View Full Version : Disposing of Acrylic Material

09-26-2006, 11:12 PM
When I was an art student, I was told to wash my acrylic paints, solvents, and water down the drain. But, I wonder if that's the right thing to do.
I know with oils, you have to dispose of them properly and carefully, but what about acylics?

I was wondering what everyone else does with their left over acrylic paint, rags, rinse water, and solvents when they're done with them. I especially want to hear from people who live with a closed water system, such as a septic tank and a well.

What is the best environmentally friendly way to dispose of your materials?


09-27-2006, 12:38 AM
I generally just wash out in the sink but with a septic tank that might be a problem. Perhaps a back patio or driveway could be used to pour out the containers.. the water evaporates and after a while you would have an abstract kind of thing going on

09-27-2006, 01:13 AM

I usually let the water dry out and refill it. Part of the problem is that sometimes I have to rinse out a container because of some kind of contamination.

That's an interesting suggestion about throwing it onto a deck or driveway. It would definately bring color to a pale white surface. But, what if someone has a dirt driveway and a non-concrete deck?

I am partly asking these questions because I plan to move to an area (sometime in the future, hopefully sooner than later) where people sometimes have to use a closed system. The area I am most looking at has a large underwater lake and I would not want to contaminate it.

I also, currently, visit the area frequently and sometimes do my artwork there. I usually take everything out that I bring in, even when I am staying indoors.

09-27-2006, 03:33 AM
Acrylic resin will either still be waterborne suspension or dried solid when you dispose of it. If you're scraping flakes off your pallette and not trying to flush huge solid gobs, that shouldn't have much affect on your plumbing. The resin itself is not toxic, apart from trace amounts of formaldehyde. Some pigments contain heavy metals that may be of concern to your groundwater. Fortunately lead and mercury based pigments are rarely if ever found in acrylics. If you can avoid using cadmium, cobalt, and to be on the safe side, chromium based pigments, the rest should be safely flushable. At least your brush rinse water should be sufficiently dilute .

If that still troubles you too much, allow your paints to dry fully on your pallette, and, assuming you use a non porous porcelain tray or a disposable paper pallette, peel the paint off and toss it inthe trash. To my knowledge, haz-mat disposal is only required of liquid paint when sending it to landfill.

09-27-2006, 05:05 AM
Golden's advice is here: http://www.goldenpaints.com/healthsafety/environ/index.php


a. ladd
09-27-2006, 11:44 AM
I'm pretty finicky about this kind of thing. Not that I'm a tree-hugger so much as I don't like the thought of eventually drinking or bathing in my own recycled paint refuse.
I use old telephone book pages for some wiping and cleaning along with paper towels. There are disposed into a dedicated trash bin with a plastic liner bag.
Over these dried papers in the big bin, I pour my dirty cleaning water.
I also rinse off dirty brushes with a hand-pumped water sprayer over it.
This way, all the solids soak and accumulate into the papers and the water evaporates off before final disposal.

09-27-2006, 02:57 PM
Thanks everyone. It seems like everyone takes the same precautions that I do. Tina, I will check out that link, too. If anyone else has any other ideas, let me know.

That's an interesting idea a.ladd, I will think about using that one, too.

09-27-2006, 09:11 PM
I've got a septic system, and we're pretty fussy about what goes down the drain.

For paint water, and scrapings off my pallette - I have one of the large plastic containers cat litter comes in - waste paint water and scrapings go in there - the h20 evaporates out, the acyrlic remains as a film. Someday, all of that accumulated film will fill the container.

At which point, I'm gonna slice it in half longwise, sign, price and title it. ;)

09-28-2006, 12:07 AM
Having asked this one myself, I did a bit of local research and the following suggestions came out of it all.

Scrape dried paint and store in a glass jar with a cover. When full place in the landfill. When painting use a paper towel to remove excess paint and allow to dry before trashing. Rinse in a water/soap solution and then clean in a second container. When the water/soap needs changing place it in a container where it can evaporate and create a mass of acrylic. Allow to dry completely and place in a glass container and seal. Place in the the landfill. Keep as much of this out of the septic as possible.

09-28-2006, 03:10 AM
My system is to have various large yogurt containers that I rotate. I fill them about half full with water. I do my initial wash in these. All of the sediment goes to the bottom. When the water gets too murky to be useful I set the container on the backporch so that the water can evaporate, giving me a hard plastic mudd hockey puck, which I them toss in the garbage. I usually keep a smaller cotainer with a little water in it that I use to wash out my brushes the rest of the way after the initial rinse in the big one. I leave it upside down to drain into a larger bucket once it gets to yucky!

09-28-2006, 10:47 AM
Thanks for all the responses so far! It seems that I do many of the practices that everyone else does and I've learned a few more.