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Question on Silicone Surfactants when making your own Washes


hsojrue
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Hi, this is my first post here and I come with a pretty specific question. I just recently got into making my own washes after getting a few bottles and loving how much easier and quicker my painting went. I've been looking at recipes and it's pretty straight forward, one thing I've noticed is that several recipes call for a drop of dawn dish soap as a surfactant.

 

I work as tree specialist and almost always have to mix a surfactant in with products to help it spread and stick. In fact my go to is a relatively safe and very cheap surfactant called Syl-Coat. Syl-Coat is a nonionic primarily silicone based agent. I know some dishsoaps also work as a nonionic surfactant
Now here's my question. I'm of course curious if I could just use a drop of Syl-Coat in my washes or even my paint as a possible thinner. Would the Silicone have any adverse effects on the pigment or paint formulations themselves? Am I just going to have to experiment on one of my cheap Bones minis and test the results? Has anyone else ever tried this?

 

If anyone can provided some help I'd be very grateful. If no one knows, well I guess I have some experimentation to do.

 

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First off, welcome to the forum!

 

Secondly, I don't know the answer to this question, so I'm going to leave it to others to pipe in. I think Pingo and a few others may have more information for you about the effects of Silicone with Acrylic paints and their pigments. 

 

Honestly, I'd go ahead and try it out on one of your bones figures and see what happens. You can always remove any/all paint with a dip in Simple Green cleaner or Pine Sol cleaner for a day or two, then clean off with a stiff bristled toothbrush and some warm soapy water. 

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I'd be curious about how silicone agents affect the adherence of the paint. I've seen and used dish soap as a "wetting" agent (for instance, in watered-down matte medium mix to attach ground foam to terrain, but I've had even small amount of soap residues from washing a model prevent paint from sticking or drying completely.

 

(It takes a very small amount of liquid soap to act as a surfactant -- the recipes I saw were a single drop to 10 oz or more of mix.)

 

Try out the silicone surfactant and let us know the result. In the end, it may be easier (though more expensive) to use a formulated acrylic flow improver.

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It seems to me that Jet Dry or some similar, non-soapy rinse agent might work better. Many hobbyists use it when casting plaster, including myself. It doesn't seem to leave any residue whatsoever, and it's a perfect, highly effective surfactant.

 

Certainly must have fewer side effects than dish soap.

 

Can't comment on the silicone stuff, though.

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I don't recommend the use of any soap as a surfactant in any paint mixes as it remains permanently in the paint film and weakens it and makes it more water-soluble.

 

If a surfactant is needed (and I find it to be only rarely so) I prefer a drop of isopropyl alcohol.

 

I find the chemistry of silicone surfactants interesting, but I have not encountered them. I don't know if they would act more like a soap or more like an alcohol.

 

At any rate, I like to keep my paint mixes very simple.

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I'm with the gang of folks recommending that you use products designed for paint in paint. I think a lot of the advice to use dish soap or floor wax or other substances in paints is decades old advice from the modeling community. I suspect the people who came up with these answers were either unaware of the fine art products designed for the purpose, or were painting large things using lots of paint and supplies and so were highly motivated to be as economical as possible in the products they used. Fine art products and advice about what they are and how they work is easily available these days, and they are not so expensive as that. (Particularly since some miniature paint manufacturers like Reaper now make them available at our usual product sizes.)

The safer mix for washes if you're having problems with rings is to add a bit of flow improver/aid, and/or matte medium. From the Reaper paints line, use 9106 Flow Improver, and 9107 Brush-On Sealer. Similar products are available from art material manufacturers like Liquitex and Golden if you need more of a bulk amount. The Reaper paints are mixed with a bit of flow improver in the base mix, so generally I just use a few drops of Brush-on Sealer and then as much water as needed for the dilution level to mix up my own washes and glazes. 

 

Adding additional flow improver is also useful when you're using paint and find it feels like it's a little sticky coming off the brush. Painting tiny fiddly things like filigree or free hand designs are times I find adding more of that useful.

 

Adding matte medium (or brush-on sealer) is also helpful if you want to thin metallics, as it is thicker so it keeps the metal flakes in suspension better than straight water. It is also a useful tool for prepping figures. If you've got a mini with a bit of a rough surface, even if you don't notice it until you start to paint, apply a few coats of brush-on sealer. It won't look any different, but paint on another basecoat and you'll likely find most of the surface imperfections are smoothed over. I have even filled in next to mould lines I missed using the sealer and it's worked, though often takes several coats.

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Thanks for the advice everyone, I'll just stick with flow improver and extenders when I need them for now. I need to pick up some more anyway, I had no intention of using soap or future really. I was just curious if anyone had tried a silicone surfactant. 

Chances are I'll still try it here in another month when I pull it all out of it's storage container and try it on the bottom of one of my bones minis, I'm just way too curious to see how it reacts with acrylic paint.

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