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Does Tempera Paint Expire?

If you love art, you can quickly end up with a lot of paints at home. However, most people don’t realize that some paints can expire. You don’t want to end up with many expired paints, so you’ll want to use as much of what you already have before moving on to a new set.

So, does tempera paint expire? Tempera paints can expire. These paints consist of organic materials, which don’t last forever. You can tell when tempera paint goes bad since it will have a foul smell. If you want your paints to last a long time, liquid tempera has a longer shelf-life than solid tempera.

Once the paint dries, it will last years, so you only need to worry about the color you haven’t used yet. You’ll want to know more about when your paint can expire, so stick around!

Do Tempera Paints Go Bad?

Tempera paints can go bad, although it does take a long time. The paint contains organic materials, which make it non-toxic but cause it to break down more than other mediums. You’ll want to take a few more measures to ensure your colors last as long as you need them to.

Always close the lid as tight as you can when you finish painting. Doing so keeps out air and bacteria, which are what cause the paint to go bad faster. You also can store the tempera paints you don’t use back in their original containers, as long as you didn’t mix them with other colors.

If the paint container doesn’t seal properly, your paint could expire early. You can add a plastic wrap to the container to cover the liquid before closing the lid. The plastic wrap helps to add another layer of protection to your tempera paints.

My favorite and top pick is always Arteza Tempera Paints. They have so many different colors, and the quality is amazing! I usually use Arteza Paints for all my projects.

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You’ll know the paint went bad if you notice any of these smells when you first open up the container: 

  • Mold
  • Mildew
  • Sourness
  • Rancid smells
  • Or bad egg smells

Liquid tempera paint also could contain a lot of chunks. You can still use it in this state, but you’ll need to mix it until it’s smooth again first. If the clumps don’t disappear, the paint is probably past its prime!

Finally, some brands will have a longer shelf-life than others. You’ll want to do some research online so you know you’re getting a product that you can keep for a long time.

How Long Does Tempera Paint Last?

Tempera paint won’t last as long as acrylic paint, with a shelf-life of about 15 years. Tempera only lasts between two and five years before expiring.

If you don’t use a lot of tempera, it’s best to purchase small bottles. That way, you can use all of the paint before it starts to go bad. Too many people buy huge bottles of tempera for their projects because it’s a cost-efficient medium. However, they end up having to deal with bad-smelling tempera later!

You can expect your tempera paints to last at least two years when stored properly. You want to leave it in a cool, dry place with the lid appropriately secured. It’s also best to keep the container out of direct sunlight.

Finally, make sure you don’t add water to the paint that you’re storing! Water can drastically speed up the aging process in organic pigments.

Overall, as long as you don’t leave your paint out, you should get a few years out of it! Some artists use special containers to further the shelf-life of their paints.

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I like to keep some paints in an airtight container like this one here. It helps keep the paint dry and properly stored, while I’m not using it.

Why Does Tempera Paint Stink?

Tempera paint can stink if you don’t use it before it expires. When it has a bad smell, that means that bacteria are present in the paints. Bacteria can enter paint by water, dirty brushes, or even the air- which is why you must store your paint correctly.

Some types of tempera paint can contain egg proteins. When this type of paint goes bad, you’ll notice a rotten egg smell! You’ll want to check on the ingredients in your colors, so you know you’re taking care of them in the right way.

It also may smell if you accidentally leave some water in the container for a long time. Standing water can grow bacteria quickly- so make sure your paint is thoroughly dried (without cracking) when you store it! 

In short, bacteria or the egg proteins in tempera can cause the paint to stink. If you notice a bad smell in your old pigments, it’s better to throw them out than work with them. You wouldn’t want to deal with persistent odors while painting!

Can You Make Tempera Paint Permanent?

Standard tempera paints are semi-permanent because you can make them re-soluble like watercolors by adding a small amount of water. However, what if you want a more permanent piece of art?

If you want to ensure that your project lasts many years, I recommend that you seal your finished piece with a coating of acrylic sealant. Adding a layer puts a barrier between the outside world and your creation, protecting it from dust and water damage.

Plus, adding a sealant also ensures that your tempera’s colors don’t fade with time! That way, you can get permanent final results. It would help to wait until your creation dries fully before adding a sealant layer, so you don’t accidentally smudge it.

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Not everyone seals their tempera paint, but it’s the best way to prevent the material from expiring on the canvas.

Can You Throw Away Tempera Paint?

When handling paint, you always want to dispose of it properly, no matter what type. You’ll need to check what ingredients the pigment contains. Suppose it has cobalt (often found in blues) or cadmium ( often found in yellows and reds). In that case, you’ll want to bring the paint to a hazardous waste disposal facility.

These materials can leach into the soils at landfills, causing harm to the surrounding environment and water sources. However, not every kind of tempera paint contains these materials. These ingredients appear more often in professional pigments.

Most tempera paint sets contain non-toxic ingredients, so they’re safe to throw out like usual. You will still want to make sure that you have the lids sealed tightly. You can also let the paint dry out to ensure it won’t leak out at the landfill.

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Overall, tempera isn’t as hazardous as oil paints, but you’ll still want to take care when disposing of them! Your local community is sure to appreciate the extra effort you take to keep it safe from chemicals.

Final Thoughts

To summarize, tempera paints do expire after about two years. You can get them to last longer by taking care to store them correctly. If you do so, they could last about five years or more. You need to make sure they stay dry and out of the sun.

You can tell your paint expires when it has a bad smell. When that happens, it’s better to throw it out and buy a new container than try to use it on your art. Overall, it helps to record the dates of when you first opened the paint! That way, you can have a better idea of when it might go bad.

Make sure to follow all my tips and recommended products to ensure your tempera paint project 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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