Why My Acrylic Paint Smells Like Rotten Eggs

Why My Acrylic Paint Smells Like Rotten Eggs

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Acrylic paint is used for both hobby and professional purposes. No matter what you use it for, no one likes it when the paint smells when you open the can. If you've never experienced this, you're in luck.

Usually, paints already have some kind of odor that comes mainly from VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) from the components of the paint.

Sometimes people may complain that their paint has a strong foul odor.

This odor is in most cases due to bacterial growth in the acrylic paint can, which can smell like rotten eggs, animal urine or ammonia.

In this article, you will discover:

  • Why does my paint smells like rotten eggs
  • If I can use this paint despite the stench

You'll know everything there is to know about this phenomenon.
Let's find out together right now.

Why does my paint smell like eggs?

Paint and other chemicals are made from raw materials such as pigments, additives, latex and, of course, water. Unfortunately, wherever water goes, microorganisms will follow, making water-based chemicals an excellent environment for the growth of bacteria and other microbes.

Bacterial contamination of paint can occur at any stage of the manufacturing, packaging and distribution process.

If bacteria get into a chemical product that does not contain enough preservatives, these microbes can freely multiply and cause problems.

Paint cans being hermetically sealed (oxygen-free environment) allow the growth of anaerobic bacteria such as sulfate-reducing bacteria. These microbes also cause microbiologically influenced corrosion, creating hydrogen sulfide gas - also known as egg gas.

Unfortunately, the problems are not limited to bad odors, as microbial contamination can also pose a risk to human health. Prolonged exposure to this gas can lead to headaches, fatigue and dizziness.

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Can I use paint that smells like rotten eggs?

When you open a can of paint and smell a strong rotten egg odor, you wonder if you can use it?

Make no mistake, if the paint smells bad, it's bad and should be thrown away. Bad paint can't apply properly, leaving a visibly rough finish that can also chip.

To tell if a can of paint is still usable, lift the lid with a screwdriver and smell the paint. A good paint will have a chemical smell, but it won't smell rancid like yours. Obviously, if the paint is moldy on top, throw it away immediately.

If the paint has started to separate, with liquid on top and the denser paint pigments below the surface, stir it with a stick. If it mixes well, you can use it. This is true even if you have to remove a thin skin from the top of the paint. If there is sediment on the bottom that does not mix with the rest of the paint, throw the can away.

To conclude

As you can see, the rotten egg smell when you open a can of paint is due to the presence of bacteria that have produced hydrogen sulfide.

In order to avoid this situation, we recommend that you choose a good brand of paint and that you perform certain checks. Also, be sure to close the paint cans tightly after each use.


If you are looking for a new hobby, how about trying paint by numbers.

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