So you’re working on a project, and have a bunch of paint on your palette that you’ve paintstakingly mixed to the right color, when you realize that, oops, you can’t finish in time. And leaving your possibly pricey paints out to dry and become useless feels terrible. Now what?
If you’ve done even the slightest bit of painting work then you’ve probably run into this scenario or one similar to it, and it’s never fun. It’s not a major issue if you’re using cheap paints, as you can just clean your palette and put new paint on it the next day. But as you start using higher quality paint, you’ll really want to throw away as little of it as possible, or it can get expensive. All of this is even more so true if you’ve spent 20 minutes mixing your paints to get the perfect color, and don’t remember how you got there exactly… few things are worse for painters than an unintentionally blotchy paint job.
If you spend any amount of time working with paint you’ll quickly find that paint dries more slowly with minimal airflow and high humidity, and we can actually use that knowledge to our benefit by creating that environment in a small scale.
To do this, you only need a couple of very basic materials. First, you’ll need a container large enough for your paint palette that you can close off from at least regular airflow. If you have or can get a container with an airtight seal, that would work even better (but it’s certainly not required). Second, you’ll need some enough sponges to cover the bottom of the container. Third, some ordinary paper towels.
Get the container, and put the sponges on the bottom. Try to fill up the area if you can. Most sponges are easy to cut with knives or scissors. Put some kitchen paper on top of the sponges, wrapping it around to the bottom if necessary. Then just put a little bit of water inside the container — it doesn’t have to be visibly filled, you just want to make sure the sponges and paper towels are sufficiently soaked:
What you’ve just created is the perfect environment to make paint last. Low or zero airflow with high humidity. Just put in your paint palette and close the lid, then store the container somewhere dark and cool. Paint that would have gone off in less than 3 hours can be made to last 3 days or even longer this way.
Before you close your browser, there’s one important caveat that needs to be mentioned. You’ve created an environment that’s low on air flow, very high in humidity, and if you’ve followed instructions, is also dark, and cold. Because paint thrives under these conditions.
But, so does mold.
This is a great solution in a pinch, but it isn’t a perfect one. You’ll inevitably get mold in your container if you keep it sitting there uncleaned, but that’s the price you’ll have to pay to keep your opened or mixed paint usable.
Don’t keep your containers longer than a week without cleaning them thoroughly, and that includes a good antimicrobial wash (or replacing of) the sponges, and fully replacing the paper towels. Otherwise, this could happen:
Still, it’s an incredibly useful tip to know. Just try to avoid mold!