How To Keep Airbrush Tips From Drying Out


How Do I Keep My Airbrush Tip From Drying Out

Preventing your needle tip from drying out requires delaying the drying time of the paint being airbrushed, or applying a lubricant of various sorts to the needle to stop the paint from sticking to it.

The main methods of stopping your airbrush tip from drying out are:

  • Use proprietary brand thinners;
  • Increase the thinning ratio;
  • Use paint retarder (flow improver);
  • Warm the paint;
  • Add lubricant to the needle tip;
  • Polish the needle tip;

However to understand these methods of avoiding airbrush tip dry perfectly it’s important to have a basic understanding of why paint is drying in your airbrush nozzle and on the needle in the first place…

Why Is Paint Drying In My Airbrush Nozzle

Paint will partially dry on your airbrush nozzle and needle if it is too thick when it is sprayed, or if the needle itself has abrasions on it that give the paint something to grab onto and accumulate on.

It is imperative to ensure that any paint is properly thinned or has additives put in it force the paint to dry more slowly.

You can learn more about properly thinning your paint to the perfect thinning ratio in this detailed article. 👍

Additionally, taking proper care of your needle so that it is not damaged, or replacing an old needle altogether, can sometimes make the difference between having a perfect spray pattern and running into problems.

The Best Ways To Keep Airbrush Tips From Drying Out

The best way to keep the tip of your airbrush from drying out is to properly manage the thinning ratio and drying time of the paint being used, and in more extreme cases to lubricate the needle itself.

Here are full break-downs of the methods that will stop your airbrush tip from drying out…

Use Proprietary Brand Thinners

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Using proprietary brand thinners that has been designed and made specifically for the paint you are using will always give the very best results and help to reduce paint from drying out on the tip of your airbrush.

If you use a different brand of thinners you simply don’t know if you’ll be getting the best results possible, and in all likelihood the paint will probably be drying faster than you expect.

In my experience using a different brand of thinners has sometimes caused the paint to react badly and even thicken, clogging up the airbrush and creating a huge problem with cleaning and clearing the paint tubes.

Increase Thinning Ratio

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Thinning your paint more has two positive effects; firstly, it forces the paint to dry a little slower, or at the very least stops it from being as thick, and therefore less likely to easily accumulate on the airbrush tip.

Secondly, it reduces the volume of paint actually flowing through the airbrush due to the thinners taking up more volume, and if there’s less paint passing through the airbrush then there’s less paint available to dry at any moment in time.

Ultimately you want the paint to be as thin as possible while still giving good coverage and not being too transparent on your work, and by doing this you will be a reasonable way towards alleviating any tip dry problems you’ve been experiencing.

As mentioned earlier, an excellent article on getting the perfect thinning ratio can be found in this in-depth article. 👍

Note: getting the perfect thinning ratio also goes hand in hand with adjusting the pressure on your airbrush compressor to the correct setting as well, which you can learn how to do in this detailed article with a step-by-step action plan.

If you don’t yet have a compressor that can regulate the air pressure to different settings check out this article on what you need to look for when buying the perfect airbrush compressor in 16 steps. 👍

Use Paint Retarder (Flow Improver)

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Paint retarder, sometimes referred to as flow-improver, will chemically force a slower drying time of your paint and allow for significantly less chance of airbrush tip dry.

You should always use a paint retarder of the same brand as the paint you’re using to ensure it interacts correctly with the paint and doesn’t cause additional problems.

Warm The Paint

Cold paint will be thicker than warm paint, and while it may not be the prime reason for paint drying and accruing on the tip of your airbrush cold paint will add to the problem.

If you’re experiencing airbrush tip dry then it can be a good idea to run hot water through your airbrush first and also warm the paint while it’s in the jar prior to putting it into the airbrush paint cup.

Add Glycerin To The Needle Tip

If you have access to glycerin you can coat the needle tip with a small amount of it which will stop the paint from sticking to it.

If the paint can’t stick to the needle and nozzle it simply won’t accumulate and dry in place.

Glycerin can be effective in this regard however there is a way to even more effectively lubricate your airbrush needle tip…

Add Purpose-Made Needle Lubricant To The Airbrush Tip

Some airbrush manufacturers will sell proprietary needle lubricant to help reduce or virtually eliminate the problem of paint drying on the tip of an airbrush needle.

The lubricant does an excellent job of masking any abrasions on the needle that the paint would otherwise cling to, thereby stopping airbrush tip dry very effectively.

However not all of you will have ready access to airbrush needle lubricant, but there is something else left for you to stop paint clinging to your airbrush needle…

Polish The Needle Tip

Airbrush Modeler

Polishing the tip of your airbrush needle will make it a lot smoother and therefore more difficult for the paint to accumulate on.

To polish the needle you need some very fine grit wet and dry sandpaper, some cutting or polishing compound, or a Dremel rotary tool, and you are required to use any of these items to very gently smooth out the tip of your needle.

For full details and pictures on how to properly polish your airbrush needle check out this detailed article on the subject, and focus on the sections relating to using polishing compound or a rotary tool. 👍

Note: this solution is an option of last resort as it’s quite easy to damage your needle further or cause seating and contact problems with the airbrush nozzle if you’re too heavy handed with the polishing.

Final Thoughts On How To Keep The Airbrush Tip From Drying Out

Paint drying on the tip of your airbrush is something you may come across from time to time but it is always treatable with proper paint thinning or use of paint retarder.

And if these methods of avoiding tip dry don’t work sufficiently you can always lubricate your needle or take the extra step of polishing it.

Using these methods you are assured of fixing virtually any issue with paint drying on the tip of your airbrush. 👊

Learn exactly how to keep your airbrush tips from drying out with multiple methods and tips for avoiding tip dry entirely!

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