What Every Woodworker Needs to Know About VOCs

wood finishing by handYou may have heard the term low VOC floating around in the last few years. Perhaps you are concerned for the environment and want to use products that are eco-friendly. Perhaps you want to make products that people enjoy having in their homes. Either way, you need to know about VOCs and how they relate to woodworking. Today, We are going to discuss what VOCs are and why it is important to be aware of what this term means.

VOC is short for volatile organic compound. Some of these exist naturally and are an important part of the world. Others are man-made and can have an effect on your health when you are exposed to them. When you use a low VOC finish on your woodworking project it means that less of these compounds go into the air while you are creating your masterpiece. It also means that the final product will off-gas much less than items completed with other finishes once the product makes it into a home.

Health Concerns

Some health concerns linked to VOCs are:

  • Headaches
  • Eye, nose, and throat discomfort
  • Allergic skin reactions such as rashes and eczema
  • Memory problems and dizziness
  • Cancer

Because there are so many health issues that can result from exposure to VOCs, many parents are opting to be very choosy in the products they buy for their home. Children are especially vulnerable to toxins, so this in an important step to take. Products completed with a finish labeled “low VOC” are better for everyone.

When you are deciding what finish to use on your next woodworking project, consider what chemicals are in it. You can find safer coatings that will still hold up well and give your wood project a beautiful finish. If you are making items to sell, choosing the right finish might be just the push you need to make the sale. If you are making things for your own home, you can feel better about the chemicals you are putting into your own environment.

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volatile_organic_compound