No ethical code lives inside a material; ingredients do what ingredients have always done. It is up to the builder to sort and to separate— to bring the good into their work, to bring good into the world.

Having trust in businesses for the materials, tools and supplies we use, gives us confidence in the ethical and sustainable roots of the products we make. We seek to increase our knowledge of provenance whenever possible. We share ingredient lists for our products to assist you in making an informed buying decision. At The Arc Light, we will always prefer brands that disclose all their ingredients. 


Adding to its distinct grainy appearance and fine wood texture, the African Wild Olive is resistant to drought and insect attack. This heavily branched hardwood tree has a dense canopy that spreads as the tree grows making it look like a woody shrub, with a mangled twisty trunk. These physical properties therefore limit the amount of saw-able timber that the African wild olive can produce. In Kenya, these same properties have made the African Wild Olive ideal for the production of cultural or traditional household goods. For a bit of flair, and to offer a unique item, we accent our wooden products using different materials.

Our Mortar, Pestle and Scoop Set; Kubwa Bowl; Pinch Bowl Set;  Scoop Spoon Sets; and Tray and Spoon Set are hand-carved from African Wild Olive wood and ethically and sustainably sourced from a Handicraft Cooperative society in Eastern Kenya and finished in our studio. We carefully choose the materials that we work with and only use sustainably sourced materials. We collect fabric offcuts from local tailors. We hand-wash and sanitize them before giving them a new lease of life on our products. 

The fabric offcuts are hand cleaned and bound to the rim of our Kubwa Bowls or our Pinch Bowls, and on the top-end of the pestle using unprocessed heated sap glue. A coat of Shellac - a naturally sourced food-safe resin is applied on the fabric to seal it in, creating a protective layer. The ends of the scoop spoons are paint dipped and decorated using acrylic paint. Shellac is applied to the painted part of the spoon to achieve that nice gloss finish. A thin coat of oil and lemon juice - a natural disinfectant, are rubbed on to the unpainted, exposed part of the bowls and on to the entire exposed length of the pestle and spoons to condition the wood, seal the grain and to bring out the richly grained and intricate patterns of the wood. Every piece is handcrafted with Love in Kenya by our lovely team at The Arc Light.


At The Arc Light, we use acrylic paints that are water-based and non-toxic. We sourced paints that don’t produce fumes have low odor and are lead free and free of heavy metals, and ultimately chose: 

-Plaid’s range of Fork Art Artist Acrylic paints. Made and tested in the USA.

-DecoArt’s Americana Acrylics Paints. Made and tested in the USA. 

Suppliers frequently attach this statement: A product can be certified non-toxic if it contains no materials in sufficient quantities to be toxic or injurious to humans, or to cause acute or chronic health problems. This allows a manufacturer to create a safety data sheet that: either omits some ingredients so long as they are below the acceptable occupational exposure limits, or fails to include the quantities of chemical compositions in the ingredients.

Our issue with DecoArt’s Americana Acrylics range is that they are formulated using Acrylate Polymer solution; Acrylates are listed in Proposition 65 as known by the State of California to cause Cancer or to cause reproductive toxicity.

Please view Plaid’s Fork Art Artist Acrylic paint’s Safety Data Sheet HERE 

For further clarification, please view DecoArt’s Americana Acrylics paint’s Safety Data Sheet HERE 


For detailing (drawing on acrylic paint), we use pigment ink fineliner pens. We sourced pens that were either water based or acid free and entirely non toxic; our options were:

-Faber Castell’s Ecco Pigment fibre tip pens. Whose barrel and end cap are made from recycled plastic. 

-Pentel’s Pointliner, certified non-toxic.

-Sakura Pigma Micron fineliners. A very transparent company that states on their website: Why we don’t label our products Acid-Free: Acid-Free is a deceptive term sometimes used as a synonym for alkaline or buffered. Do not be fooled by pens or writing materials labeled “acid free” because this does not guarantee that a product is truly suitable for projects intended for keeping. There are no industry standards applicable for ensuring that a product is, indeed, acid-free.

-Artline’s Technical Drawing System pen; an acid-free, water-based pigment ink pen. 

Please view Faber Castell’s Ecco Pigment fibre tip pen’s Safety Data Sheet HERE 

Please view Pentel’s Pointliner Safety Data Sheet HERE

Please view Sakura’s Pigma Micron fineliners Safety Data Sheet HERE

Please view Artline’s Technical Drawing System pen’s Safety Data Sheet HERE


We have used and loved Zinsser’s Bulls Eye good ol’ Shellac to seal the painted surface because it dries extremely fast and is non-yellowing. Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug on trees in the forests of India and Thailand. It is processed and sold as dry flakes and dissolved in alcohol to make liquid shellac, which is used as a food glaze and in wood, as a tough natural wood primer, sealant, odor-blocker, stain, and high-gloss varnish. It is non-toxic when dry and is manufactured and tested in the United States. Bulls Eye Shellac is however not vegan, and is an alcohol-based solution of lac and has a chemical ingredient (2-Propanol) though in minuscule quantities— with an overall percentage weight that is less than 5%, but which is otherwise listed in Proposition 65.

We have also played around with Varathane’s Diamond Polyurethane Wood Finish. We like that it is odorless, has ZERO VOC, is water-based and is essentially vegan. However, we haven’t taken it through extensive R&D to see how it fairs over regular household use, and it has a chemical ingredient (Microcrystalline Silica) listed in Proposition 65. This wood finish is manufactured and tested in the USA.

We use Mod Podge for our beaded glass water bottle. This gloss paint sealer bears the A.P. seal, is excellent, non-toxic, non-hazardous, dries solid and is manufactured and tested in the United States.

Please view Zinsser’s Bulls Eye Shellac’s Safety Data Sheet HERE

Please view Mod Podge Gloss Acrylic Sealer’s Safety Data Sheet HERE

Please view Varathane’s Clear Polyurethane Wood Finish Safety Data Sheet HERE 


To seal, protect and to bring out the natural beauty of wood, the wood surface must be finished— oil, wax or varnish are common finishes. These finishes are durable, and water and alcohol-resistant. When applied, they seal the grain and give wood an attractive sheen and a smooth texture. At The Arc Light, we prefer finishing using oil. The industry-ideal oil to condition wood that interacts with food, is mineral oil. We have in the past used food-grade and pharmaceutical-grade mineral oil; classified this way if it is: colorless; odorless; tasteless; and free from any additives or impurities. Mineral oil is actually a common ingredient in many medical drugs and cosmetic creams such as petroleum jelly or baby oil, BUT, it is petroleum-based and is listed in Proposition 65. 

Vegetable oils can also be used, but most of them like coconut oil are not drying oils (they won’t polymerize and form a durable coating) while others such as olive oil tend to go rancid on wood. 

We have also extensively explored several other natural oil wood finishes such as linseed— a tough natural oil, and tung— a tougher natural oil, but both give off natural volatile compounds (off gassing) Legally, this does not technically require them to be classified as toxic, whether they affect you or not will depend on your tolerance. We also found that they took ages to cure— upwards of 60 days, but the products' marketing claims 7-14 days. Fabric or sponges used to apply linseed oil also do a very curious thing, they spontaneously combust!  Tung oil, like linseed oil, also generates heat as it dries, but it is more stable and has a relatively high combustion point. We also looked at soy oil and walnut oil and ultimately decided to choose Doctor's Woodshop Walnut Finishing Oil. 

Doctor's Woodshop Walnut Finishing Oil is a sulfate-free, paraben free, cruelty-free, phosphate-free, vegan and GMO-free, non-toxic and plant based oil that does not contain any chemicals in the Proposition 65 list. Our primary concern was that it is made from tree nuts, and comes with the appropriate allergen warning. Mike Meredith, the maker of this finishing oil clarified on this issue in an email to another customer by stating: “As a Professor of Biochemistry, I know something about the chemistry of finishes. As a specialist in Biochemical Toxicology, I understood the risks of solvent exposure. This is what I have learned from the medical literature. Walnut allergy is elicited by the proteins in the nut, wood and leaves. The walnut oil I use is treated and filtered such that no protein is detectable by the most sensitive methods in my lab (mass spec and colorimetric). I do not guarantee that there is no risk of allergy, but the risk is as small as I can make it. Moreover, since walnut oil is a drying oil, it is found in the wood as a solid, plastic-like material that is not going to be lost in a liquid form, making any protein residue unavailable for biological interaction” 

Mike also makes wood products, that’s why we like him :) His grandfather was a cabinetmaker and one day in 1954, Mike made his first wood product when he found himself facing a wood working tool in his grandfather’s basement.

Loving a wood product and the resulting constant and repeated use, tends to make wood products dry out. Depending on whichever oil you prefer to use, any oil finish must be reapplied periodically to nourish the wood and bring out a shiny, almost satin finish on the wood. 

Please view Doctor's Woodshop Walnut Finishing Oil’s Safety Data Sheet HERE


We share ingredient lists for our products to help you make an informed buying decision. 

At The Arc Light, we source acrylic paints and paint sealers that conform to ASTM-D4236, having been tested and certified non-toxic, specifically concerning oral toxicity, skin irritation and respiratory effects, in accordance with RoHS compliance and conformance to European standards EN71-3:2019 (CE)
This means that these products will predictably meet The Art and Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI) voluntary certification program for household or children’s art materials.
If products are certified as non-hazardous, they do not require the ACMI CL Seal (chronic hazard labelling standard, ASTM D 4236, and LHAMA). ZERO VOC certification means that products conform to CDPH 01350 (VOC emissions test taken at +14 days for indoor or classroom and office use).

The AP (Approved Product) Seal identifies art materials that are safe and that are certified in a toxicological evaluation by a medical expert to contain no materials in sufficient quantities to be toxic or injurious to humans, including children, or to cause acute or chronic health problems. Such products are certified by ACMI to be labeled in accordance with the chronic hazard labeling standard ASTM D 4236- which is the standard practice of labeling art materials for chronic health hazards. The designation “conforms to ASTM D-4236” means all of the potentially hazardous components of the art product have been clearly labeled on the product packaging, and LHAMA - the U. S. Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act (LHAMA). The related Labeling Hazardous Art Materials Act requires art supply packaging to carry warnings about any dangerous materials, such as “if product gets in eyes, wash immediately.” Even if the art supply in question contains no potentially hazardous materials, it is still required to carry the ‘conforms to ASTM D-4236’ designation. This shows consumers that the art product they are considering purchasing has been fully checked for hazardous materials. 

All the detailing pens that we use at The Arc Light are certified by, and bear the A.P. seal. Previously, all listings of certified products were stored on the Art Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) website in a massive PDF that had hundreds of products but lacked a search function. Your favorite social media platform's endless scroll pales in comparison to ACMI art's file! But it appears that those days are behind us, because they introduced a Certified Products Search Tool Four ways of searching for a product are available: By Material Type; Company; Seal; or by Brand Name/ Product Name. We find searching by BrandName/ Product Name easiest. These are the brands/ products we use:

-Ecco Pigment

-Pentel Pointliner

-Pigma Micron 10 PC Set-Black, BC 

-Artline Drawing System

CDPH (California Department of Public Health) / CHPS (Certified in Healthcare Privacy and Security) Section 01350 is a United States standard that addresses the human health and environmental impacts of building materials used by the architecture and design community. Also known as the Standard Method for the Testing and Evaluation of Volatile Organic Chemical Emissions from Indoor Sources Using Environmental Chambers (Version 1.2), Section 01350 is used for assessing and limiting VOC emissions for indoor air. This method can be applied to any material used in an enclosed indoor environment, such as paints and other finishes, sealants, adhesives, suspended ceilings, wall and floor coverings, wood paneling, wall and ceiling insulation, and furniture. It establishes procedures for collecting samples, testing emissions, and indoor concentration modeling, as well as the required documentation to disclose VOC emissions. Section 01350 specifically sets parameters for school classroom settings and private offices, including their dimensions, occupancy capacities, ventilation, and quantities of products contained inside. While this standard requires testing for specific target chemicals, it is important to note that it does not cover all safety and health issues related to building materials.

SDSs (Formerly known as MSDSs) are required under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Requirement 29CFR 1910.1200 (b)(6)(iv) of the OSHA Hazard Communication Requirements exempts “articles” from SDS requirements and other communication requirements of OSHA Law. Products termed as “articles” are those defined under either the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard 29CFR Section 1910.1200 or the Toxic Chemical Release Reporting; Community Right-to-Know (40 CFR, Part 372) commonly referred to as SARA Section 313 rule. The term “article” is defined in 29 CFR 1910.1200 (c)(i), Federal Register citation 52 FR 31852 (August 24, 1987) and SARA Section 313. “Article” Means a manufactured item: (i) which is formed to a specific shape or design during manufacture; (ii) which has end use function(s) dependent in whole or in part upon its shape or design during end use; and (iii) which does not release, or otherwise result in exposure to, a hazardous chemical under normal conditions of use. In February of 1994, OSHA amended the Hazard Communication Standard and Modified part 3 to read: Does not release more than very small quantities of a hazardous chemical under normal conditions of use. Thus the current definition of an Article is: “Articles” by definition of the standard, “means a manufactured item other than a fluid or particle (i) which is formed to a specific shape or design during manufacture; (ii) which has end use function(s) dependent in whole or in part upon its shape or design during end use; and (iii) which under normal conditions of use does not release more than very small quantities, e.g., minute or trace amounts of a hazardous chemical (as determined under paragraph (d) of this section), and does not pose a physical hazard or health risk to employees. 

OSHA has indicated that Office Products, Pens and Pencils are considered Articles which are exempt from SDS requirements. 


Disclaimer: While we work to ensure that product information is correct, on occasion manufacturers may alter their ingredient lists. Actual product packaging and materials may contain more and/or different information than that shown on our website. For additional information about a product used in our production process, please contact the respective manufacturer. Content on this page is for reference purposes. The Arc Light assumes no liability for inaccuracies or misstatements about products and/or their ingredients.