How to remove silicone from acrylic painting?

By Mandy Moss

If you are an acrylic pour artist, chances are you’ve used silicone oil at some point to create your masterpiece. After the paint has dried, the oil comes to the surface and must be removed before the painting can be varnished. There are multiple substances one can use to remove silicone from Acrylic painting.

Removing silicone from acrylic painting is easy with household items like warm water, dish soap, Windex, and alcohol. Mix these substances together, dip a paper towel in the mixture, squeeze it out, and wipe down your canvas. You can use different ratios of the substances to find which one works best for you. If you need extra removal strength, you can use a oil-removal product but be very careful when using harsh chemicals.

How to remove silicone from acrylic painting

Why Do Artists Use Oil for Acrylic Pouring?

Acrylic pouring is when you mix acrylic paint with a pouring medium to stretch the paint and change its consistency. Adding oils affects the final aesthetic of the painting by creating “cells” or “bubbles” in the paint. The final result is a beautiful combination of designs and shapes within the colored paint.

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Why Do I Have to Remove the Silicone from Acrylic painting?

When the paint dries, the silicone oil comes to the surface of the painting and needs to be removed in order for the varnish to adhere to the surface. Any remaining silicone could result in “fish eyes” or small holes in the varnish or resin where it did not adhere to the surface of your painting correctly.

How Do I Clean Silicone Oil from My Painting?

There are two main methods of removing oil from the surface of the painting. Dry method include talc, cornstarch, or flour to absorb the oil. Wet methods use dish soap, Windex, alcohol, or another liquid product to wipe down the canvas.

All of these methods are effective. The best method depends on your preference as an artist, your resources, and your work space.

Before you begin cleaning your piece, ensure it has had about three weeks to dry or else you may damage the painting.

It is important to apply some pressure when cleaning to ensure you get into every crevice on the surface. A fresh painting could be damaged if too much pressure is applied too early. 

How to Remove Silicon oil from Acrylic paint with Dry Method?

One popular method of cleaning silicone involves using talc, cornstarch, or flour to absorb the oils. First, find a space that can get dirty, lay down a drop cloth, or go outside. 

How to Remove Silicon oil from Acrylic paint with Dry Method?

Step 1

Sprinkle your powder of choice on your acrylic painting and use your fingers or a brush to gently rub the powder into the painting.

Step 2

Use a paintbrush or toothbrush to brush off all the powder. 

Step 3

Inspect the surface of the painting for any remaining oil and repeat steps one and two. Wipe down the painting with a damp cloth to ensure all the dust/powder particles are removed when you are done.

Using Wet Method to remove silicon from Acrylic painting 

In wet method we use dish soap, Windex, alcohol, or a product specifically manufactured to remove oil from acrylic painting.

Step 1

If using dish soap, apply a small amount (about a tablespoon or two) to a cup of warm water and mix it. 

Step 2 

Fold a paper towel into fourths and dip it in the soap and water mixture. Squeeze out the excess water and wipe down the surface of the canvas, including the sides.

There may be some very light color transfer when cleaning. If there a lot of pigment transfer at any point during this process, then stop and allow the painting to dry another week or so. 

Step 3

Wipe the surface thoroughly. Fold the paper towel to a new side and dip it again. Repeat until you have wiped the entire surface a few times with a clean side of the paper towel each time.

Step 4

Use a new, dry paper towel to wipe off the excess water and soap. Then, use a fresh paper towel dampened with only water to wipe down the painting.

Refold the paper towel, dip it in the water, squeeze out the excess, and wipe the painting down again.

Repeat this process until you have removed all of the soap from the painting. Use a new, water-dampened paper towel when needed. 

Step 5

Let the painting dry for twelve hours. Then, inspect the painting in a well-lit area for any remaining oil. Be sure to investigate any crevices or cracks for evidence of silicone oil. 

Usually, one cycle of the process above is enough, but if there is any oil remaining, repeat steps one through five until the is no evidence of silicone oil left on the surface of the painting.

Two cycles should be enough to remove all the silicone oil from the surface.

Step 6

It is recommended to try cleaning with dish soap first because it is the mildest substance. If you find the dish soap is not strong enough to remove the oil, then you can add some Windex or alcohol to the mixture and follow steps one through five again. 

Add about a tablespoon of alcohol to one cup of warm, soapy water and add about three to five sprays of Windex to this mixture. Stir the mixture and repeat steps one through five.

PRO TIP: If the canvas is very large or you are cleaning multiple canvases at once, add 2 sprays of Windex and a dash of alcohol every five to ten minutes.

These substances will evaporate from the water quickly and need to be replenished throughout the process.

 Some artists still experience issues removing all the silicone oil with a mixture of dish soap, alcohol, and Windex. In this instance, you can increase the amount of Windex or alcohol used in the mixture. Be careful because too much alcohol and/or Windex can be too strong and ruin the canvas.

PRO TIP: You can gauge if your mixture is too strong by checking for pigment lift in a conspicuous spot before wiping down the entire canvas.

Step 7

Let the painting dry for a week before applying an isolation coat. An isolation coat is recommended because if there are any remaining oils on the surface of the painting, the isolation coat will ensure the varnish or resin still adheres to the surface of the painting. This is especially crucial if using resin because of its sensitivity to oils left on the surface of the painting.

Olga did an Amazing job presenting the whole step in video format so for those of you who like this format better take a minute and watch her closely.

Specialty Products

Another method available to you for cleaning is the use of a specialty art product manufactured for removing silicone from artwork. These products work the best to ensure you have removed all the oils from the surface of your painting, but they also require the most preparation.

They use harsh chemicals, so goggles, a respirator, and gloves are required when using them. You should also work in a well-ventilated room or outside. After application, leave the room for an hour or so to allow the chemicals to dissipate.

Be sure to read all the manufacturers guidelines when using specially made oil-removal products to prevent harm to yourself and your artwork. 

There you have it! Cleaning and preparing your acrylic pour artwork may take time, but the process is simple and possible with a few household items. Good luck pouring!

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