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New guy here looking to learn about C02 Airbrushing

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  • Member since
    April, 2017
New guy here looking to learn about C02 Airbrushing
Posted by v10lentray on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 1:03 PM

Hi everyone.

I was directed fere from a facebook Miniature painting group. I've asked elsewhere about using Co2 to Airbrush and i get hit with the constant, "that's stupid", "just buy a compressior", "that's dangerous", "your paint will freeze"...

I have a 10# Co2 tank from my days of keeping tropical fish and planted tanks. I currently paint tabletop and board game miniatures. I live in Chicago, and we can not prime miniatures in the winter, so i was planning on delving into airbrushing, so i can primararily prime miniatures all year round so i can contnue to paint with out long periods of down time.  I also have some larger pieces like dragons, i would like to give a better finish by using an airbrush once i get more comfortable. I will only be painting with Acrylic paints.

I'm really looking for help for those of you who use a Co2 Tank for airbrushing. So i have a Co2 tank, and it currently has a solenoid valve on it, that I will need to replace with a regulator.  The welding shop I visited tried to sell me a $120 regulator. so if you can point me in the right direction in terms of a regulator and how to set it up to connect to an air brush that would be the most help.

I have't bought an Airbrush yet either, but i think i am going to go for an inexpensive dual-action, Neo style brush to start with, since the bulk of my work will be priming / Basecoating until i get really comfortable.

I also thought about buying I can get it for around $150. I think it would be fine for what i am looking to do.


  • Member since
    April, 2013
Posted by KnightTemplar5150 on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 5:53 PM

I've run my airbrush off a CO2 tank since April of 1988 without an issue. A frat house at the university I was attending at the time got into trouble over serving alcohol to minors and they didn't require a wet bar, so I have them $10 for the tank and invested another $20 for a regulator at a welding shop. She's run like a dream ever since and still wears a Theta Chi sticker.

It has never gotten cold enough to freeze anything, never presented any danger, and it is quieter than most "silent" compressors. The added advantage is that CO2 is anhydrous, meaning that water never gets into the line and there's no need for traps and filters. That saves cash, which is far from stupid.

The only real disadvantage is that once or twice a year, I have to go get it refilled at the welding shop, but the local Coca-Cola bottling plant has also filled it for me. Inexpensive, but a little heavy and awkward to carry around.

Check Harbor Freight for a regulator that won't break the budget. Set-up was easy enough, just be careful of your fitting sizes and invest in a roll of teflon tape. Mix a little dish soap with water and slop it on the fittings to verify that everything is tight and you're good to go. I use Badger airbrushes, so I won't comment on how things work out with an Iwata, but it should be pretty much the same process.

I'm in Montana where winter reigns most of the year - but I still paint without a problem, even in an apartment. My neighbors appreciate the lack of noise and vibrations from a compressor, so I can airbrush at three in the morning without complaints thanks to the CO2.

  • Member since
    April, 2017
Posted by v10lentray on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 7:53 AM

Thanks for Confirming and busting all the B.S. other sites have been saying.

I truly think that while social media can be used for good, most of the time it is people acting like premadonnas bashing everyone who isn't using "top of the line" everything.

I have a friend who i play Mage Wars with that got into Beer making and has an Extra Regulator that he's going to sell me, (as long as it fits) so then i'll just need to get an airbrush and hose, and the right connectors to hook up to the tank. I'm thinking Quick Release hose connectors is what i would like to get.

I'm also sure the type of airbrush doesn't matter. I'm going to get one at either Michael's or Hobby Lobby, who ever has those nice 40% off Coupons when i'm ready to buy it.

  • Member since
    April, 2013
Posted by KnightTemplar5150 on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 10:24 AM

The whole point of investing in your tools is to find what works well for you and your situation. The CO2 tip came from an issue of FSM that happened to be on the shelves at the univesity bookstore and the opportunity to try it for myself just fell into my lap. I have two compressors, a Badger model and an Air Station unit I was given as a gift, but they rarely get used because of the noise. They don't fit my situation at all most of the time.

When it comes to airbrushing, I have seen people use a lot of different things as an air source - Propel cans, tanks you fill yourself at a gas station, inner tubes, spare tires, and even N2 gas. So long as you get the results you want, use what is right for you and don't sweat what the prima donnas preach as doctrine. You got into the hobby because it makes you happy. At the end of the day, that's what it's all about.

Welcome to the forums!

  • Member since
    February, 2011
Posted by knox on Thursday, April 20, 2017 7:22 AM

I have used a CO2 tank since the mid 1980's.  I have never had any problems with it.  I have a quick disconnect setup on my regulator, so that I can easily change airbrushes.  I have never used a compressor, which means I don't know what advantages they might have, but I dont see myself ever buying one.                           knox

  • Member since
    February, 2003
  • From: Central Ohio
Posted by Ashley on Thursday, April 20, 2017 7:51 AM
I have used both compressors and air bottles, and I much prefer the bottles. And I say bottles, because CO2 isn't the only option. I hooked my airbrush manifold to an argon tank when my compressor died, and it worked beautifully. Had the argon for my TIG welder. SO, that led me to invest in a CO2 setup for the airbrush. The advantages are that the propellant you get is absolutely silent, and DRY. No water traps needed! Welding supply stores will get you set up, sometimes you can lease the tanks and refills are not expensive. Initial setup will be more expensive than a hobby compressor, but by the time you factor in a water trap, regulator, and maybe a pressure tank, the compressor gets pricey, too. You can get CO2, argon, nitrogen, even compressed air, and an 80 cubic foot bottle will last you forever!

Have you flown a Ford lately?

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Thursday, April 20, 2017 8:48 AM

You may want to check out the Painting and Airbrushing forum.  It is down near the bottom of the list of forums, in the Tools, Techniques and Reference Materials section.

CO2 and air tank systems are frequently discussed there.  While there is no current thread on the subject, scroll back through some of the older threads.

Don Stauffer in Minnesota


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