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Monday, March 31, 2008

Traveling with Paints


I travel over 100 days a year. In most cases I have oil paint, a small wood palette, and a few brushes packed in my carry-on bag. It would be easier in some ways to check the bag, but I prefer to take it with me. Last weekend when having my bags checked for a return flight, I was informed for the first time in months that I could not carry my small tubes of oil paint on board. In today's climate of airport security you hate to cause a fuss, but I knew that I could take them with me under current regulations. After mentioning the TSA rules for artists paint to the head screener, she reminded me that she was in charge and said "It sounds like to me that you think you are an expert on our policies..." I replied "No mam... just on the section related to artists paints." Eventually, after checking the paint with further screening, she let it through. By the way, make sure it will fit in a quart size zip lock bag!

Thanks to my friend Katy, here are the particulars:

The US Dept. of Transportation defines "flammable liquids" as those having flash points of 140 degrees F/61 degrees C or below. Artists oil paints are based on vegetable type oils. They are not hazardous for air travel. While many products that are used to clean brushes may not be taken on a plane such as turp or mineral spirits, small oil tube colors with a flash point above 140 degrees F (most are at about 440 degrees F)  are not dangerous for air travel. 

Check the website of your particular brand of paint you are carrying to see if they provide a MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) data sheet.  Print that and take it with you. I would even encourage you to put it with your paints if you check your bags. Highlight relevant material for the screener. Hopefully you will not arrive at your destination with no paint and one of those slips of paper saying hazardous material was removed from your bag!

To confirm this, you may call the TSA at 1-866-289-9673.

2 comments:

Patrice Erickson said...

I've been an admirer of your work for some time. I enjoyed reading your posts thus far. I, too, was motivated to blog after meeting Alyson. In regards to this post: thank you for the information. In the past I didn't want to take any chances on the airport making me throw out my paints. What I do when traveling is pack my art materials in a box and ship it UPS ahead of time to arrive at my destination before me. An added cost but less worries.

Art Lady said...

Someone I work with was travelling to last year's Oil Painters of America conference and had oil paints in her checked luggage (a lot of them! She had a note of explanation and MSDS sheets in the suitcase with the paints). She got to the show and the paints had disappeared! TSA confiscated them...and what TSA taketh away, you cannot getteth back! So here she was at the conference with no product to sell...Eek! Thanks for the info on how to carry a few tubes through screening! I will be saving the information and passing it along as well!