There are a confusing array of products and additives that you can, and might like to use to try to create cells in acrylic poured paintings. Here is my explanation and advice on which ones work, which ones don’t and which ones I recommend.
Oils around the home
You might already have things around the house that will work, and some things look tempting but either won’t work or aren’t recommended. Let’s start with things like cooking oils. You’ve heard that a certain type of oil is used to make cells, so can you grab the olive oil or coconut oil from your kitchen? Not really. These oils are too heavy and could go rancid over time because they contain organic ingredients. But what about other oils like baby oil? Some painters have used it and reported that it did create small cells for them, but some said it was very greasy and fluid and may contribute to making the paint too runny. I say if you have oils like this at home that you want to try – give it a go. There is often no one answer that is right for everyone. So give these sort of products a quick test and see if you get the results you are looking for. You just might be lucky.
More info below the video…
Silicone lubricants used to make cells in acrylic pouring
Silicone oil is the preferred oil of many painters. It’s light, concentrated and works well to make cells for most paints and applications. You can get it in a number of forms:
Spray lubricants – such as Blaster, Liquid Wrench and CRC Heavy Duty, or even the version of WD40 that contains silicone (but not the regular one in the blue can. That doesn’t work well.) However these may contain other chemicals and mystery ingredients, and they smell really bad and have a slightly yellow coloring to them. You can use these in a pinch, and many of us start out this way, but it’s better to upgrade to a liquid oil if you can.
Liquid silicone oils – I recommend the Treadmill belt lubricant because it’s 100% silicone oil with nothing else added. It’s completely clear, doesn’t smell bad like the sprays and usually comes in a convenient dropper bottle, making it easy to dispense the right amount into your paints.
Dimethicone products – dimethicone is a skin-friendly form of silicone oil commonly found in hair care products and also sometimes in personal lubricants. I really like the Coconut Milk Hair Serum, and have a video here showing it being used. You might also want to consider the KY True Feel personal lubricant. There’s a video reviewing and testing this one here.
What about alternatives?
Alcohol – some painters report getting great results with alcohol in place of silicone. I gave this a good try and found it only worked for me in a very limited range of colors from one brand. Strange, but those colors made cells really well and other brands really didn’t seem to react much to the alcohol. So this is another area where I say don’t be afraid to try it for yourself – you never know, your paints might love it!
Here is my YouTube playlist for my experiments with alcohol if you want to take a look.
There are the standard products which most painters use and recommend, but there are no rules with acrylic pouring. If you have a light oil product at home that you think might work, give it a try, and don’t forget to YouTube playlist for my experiments with alcohol how you get on!