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Can You Take Oil Paint on a Plane?

If you’re a traveling artist, you’ll want to know what you can and can’t bring on a plane. Many artists worry about bringing oil paints on a flight with them. They are a liquid and contain plenty of chemicals, after all.

So, can you take oil paint on a plane? Yes, you can bring oil paint on a plane with you. There isn’t a limit to how much paint you can bring, although you need to keep the containers at or below 100 ml (3.4 oz) in size in the carry on luggage. Plus, they will need to be in a plastic bag.

In short, you can take oil paint with you on your flight! However, there are plenty of stipulations that you’ll need to follow. Otherwise, you may find yourself in trouble with the TSA, and you wouldn’t want to have to throw out your favorite paints! Everything you need to know about flying with paint is below, so let’s keep reading.

How To Travel With Oil Paint on a Plane

First, you’ll want to know how you can travel with your oil paints on the plane! Always place your paints inside your checked or hold luggage- never inside your carry-on bag. Oil paint likely can’t go inside the cabin area with you.

Pack the paints inside a plastic Ziploc bag, then place that bag inside a small, hard container. You want the container to be solid so that the paint tubes won’t leak and stain your other items.

Make sure that your sturdy container is on top of your other items. Doing so makes it easier for the TSA to see them when they scan the luggage. If they can’t see the paint clearly, they may ask to check inside your bag.

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It’s also worth noting that oil paint solvents, or mineral spirits, aren’t allowed on any planes. They are flammable, and you can’t bring them on the plane- even through a checked suitcase. Instead, you’ll need to pick some up when you land if you want to use them!

Overall, you can travel with your oil paints! You’ll want to check the rules for your unique airline, as they can differ between companies.

Can You Fly With Oil Paints in Your Carry On?

You shouldn’t try to fly with oil paints in your carry-on. It’s better to bring them with you in checked or hold luggage instead. That way, they won’t be in the main cabin area with you. Some airlines won’t allow them in your carry-on and ask that you check them in.

The TSA will likely want to check your paints. Plus, bringing them in checked luggage helps the paints get jostled around less. 

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You’ll also want to know that you can’t bring palette knives, or other sharp items, on the plane. It’s not worth the hassle, so leave them at home!

Can You Put Oil Paint in Checked Luggage?

Yes, you can put your oil paints in your checked luggage. The TSA prefers that you do this instead of trying to bring them with you through your carry-ons. However, you won’t want to bring paints that say “flammable” on the label. 

If you try, you’re sure to have someone ask you to leave them behind! Plenty of other oil painting tools, like knives and mineral spirits, are banned from planes. Even if you try to add these items to a checked bag, they won’t make it through.

When packing your paint in your checked luggage, you’ll need to do so correctly. There isn’t a limit to how many tubes you can bring, as long as each tube is not larger than 100 ml (3.4oz). 

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Make sure to place the tubes in a container. Most airlines prefer that you keep your liquids in a separate, small plastic bag to avoid a mess. 

Is Oil Paint Flammable When Dry?

Oil paint isn’t flammable when it dries, so you should be able to bring an oil painting with you on a plane easily! Oil paints consist of oil, pigment, resin, and a binder. The binder is very similar to paint thinner, making the paint flammable.

However, the binder evaporates as the paint dries. What stays behind on your canvas is no longer flammable! You shouldn’t have an issue with bringing the painting on your flight because of this.

Plus, you won’t have lingering paint fumes, either, since the binder evaporates. It takes at least three days for an oil painting to dry entirely, so make sure you have enough time for it to cure before your flight.

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It’s never a good idea to take a wet oil painting with you! The canvas will bump into others and smear- leaving pigment everywhere. Instead, plan and make sure that your work has ample time to dry before the trip.

I’d recommend giving it more than three days to know for sure the paint hardened the entire way through.

How Do You Pack an Oil Painting on a Plane?

The size of the painting depends on how you’ll travel with it. If the painting is too large to carry with you, you may want to ship it to your destination. However, smaller paintings can come on the plane with you.

Again, it’s easier to bring an oil painting in your checked or hold luggage. Some flights allow you to bring it into the cabin area as your personal item, although you’ll hold it the entire time.

You can pack the painting in your luggage. Make sure to wrap it with light tissue paper and place it in the back sideways. If you lay it down flat, it could harm the painting.

If you’re comfortable dismantling the canvas, you can do so. Then, reassemble the work once you arrive at your destination. Make sure you take the canvas apart and store it so it won’t take damage during the flight.

How Much Oil Paint Can You Bring on a Plane?

Technically, you can bring as many oil paints as you can fit in your luggage on the plane- as long as the individual paint tubes are smaller than 100 ml (3.4oz). Many artists recommend leaving a label on the container you put the paints in for the airline inspectors.

On the label, write what the tubes contain and that they aren’t dangerous. It’s also worth leaving your phone number and a note saying not to throw out the paints.

In short, there’s no actual limit to how much oil paint you can take on a plane. You could bring several separate tubes of the same pigment with you! The only real limitation of paint you can bring is the size of your luggage (and if you want to put your clothes in it too). 

Final Thoughts

To summarize, it is possible to file with oil paints. However, you’ll want to first research the airline you’re traveling with. Some may have slightly different rules on what you can bring on your flight.

You’ll want to bring the paint in your checked or hold luggage! You’re sure to be stopped if you attempt to take it with you in your carry-on. Taking the time to think about how you’ll pack your paints will help make your experience going through airline security much smoother.

Make sure to follow all my tips and recommended products to ensure your flight with oil paints turns out great! Also, don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your painting Q&A’s. Happy painting! 

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