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How to Rehydrate Acrylic Paint

how to rehydrate acrylic paint

Acrylic paint is one of the most popular acrylic media ever and the main reason why this is so is that they are easy to use. However, if you have not touched your paints for a while, it is highly likely that they are already dry in their bottles and tubes.

Now, the question is how to rehydrate acrylic paint? There are several ways that you can revive dried-out acrylic paint. However, aside from that, this article will teach you how to prevent it from happening and how to know if it is already too late.

Using Water

Water is the universal solvent and it is also the most effective way to restore old acrylic paints. It is also the easiest to use. Here is how you can use water if the paint is too thick or lumpy.

What to Prepare:

  • Dried or almost dry acrylic paints
  • A bit of warm water

Step 1 – Add a Drop or Two of Water

If your acrylic paints are almost dry or very lumpy, the best way how to rehydrate acrylic paint is to use water. However, you should not use too much as this will also decrease the intensity of the color of the paints.

Add 1 or 2 drops of warm water first to get it started. If you can restore the paint to its original condition, you can leave it at that.

Step 2 – Add more Water as Needed

If 2 drops of water are still not enough, you can add more water to the paint. However, you should only do so 1 drop at a time. This is so you can avoid thinning the paint too much.

Using Water If the Paint is Completely Dry

There are times when the paint is completely dry, but with a bit of patience, you can still revive it. However, there is no guarantee that this will work all the time.

Step 1 – Put a Drop or 2 into the Container

If you are working with acrylic paints in jars, you can place a drop or two of water inside the jar. You do not have to stir it immediately. If you use acrylic paint in tubes, use a pipette or a syringe to put enough inside the tubes.

Step 2 – Wait for at Least a day and then Place a bit More Water if Needed

Replace the caps in the jars and wait for at least a day before checking. Give the water enough time to permeate into the dried paint. If you checked the paint the day after and it is still dry, put a little more water into the container and wait again.

Step 3 – Stir the Water and Paint

Once the paint loosens up a bit, you can add a couple more drops of water and stir. Use a popsicle stick to get into the mixing and to reach the bottom of the jar. Stop adding water if you have reached the consistency that you are after.

When to Give Up

how to make acrylic paint not dry so fast

If after a couple of days of adding water into the acrylic paint container the paint is still solid as a rock, it might be finally time that you concede and just buy new acrylic paints. The acrylic might have gotten to the point that it is already a hard plastic.

Another sign that you should just toss your old acrylic jars and tubes in the trash and just get a new set is if it gets infested with mold. Mold thrives on moisture, and if the paint is already contaminated, even if it is still a bit fluid, it is no good at all.

It is best to throw away the mold-infested paints properly and just get a new set.

How to Prevent Acrylic Paint from Drying?

If you want to keep your acrylic paints usable for as long as possible, here are some of the things that you need to do:

Keep the Tubes and Jars Capped

Not only should you put the caps of your acrylic paints after every painting session, but you should also return them between using colors. It might take you an hour or more to paint using acrylic paints and that is enough time to make these paints start to dry up.

Aside from that, you should also clean up your pallet as soon as you finish using it. Dried-up acrylic paint is quite difficult to remove. This means that right after you finish your painting session, you have to use an old credit card or the like to scrape off the remaining unused paint. After that, you can rinse the pallet under running water.

Keep Your Workplace Covered

As fun as painting outdoors is, the open air, sunshine, and the occasional breeze are enough to cause the acrylic paints to dry up. So, if possible, use acrylic paints only in your home studio if you have one.

Since direct exposure to sunlight can dry acrylic paints quickly if you will be painting outdoors, do it early morning or late in the afternoon. These times are when it is best for painting outdoors.

Store the Paints Properly

After finishing your painting project, you will need to store the acrylic paints properly. Store the jars and tubes in a place that is away from direct sunlight, and the temperature is always cool.

Also, store the paint tubes vertically, with the caps facing upwards to keep air bubbles from forming inside the tubes.

How to Make Acrylic Paint Not Dry So Fast?

This is a problem that many artists have to deal with. Unlike oil paints, acrylic paints dry quickly. Here are some tips on how to keep the acrylic paints when you’re using them.

Using a Stay-Wet Palette

You should invest in a stay-wet palette if you use acrylics most of the time. This tool helps keep the paint moistened, which will make mixing colors a lot easier. It will also save you a lot of time because you do not have to add water every five minutes.

If you will be using the same set of colors for another project later that day, this palette also comes with a lid to keep the paints in a humid environment. This will keep your paints usable even after a couple of days.

Using Paint Retarders

Acrylic paints are famous for being fast-drying but sometimes, they dry too fast. To give you more time to work with the paints, you should add paint retarders, like acrylic gels or media that will extend the “open time” of the paints. These products help keep the paints wet longer, sometimes by up to 50% longer.

Another tip is if you are going to thin out acrylic, don’t use more than 30% of the volume of the paint. Thin the paint too much and the pigments will not have enough binder left to make them adhere to the painted surface.


Acrylic paints tend to last quite a long time, but only if you treat and store them properly. If you are unfortunate enough to have a jar or tube of paint dry upon you, there are ways how to rehydrate acrylic paint that you can use.

Hopefully, these methods are enough to make your paint usable once more. If not, then just chalk this one up to experience and learn to treat your art supplies better next time.

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