015 03:10 PM

i have been lurking here for ages and been inspired by all the great projects. I have a question about finishing wood toys for the bathtub. I have made a few little boats, one a sailboat and another a pop-pop boat, as well as some fish. I have been using shellac but the heat from the bathwater turns the finish white and splotchy. I could use spar varnish but I don’t know if it leaches anything toxic into the water. Any suggestions for a non-toxic, tub toy finish for cedar and maple?

5 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3847 posts in 1915 days

#1 posted 04-26-2015 03:49 PM

Modern finishes are all non toxic after they are fully cured. That said, I have none to recommend for that kind of use except maybe paint.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Dan658's profile


93 posts in 692 days

#2 posted 04-26-2015 07:20 PM

I agree with Fred. A Spar Urethane might work, but they say on the cans that it’s not recommended for submersion. That being said, if it’s only for bath time, then you might be good to go. If you go that route, I’d be pretty liberal when coating the toys. Other than that, I’d say maybe some sort of epoxy finish.

Edit – As far as which wood to use, I don’t think it matters as any unfinished wood is going to get punky in bath water over time. I would personally use what you have and try the spar option. Now that I’m thinking about it, I made a garden tote out of pine and finished it with spar urethane a while back and didn’t bother drilling drain holes in it. It sat outside most of the rainy season collecting water and it held up just fine. Just give the urethane ample time to cure before dropping it in the tub.

View MrUnix's profile


4032 posts in 1621 days

#3 posted 04-26-2015 07:45 PM

Three or more coats of epoxy should work. Or maybe a two part polyurethane which is frequently used on wooden boat hulls.


-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View firefighterontheside's profile


13090 posts in 1278 days

#4 posted 04-26-2015 08:10 PM

How big are these toys. Can you dip them into a gallon can of oil based poly, let them dry and dip again until you build up a nice thick finish.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View JAAune's profile


1615 posts in 1739 days

#5 posted 04-26-2015 09:30 PM

Le Tonkinois sounds like the right finish for you. It’s designed for boats and doesn’t have all the toxic additives that most durable finishes utilize.

-- See my work at and

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