Painters and DIYers are often advised to keep spray paints in a cool room and away from heat. Some even keep leftovers spray paint in the fridge to preserve it. But can spray paint freeze?
Spray paints or aerosol spray cans do freeze if kept in cold temperatures at about or below 32 degrees. But, this usually goes for water-based spray paints. Oil-based spray paints on the other hand do freeze too but at a lower temperature at about or below 20 degrees.
However, this doesn’t mean the paint is ruined or can’t be used. Frozen spray paints can be revived once returned to room temperature or exposed to high temperatures. This will de-frost the spray paint making it usable again.
But that’s not all. There is more to know about spray paint freezing and this post digs right into the topic. So let’s dive in.
Does Cold Weather Affect Spray Paint?
Cold weather does affect spray paint. Cold weather can make spray paint to become heavier, difficult to apply, and slow to dry. Like all other paints, spray paint will be altered when exposed to cold weather. If the spray paint is stored in cold weather, the content will gradually begin to turn semi-solid or lumpy.
After a while, the spray paint will begin to harden till the paint freezes up. Spray paint freezing usually occurs in temperatures at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cold weather can also affect the viscosity of spray paint. This means that cold weather can make spray paint thicker and very difficult to apply. You should know that cold weather affects mainly the solvent or vehicle in the spray paint and not the paint particles.
When spray paint freezes up or becomes solid, it’s the solvent in the paint particles that become altered by the cold temperature. The cold weather forces the molecules in the solvent to slow down and lose charge.
When this happens, the molecules in the solvent enter a state of immobility where they begin to hook and bind together to form a solid. Since the solvent is what keeps the paint in its liquid state, a freeze-up will also cause the entire paint particles to freeze as well.
But does this mean that the frozen spray paint can’t be used? Let’s find out below.
Can Spray Paint Freeze And Still Be Used?
Yes, spray paint can still be used after it has frozen. You simply have to de-frost the spray paint by exposing it to higher temperatures. This will create heat in the paint particles that will loosen the bond between the molecules in the solvent and make the paint thinner.
You can also de-frost spray paints by heating the paint or exposing it to an open flame but these methods are usually dangerous. The best way to revive frozen spray paint is to put the paint container outside for a few minutes.
Then while the spray paint is gradually heating up, shake the paint container repeatedly and leave it again for a few minutes. Repeat this process for up to 2 hours until the spray paint comes out of the nozzle nice and smooth.
If the nozzle is still clogged up or the paint doesn’t come out smoothly, then it’s still frozen or semi-solid. Also, while you shake the paint, if the container seems heavier than it should be, chances are the paint is still frozen.
If you hear a clanking sound inside the spray can while you shake the container, that’s the sound of frozen spray paint or ice hitting the can. This shows that the spray paint is still frozen up or lumpy. Some professional painters advise opening up frozen spray paints and pouring out the paint into a paint bucket.
Then use a paint thinner to thin the paint while using a paint mixer to stir repeatedly till the paint becomes thinner and evenly mixed. This method also works to revive and use frozen spray paints. But what exactly happens when aerosol cans freeze? Let’s find out.
Related Read: Does Spray Paint Go Bad?
What Happens If Aerosol Cans Freeze?
When aerosol paint cans freeze up, the paint in the can becomes very difficult to apply. This is because the paint will have turned solid and as such, it can’t be expelled from the tiny nozzle that aerosol spray cans have.
So, when you pull or press the valve on an aerosol spray can, nothing will come out. The nozzle will have become clogged and the valve might have become stuck. Also, when aerosol cans freeze, the paint container becomes heavier and in rare cases, the spray can will become puffed or swollen.
The increase in weight and size of the aerosol can is a result of the expanding nature of the ice that is forming inside the spray can. As explained earlier, when spray paint freezes up, it’s the solvent that causes it.
As the solvent (water or oil) turns solid, it becomes bigger and heavier. For instance, each molecule in the solvent (or water) in water-based paint becomes about 10% larger. This means the content in the spray can become 10% larger than it originally was. This will cause the aerosol spray can to expand as it freezes.
But many people believe that the aerosol can will explode due to this increase in the size and weight of the paint. Well, aerosol can explode? Let’s take a closer look.
Will Aerosol Cans Explode If They Freeze?
Aerosol paint cans will not explode if they freeze. This is because there is usually enough space inside the can to accommodate over a 10% increase in the size and weight of the paint particles. Aerosol spray cans will only explode when and if you add paint into the container.
If you add more paint into the aerosol can, there will be more paint inside the can than the can was designed to contain. As such, when the paint begins to freeze, there will be less space inside the can to accommodate the increase in size. This can cause the spray can to expand and tear up.
As the spray can tears up, there is a rapid release of gasses and that have been trapped inside the aerosol spray can. This rapid escape of air coupled with the tear in the aerosol can create a loud bang that mirrors the sound of an explosion. This is why most people believe that aerosol cans will explode while frozen.
Another reason the causes the tear in the aerosol spray can while it’s frozen is because cold or ice causes the metal can to become more brittle or rigid. So while there is an expansion of paint inside the can, the can is also becoming more rigid or less flexible. This results in a battle between the paint and the aerosol can that causes the spray can to tear up or crack.
So now you know what happens if you store spray paint in cold weather. It freezes up. But what happens if you spray paint when the weather is too cold? Let’s check that out.
What Happens If You Spray Paint When It’s Too Cold?
If you spray paint when the weather is too cold, it will take very long for the paint to dry. Not just that, the nozzle on the top of the spray can where the paint comes out can become clogged or blocked. This will make it difficult for the paint to be expelled from the container.
When you spray paint in cold weather or freezing temperatures, the paint will take hours to dry and can remain tacky or sticky for several days. This is because, during cold weather, the atmosphere is humid. This means the humidity in the atmosphere is increased and one thing that affects paint’s drying time negatively is humidity or moisture.
If you paint during cold weather, you are directly painting in increased humid conditions. The moisture in the atmosphere will gradually settle on the sprayed paint coating increasing the moisture content. And by extension, prolonging the drying time of the paint.
Since paint becomes dry when the moisture in the paint is fully evaporated, the paint will remain wet for days. That’s because the humid atmosphere increases the moisture in the paint coating.
Also, if you spray paint in cold temperatures, you increase the chances of the paint and aerosol can freezing up. The part of the aerosol can that will be most affected is the nozzle. This is where the paint is expelled from and also where air can get into the paint.
As you spray in cold weather, the nozzle will be affected by cold dry air which can cause the nozzle to become clogged or blocked. When this happens, the paint will no longer come out. The valve can also become very hard to press due to frozen paint underneath it. So whatever you do, don’t spray paint in cold temperatures.
Overall, spray paint can freeze up and will freeze up if it isn’t stored at room temperature. But you can prevent your spray paint from freezing up by increasing insulation to the aerosol can during the cold winter months. Blankets, cardboards, and large sheets can all be wrapped around the aerosol can to prevent paint freeze up.
Remember, even if your spray paint is frozen, you can still use it. How? All you have to do is defrost the paint and shake or stir until it is smooth again.