FREE gift when you join SAA Membership JOIN TODAY
saa squeezed paint tubes blue red yellow

Paint and Binder Separation

Ever been met with a trickle of liquid when you squeeze your paint tubes? We'll explain why.

Why is there liquid coming out of my paint tubes?

Sometimes when squeezing one of your paint tubes, you might be met by a trickle of liquid. In this article, we’ll explain to you why this happens and what to do when it does. The gummy liquid you may experience coming out of the tube is the binder used in the making of the Watercolour paints it is usually Gum Arabic, Linseed oil in oil paints or polymer resin for acrylics. Artist’s paints are made from finely ground pigments which are insoluble, and this means that the pigments can never be dissolved into the binder, the fine particles of the powder are suspended and stay solid in the binder.   

You may find that some colours are more prone to separating a little from the binder as certain pigments are heavier or are less finely ground than others, this is not a sign of poor-quality paint. Most artists experience this with colours at one time or another. Colours that are often prone to separation are Cerulean or Ochres and paints which have been stored on their side. This allows the heavier pigment to settle at the bottom of the tube, so when you squeeze the paint out the slightly separated binder comes out first.   

saa squeezed paint tubes blue red yellow

Easy Fixes

  • A simple fix is remixing the colour and the binder on the palette to restore your paint and make it ready to use again. 
  • Another quick fix is shaking your tubes before squeezing the paint onto your palette as sometimes remixes the binder and the pigment.   
  • You can use a fine tool such as a toothpick to mix the colour inside the tube. 
  • Leaving the tube standing on its lid for a couple of days can also help the pigment and binder remix.