How Mineral Spirits & Turpentine Are Completely Different

Michael Daly
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What Is A Solvent? And What Effect Does It Have On Your Work?

Solvents are a crucial weapon for artists because they help in thinning out the paint.
Some of the commonly used solvents are turpentine, mineral spirits, acetone, naphtha, and DMF. All of them act as paint thinners, but this isn't the sole purpose of these solvents. Solvents, by definition, are something that can dissolve a solute.

In this case, the solvents under discussion, turpentine, and mineral spirits, can dissolve a solute, paint. Oil paint is a mixture of pigment and oil. The solvents target the oil component in the oil paint and don't interact with the pigment.

The solvent transforms the oily part of oil paint into something more of a watery consistency. So one should take care while using the solvents as they can get your oil paint to be awfully thin.

Mineral Spirits vs. Turpentine – What Are They Formulated From?

The most common “solvent” used in the paint industry is mineral spirits. This is a paint-thinner, less toxic than turpentine. You can use it for both: to clean oil and paint off of brushes and materials.Mineral spirits are used to thin oil-based paints, inks, varnishes, and shellac in the painting industry.

Mineral spirits are a petroleum-derived clear liquid used as a common organic solvent in painting. Different types and different grades of mineral spirit exist. Experts carefully make mineral spirits by combining hydrocarbons with alicyclic and aliphatic oils in accurate portions.

The industrial-grade, which can also be called Stoddard Solvent, is a specific mixture of hydrocarbons. Turpentine substitute can be used for general cleaning but is not recommended for paint thinning. Regular mineral spirit is a great unscented mild solvent that you can use in daily life. They can be found at any local hardware store; however, you should always buy the artist-grade solvent for better results as an artist.

Turpentine is commonly extracted from the resin in pine trees. Some other types of turpentine are derived from balsam, larch, cypress, and a few others.
A bottle of turpentine that you get from a local hardware shop for $20 bucks isn't a refined one and won't give good results, especially in relieving pain. Always go for artist-grade turpentine having more dialed back potency.

Odorless Mineral Spirits vs. Turpentine Drying Times

The drying time of these two popular solvents is an important feature that is given due consideration. Turpentine will dry at a much faster rate than odorless mineral spirits. Mineral spirits will dry slightly differently than turpentine on some woods and varnishes. Still, overall, odorless mineral spirits will work great with your finish, but it will take longer to dry.

How To Dispose Of Mineral Spirits And Turpentine?

Mineral spirits and turpentine usually are used as thinners when applying stains and varnishes to woodworks. They are made up of similar ingredients in varying amounts and can help in the drying process of the wood. One can easily buy these thinners at a local hardware store. While these two popular solvents are safe for painting, they are extremely harmful to the environment.

Never put any of these solvents down the drain or in the ground. Whenever you need to dispose of mineral spirits and turpentine, follow the instructions on the label or contact your local sanitation department for advice on properly disposing of this gunk. It involves going to the local trash collection area and handing the solvent to them.

Where To Store Solvents Safely?

Extreme caution is required while storing and handling these solvents. You must always keep them out of the reach of children and pets. You should store all of these solvents in an area that is well ventilated. None of them should ever be exposed to a source of heat. Your solvent container must be clearly labeled so that no one mistakes the odorless mineral spirit for water.

Where To Buy Odorless Mineral Sprits And Turpentine?

You can easily buy mineral spirits and turpentine at your local hardware shop but keep in mind that it won't be artist grade. To get a more refined and impurity-free solvent, head to our local art supply store or buy it online.

A Natural Solvent To Consider

Artists are starting to take more interest in a natural solvent called Oil of Spike Lavender or simply Oil of Spike. It is an all-natural oil derived from the lavender plant and performs on par with turpentine. It’s amazing at thinning out the paint and lessening drying times.

It is a great solvent to use during painting and a lot safer and health-friendly than harmful chemicals. It is also important to note that this natural solvent is not as good at cleaning your paintbrushes as odorless mineral spirits or turpentine. You may not find this Oil of Spike at your local hardware store easily. Online sellers usually sell good quality Oil of Spike.

Key Takeaways When It Comes To Deciding Odorless Mineral Spirits vs. Turpentine

  • Mineral spirits and turpentine are not always environmentally friendly as they have negative impacts on the animals and the environment, leading to global warming and ozone depletion.
  • Mineral spirits are the safer option of the two for health threats and dangers if your budget doesn’t allow for Oil of Spike.
  • The odorless mineral spirits will ensure that you don’t have any headaches while using it, whereas the turpentine oil has a very strong smell hard to tolerate for few people.
  • Turpentine has some excellent drying properties that are not present in mineral spirits.
  • Both of them should be stored away from children and pets.