Video Review: The Silicoil Brush Cleaning Tank
Any miniature painter will tell you that keeping one’s brushes clean is a critical task. Not only can dried paint and ink left over from previous uses contaminate later paint jobs, such detritus can seriously reduce the service life of your expensive brushes.
Brushes can be quite hard to clean. They are delicate, especially at the fragile and all-important points. One can’t just scrub a good brush across a sheet of newspaper a few times and call it a day. Fortunately the Lion Company has created an excellent solution to the problem: the Silicoil Brush Cleaning Tank.
Using the Silicoil is easy. One simply fills the glass tank with the Silicoil cleaning fluid (alas, sold separately). To clean a brush, you just stroke it gently across the ridged surface of the coiled aluminum insert. This spreads the bristles and exposes the paint and other gunk to the action of the cleaning fluid. Dissolved paint and other junk settle to the floor of the tank well below the cleaning surface, which sits supported on a coiled spring. Take a look at the video to see the tank in action.
This simple procedure does a terrific job of cleaning my brushes. I use the Silicoil after every painting session, and have noticed my brushes seem to last quite a lot longer and retain their points much better. I suspect this is a function of the Silicoil helping to prevent the buildup of dried paint in the ferrule (the metal part that connects the bristles to the handle of a brush).
According to the instructions, users of water-base paint don’t even need to use the cleaning fluid, but can get much the same results using just plain water. I personally prefer to use the cleaner, as it not only cleans my brushes but conditions the bristles as well. Maybe this is less of a concern for synthetic brushes, but considering the cost of quality kolinsky sable brushes these days I figure it’s worth the minor extra investment.
There aren’t many downsides to the Silicoil Tank. The brush cleaner does have a slight chemical smell to it, and you’re likely to get some on your hands while using the tank. Also, you’ll need to replace the cleaning fluid periodically. How often boils down to how much you paint, but I’ve gone six or eight months between changes with no problems. Finally, the printing on the tank (the logo and use instructions) is of very low quality and started flaking off mine almost instantly.
The fact that I have to reach so far to find bad things to say should show just how enthusiastic I am about the Silicoil. It’s a well-engineer piece of gear that has made my time at the paint bench easier and better, as well as substantially extending the life of my beloved Winsor & Newton brushes. Any serious painter needs to make room for one of these in their workspace.
I ordered my through Dick Blick, but they are widely available at good art supply stores, and I’ve even seen one at Hobby Lobby, so you may want to look locally before paying for shipping.
Pros: Cheap, Effective, Extends life of brushes
Cons: Slight chemical smell, Needs new cleaning fluid periodically
Final Verdict: 5/5
Source: Purchased from Dick Blick Art Materials
MSRP: Tank $5.77, 16oz Cleaning Fluid $7.05
Popularity: 13% [?]
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