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Polyurethane made from whey

January 31, 2011

Lactose intolerant? Never get to eat cheese? A little jealous of your friends’ gourmet pizza slices at Dock Street? (I am.) Well now you can use milk products too, well if you have any wood to refinish that is!

Cork floor after the first coat of polywhey.

Vermont Natural Coatings makes a polyurethane out of whey, which is a byproduct of making cheese. It’s got less than 180 VOCs g/L, goes on as easy as other water-based polys (except that the low VOC count makes it a lot less noxious), and all the many reviews that have hit the internet since it’s been on the market say it’s as durable, if not more so, than other water-based and even petroleum-based polyurethanes.

I’ve had the opportunity to use petro-based, water-based and now this polywhey in my own home. Since my husband and I bought our house two summers ago, we’ve had a never-ending list of remodeling and refinishing projects, including refinishing every floor in the house. Most recently we’ve laid a cork floor in our upstairs bathroom, and polywhey seemed like the best way to go. It’s been four days and already I can tell the floor is as tough as our other wood floors. And there was literally about 20 minutes of minor odor during application—I didn’t wear a mask and hardly noticed. There was probably about five times as much odor when we painted the ceiling.

More food-waste products, please!

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