• Often referred to as poster paint, tempera paint, which has no connection to traditional egg tempera, is a colorful, inexpensive and quick drying paint medium that is easily applied to most surfaces. 1, 2 Tempera paint is commonly used with children’s education because it is non-toxic and easily washed off. 3 Paint can be purchased in either liquid or powdered forms. 4


  • Tempera paint consists of a dry, usually synthetic, colored pigment powder and a gum or glue based liquid for its binder. 6, 7


  • Tempera paint poses no harmful effects to the environment. However, when disposed of down the drain, large amounts can harm aquatic wildlife. 4

Human Health

  • Tempera paint causes no negative health effects, even if ingested. 4

Social Equity        

  • Crayola, a leading manufacturer of tempera paint, provides money, products, and economic opportunities to communities and organizations in their surrounding area. 5

Safe Use and Exposure

  • Tempera paint should be kept in a sealed container to prevent drying out. Some sources indicate that tempera paint may eventually spoil after being opened. Dispose of any tempera paint that begins to smell. 8

Proper disposal

  • Dispose of any excess tempera paint as a solid waste. Do not wash down the drain. 4 Donate any usable powdered or liquid tempera paint to the givetake.

Safe Alternatives

  • Because of its popularity in children’s classrooms, safety is the number one concern in the production of tempera paint. Purchase from companies like Crayola who strive to be socially and environmentally responsible.



  1. “Tempera”, Wikipedia,
  2. “ArtMinds Tempera Paint, Tropical”, Michaels,
  3. “What is Tempera Poster Paint?”, School Paints and Painting,
  4. “Tempera Cakes”, Blick,
  5. “Social & Environmental Responsibility”, Crayola,
  6. “Tempera and Watercolor: Are they the same?”, Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff,
  7. “Paint Shop”, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh,
  8. “Art Supplies: Perfect Paints”, Deep Space Sparkle,