View Full Version : The Great Brush Dunk Trial

03-17-2015, 02:02 PM
The thread about keeping brushes moist elicited a warning about capillary action drawing water into the brush.

This engaged my curiosity. So I started a trial with an inexpensive brush immersed in water halfway up the ferrule. I immersed the brush last Friday and have tested it daily for bristle loss, bristle breakage and general bristle condition.

So far there has been no bristle loss, but I do note that three or four bristles have started to curve away from the bunch. I'm going to let this go on until there is a more pronounced failure or I get tired of it. Then there will be a final check for a condition known as DWF, or Dreaded Wiggly Ferrule.

Here's a pic of the brave little brush: http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/17-Mar-2015/1965263-littlebrush.jpg

03-17-2015, 07:24 PM
Hey Cliff,

Looking forward to watching your sacrificial brush as the experiment progresses :D .

Between reloadings with a different color I used to keep my brush hairs soaking in water, suspended by one of those wire coil brush holders with aluminum container below. At the end of the painting session would clean the brushes with Ivory soap and lukewarm water, rinse and then store upright in a qt. jar. I think the upright storage did more harm than anything else. The local tap water has a very high mineral content ("hard" water") and over time seems to react chemically with the metal in the ferrule, corroding it from the inside :eek: . I have brushes from the 1980s that are still in good shape but the ferrules have tarnished and are noticeably discolored. On one round brush the ferrule has loosened slightly...yes, DWF...but don't know if that's due to a corroded ferrule or water soaking into the handle :confused: .

By the way...DWF Syndrome can be corrected with a tiny drop of cheap super glue applied into the gap between ferrule and handle :thumbsup: .

Jim (airplanz)

03-17-2015, 08:35 PM
It's a good thing for me that Brush Abuse is not against the law. I do take care of my good brushes, but more often paint with brushes I know I won't have to worry about if they undergo any of my regular brush abuses.

Once I wash them, I do set them down horizontally, with the bristles resting on a few folded paper towels to wick out the moisture. Maybe that's the only reason why my brushes seem to mostly survive in spite of me!

03-18-2015, 11:12 AM
Update 3/18. No change to the brush condition. Looked for ferrule rust, found none.

To be clear this is a clean brush. I suspect mixing water, alkaline paint and low grade stainless steel is a recipe for corrosion. I only ever immerse clean brushes.

Charlie's Mum
03-18-2015, 04:25 PM
I'm sure there's a Royal Society for Cruelty to Brushes - the RSCB :D :D

03-18-2015, 05:19 PM
I'm sure there's a Royal Society for Cruelty to Brushes - the RSCB :D :D Yes there is, but the rules only apply to animal hair type :lol:

03-18-2015, 06:05 PM
I'm sure there's a Royal Society for Cruelty to Brushes - the RSCB :D :D

Are they chartered to promote or prevent such cruelty?

Charlie's Mum
03-19-2015, 12:11 PM
Oh to prevent, of course ... so you'd better go hide!;);):evil:

03-19-2015, 01:49 PM
Our Brave Little Brush (BLB) has undergone a change after ~6 days' continuous immersion. The bristles exhibit a noticeable splay, as shown below:

At this point the soak test is over. The next step is to allow BLB to dry out completely and check for DWF (Dreaded Wiggly Ferrule).

Expect a report in a few days.

03-20-2015, 11:52 AM
A shot of Styling Gel Medium should get BLB looking spiffy again :-)

03-20-2015, 04:33 PM
I find that if a brush goes out of shape you can wrap it in a piece of string and pour hot water on it. Let it cool and repeat the process 3 or 4 times and the bristles will straighten.

03-20-2015, 05:14 PM
After one day of drying the splay is still there but diminished.

No sign of DWF.

Charlie's Mum
03-20-2015, 06:09 PM
Oh dear Cliff, you're definitely for the high jump - so sad ................ (leaves, shaking head .............)

03-25-2015, 08:39 AM
One last post on this silly thread.

The Brave Little Brush (BLB) shows no sign of Dreaded Ferrule Wiggle (DWF) after four full days' drying time. The only ill effect of six days' immersion is a bit of splay to the natural bristles. Because it took several days for the splay to appear, it would seem the test shows it is safe to immerse clean brushes in relatively clean water until the end of a painting session.

There is, however, an additional data point. I was making a sort of fan brush out of the Brave Little Brush's Big Brother (BLBBB) when I discovered a sticky, gummy substance at the very root of the bristles. BLBBB had spent about six hours in the immersion jar and apparently the water found something to soften. I'm not sure if it was remnants of acrylic resin or bristle glue. If the former, no problem; but if the latter, extended dunking could cause problems.