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.
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.
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.
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Toxic Ingredients in Chalk
If you want to be extra safe, you can go even more natural with sidewalk chalk by being aware of a couple of concerning ingredients: artificial colors and heavy metals (such as lead). These additives (lead in particular) can be very harmful to one’s organs if ingested in large amounts.
What Ingredients Make Up Non-Toxic Chalk?
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
- Vegetable dyes
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. And if they do get a small amount in their mouth, you can feel okay knowing that it’s non-toxic.
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.” That means you can breathe a sigh of relief with Crayola products.
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.”
Our List of the Best Non-Toxic Sidewalk Chalk Brands
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 also non-toxic, handmade, and biodegradable—down to the glitter.
This vibrant, non-toxic sidewalk chalk relies upon a variety of herbs for its eye-catching hues, like turmeric, spinach, and paprika. Vegan and free of lead and other heavy metals, it’s also gluten-free—a bonus if you have a child with a gluten allergy.
Wee Can Too is a company founded by two moms who wanted to create art supplies for babies and toddlers that rely upon food-based, plant-based ingredients. In addition to their finger paints and crayons, you can feel at ease when you purchase their Veggie Sidewalk Chalk made with all-natural, organic ingredients.
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.”
This pastel egg-shaped sidewalk chalk is made in the USA according to the stringent American (ASTM) Toy Safety standards. Plus, packaging is printed with soy inks on FSC Certified Paper in a wind-powered factory, and it ships plastic-free.
As a brand that was established nearly 120 years ago and has always prided itself on its commitment to safety, you can rest easy knowing that this sidewalk chalk has been approved by an independent toxicologist before hitting the market.
Play Day lists its sidewalk chalk as non-toxic in its listings, with a shape that won’t roll away and 48 pieces that will keep the kiddos busy for hours.
Made up of 95% pure calcium carbonate, many moms trust this brand and its non-toxic, high-quality chalk.
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.
Conclusion: There’s no reason toxic chalk should keep kids from summer fun when there are so many non-toxic chalk brands available!
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.