How long does oil based stay wet?

I am well read on the differences between oil based and rubber based inks - specifically their drying characteristics. Even the ability to leave the rubber based ink on overnight if need be. My question is this - how long until the oil based dries up on the press? I was planning on using oil based, but when I think about my lifestyle (with a baby, and only being able to realistically use press while she sleeps) I may start a project, then come back to it a few hours later, on a regular basis.


I will, almost never, print on coated stock.


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most oil inks have to be washed up when you shut the press down for any length of time, if it dries on the rollers it can be hard to remove, they make a spray that you can spray on the disc and rollers to keep it from drying that allows you to come back later and print. myself i use rubber base ink, it can be left on the press for days without drying. didn’t that old guy Greg explain this to you????

hahaha - Thank you Dick! And believe it or not, Greg and I didn’t even chat about inks! He was fascinating me with all the talk of his fancy equipment! Enough to make a gal quite jealous :) I am really thinking I’ll switch to rubber based. I’ve purchased 3 tubes of oil based, so maybe I’ll just offer them up for sale here.

I’ve used rubber-based ink 99% of the time.

I often leave ink on the press overnight, and often enough it stays on even longer than that. On a couple of occasions ink has been left on for over a week.

I’ve never had any additional difficulties in cleaning the ink off the ink disk or the rollers. I only use mineral spirits and a shop rag, nothing special. In fact, I’ve found that ink that’s been left on the press for a longer while comes off extra quick. Not sure why that is, but it seems to be true.

From what I can see, leaving ink on the press has not effected my press or quality of work in any way.

I use stay open oil based inks. They can stay on the press for several hours but not overnight. Ink spray will keep it from drying overnight, but will loosen the ink so I’ll need to be worked and possibly freshened with new ink before printing.

Oil based ink is my preferred ink for a few reasons. My background is graphic design and I’m printing client work, self promotion, seasonal items, etc… and will never print that same ink for another job later or the next day so I wash up the press. The work you do would determine what ink is best for you to use. If you print the same color over and over again then Rubber based ink would be a choice.


it all depends on the type of oil based ink you are using, and the kind of dryer it contains. In my work, I use a lot of Charbonelle inks because it uses archival pigments… and it will stay open on my press for a long time, even in hot weather. Unfortuantely it also takes forever to dry on the paper.

Whatever ink you are using however, I can’t recommend leaving ink on your press overnight. Even if your ink will stay open, it’s not a good practice. It leads to sloppy practices, and allows for the introduction of unforseen hickies into your system. One fly lands on your roller overnight…. and wham: a nasty streak.


first rule don’t worry
second rule use what you got

for you if you must
leave the press to take care of other things
go with rubber base

kid apprentice
hammered in to my head
never leave ink on a press

so much so most big press offset job shops
did not stop for lunch

it took longer to gum plates
wash blankets and rollers
than a full lunch hour

heck back in the stone age
it took 3 guys one hour to put away
for the night a big Harris 4 color offset press

have always used oil based ink

rubber base ink was designed for
down and dirty
quick print shops

you could leave the ink on your A B Dick
as you waited on customers

on my 5 by 8 table top press
Van Son black oil base ink
walk away
do something else
it will dry to point of having to wash up
in less than 15 min

press runs
more than a hour or so
need to do a semi wash up
and re ink

anti skim spray is a most useful tool

yours truly


Anti oxidants work ok to slow drying in that they seal the wet ink from the air but if you really let ink wait with it you will get patches of dried crap , if you want to run on you will have to wash up anyway as anti skin drastically changes your colour , put too much on the rollers and the ink vehicle is so long its useless as well as the likelihood that you will get ink dripping everywhere . I think anti skin is great stuff,…………For lubricating letterpress and litho numbering boxes …..!

How long?
I have a press with Daniel Smith oil based black that has been inked up since November.

Don’t judge. I printed with it yesterday. Single impression of an art cut came out great.

In general I would agree with Winking Cat. The convenience of not cleaning up is generally not worth the trouble of leaving ink on a press this long.

The main issue with not cleaning up the press is the potential damage to the ink rollers. The disk will be fine and can be cleaned easy enough. The ink on the rollers will migrate around the ends and begin to swell the ends of the rollers. This can cause a shorter life. I would at least clean the rollers.

Worse still with softer rollers is the risk of them sticking to themselves when carrying a rider roller and when you start up the adhered parts rip the surface of the roller out , not from my own savage behaviour i have seen this done as i re commission presses that have spent long periods laid up ,often because they were not going to be re used they were not washed up .

love the “poem” from mac below……..