Last Updated on April 25, 2023 by The Filtery
Undoubtedly, sidewalk chalk is a ton of fun for your kiddos, especially during summer (hopscotch! drawings! all those colors!). But like anything that you purchase, whether it’s personal care or cleaning products, buying chalk should come with a dose of knowledge before giving it to your kids, since not all chalk contains non-toxic ingredients.
Read on to learn more about sidewalk chalk, along with our list of our favorite clean chalk options for littles.
And if you’re looking for some more non-toxic guides to summer fun, you might want to check these out:
- Our recommendations for non-toxic play sand
- Your options for non-toxic kiddie pools
- The best non-toxic popsicle molds
- Ideas for creating a nature-inspired DIY playground in your backyard
- How to find a non-toxic garden hose
- The best outdoor dinnerware for picnics, barbeques, and more (disposable and reusable)
This post contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase. We only make recommendations that are genuine and meet our ingredient/material safety standards.
Is Chalk Toxic?
The short answer? Chalk is usually non-toxic. It’s generally only problematic when consumed by mouth in large amounts, or if the chalk is inhaled frequently over time—something that could trigger respiratory problems to those with allergies as proven through a 2011 study.
Made up of either calcium carbonate, which is a form of limestone, or calcium sulfate, otherwise known as gypsum, it’s considered by experts to be non-toxic in small amounts. In fact, calcium carbonate is the same stuff you’ll find in antacids.
Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 put more regulations onto children’s products, including lowering the amount of lead allowed. Because of this, sidewalk chalk that’s manufactured by major brands is not very likely to contain lead.
If your kids are in the driveway creating chalk drawings, they can do this to their hearts’ content, as long as the chalk isn’t consumed in large amounts. If that happens, according to state poison centers, it can cause stomach irritation and vomiting. The bigger concern is that chalk can be a choking hazard for little ones.
As the Missouri Poison Center says, if you spot your child eating chalk, calmly take the chalk away, wipe out their mouth with a damp cloth, and give them water to sip.
Even though it’s mostly harmless, it’s still not a great idea to nosh on chalk. It can cause a number of stomach issues, and over time, could even damage organs. It’s simply not meant for eating.
Toxic Ingredients in Chalk
Despite the fact that sidewalk chalk is generally safe, there is one problem that parents will want to be aware of: sidewalk chalk can be contaminated with lead.
In at least one known instance in 2003, kids’ sidewalk chalk that was sold at big box stores like Target was recalled for containing high levels of lead. (This was before the CPSIA was enacted.)
Most parents are aware that lead can be very damaging to children and that there is no safe level of lead ingestion.
The other type of ingredient that some parents may want to be aware of are artificial colors.
Companies are not required to actually list the full ingredients of their chalk, so it can be difficult to know what exactly is used in the colors. Some artificial dyes (even those used in food) are linked with concerns like behavioral problems and cancer.
For this reason, conscious parents may choose to go with a brand that uses natural and plant-based ingredients to color their chalk.
What is Non-Toxic Chalk Made Of?
It’s always best to err on the side of caution when it concerns kids, which is why non-toxic sidewalk chalk is a good idea. When keeping a lookout for non-toxic chalk, you can search for the following ingredients to either use in DIY versions or store-bought chalks:
- Calcium Carbonate
- Calcium Sulfate
- Purified Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
- Flour (unless your child needs to avoid gluten, of course)
- Vegetable dyes
Our Top Picks for the Best Non-Toxic Sidewalk Chalk
Even though we weren’t able to find any 100% natural sidewalk chalk at this time, here are are the best choices:
This pastel egg-shaped sidewalk chalk is made in the USA according to American (ASTM) Toy Safety standards. They’re colored using tempura paint (which is synthetic but water-based) with mineral pigments. The packaging is printed with soy inks on FSC Certified Paper in a wind-powered factory, and it ships plastic-free.
Certified non-toxic and crafted using child-safe pigments, Urban Infant Chunky Sidewalk Chalk is shaped like giant crayons, making it easier for kids to hold. And, as they say in their listing, it’s “virtually unbreakable.”
How adorable is this sidewalk chalk?! These chalk pieces are shaped like “dragon scales” and the pack comes with a golden, glittery “dragon egg” with a surprise color hidden underneath. It’s handmade and biodegradable (even the glitter).
They carry a wide variety of super cute chalks, from pizza and solar system sidewalk chalk to unicorn and narwhal horn chalk!
The only problem is that Twee wouldn’t actually confirm whether or not all of the colors used in their chalks are free from artificial dyes (even though their veggie paints are free from artificial colors).
Bonus: Fresh Monster Temporary Kids Hair Chalk
On a rainy day, kids will love this hair chalk, which comes in 12 bright and blendable colors. It’s free from everything from triclosan and BPA to sulfates and gluten. It’s made in the USA, too.
How to Make Non-Toxic Sidewalk Chalk
In addition to purchasing sidewalk chalk, you have the option to make it with your own two hands, something that’s ideal if you want to be 100% sure about the ingredients.
You can whip up this two-ingredient, non-toxic chalk recipe from Miniature Masterminds, or you can turn to this tutorial from The Pistachio Project that uses hot water, herbal powder, flour, and calcium carbonate.
If you want to mix things up, you can follow these steps from Amy Latta Creations to create sidewalk chalk paint, made up of simple ingredients such as corn starch, water, and food coloring.
FAQs About Non-Toxic Chalk
Is Non-Toxic Chalk Good for Toddlers?
When it comes to non-toxic chalk for toddlers, the greater worry is that they’ll try to eat the pieces and choke. That’s why it’s best to supervise your little ones as they get artistic with chalk.
As mentioned previously, it’s possible for sidewalk chalk to be contaminated with lead, which is especially concerning for younger kids. So be sure to buy your chalk from a reputable brand. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a specific brand to ask if their products are tested for lead.
Of course, no matter what brand of chalk you’re using, you should always read and follow the manufacture’s directions and pay attention to age limitations.
Is Crayola Sidewalk Chalk Non-Toxic?
As Crayola states on their website, “All Crayola and Silly Putty products have been evaluated by an independent toxicologist and found to contain no known toxic substances in sufficient quantities to be harmful to the human body, even if ingested or inhaled.” It’s also the only sidewalk chalk brand certified by the Art & Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) which verifies art products are free from a list of potentially toxic substances. So you’re most likely safe with Crayola chalk.
Is Play Day Sidewalk Chalk Toxic?
The brand Play Day shares in their product listings that their sidewalk chalk is non-toxic and “safe for school or home use.”
There’s no reason toxic chalk should keep kids from summer fun when there are so many non-toxic chalk brands available!
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About the Author
Shelby Deering is a lifestyle writer from Madison, Wisconsin. For the past 16 years, she has contributed to national print magazines and websites, including Naturally, Danny Seo, Healthline, Good Housekeeping, Parade, USA Today, and more. In her own life, she embraces non-toxic, cruelty-free beauty and cleaning products, and when she’s not researching a “clean” shampoo or lotion to add to her daily regimen, you’ll find her walking her corgi, Dolly, running local trails, or discovering treasures at nearby flea markets.
Image credits: Sam Haddad, Carly Kewley