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Dish soap to reduce surface tension


salyvan
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Hi all,

 

I've read many times on this board that you can add dish soap to your paint mix to increase the flow of the paint. I went to try this out last night, grabbged my bottle of Dawn, and then thought "whoa wait a sec... this stuff is purple.. maybe I shouldn't add this to my mix".

 

So my question is, does the color of the dish soap affect the mix? Common sense tells me it would. If so, do I just need to go find some clear dish soap?

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I'm going to go on a limb and say that we do not endorse the use of commercial soaps or floor waxes as additives in our paint, and cannot be liable for any damage that adding these might cause to your final product.

 

I say this because someone once advocated adding Future© brand acrylic floor wax to our paints, and one unhappy customer of ours added some to every bottle they owned - and they owned a complete set, and in the process, ruined every single one - over $600 worth of paint.

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It's safer to go with flow improver as it's not really that expensive and you know what it will do. Reaper sells one for $3 http://www.reapermini.com/OnlineStore/flow/latest/09106

 

I'm always hesitant to use this home "miracle" paint additives that people come up with to save a few dollars, as that $3 reaper bottle will last a very long time, and unless your a chemist you really have no idea how the finished product will behave.

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I haven't tried dish soap. Instead, I bought a bottle of Liquitex Flow Aid before I heard about the cheap way. Liquitex works with Reaper MSPs, and I've heard other brands like Golden and W&N work, too. I haven't tried the craft paint brands, but I suspect they'd work about the same.

 

Since the artist brand flow improvers must be diluted by about 20:1 with water before adding it to paint, a bottle lasts about a lifetime.

 

Reaper MSPs have flow improver in them, though adding some extra can help at times.

 

I occasionally add flow improver to a bottle of paint and have had no bad experiences, but usually I add it on the palette.

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Actually the theory with dish soap is you add it to the rinse water you mix with the paints on your palette, NOT to the paints themselves. Dish soap contains surfactants, which break down the surface tension of water. In the case of washing dishes this helps the water stick to the dirt, oils, etc. on your dishes and wash them away in the rinse. For acrylics they help the paint act less like plastic and flow more like water on primered surfaces.

 

Same theory as the Liquitex flow aid Serenity mentions, but of course a cheapo method to get there. I've not personally used dish soap, but the theory is sound. In any case you're supposed to add a drop of dish soap to like a cup or so of water, so the dilution is miniscule. More than the 20:1 ratio Liquitex uses.

 

FTW, I love the Reaper flow improver. I use it instead of water when mixing some of my RSPs. It's esp. good when you need to do freehand or some detailed work - straight Reaper flow improver does the trick! It makes the paint go down smooth but with a slower drying time than water.

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I'm going to go on a limb and say that we do not endorse the use of commercial soaps or floor waxes as additives in our paint, and cannot be liable for any damage that adding these might cause to your final product.

 

I say this because someone once advocated adding Future© brand acrylic floor wax to our paints, and one unhappy customer of ours added some to every bottle they owned - and they owned a complete set, and in the process, ruined every single one - over $600 worth of paint.

 

That's too funny Bryan! And sad... :blink:

 

I hate it any time someone mentions using Future on miniatures or models. For all those Future nazis out there, who claim it "doesn't yellow" over time, I just pulled a bottle from under the kitchen sink where it's been lurking for like 5 years. It was a 1/3 full and looked a lot like I imagine android pee to be... This despite being in a closed bottle IN THE DARK. Imagine what it would look like on a mini exposed to UV light (as from fluorescent bulbs.)

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I've never used dish soap to reduce surface tension of paint. Sure, it has surfactants but it also has a lot of other ingredients that I'm not sure on how they will react to paint. I like flow improver. My second choice is Jet Dry. This is a dishwasher additive to reduce surface tension. I use this to treat water when I'm mixing plaster to cast Hirst Arts molds. There are no scents or dyes added to this product.

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Hi all,

 

I've read many times on this board that you can add dish soap to your paint mix to increase the flow of the paint. I went to try this out last night, grabbged my bottle of Dawn, and then thought "whoa wait a sec... this stuff is purple.. maybe I shouldn't add this to my mix".

 

So my question is, does the color of the dish soap affect the mix? Common sense tells me it would. If so, do I just need to go find some clear dish soap?

 

I would never add anything to the actual bottle of paint, that's just asking for something to go wrong. My original post was not clear enough when I said "paint mix", but I meant on the palette.

 

I think I'll just pick up some flow improver. Thanks all.

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Most uses of Dish soap that I've heard are not so much for generic flow enhancer, but specifically for use to mix with water when you are making washes.

 

It's an old technique long used by wargamers called 'Wet Water". Recipes vary, but a common one is 1 drop of soap per oz of water. This gives you a water without much surface tension for quickly mixing up washes. I keep a bottle of wet water in my painting supplies and when I want to mix up a quick wash I just squirt some into a lid and add paint as desired.

 

I would never advise adding it to the bottle, and for regular painting you're probably better off with a proper flow enhancer, but "wet water" definitely has it's uses.

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I've tried 'wet water', but not really fussed about it. Its never found its way into my standard paint kit. I stick with three things which are all cheap and last ages.

1) Tamiya paint thinner = stinks really badly so don't get it in your lungs (don't leave the bottle open next to you - you'll pass out), don't get it in your mouth, in your eyes or on your fingers, but it breaks down the surface tension in paint and helps the flow without slowing drying time, good for airbrush work mostly but helps with freehand and detail work when I'm really trying! Use only a little for brush painting. (3:1 paint to thinners or so, thin the rest with water). Since it evaporates it doesn't affect the finished paint surface strength as far as I can tell.

 

2) Extender, found it in a craft shop and thought I'd try it. Its sort of, i dunno but greasy almost. Increases drying time massively, reduces surface tension, makes the paint a little transluscent and great for adding to washes or for wet-wet blending when I'm really trying again! You have to use it very sparingly though, the tip of a brushful in a blending mix and a tiny drop for a wash is all you need. I'm not sure exactly what it is but it will reduce the strength of the paint on the surface if you use too much

 

3) Good old artists glaze medium. Thin it way down for what we're doing and its sort of halfway between the other two. Makes paint very shiny though since the stuff is gloss ( a bit like varnish). Longer drying time, the more you add the more translucent it goes so test out you're mixes first, improves flow and reduces surface tension. Lovely! Also, because its actually very similar to an acrylic base (the stuff they mix the pigments into) it will provide a very strong finish. You can actually use it as a varnish, but it isn't quite as strong as a real one, and most people don't want ultra gloss minis, but it can be nice on gems etc. I've got some matte medium as well but its not as good as the gloss one for paint flow etc.

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I've been a printer all my life and we have a saying," Alcohol will make your water wetter"....same as what your talking about with dish soap....water is actually a very sticky substance, refer to a rain droplet,  that H2O sticks together tightly......so by using alcohol in our water mixture it breaks up the sticky surface tension of H2O and we are able to put a finer/smoother bead of water on the printing plates.....so you may want to consider Isopropyl Alcohol....how much to use for painting I'm not sure....try 5% of what ever container you are using 

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In a word, "No!".

 

Read all of the above.  Although different advice and POVs are presented, I'd take any one over putting soap in a paint bottle.

 

I use a mix of flow improver, retarder, and distilled water that I keep in a bottle and add a drop or two to each splotch of paint I put on my palette.  It takes time to get a feel for how much mixture to add (I live in a very dry climate so go strong on the retarder and I do a lot of light, thin coats so go strong on the water) and how to paint with it, but I'm quite happy.

Here's the label I print and put on the bottle:

Reaper Thinner

(10% Flow Improver / 30% Retarder / 60% Distilled Water)

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@rfarmer124 Did you notice the AGE of the original posts?  

This is a topic that should have stayed buried, for some very good reasons.  

 

Once upon a time, probably in the stone age or slightly before that, Pledge floor wax was supposedly pretty much 'clear medium', and could be used to thin paints. (The ingredients have changed many times since then, so don't even think about it). One enterprising minotaur bought a set of paints from Reaper, a set of empty bottles and proceeded to dump half the contents of each bottle of the set over in empty bottles, and top both up with Pledge in the mistaken belief that he would then have TWO sets of paint but at a lower cost, and could sell off one of them. It went badly, and he blamed Reaper.   

We don't want that kind of minotaur droppings...   

 

We don't use dish soap because we don't always know what's in it and how it will react  long-term with our paints.    

 

As for your alcohol tip, that probably works OK on inks, but paints are not inks. What does it do to the binder in the paint? 

5% ?

That would be 1 drop of IPA to 20 drops of paint.  

Unless I'm basecoating a large mini, that's several times more than what I'll put on my palette. 

Also, never suggest using IPA or other alcohol without mentioning good ventilation, gloves and breathing mask in the same post. There are people out there who won't take precautions unless they are hammered in.

 

That said, WELCOME!

 

Pop by in the off-topic subforum for your welcome basket filled with Stroopwaffels and insanity.  

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