Mineral Spirits vs Paint Thinner: Discover The Differences

By Tom Pelly | Home Painting

May 03

When doing DIY projects, home improvement, and any other tasks around the home, often times there are materials that can be confusing because of how similar they are when it comes to usage.

Many will have the same confusion over mineral spirits vs paint thinner.

These two substances are well known and used for various projects, but how are they similar or different from each other?

This article will uncover the differences between mineral spirits vs paint thinner.

This will grant you a more detailed understanding of which works best for which project you want to take on. Additionally, I will discuss a few vital tips along the way as well.

Knowing What Is Mineral Spirits vs Paint Thinner

1. Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits go by several names like Mineral Turpentine, Petroleum Spirits, Varsol, and White Spirit.

This substance is typically found in hardware stores and is used to dissolve oil-based materials as well as for cleaning built-up grime and grease on various machinery or tools.

Minerals spirits are categorized into three grades depending on specific needs.

These grades are based on the amount of Crude Oil content and the condition of the distillation of the mineral spirit.

The grade is classified as low flash grade, regular grade, and high flash grade. There is also a fourth type which is considered uncommon and referred to as Type 0.

The ones with a high flash grade feature a higher initial boiling point and more elevated temperature when it comes to the flashpoint.

This relativity of levels with regard to its initial boiling points and flashpoints apply also with regular grade and low flash grade, respectively.

Most normal projects only require the low flash grade mineral spirits.

2. Paint Thinner

On the other hand, paint thinner go by other names like ethylbenzene, Toluene, Turpentine, and Acetone.

The paint thinner is known to have a flashpoint similar to that of a starter when charcoal is used which is just above 100 degrees.

It is also known that paint thinners have higher vapor toxicity since it is a product made from petroleum-based materials and oil.

With that said, you might want to use paint thinners with utmost caution since its vapor levels can be damaging when inhaled for prolonged periods.

It is highly recommended that when using paint thinners, do it in an area with adequate air circulation.

As for storage, it should be placed in a place that is closed off to avoid vapor leaks.

Mineral Spirits vs Paint Thinner: Notable Differences Between Them

Mineral spirits and paint thinners are widely used for various projects.

Although both solvents are easy to work with, there are, nevertheless, a few slight differences between them that you need to look into when deciding which to use. 

1. Smell

Although both the mineral spirit and paint thinner emit a pungent and unpleasant smell, there is a significant difference between the two.

Compared to the paint thinner, mineral spirits have a less potent smell since it has lesser VOC (volatile organic compounds) content.

Contrastingly, the paint thinner exudes a very nauseating smell and working with it will require you to have ample air circulation to air it out effectively.

Notwithstanding, it is advisable to wear proper gear when using both substances to be on the safe side.

(Tip: When working with mineral spirits and paint thinner, wear goggles and a mask. You can also use a respirator especially when using paint thinners.)

2. Level Of Toxicity

Mineral spirits and paint thinners are both made via the process of petroleum distillation.

Be that as it may, in the case of mineral spirits, toxic VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and sulfur are thoroughly refined during the production process.

This is the reason why mineral spirits emit a less potent smell and are known as less harmful.

Paint thinners do not go have this refining process as much, as a result, it retains most toxic VOCs.

(Tip: Avoid mixing paint thinners with other substances other than paint and keep it away from materials that are acidic, heat, and combustible things.)

3. Effectivity

When it comes to effectivity, although both substances are widely used, there is one that stands out.

Since the mineral spirit has a more purified or refined form, it is also more effective compared to the paint thinner.

Mineral spirits also have slower evaporation rate and paint that is thinned using it tend to dry smoother.

It also has an ability to effectively and quickly clean paint tools and utensils. This is the reason why many prefer to use mineral spirits over paint thinners.

Concluding Thoughts

With all this said, it is a fact that both mineral spirits and paint thinner are effective solvents when it comes to accomplishing their purpose.

Nonetheless, even with many confusing one over the other, they still have differences that give the edge of one over the other.

In this case, we have found out that mineral spirits are more effective overall and are much preferred by many since it is proven to be less harmful compared to paint thinner.

However, it is still recommended that when working with either the mineral spirit or paint thinner, utmost caution is required.

Are you now able to recognize the differences between mineral spirits vs paint thinner? Were you able to pick up fresh knowledge while reading this article?

Do you have other ideas about this topic? I would like to know your views and opinion on this topic. Send your feedback and suggestions by leaving a comment below.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Tom Pelly. I'm a home designer and founder of TidyTheHome. While doing my job, I found that choosing a right tool to repair home is an essential factor. As a result, my blog is designed to provide you with important information of latest tools to help you complete job faster and more professional. Explore my blog to get all information you need in home improvement.

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