Can You Dry Oil Paint With A Hair Dryer?

Can You Dry Oil Paint With A Hair DryerOil paint always seems to take forever to dry. You wait and wait and sometimes you might get a little impatient and wonder things like ‘can you dry oil paint with a hair dryer?’. Well, I’ve got a little bad news.

While it might seem to dry faster, drying your oil paints with a dryer is not a good idea. That sort of thing will work with acrylics but it doesn’t really fly with oil. Oil paints dry and cure through a slow, chemical oxidation process, and while a dryer might seem to help it’s more likely to end in eventual cracking.

Today I’ll explain a little more about oil paints and their drying time and give you some good methods for speeding up the process if the standard drying time is getting on your nerves.

Let’s discuss drying and what you can do to speed up that snail’s pace!

Can you make oil paint dry faster with a hair dryer?Can you make oil paint dry faster with a hair dryer

You can, but you won’t like the end results. Oil dry slowly and they cure even slower, with the curing process taking a minimum of 6 months (though most artists won’t consider them cured until a year has passed!). Now, you’ll probably see some blog entries to the contrary but I can tell you from experience that you do NOT want to try ‘the hair dryer trick’ when it comes to oil paints.

Oils undergo a lot of chemical changes and this is why they are drying so slowly. When you use a hair dryer on them, you’re only dealing with the watery parts of the oil itself, and while they might evaporate faster you are still left with a bit of oil and pigment that now doesn’t have a proper medium in which to mature.

This is going to result in instability and that composition that you’ve slaved over for hours or days is going to start developing hairline cracks or worse. Now, if your goal is to make the painting look older, then this might be something that you could play with and you can even yellow bits of canvas in advance with some heat and lemon juice, but beyond creative attempts at aging a painting, using a hair dryer is just going to damage your work and you’ll wish that you’d simply waited.

That said, there are some things that you can do to speed up the process safely and I’ll get to those soon!

How long does oil paint take to dry?

How long does oil paint take to dryWaiting for oil paint to dry is like watching grass grow. Visualize a snail, riding on top of glacier, possibly shouting ‘Whee!’ and you’ll get a pretty good idea of how long it takes if you haven’t done any oil painting yet.

First off, it takes about 8 hours just for the oil paint to properly set. After that, you’ll want to wait at least 24 hours before the paint is going to be dry to the touch. While the snail joke is definitely an exaggeration, it’s a pretty good description of how it feels when you’re waiting. Thickness of layers also makes a difference, but not you’ve got a general idea.

Proper curing takes up to a year, which is another vexing little part of oil painting.

With acrylics, it’s a different story, as your paints dry into a semi plastic and this process takes anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. Piece of cake! If you want your oils to dry faster, however, you do have some options. Let’s take a look at what you can do.

How can I make oil paint dry faster?How can I make oil paint dry faster

You’ve got a few options as far as how you can make your oil paints dry faster. First off, consider your environment. You want it to be warm and dry. While a hair dryer is not an option, fans in the room and a dehumidifier are perfectly fine – they’ll hasten the process without making the water evaporate TOO quickly.

You can also paint in thin layers, but while this works it’s not a lot of fun – sometimes you want that look that you can only get by slathering those oils on. To that effect, you’ve got additives that you can use that will make the paints dry more quickly without cramping your style.

Check online and look for fast-drying linseed oil and use this instead of your regular linseed. You’ll get a faster drying time and you won’t have to worry about your hard work ending up with hairline cracks or worse.

You can also use drying agents, such as Liquin or Galkyd, and these are pretty nice because you can end up with a glossier finish to go with that faster drying time and it will really bring a smile to your face (well, probably, I personally love a glossy finish!).

Whichever method you choose, all of these options are going to be safer than a hairdryer, so be sure to pick one and give it a try if the drying time on your oils is driving you crazy. You’ll love the results, especially with the linseed or drying agents!

Some final words on drying those paints

So, can you dry oil paint with a hair dryer? The quick answer to that is ‘yes, if you like cracks’. Drying an oil painting with a hair dryer is a bad idea, as it’s simply going to dry the paints TOO fast and this is a surefire way to end up with hairline cracks or worse. It’s better to use drying agents or additives or simply set up a fan and a dehumidifier because these won’t damage your painting.

For a little more information on what happens when you bring a hair dryer into your painting session, check out this 3rd party link and you can read more. As I’ve said, it’s not a good idea, but if you want to see what happens firsthand then don’t use a proper composition. Just throw on some quick layers and lines and take the dryer to them – you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about!