Can You Use Alcohol With Acrylic Paint?

Can You Use Alcohol With Acrylic PaintYou might have heard that you can clean acrylic with alcohol… but can you use alcohol with acrylic paint? As it turns out, you get some very interesting effects with a little alcohol on your acrylics – provided you know how to do it. A little spray alcohol and a blow dryer on a no-heat setting can really do some neat tricks and I’ll tell you more about that today.

You can also spice things up a bit by salting your acrylic. Don’t believe me? Read on and I’ll tell you all about it. Let’s talk about messin’ with acrylics in interesting ways!

Can you mix alcohol with acrylic paint?Can you mix alcohol with acrylic paint

They say that a little goes a long way and such is the case with rubbing alcohol and acrylic paint. A lot of rubbing alcohol is a good way to remove acrylic. It just takes time and a little elbow grease, because the alcohol breaks down your acrylic little by little, dispersing it so that you can get the surface clean.

Now… if just used in small amounts and creatively, you can take advantage of this chemical reaction. There’s a trick to it and I’ll tell you two ways to play with it to get started.

First, a simple way to play with the effects of rubbing alcohol is to take your acrylic paint, water it down just a little (it’s too thick straight out of the tube), and paint something on surface area that you can whip up pretty quickly.

While the paint is still wet, dip your brush in some rubbing alcohol that you’ve put in a shot glass nearby and brush areas that you want to play with to see what happens. You get odd mixes and swirls of color and the effects are really pretty cool.

You can also just flick alcohol from the brush right on to the canvas and get some random effects that way.

For the second method, you can get a spray bottle and put some rubbing alcohol in it, and get a blow dryer handy. Set the blow dryer on ‘no heat’ in advance. Now, paint an area with your acrylic paint and while the acrylic is still wet, spray some rubbing alcohol in different areas, turn on the dryer, and blow those colors around!

You’ll love it. Oh, and if you make a goof, just use a rag saturated with alcohol and you can wipe it away and start over!

Will alcohol dissolve acrylic paint?

Will alcohol dissolve acrylic paintRubbing alcohol CAN dissolve acrylic if used in too large amounts. The reason for this is because the polymer chains in the acrylic suspension can dissolve.

Think of it like you’ve got a spider’s web made of taut, metal chains on the floor and you are spraying it with a very slow, metal-eating acid. Some of those chains will break, arranging themselves in less-than-geometric patterns, and that’s what produces those cool color effects.

I suppose you could also describe it as ‘getting your acrylic colors drunk’ since alcohol is involved,  but you get the idea.

That alcohol evaporates, however, so unless you are saturating an area with it, you can play just a little without overly destabilizing your acrylic paint. It’s all about avoiding too much excess, just like all of the other fun things in life.

What happens when you add salt to acrylic paint?What happens when you add salt to acrylic paint

Salting acrylic paint is another way that you can play with it, producing interesting texture effects in your work. The reason that it works is that salt has hygroscopic, which is a fancy way to say that It absorbs both water in it’s liquid form as well as water in vapor form!

To play with it, just sprinkle a little salt in different areas on a wet painting and watch what happens.

Mind you, this technique is much better suited for watercolors, but you can certainly do it with acrylic with less-dramatic, but still interesting effects. Basically, the salt will absorb pigment while creating some interesting textures in the spots you’ve sprinkled up.

So, the next time you’re bored and playing with your paints, head to the kitchen and try sprinkling a little salt on something that you are painting (as long as the acrylics are still wet( and see what happens.

Just resist the urge to sprinkle pepper on it, too, because that won’t work.

In conclusion

So, can you use alcohol with acrylic paint safely? Yes, you can, provided that you watch your amounts, you can produce some amazing effect messing with those polymer chains of acrylic resin in your paints. You can also make some neat textures with salt, although that techniques works much better with watercolors.

Before I go, since we’re on the subject of fun and interesting ways to play with acrylics, be sure to check out this 3rd party link on acrylic pours. It’ll give you some interesting techniques that you can play with the next time that you’re bored and feel like switching things up a bit.

Acrylic paints… you’ve just got to love them!