How to Deal With Oil Pastel Dust? Find Out the Most Effective Ways

Do you want to deal with the oil pastel dust problem? When we talk about the pastels, it’s a great medium that provides fast, luminous, and subtle results. Artists can achieve beautiful effects by using pastels as compared to many other coloring things. You can easily control the color pastels to get the perfect results. But the only drawback is the dust with the pure pigment.


Many artists think that they can prevent dust by using a particular kind of pastel with some unique techniques. But it is observed that the soft pastels will crumble and generate dust. It isn’t perfect for any artist. There are some precautions that can lead you to perfect dust-free work.

Different ways to deal with pastel dust

As it is discussed above as well, there is not any unique technique to deal with the oil pastel dust. It will be best if you always concentrate on some unusual things which can prevent you from pastel dust. These things mainly include the use of different items before starting the pastel painting. Let’s see these things.

1. Use an old vinyl tablecloth

An old vinyl tablecloth should be put on the drawing table before starting the work. It’s’s easy to remove the dust from this vinyl tablecloth as compared to the table surface. After each small session, make sure to clean the vinyl tablecloth with the sponge. Make sure to not use the sponge for washing up because some pigments contain harmful chemicals.

2. Use a rolled paper towel

You can also put a rolled paper towel under the pastel paper before starting the work. After placing the rolled paper towel under the pastel paper, affix the pastel paper over it with the strips of the framer’s tape. This rolled paper towel will be perfect for catching some of the falling dust.

3. Use harder pastels

It is observed that soft pastels are more prone to dust as compared to hard pastels. It doesn’t mean the harder pastels are entirely dust-free. But the harder pastels provide you the maximum protection against dust issues. So, we can say a harder pastel with some additional precautions can be more beneficial.

4. Make the dust fall

You can deal with the oil pastel dust by making the dust fall. Sometimes too much dust floats on the surface of the drawing paper. In this case, you need to bring your drawing boards outside, and hold the board straight so that all the dust falls. But you need to perform all this task gently so your painting can’t get affected by this whole process. It is only helpful when too much dust is floating on the paper.

5. Wash the hands regularly

Washing the hands regularly during the oil pastel painting is a good practice to get the perfect results. In this way, the maximum chemicals pass through the pores. You can also use some gloves to prevent this issue. It will become more critical as well when you will start eating during the painting. So, make sure to wash the hands regularly during painting to get rid of the dust issues.

6. Use a fixative

You can also use the fixative early in the process to get rid of the dust issues. Fixative can change the pigment color, that’s why many people avoid fixative use as well. But there is a moderate approach which can help you to get the perfect results. You can use the fixative two to three times in a whole painting process; just avoid using it at the end. This is an excellent way to settle some of the pigments on the paper.

7. Use a container with rice grains

Sometimes the pastel stick gets dirty due to the dust from some other bars. You can follow a unique technique to clean out this type of stick. Take a small plastic container with raw grains of rice, and pop the dirty stick inside the container. Now shake the dirty stick gently; the rice in the container will clean out the stick.

8. Frame the work with gutter

Framing the work with the gutter is an excellent way to catch any dust which falls after the completion of the work. It will be best if you frame the gutter behind the mount so it can catch the falling dust.

9. With kneaded rubber

Is pastel dust harmful?  

It usually depends upon the pastel quality and material. Many pastels are made up of high-quality material, which is non-toxic for humans. But some pastels can also be made up of toxic chemicals. These chemicals include the chrome yellow and cadmium pigment. When we talk about chrome yellow, it can be responsible for lung cancer. Similarly, cadmium pigment can cause kidney and lung damage. Moreover, much pastel dust can also be responsible for the inhalation of the pastel pigments.

Are the pastels safe on the skin?

The pastels are safe on the skin when you use them sensibly. We know many people use finger blending techniques to blend the pastel pigment on paper. So, it mostly depends upon pigment type and amount. Many pastels are non-toxic; you can easily use them on the skin. But if the pastel is toxic, you need to use a small amount.


From all the above discussion, we can conclude that oil pastels dust can be a big issue for many artists. It is not suitable for human health and painting as well, mostly when we talk about toxic pastels. But you can use different things to minimize this issue. We have just discussed some good ways to deal with oil pastel dust. You need to concentrate on these methods according to your work and needs.

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