Monday, 13 February 2012

How to open a stuck oil paint tube

If I have not used some oil colours for some time, chances are that one of the tubes will be hard to open: the cap is stuck.

What not to do: you grab the tube, try to twist the cap hard, again and again, and twist the body of the tube instead. You repeat this a few times and the tube bursts. I know it happens... I have done it.

There are better ways to get to your precious locked away paint.

1. The smarter way with your hands

Use a rag or a paper towel to get a better grip and hold the tube by its upper part, just below the cap. This handling reduces the risk of twisting the body of the tube.

If it does not work that way, you still have two other methods to try.


2. With a plier

Same method as before, but this time you grip the cap with a plier.




This method works well on larger tubes because of their bigger cap.

3. The hot bath method

My father tought me this method and it works every time.





  1. Put the kettle on and then pour the hot water in a jar (not any that you plan to use for food – paint contains harmful chemicals)
  2. Dip the blocked tube upside down in the hot water and let it soak for a few minutes.
  3. Remove the tube from the hot water and unscrew the cap. Use a rag to get a better grip. The cap should come off easily. If not, let the tube soak for longer.
  4. Clean the inside of the cap and the screw on the tube with a rag and a palette knife. This way it will close properly.
I am not sure if it works because it softens the dry paint or because the hot water has an effect on the metal. All I know is that it works.

6 comments:

Jim Serrett said...

Hello Benoit
I normally go after those dried tubes caps with just plain old brut force and a pair of pliers; I never thought of the hot water idea, that would certainly work.
Sometimes the problem is in the cap and it is hard to clean dried paint out of those so I do keep old caps around as replacements.

rimonruth said...

Hi,Benoit,
I turn the tubes upside down into turpentine, so that the caps are just covered. It works for me.
First time for me to contribute,so I want to say that I enjoy your articles and paintings very much.
There is always something new to
learn
ruth

learn .

Andrew Herbert said...

The hot water trick worked very well for me!
Thanks. I've done something similar with paint in bottles, and never thought to do it with paint in tubes...

Saved a couple of tubes that had twisted with the pliers method.

Naomi Allee said...

I bruised my fingers trying then came across your post in a desperate Google plea for help. Thanks for the hot water trick!

Kalobe said...

Hot water worked really well. Be careful as the heat will make the paint squidge out fast when the tube is opened.

Patricia Donnellan said...

Thank you so much! I tried for such a long time to get the tops off of some of my oil paint tubes. I haven's used them for at least two years. I have been on an artistic dry spell - well, anyhow, the hot water worked great! Thank you.