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Why You Should Stay Away From These Oil Painting Art Supplies

Updated: Apr 7, 2022

Traditionally, the art of oil painting called for different types of solvents and chemicals to help clean the brushes and thin the consistency of paints. While these chemicals are great for oil painting, they also release pungent fumes that can dry up your skin and cause bad headaches.

And that’s not all! Certain pigments used in oil painting carry toxic substances that are not good for the skin with prolonged exposure.

If you are an avid artist looking to venture into the oil painting world, you need to be aware of the top 3 oil painting supplies to stay away from! This way, you can make your painting session safe and enjoyable!

Zinc Oxide

If you are a professional painter, you might want the paint to seal your masterpiece to make it last longer.

In this case, the popular option usually is zinc oxide paint. Also known as Chinese white or zinc white, this chemical provides excellent resistance against mildew and corrosion and keeps away stains and dirt.

However, zinc oxide is also highly controversial as it creates a certain degree of cracking and embrittlement on the painting.

The mechanism behind this is that zinc oxide is made of fatty acid elements. However, the actual problem is believed to be the crystalline structure of this chemical. When this is used on your wildlife art prints, it begins to form plate-like structures that avoid crosslinking and oxidation.

This causes the painting to be weak, brittle, and fragile, which in turn makes it prone to breakage.

However, if you decide to use zinc oxide for its anti-mildew and corrosion properties, make sure to use it on a surface primed with oil or lead and not on any gessoed panel or canvas.

You can also test out the effects of titanium/zinc white mix as it acts like a more robust film that can resist breakage.

Clove Oil

Next up on this list, we have clove oil.

Typically sourced from Rublev, Clove oil is used to dry oil painting once you are done. However, keep in mind not to mix this oil with the actual paint itself.

While clove oil works wonders for drying your painting and decreasing the process of oxidation, it may also soften your canvas if it is mixed with paint. This, in turn, makes the picture prone to damage.

Once your hand-drawn wall art goes soft, it will become a magnet to all sorts of dirt, debris, and other pollutants. After these particles become embedded in the painting, it will also be challenging to clean it as even the mildest cleaning agents can have harsh effects.


One of the biggest reasons you should steer clear of solvents is that they are highly toxic. In addition, they can weaken the film of your paintings if you use them in excess.

Solvents, in general, are highly evaporative elements. When this is combined with oil paints, you can get great fluidity with which you can easily paint. However, this evaporative nature of solvents can be harmful and toxic with prolonged exposure and can cause many health issues.

The most commonly used solvents include turpentine, spike oil, and mineral spirits, with spike oil being the most toxic because it is sourced from lavender. Even though it has a pleasant smell, it is potent and can make you flush.

On the other hand, the least toxic is the mineral spirits, as they have very little to almost no pungent smell. However, it is still a toxic solvent that can trigger severe allergic reactions.

Either way, solvents of any kind tend to weaken the film of the painting, which in turn might damage the surfaces. Using excessive amounts of solvent might completely take off the binder, leaving the pigment exposed to the air. Over time, the colors might flake off and give your painting a worn-out look. If you ever decide to use a solvent for your painting, make sure to use it in minimal amounts.

Final Advice

There are various tools and techniques that you can use for oil painting; however, some of these elements are toxic, pungent, and have harmful properties.

However, if you want a safe and enjoyable experience creating art, make sure to steer clear of the aforementioned elements.

Now that you are aware of them, you are ready to dive into the joy of oil painting!

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