Choosing Nontoxic Wood Furniture

furniture interior design Jan 02, 2018

by Angela Cummings and Sophia Ruan Gushée


Wood furniture—such as couches, chairs, bed frames, box springs, tables and many more products—can be made from composite wood or solid wood. If you're hoping to choose the healthiest wood furniture for your budget, then consider the three key ideas below. 

1. Adhesives & Resins

Composite wood is made from wood pieces or wood dust that are held together with adhesives or resins. Resin is a material that is typically made of plastic.

Common types of composite woods are plywood, particle board, MDF (medium density fiberboard), and sometimes simply called composite wood. For example, composite decking is made from wood particles and resin.

Solid wood, on the other hand, is made 100 percent from wood. That means that solid wood is not made with adhesives and resins or other chemical binders.

2. Solvent Chemicals

Composite wood products are made of adhesives and resins that often contain a class of chemicals named solvents. Solvents may cause cancer and affect the nervous system, reproductive system, liver and kidney systems, and respiratory system. (1) 

3. VOCs in the Air

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)—such as formaldehyde—are emitted from various things in the home. From furniture, they often come from the adhesives and resins used to make composite wood products, wood finishes, and the glues that adhere furniture parts together. Natural soft woods, such as pine, also contain VOCs that off-gas into the air.

VOCs may affect the immune system, respiratory system, and cause cancer. (2) Furniture made with solid hardwood material and finished with a zero- or low-VOC finish release fewer VOCs into the air and is widely accepted as one of the least toxic types of wood.

In Summary

Ideally, nontoxic wood furniture is made of solid 100% hardwood, nontoxic glues, and zero- or low-VOC finishes (stains, finishes or paints). This will be much more expensive. So, the three key ideas noted above explain why you'll have to pay a lot more for nontoxic wood furniture. These three key ideas should also help you ask smart questions when shopping for healthier furniture, and deciding how best to prioritize your budget.

Register for more information about the D-Tox Academy. The D-Tox Academy will simplify and support your efforts to create a healthy home. A healthy home is essential for a healthy body and a healthy planet.


(1) (2) A to Z of D-Toxing, Works Cited Part 2

Deconstruct To Reconstruct.

Deconstruct your habits, mindset, and assumptions to reconstruct your home, diet, self-care, and technology relationship for a practical nontoxic and healing lifestyle. We're bringing consciousness to unconscious choices.

Start by detoxing your cleaning.

Join our mailing list and enjoy our free download of our beautiful Nontoxic Cleaning Guide. It shares the safest cleaning approach for you and our ecosystems.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.



This article is for informational purposes only. This information is provided “as is” without warranty.

It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. We do not offer medical advice, course of treatment, diagnosis, or any other opinion on your conditions or treatment options. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Ruan Living.

In no event will Sophia Ruan Gushee or Ruan Living be liable for any damages or loss of any kind resulting from the use of this website. Anyone relying upon or making use of the information on this website does so at his or her own risk.

Some of the services and products recommended on this website provide compensation to Sophia Ruan Gushee or Ruan Living. All recommendations are based foremost upon an honest belief that the product, service, or site will benefit our site visitors in some way.  

Nontoxic Living Simplified For You

In Your Inbox

Join our tribe by entering the info below!