View Full Version : Turpentine or Mineral Spirits?????

12-12-2001, 12:54 PM
I have recently started painting with oil and would appreciate any help I can get with the following questions:

1. Is there anything wrong with using commercal (hardware store) mineral spirits v.s. a more expensive artist brand?

2. What if any is the difference between using Turpentine, mineral spirits, and oderless terpenoid?

I want to make sure I'm using the right mediums so I dont damage my paintings or brushes.


12-12-2001, 01:49 PM
Rich, I use mineral spirits for brush cleaning and only turpentine or oil of spike lavender for painting, and those mainly for mixing medium. But I tend to be sort of a purist, I think mainly because I used to paint houses. I don't believe there's anything wrong with using mineral spirits to paint. BIG WARNING: do not use any of the citrus-based thinners to paint with; your paintings won't dry.

1. Hardware store mineral spirits are fine; buy the odorless kind if you'd rather avoid the stink. I buy hardware store turpentine in quarts, too; I just decant it into glass bottles, which seems to keep it from discoloring. Sometimes the cans are dated, so it's best to buy the freshest you can find.

2. I think they're all the same except for the smell.

Good luck and have fun.

12-12-2001, 07:43 PM
i buy my solvents at the hardware store. commercial hardware store mineral spirits and turpentine are usually about the same as the "artists' grade", with a few exceptions. mineral spirits, especially the odorless type, are exactly the same as gamsol and other artists brands. all are petroleum distillates. they dry at about 1/5 the rate of pure gum spirits of turpentine.

pure gum turps can come in a variety of grades. always get the best grade available. poor grades smell bad and are not clear. good ones are water-white and smell pleasantly piney. even good turp will go bad in metal containers. lately i have been seeing it in plastic gallons and i prefer to buy those. otherwise, the above suggestion to decant it into glass is a good one.

i prefer to use turpentine to paint with because of its rapid evaporation and solvent action on natural resins (like turp). its fine to paint with odorless mineral spirits (also sold as 'odorless turpentine substitute') but they should probably be avoided if you use a medium that has damar in it. with alkyd-based mediums like galkyd or liquin, odorless is recommended.

12-13-2001, 01:04 AM
I only use mineral spirits for cleanup of brushes, etc, so the commercial variety is just fine, thank you (a lot less expensive, too - I just buy the gallon plastic jugs at Home Depot or any chain hardware store.

I think you will find that commercial turpentine however, has a lot of impurities you won't get with the "artists grade" variety. And it has another advantage - you can make a fine all-purpose medium with turpentine and linseed oil (I forget the usual formula, something like two parts turps to five linseed oil???????) And, as sarkana says, turps will hasten drying time somewhat, so you can forego the use of a siccative like cobalt dryer should you be tempted.

I do not personally like the "Turpenoid" type products - to me it may not smell like turps, but sure does have a mineral spirit smell.

Whatever you use, observe some do's and don'ts:

Thouroghly wash your hands after use
Use only in a WELL VENTILATED area
Don't eat or drink or (perish the thought - smoke) while using.

Good painting!