You might be wondering if you can save your acrylic paints by freezing them instead of just throwing them out and losing money right? I too had this thought but while freezing temperatures can preserve many things, acrylic paint isn’t one of them.
Acrylics are water-based paints, which means their pigments can freeze easily and damage the paint. So can you freeze your acrylic paint? Typically, no. You will end up with a thawed gooey, clumpy substance as well as less storage in your freezer.
While oil paints can be more accepting of temperature fluctuations, acrylics are not.
What Happens to Acrylics When They Are Frozen?
If you’re lucky, the acrylic paint will simply freeze and thaw with no damage to the actual pigments or solvent binder. However, it’s more likely you’ll end up with a clumpy, lumpy mess.
Editor’s note: We’ve written an article about reviving lumpy acrylic paint here.
Painters who do live in very cold climates or temperatures that fluctuate frequently may want to consider switching to oils. Alternatively, you should consider storing your paints in a climate controlled room.
Can an Acrylic Painting Withstand Frozen Temperatures?
Acrylic paints are water-based, meaning they can freeze easily. You generally want to store your paints in temperatures between 60 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything below that, and you could end up damaging your paints (but note that each manufacturer might have their own recommendations).
While the acrylic paint might “withstand” frozen temperatures, it can damage the paint and turn it into tiny icicles. If that happens your paint can become brittle and discolored when it heats back up. So if you want to keep your paint fresh, don’t store it in a very cold or freezing environment.
General rule of thumb: Keep your acrylics at room temperature and don’t mess around!
Can I Store Oil Paints in the Freezer?
Oil paints are made of linseed oil, which has a freezing point of -4 degrees Fahrenheit. Most refrigerators are set to above 0 degrees Fahrenheit, so your paint won’t be damaged. However, if you put it in a deep freezer, your paint might become damaged.
Some artists swear that they’ve put their oil palette into their freezer, taken it out months later, and the paint was as good as new. Note that this trick will NOT work with acrylic paints. As we mentioned above, acrylic paints will freeze and become a clumpy, lumpy mess in the freezer.
Interestingly, you wouldn’t want to put an oil painting in a freezer, because once the paint has dried it can become brittle in lower temperatures.
More importantly, you probably want to avoid storing oil paints in your freezer because of health concerns. Nothing could ruin your day worse than getting sick from oil mixed with your frozen foods.