I am beyond excited to be writing this review and short tutorial. I have wanted a vortex mixer for literal years. As always, I spent my own money on this, I am not paid or compensated in any way for this.
This is the INTLLAB Lab Vortex Mixer. It was not the most expensive mixer out there at about $65USD, they can run up to several hundred dollars in some cases, but it works very well for my purposes.
“So what is a vortex mixer?“
A vortex mixer is a piece of scientific equipment that is, most often, used to mix various liquids in test tubes.
When you apply the test tube, or in my case paint bottle, into the center divot on the mixer it causes paint to be spun around very rapidly, creating a vortex. Some models are controlled with a knob this one is turned on by pressing on the pressure plate underneath the rubber top.
“Why use this for paint?”
Paint is made up of pigment(s) and binder(s) of some sort. When you leave your paint sitting for a while these things can separate and can be hard to mix back to normal. It is very noticeable when it has become separated because when you put some on your palette it will look watery. You can’t always tell just by looking at the bottle.
When this happens, most painters, will shake the paint by hand. Some also may use a paint or, in some cases, nail polish shaker. These will just shake the paints as if you were shaking by hand but much faster. The vortex mixer will spin the paint.
I have found the vortex mixer to be much faster than doing it by hand or with another kind of mixer. From my experience, so far, I can hold it on the vortex mixer and it only take somewhere between 10-30 seconds depending on how badly it has separated. On the other hand, also in my experience, you have to shake the paint for, at least, 30 seconds or longer when it is that separated. For me, repeatedly shaking manually for this long causes pain.
“What don’t you like about it?”
My big complaint is that the cord that is included is a bit short. It will not reach from my desktop to underneath, I have to use an extension cord. My lesser complaint is that the pressure plate that makes it turn on is not super apparent where it is. If I am mixing the paint with the bottle top being pressed into the divot in the middle I have had no problems so far. When I try to press it down with the bottom of the bottle it sometimes slips off to the side and it will stop operating.
My last complaint is just partially user error. The vibrations from the spinning are very strong. This again is less of a problem when used bottle top down. When held right side up it is almost too intense to hold in place for more than 10 seconds.
“How do you use it?”
Time for the tutorial!
First I find a paint that is in need of being mixed. In this case I have chosen Brigh Bronze (not a typo) from Reaper Miniatures Pathfinder line of paint.
You can see that the pigment has settled on the bottom and the binder is on top. I then take off the cap and use something sharp, in this case a Reaper Miniatures Paint Pokey Tool (the skull thing stuck in my paper towel), and poke it into the hole of the top of the nipple. You do not have to use a special tool for this. You can use anything thin and sharp like a T-pin, sewing pin, or even a thin paper clip. After I clear the nipple of any paint that may have dried inside it I remove the pokey tool and then wipe the nipple and threads of the bottle and cap.
I then remove the nipple by holding the bottle upright and gently push to the side. If you push too hard it can just pop off and you might spill paint everywhere. Once removed I will look in and see if I can tell just how separated it is. This bottle was very separated as you can see it looks like lightly colored water from above. Sometimes, I will squeeze some out onto a palette and check if I’m not sure but in this case it was obvious that I just needed to get it mixed.
Next, I throw in an agitator. I know that Reaper paints come with agitators in them but I like the extra one for a bit more mixing power. I am using lab grade glass agitators from Monument Hobbies. I like glass because there is no chance it will rust and ruin my bottle of paint. I know there are ones out there made of metal that are labeled as non-rust but I just don’t want to take the chance with my collection.
I then replace the nipple making sure it is firmly in place and then the cap. Once I’m sure everything is secure I flip it upside down and onto the mixer. Pushing down gently to activate the pressure plate inside. It really does not take much effort to get it to work that way. I hold it there for at least 10 seconds, in this case it was probably closer to 20-30 seconds. Sometimes I will hold the bottle right side up and hold it on there for a few seconds more but I didn’t do that with this paint.
After I’m happy with how it looks I’ll take off the cap and nipple again and see if it looks thoroughly mixed or not. It may look mixed from the outside but still need a little more time. In this case I did not need to mix any further.
This one is a little bubbly but that will happen most any way that you mix them. To remedy this I’ll put everything back on the bottle and firmly tap it against my desktop, or some other hard surface, a few times.
And there you have it, nice and evenly mixed paint! You can definitely tell a difference from where I started to what it is now.
I hope all of this was helpful and made some sort of sense. If you’ve got any questions or comments let me know!