Do you ever have to paint a surface and are unsure of which type of thinner to use? If so, you’re not alone. Many people don’t know the difference between mineral spirits and paint thinner.

In this blog post, we will discuss the differences between these two types of thinners and help you decide which one is right for your project.

What is Mineral Spirits?

Mineral spirits are a type of petroleum distillate. They are made from a refined mixture of crude oil and other hydrocarbon compounds. Mineral spirits are used as solvents and degreasers and are also found in products like paint thinners, cleaners, and polishes.

Pros:

  • Mineral spirits are less hazardous than other paint thinners.
  • Mineral spirits are less odorous than other alternatives, and a fragrance-free variety is available.
  • Mineral spirits thinned with paint produces a smoother, more uniform finish.

Cons:

  • Mineral spirits is also considerably more pricey than other paint thinners.
  • Mineral spirits are not recommended for latex paint.
  • Mineral spirits are a light irritant and not as abrasive as some cleaners.

What is Paint Thinner?

Paint thinner is a type of solvent used to thin and remove oil-based paints, stains, and varnishes. It is also used to clean paint brushes and other painting equipment. Paint thinner is made from petroleum distillates and can contain harmful chemicals.

Pros:

  • Non-mineral spirits paint thinners are generally less expensive than mineral spirits.
  • Mineral spirits are more solvent than paint thinners such as turpentine.
  • Turpentine will remove dried paint, but mineral spirits only removes wet paint.

Cons:

  • Paint thinners are best used in well-ventilated areas since they contain very strong odors.
  • Paint thinners are often combustible.
  • It may be difficult to properly eliminate paint thinners.

Mineral Spirits vs Paint Thinner: What’s the Difference?

The main difference between mineral spirits and paint thinner is their chemical makeup. Mineral spirits are made from a refined mixture of crude oil and other hydrocarbon compounds, while paint thinner is made from petroleum distillates.

Mineral spirits are also less harmful than paint thinner. They don’t contain the harmful chemicals that paint thinner does. This makes them a safer option for use around the home.

If you’re unsure of which thinner to use for your project, mineral spirits is a safer option and will do the job just as well.

Composition

Petroleum is used to make mineral spirits, which are a form of oil. All products that are labeled as “mineral spirits” should be made entirely of mineral spirits, without any mixing. A paint thinner known as “pure mineral spirits” is made of 100% mineral spirits.

Paint thinner can refer to pure mineral spirits, blended mineral spirits, turpentine, acetone, naphtha, or any combination of other substances that can be used to thin oil-based paint. However, the most frequently encountered usage is for less refined mineral spirits with 5 percent or less benzene content for better solvency and fragrance.

It’s vital to distinguish between blended and unblended mineral spirits and other types of paints thinners. The former, which is derived from petroleum, is transparent, non-sticky, and odorless. The latter class can include substances such as turpentine, which are made entirely from pine tree oleoresins and contain no petroleum content.

While both mineral spirits and paint thinner are useful for various purposes, they’re not interchangeable. Be sure to know the difference before you begin your next project.

Odor

Mineral spirits, whether unblended or blended, have a pungent odor comparable to camping lantern oil or kerosene. Paint thinner will have a stronger aroma than mineral spirits alone due to the additional benzene. The scent is generally sweet and most users do not regard it as an issue. Pure mineral spirits is better for interior use due to the lack of smell.

Paint thinner is made from different chemicals than mineral spirits, so it has a stronger odor. If you’re looking for a safer option that doesn’t have such a strong smell, choose mineral spirits instead.

However, if you don’t mind the smell, paint thinner is a good choice for tasks like removing dried paint or varnish.

Toxicity

Mineral spirits are toxic and they can be harmful if swallowed. They can also cause skin irritation and they’re flammable. If you must use them, be sure to do so in a well-ventilated area and wear gloves to protect your hands.

Paint thinner is also toxic and it can be harmful if swallowed. Inhaling the fumes can cause dizziness, headaches, and nausea. It’s also flammable, so be sure to use it in a well-ventilated area. If you must use it indoors, open windows and doors to let the vapors escape.

You should also wear a respirator to avoid inhaling the fumes.

Environmental Impact

Mineral spirits are made from non-renewable resources, which means they have a negative environmental impact. Paint thinner is made from renewable resources, so it has a positive environmental impact. If you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly option, choose paint thinner.

Cost

Mineral spirits are less expensive than paint thinner because they’re made from cheaper materials. Paint thinner is more expensive than mineral spirits because it’s made from more expensive materials. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, choose mineral spirits.

Mineral Spirits vs Paint Thinner: Which is Better?

Mineral spirits are less harmful than paint thinner and they also produce a smoother, more uniform finish. If you’re looking for a safer option that will still get the job done, mineral spirits is the way to go.

However, if you’re looking for the cheapest option, paint thinners are a good choice. Be sure to use them in a well-ventilated area, as they contain strong odors.

FAQ

Are Acetone and Mineral Spirits the Same?

Acetone and mineral spirits are two different types of solvents. Acetone is a type of ketone, while mineral spirits are made from a refined mixture of crude oil and other hydrocarbon compounds.

They have different chemical compositions and therefore perform differently in tasks such as thinning paint or removing grease.

Which is Better for Removing Paint, Mineral Spirits or Turpentine?

Mineral spirits are less solvent than turpentine and will only remove wet paint. Turpentine is a more powerful solvent and can be used to remove dried paint. If you’re looking to remove old paint, use turpentine.

However, if you’re trying to thin paint or remove grease, mineral spirits will do the job just as well.

Can I Pour Mineral Spirits Down the Drain?

Mineral spirits are made from petroleum and they can damage your septic system. It’s best to pour them into a container and dispose of them at your local hazardous waste facility.

You should never pour them down the drain. Doing so could cause serious damage to your plumbing and it would be bad for the environment.

Is it Safe to Use Mineral Spirits Indoors?

Mineral spirits are a type of petroleum distillate and they can release harmful vapors into the air. It’s best to use them in well-ventilated areas or outdoors. If you must use them indoors, be sure to open windows and doors to let the vapors escape.

You should also wear a respirator to avoid inhaling the fumes.

Can I Use Paint Thinner Instead of Mineral Spirits?

Paint thinner is made from petroleum distillates and it contains many of the same harmful chemicals as mineral spirits. If you’re looking for a safer option, choose mineral spirits instead of paint thinner.

However, if you’re looking for the cheapest option, paint thinners are a good choice. Just be sure to use them in a well-ventilated area, as they contain strong odors.

What are Some Alternatives to Mineral Spirits?

There are a few alternatives to mineral spirits that can be used for tasks such as thinning paint or removing grease. Some of these include citrus-based solvents, soy-based solvents, and vegetable-based solvents.

These alternatives are less harmful than mineral spirits and they’re also biodegradable, so they’re better for the environment. Choose one of these options if you’re looking for a safer alternative to mineral spirits.

Conclusion

Mineral spirits and paint thinner are both useful for various purposes. However, they’re not interchangeable. Be sure to know the difference before you begin your next project. Use mineral spirits for tasks such as thinning oil-based paint and removing grease.

For more difficult jobs like removing dried paint or varnish, use paint thinner. And always take safety precautions when using either one.

So there you have it!

The next time you’re starting a project that requires mineral spirits or paint thinner, be sure to choose the right one for the job. And always take safety precautions to protect yourself and your home.

Thanks for reading!