Varnish Jelly

There was a post awhile back about dealing with varnish jelling up in the can or container, but I don't remember anyone with a solution to its prevention other than allowing a little propane to enter the container somehow.  I just opened a brand new  (albeit a year-old un opened) can of Interlux Satin Varnish for the final coats on my Skerry interior and spars, and the amount of jelly, (read that waste) seems too much for me to to have to contend with.  Once the can is opened it seems to get worse and more wasteful.  I learned this with the first four coats of Interlux High Closs varnish.  How about some ground rules?  I have poured unused varnish back in the can from a plastic cup.  I guess this is a no no?  What about transferring everything from a newly opened can into a clean glass jar with a twist top?  I tend to hammer down the can lids too much to the point that the can caves in at the top yielding a poor seal.  Dumber question:  can the jelly be thinned for use or is it just considered one of the downsides of working with Marine varnish at thirty bucks a quart?  Any help or suggestions appreciated.  Also does the formation of jelly mean the varnish itself is compromised and can the remaining liquid be used safely??  best,  bob h.

7 replies:

« Previous Post       List of Posts       Next Post »

RE: Varnish Jelly

Don't do no no's.  Strain the jelly out and throw it away.  If the can has a bad seal I guess you have no option but to use another can.  


RE: Varnish Jelly

Perhaps the main ground rule for preventing varnish gelling, drying, etc. in the can is limiting the unused varnish's exposure to oxygen. There are several approaches to this.

You can remove the oxygen from the can by a blast of propane or a commercial product like Bloxygen. FYI, this is literally putting the tip of a unlit propane torch just under the lid, blasting in a little gas and quickly sealing can.

You can also decant the unused varnish into a smaller container, filling the container up to the rim and then sealing it.

Another trick is putting marbles in the can until the level of the varnish is at the rim.

You can also pour a little thinner in the can forming a puddle on the surface of the varnish prior to sealing it.

One caveat though. All these remedies USED to work. Now things are much more iffy. I suspect manufacturers have recently changed formulas to comply with VOC regulations and this is affecting longevity.

As far as using the gelled stuff, I would put in a little thinner, stir thoroughly, strain and see if it brushes and dries properly. If yes, you're good to go.

RE: Varnish Jelly

Propane is another NO, NO!

What you want to use is an inert gas such as Argon, it has long been used to preserve compounds such as varnish. You can find it in an aerosol spray can at most high end woodworking online dealers. The best place is at your local wine and spirit shop, ask for "Wine Preserver". Don't be surprised when you pick up the bottle as it will weigh nothing at all. 


If you do a search for "varnish" the old post is about sixteen down from the top titled Varnish Jell.

RE: Varnish Jelly

What does varnish jelly actually taste like?


RE: Varnish Jelly

It reminds me of catus jelly when mixed with peanutbutter.  Really sticks to your stomach.

RE: Varnish Jelly

As long as the surface was properly prepared.

« Previous Post     List of Posts     Next Post »

Please login or register to post a reply.


Follow us on Instagram: @clcboats & @clcteardrop