These vapors have a strong odor that can be irritating. But this isn't the only way wood ink vapors affect our health. Wood dye vapors are harmful and can cause vomiting, seizures, and respiratory problems. Vapors are dangerous because wood stains contain dyes, solvents and binders that are not safe to breathe.
Wood dye vapors can contain volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), such as formaldehyde, arsenic and benzene, which are hazardous and can be deadly. All wood dyes are toxic in liquid form, but become non-toxic when fully cured. This process can take 3 to 30 days, depending on the type of stain and brand. As the stain dries, volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are released into the air.
Products with high levels of VOC cause air pollution and can have long-term adverse effects on human health. Most wood dyes are not tested for food safety and therefore cannot be labeled as food safe, but are manufactured in accordance with FDA regulations. After curing, wood dyes are generally considered safe and non-toxic, even if technically they are not “safe for food” according to FDA regulations. If a person is suspected of inhaling wood stains and experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention quickly.
Ultimately, the stain is covered with another finish, and even if it wasn't, given a full cure time, the stains should be OK to come into contact with food. Wood dye is toxic during the application and drying processes, but is not toxic after a 30-day cure. But water-based wood dye contains no hazardous binders than traditional oil-based wood dyes and is therefore significantly less toxic as a result. The harmful substances in wood dyes are hydrocarbons or substances that contain only carbon and hydrogen.
Wood stain poisoning is the accidental or intentional ingestion (through ingestion, inhalation, or contact with the skin) of wood stains. However, there are a number of edible products that can act as wood dye, if you want to use a truly food-safe wood dye. First of all, if you're finishing the piece, it's likely that the wood dye won't come into contact with food anyway. During the process of using wood dyes, especially oil-based wood dyes, remember to maintain adequate ventilation.
Second, wood dyes are formulated to meet FDA food safety regulations, but are not tested for the actual designation. Well-ventilated rooms are much safer and reduce the risk of vapors from wood stains igniting when the stain dries. This makes water-based wood stain a viable option if you want to reduce the risk of exposure during application.