One of the most sought-after results in acrylic pouring is cells. And while you can create cells by understanding the densities of acrylic paint and how to layer them, using silicone oil is the easiest and almost fail-proof way of creating cells.
But not all silicone oils are created equal. And some other oils will just simply NOT WORK.
So today I am going to share with you the most effective silicone oils that artists currently use and those that are a waste of money.
For a more in-depth tutorial on achieving cells, check out this "How to Get Big Cells in Acrylic Pour Paintings" post.
Oils Mentioned in This Post
For your convenience, I have listed down below all of the products mentioned in this post:
- Spot On Treadmill Belt Silicone oil: In my opinion, one of the best options for making cells
- Artist Loft Silicone Oil: Works as well as the treadmill belt silicone oil
- 100% Dimethicone: Cosmetic-grade silicone oil alternative
- Coconut Milk: Hair product with silicone oil
- KY True Feel: Personal lubricant with silicone oil
- B’laster: Not a very good alternative but can be used if necessary
- Liquid Wrench: Not a very good alternative but can be used if necessary
- WD-40: Not a very good alternative but can be used if necessary
- CRC Heavy Duty: Not a very good alternative but can be used if necessary
What is the Best Silicone Oil Additive?
100% Silicone Oil
To get amazing cells, you need an additive that is less dense than water (so that it creates cells as it rises to the surface of the paint) and that doesn't mix well with your acrylic paints. Here is where silicone oil additives comes into play.
Silicone oil is a highly unreactive polymer that does not turn rancid like many other natural oils. It is also a highly unreactive and viscous polymer with a high level of oxidative stability and much less dependent on temperature compared to petroleum-based oils like mineral oil.
All of these properties make 100% silicone oil the best at creating killer cells.
If you have some sort of allergy to silicone oil, you can always try 100% Dimethicone, a cosmetic-grade alternative.
Even though KY True Feel is made out of pure Dimethicone, the other personal lubricants and the Coconut Milk are mixtures of Dimethicone and other ingredients. But since Dimethicone is one of their main components, they still work out pretty well.
Worst Oil Additives
Spray Additives with Silicone Oil
Spray additives with silicone oil like B’laster, Liquid Wrench, WD-40, or CRC Heavy Duty were really popular when acrylic pouring was barely being discovered by artists, but I don't really recommend them since they don't really perform as good as 100% silicone oil.
However, if you don't really have anything else on hand and really need a silicone additive, these can still give you some cells.
Mineral Oils and Cooking Oils
Mineral oils and cooking oils like olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, etc., DON'T WORK... so don't even try using them in your fluid art. It will just ruin your project!
How Much Silicone do You Need to Add for Cells?
Now that you know which is the best silicone oil for paint pouring, you are probably wondering about how much silicone to use. I generally use about 1-2 drops of silicone oil/oz of paint mixture.
This cheap and Easy Acrylic Pouring Cells Recipe will get you started on your cell creating journey.
But my FAVORITE pouring medium for cells will silicone recipe is found in my "Best Pouring Medium Recipe for Paint Pouring" post.
How to Get Cells With Silicone Oil?
Take a look at this in-depth guide that teaches you How to Get Big Cells in Acrylic Pour Paintings.
The problem with using silicone oil in fluid art
Even though using silicone oil is the easiest way to create cells in fluid art, many artists prefer to avoid using it in their art. Here's why.
Since fluid art hasn't been around long enough, many artists claim that we don't really know the long-term effects of adding silicone oil to acrylic paint. It could be that in the long run, silicone oil could cause the paint to degrade, peel off, or yellow over time. So some artists who sell their art work prefer to leave it out of the equation just as a precautionary measure.
Also, since silicone is greasy and doesn't really dry off, it will leave a greasy film on the surface of your painting once the acrylic paint has dried off. This greasy film will cause issues when varnishing your painting if it isn't cleaned off properly.
So what should you do if you want to create gorgeous cells without using silicone oil? Check out this comprehensive guide on "How to Get Big Cells in Acrylic Pour Paintings".