can you use parchment paper for sublimation

Can You Use Parchment Paper For Sublimation? (Answered!)

Hey friends! Today I want to have a real talk about using parchment paper for sublimation.

I see so many people new to dye sublimation wanting to use good ol’ parchment paper as a protective layer.

Makes sense why – it’s cheap, available everywhere, and seems sturdy enough, right?

Wrong! I made that mistake when I first started sublimation for the first time.

And let me save you the mess and headaches – parchment paper sucks as a sublimation protector.

Keep reading and I’ll explain exactly why, as well as suggest way better paper options.

I wish someone had told me this upfront, so hopefully you can learn from my parchment paper fails!

Why Sublimation Needs Protective Papers

First things first – why do you even need special paper under your sublimation blanks?

Great question!

See, sublimation uses incredibly high heatwe’re talking 400°F+, similar to an oven at maximum roast mode.

HIgh Temperature Heat Press
HIgh Temperature Heat Press

That intense heat can actually damage the plates of your heat press over time. Yikes!

And if you’re not using a protective layer, that crazy heat can cause the vaporized ink to bubble right through your shirt or mug.

Sublimation pros call this a “blowout” – when the design leaks through the polyester and makes a huge mess of your project and press. Not good at all!

So protective papers act as shields to prevent blowouts and save your equipment from overheating. Make sense so far?

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There are two crucial things you need in a sublimation protector:

  1. Ability to withstand extremely high temps without burning. Gotta survive the heat!
  2. Porous, absorbent surface. This soaks up extra ink vapors for clean release.

Now let me tell you why innocent old parchment paper fits neither of these requirements…

Can You Use Parchment Paper For Sublimation

No, you cannot use parchment paper as a sublimation protector, it may be good in the kitchen when you are baking stuff but it doesn’t work during sublimation.

Here are 2 reasons why parchment paper fails as a sublimation protector.

1. That Silicone Coating Isn’t So Heat-Proof After All

Parchment paper is intended for oven use up to around 425°F. Once you get over that temp, the paper can shrivel, discolor, and burn.

Sublimation presses often exceed 425°F to achieve dye vaporization. The high heat degrades flimsy parchment paper quickly.

Burnt sections end up sticking to your blanks and heating plates, making a huge mess. Save yourself the cleanup and use more durable papers made for high temperatures.

2. Parchment Lacks Absorbency for Vaporized Inks

Here’s another nail in the parchment coffin – its water-resistant coating prevents ink vapor absorption.

Recall how sublimation works its magic by turning ink into a gas that bonds with the polymer substrate.

That means excess ink needs to dissipate cleanly to avoid ghosting and blowout.

When you have an impermeable parchment barrier, those hot ink gases get trapped and ruin your print.

The slippery silicone coating causes vaporized ink to smear and slide around instead of absorbing. This leads to ghosting and blurry prints.

Papers made for sublimation use coatings to soak up extra moisture from vapor while allowing dye penetration. No pooling, no ghosting, just crisp and vibrant prints.

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So next time you eyeball that jumbo roll of parchment paper, just say no! It truly can’t stand up to the intense pressure and heat of sublimation.

Better Protection Options for Dye Sublimation

Now that I’ve convinced you to pass on parchment, what should you use beneath your shirts, mugs, and other sublimated stuff? Here are my top picks:

1. Budget-Friendly Butcher Paper

Yep, plain old butcher paper (also called craft paper) does the trick! The untreated, porous surface provides great absorption for ink vapors to prevent blowout.

It also stands up to repeated 400°F+ pressing without scorching or warping. Butcher paper is cheap, easy to source, and disposable once saturated with ink.

Use a fresh sheet after several pressings or if you notice ghosting. For a budget sublimation protector, butcher paper is my go-to.

2. Artesprix Protective Paper

Let me tell ya, when it comes to sublimation protective papers, Artesprix is the real MVP!

This paper is specially designed for dye sublimation – so you know it’s primed to handle high heat and massive moisture absorption.

Protective Paper Roll – Artesprix
Protective Paper Roll – Artesprix

The proprietary coating and quality materials mean no scorching or warping, even when your press is blasting at 400+ degrees.

Now get this – you can actually reuse Artesprix sheets if your prints come out clean!

With some projects, there’s minimal ink blowout on the protective layer. As long as the paper is mostly clean and undamaged, just trim off any over-saturated areas.

The rest of the sheet is good to go for more pressing.

Being able to reuse the paper is awesome – it stretches your dollar and reduces waste. Other protective papers get trashed after one use.

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Between the stellar performance and potential for reuse, Artesprix is hands down my top pick for sublimation projects.

This paper handles the intense pressure like a champ while saving me the cash and excess waste. Major win-win!

3. Plain Copy Paper

Before you freak out – plain old copy paper can save the day in a pinch.

Is it the greatest choice ever? Nah.

That thin copy paper lets a ton of moisture and ink seep right through. You’ll be staining up your press big time!

My advice? Stack up a few layers of copy paper, like 5 or 6 sheets.

This gives some extra thickness to absorb more ink blowout. It ain’t perfect but way better than ruining your heat press!

And the best part is you can just grab that ream of paper from your home printer. No special trip to buy materials needed. Keep a stash on hand for emergencies.

Look, would I recommend copy paper as your go-to for sublimation? Heck no.

The stuff saturates and leaks quicker than a bucket with no bottom. But it’s there in a crisis to get the job done when options are limited.

Just be prepared for some cleanup!

Let’s Summarize!

  • Never use parchment paper as a sublimation protector – it can’t take the heat and lacks absorbency.
  • Butcher paper is a budget option, but I highly recommend to buy Artesprix Protective Paper, as it is the best option available in the market.
  • PLain copy paper can also get the job done when you have nothing at home and you want to complete the printing, make sure to stack multiple papers together.
  • Always choose heat and moisture-absorbent papers over non-stick parchment!

I hope this helps explain why seemingly sturdy parchment paper is actually a disaster waiting to happen for sublimation projects. Protect your prints and equipment with papers designed for high heat and vapor release!

Let me know if you have any other sublimation questions – I love geeking out over-optimizing dye sub techniques. Happy crafting!

Bella Williams

I'm Bella, a mom of 3 cuties. With 7 years of sublimation experience, my blog dyethrive.com focuses on all things sublimation and printing. Join me for tips, tutorials, and inspiration to enhance your sublimation journey. Let's create and thrive together!
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