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Is Oil Paint Flammable?

Oil paints are an excellent choice to use, when blending colors together in your painting. Oil paints dry slowly, making them the perfect candidate for paintings that require a subtle blend. They consist of pigment particles that are suspended in a drying oil, which is most often linseed oil.

While linseed oil is the most commonly used oil, other popular oils include poppy, safflower, sunflower, walnut, and soy bean oils. So, is oil paint flammable? Oil paint itself is not flammable, but if you add turpentine to it, it could potentially become flammable.

In this article we go over everything you need to know about using oil paints with turpentine, what makes an oil painting flammable and much more. Let’s get to it!

Is Oil Paint Flammable When Dry?

Even if you use the turpentine in your oil to thin it, the oil paint will not remain flammable after it has dried. Oil paint is flammable when wet due to the solvent added to it. As the paint dries and cures, the solvents evaporate. This means the paint is no longer flammable, but it does become combustible. 

My favorite and top pick is always Arteza Oil 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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Flammable vs. Combustible

It is easy to think that flammable and combustible are the same thing, but they are actually different. The difference is in the temperatures that the materials must be exposed to in order to catch fire.

Flammable materials will typically catch fire at a lower temperature than combustible materials. 

The lowest temperature that the oil paint will give off enough vapor to start burning is called the flash point. The difference between flammable and combustible is the different flash points that a material will be able to catch fire. Flammable materials have a lower flashpoint. 

When oil paint is wet and contains a solvent like turpentine, it is considered to be flammable. That means it has a flash point of about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If you would take a lighter to wet oil paint with turpentine, it would catch fire.

As the oil paint dries, it goes through oxidation. At the point of being dry, the oil paint will become combustible.

That means it has a flash point of higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but lower than 200 degrees Fahrenheit. You will most commonly experience combustion when oil paint dries on a rag that you used when painting. 

Can Oil Paint Spontaneously Combust?

Oil paints do have the ability to spontaneously combust. This most commonly occurs when the oil paint is not disposed of properly or there is a stain somewhere that might have been missed during clean up. Oil paint can also spontaneously combust when the paint is left sitting on a rag or cloth. 

If the oil paint is not properly cleaned off a rag or cloth that you were using, there is a risk of spontaneous combustion. This will happen when the fabric is heated slowly to the ignition point through the process of oxidation. 

To avoid spontaneous combustion of rags you used that may have been exposed to your oil paints, there are some precautions you will need to take. The first thing you need to do is find a container that has a tight-fitting lid. I use these Heavy Duty Disposable Gallon Bags. They’re extremely thick and seal tight.

You will then need to put the rags into the container or bag and fill it up the rest of the way with some water. After you add the water, seal the container or bag, and do not open it. Closing the container will stop the oils from oxidizing, which will keep the rag from heating up and spontaneously combusting.

When you have properly sealed up your rags, you will want to contact your garbage disposal company to find out what their policy is for disposal of such items. In some cases, you might be able to throw the container away in your trash can, but you will always want to check before doing so.

Can I Travel with Oil Paint?

Most materials, including oil paints, are considered safe to travel with. However, if you do not properly pack, label, and document your paints, it can be a red flag for some airport security. According to the FAA, there is not a limit of how many oil paints you are allowed to have in your checked baggage. When it comes to your carry-on, the sizes are limited. 

If you are going to be traveling with oil paints, there are some precautions you will want to take to make sure you don’t run into any problems with security. First, you will want to check all of the tubes of paint to make sure they are tightly closed. You should also consider packing them in a box or bubble wrap, so they don’t accidentally get punctured. 

The best type of box to pack is a transparent box. This allows for an easy visual of what is inside the box without agents having to open the box to see what is inside. You can also easily attach documentation to the lid, so it is clearly visible and accessible to the agents. 

When it comes to labeling your paints, it should be acceptable to label with a simple “artist pigments”. However, if you want to be even more vigilant, there are labels you can print off the internet that clearly state what you have and that there are no solvents included in the container. 

As for proper documentation, airport security is very serious when it comes to items that could potentially be hazardous or flammable. This is why it is important to print the Material Safety Data Sheet of the oil paint brand or brands you plan on traveling with. You can find this information on the manufacturer’s website. 

You are allowed to travel with oil paints, but it is extremely important to remember that you can’t travel with any solvents like turpentine. Since that ingredient is considered flammable, it is not allowed on an airplane and you will have to purchase it when you get to your destination.

Final Thoughts

Oil paints are an extremely popular type of paint to use. A common question surrounding oil paints is whether or not they are flammable. Luckily, oil paints by themselves are not flammable. However, the solvent known as turpentine is flammable. 

Turpentine is a solvent that you will need to thin your oil paints, as well as clean your brushes. This ingredient is not only flammable, but it is also considered combustible when it is dry. You will need to take extra care of your environment and any rags you might use during the process of painting.

Oil paints are also considered to be safe to travel with. There are precautions you will need to take surrounding your paints to prevent any holdups with airport security. Don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your painting Q&A’s. Happy painting!

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