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Sophie was taken

How long will old paints stay usable?

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Hello everyone!

 

So I had to move cross-country about 2 1/2 years ago and had to box up all my hobby stuff. But now, circumstances require I get back into things (and I still have all those unpainted Bones IIs). So I managed to track down all my supplies and paints, but some settling may have occurred in transit - nearly all of my paints had fallen over from their upright positions and sat that way for the entire time. 

 

I have almost 40 bottles; most have been opened and used at least once, but none leaked at least. When turned upright the paints didn't immediately run down to the bottom, but they still slosh around when shaken. I haven't tried using them yet. 

 

Would they still be good, or should I take the loss, or is there a way to save them? Most are basic colors but a few were special promos that aren't being made again, and it would be a shame to lose those ☹️

 

Edit: I should clarify these are all Reaper paints.

Edited by Sophie was taken
Clarification
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I have many Reaper paints that are much older than 30 months old. They have been stored in a variety of ways, but have generally been kept fairly close to room temp. As long as the paints are still liquid and haven't been frozen or heated too much, they should be fine.

 

To check, try painting with them. If they seem to paint alright, you should be golden.

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If they are still sloshing they should be okay, although they may need a lot of mixing.

 

Even under normal circumstances miniatures paint needs a good shake before every use.

 

Try shaking one vigorously for a minute or two and test it.

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The metallic paint might need a stir too. But effectively, if you shake it smooth and it brushes nicely on a test piece, it is fine. I have some bottles that are 7 years old and still running. Happy painting!

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I have a few that are closer to 20 years old. And some that went bad within a short time of me buying them. The only way to know for sure is check them out.

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I have Ral Partha paints that still work just fine and a few that don't. For the most part most should be fine after some vigorous shaking and mixing.

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12 hours ago, Zink said:

I have a few that are closer to 20 years old. And some that went bad within a short time of me buying them. The only way to know for sure is check them out.

 

Same here.

Today I used a Citadel paint I have had for more than 20yrs no problem.

I also have had paints ruined after a few months

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17 hours ago, Pingo said:

If they are still sloshing they should be okay, although they may need a lot of mixing.

 

Even under normal circumstances miniatures paint needs a good shake before every use.

 

Try shaking one vigorously for a minute or two and test it.

 

What Pingo said.

 

You can always thin the paints a bit with water or acrylic medium if they are too thick (assuming they actually come out of the bottles! :poke:).

 

I've still got paints bought in the mid 1980's like this one from Citadel which is still viable some 30 years later....

 

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I still have Polly S paint from 1979 that I use....

It really depends on each bottle, but as long as they are not dry, a good long hard shake should fix them up...

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It depends on a variety of environmental factors, but so long as it is at least the consistency of cheesecake (i.e. - not turned solid or mostly solid) then it can be revived. 

 

Assuming they have spent most of their time in a cool and relatively shady space away from UV light, paints may last a very long time.  I have "fresh" (i.e. never used) paint from 1988.  Beyond that, if the above storage conditions are met and they are periodically tended to so as to make sure they are not evaporating water, the theoretical lifespan of some miniature paint may in fact prove to be longer than the owner's complete lifespan.  Only my descendant relatives will be able to answer that. 

 

The prime paint killers:

 

1.  Direct sunlight for extended periods

2.  Insufficient seal/evaporation (some containers are mildly porous and allow slow evaporation)

3.  Freezing cold (paints that freeze appear gritty or grainy and are dead)

4.  Heat (especially if also dry)

5.  Contamination (organic, as in mold; or inorganic, as in reaction - never use copper or zinc as agitators)

 

As a note on #1, I wish I had kept it as an example but I did have a bottle that had been stored with one side exposed to a large window and the other in shade and it was left there long enough that the exposed side turned a different colour. 

 

As a note on #5, water quality or unknown additives can influence contamination.  Sometimes this is solvable.  I have some paints from... somewhere... (I source old paint stocks) that when left for some time separated so that they had a mliky-white liquid layer atop the pigment.  This was solved by pouring off the separation and replacing it with new water.  Whether that was additive or overly hard/soft water from the prevous owner I don't know, but at least it was an easy fix.

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I was a Blick employee in the past; and we sold a lot of Liquitex.

At the time, it was owned/manufactured by Binney and Smith (the Crayola people).

 

We had asked what was the shelf life of their paints.

The answer was... for acrylics (which are in those foil lined plastic squeeze tubes); about 5-6 years.

For oils (in the metal tubes); 40 years.

 

Why the difference? Water vs Linseed Oil.

 

Sure, paints last longer than that; you have to consider if you used half of a tube of acrylic, and say it's contaminated with mold, then you seal it up for 2-years to have plenty of time to turn into a biology experiment. Molds won't grow in oil like they do in water; and the pigment is easier to remix with the oil.

 

The biggest killer of acrylics we had to deal with was shipping in the winter. Once they freeze (and the pigment turns into a rubbery lump), it's game over.

 

I had some old Armory paints that were still good (well... and a bunch that went bad). Depends a lot on the seal of the bottle.

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