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Old 07-06-2009, 07:15 PM
InrDmons InrDmons is offline
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Question How long do oil paints last?

I recently aquired some old tubes of oil paint from a family member. I am assuming they are at least 20 years old. Most of them are pretty full, but I am sceptical about using them for health reasons etc. I have never used oil paints before....

Will attempting to use these paints be harmful in any way?
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Old 07-06-2009, 09:57 PM
sidbledsoe sidbledsoe is offline
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Re: How long do oil paints last?

20, 30, or more, year old paints can be just fine to use providing they were sealed but you will know when you squeeze them, like say if there was a pinhole in a tube then it could be partially or fully hardened. Soft is fine. The other problem with old tubes like that is that the paint around the caps really ages and gets hard and the caps may be hard to unscrew. If this is the case, heat the caps and threads with very hot water or if you are careful, wave over a flame but be ginger about it before you roast the plastic, then they will come off just fine and clean them up while off.
There are no harmful fumes emitted from ordinary oil paint. Some of the paints are or could be made with metals and components like cadmiums and lead. They are considered toxic but only if they are ingested or you spray paint them and inhale the aerosol created, as I said, no harmful vapors from normal usage. These are in normal widespread artistic use and not a problem providing you don't ingest them. So the prudent usage of these paints includes good hygiene, clean your hands, keep away from food, pets, children that may squeeze out a dab to see if it tastes as good as it looks, Good luck and if you are like the rest of us you won't be able to put them down.

Last edited by sidbledsoe : 07-06-2009 at 10:00 PM.
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Old 07-07-2009, 08:05 AM
InrDmons InrDmons is offline
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Re: How long do oil paints last?

Exactly what I wanted to hear. I knew about lead being used in older paints but wasnt sure how it affected the person. This site is great and will be using it often during my year in fine arts
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Old 07-08-2009, 04:28 PM
sidbledsoe sidbledsoe is offline
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Re: How long do oil paints last?

Welcome to WC, in addition, of course there are toxic vapors associated with a lot of solvents used in oil painting mediums, but I was only referring to ordinary oil paints, however oil painting can be done without employing them.
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Old 07-08-2009, 09:37 PM
Aires Aires is offline
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Re: How long do oil paints last?

I'm using perfectly good oil paint remnants that are 25 years old, usable until the last bit can be wrung out of the tube. As long as the cap and tube are intact, a good quality oil paint should last until it is used up. Observe common sense safety rules when using paints labled as having "toxic substances" and you should be able to enjoy oil painting without undue health concerns. There are even threads with solutions for those having allergies or sensitivities to paints or solvents. Welcome to WC, good luck and happy painting!
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Old 07-11-2009, 10:37 PM
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kmerideth kmerideth is offline
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Re: How long do oil paints last?

I have paints that I had put away 18 years ago and just recently got them back out and started right where I left off. I had a few tough caps to get off but if you squeeze all the paint to the top of the tube - like toothpaste - then use a nut cracker to loosen the cap - everything works great! Happy painting and welcome to WC!
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