Home Forums Explore Media Oil Painting The Technical Forum Switch from OMS to Walnut Oll for Brush Cleaning During Sessions?

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    I’ve always used OMS to clean my brushes during a painting session. I leave the lid off the canister, and have never had any bad reactions (that I’m aware of) to the solvent… But recently my wife must have read some article online because she started telling me I shouldn’t use any solvents, especially with the lid open because I’ll get brain damage, cancer, dyslexia, diarrhea and countless other bad things.


    So I did a little reading, including older posts on this site, and it does seem like maybe solvents should be avoided. Or does it? I’ve read how plenty of people use walnut or poppy oil to clean their brushes during a session, in a slightly more time consuming way than I do with OMS, but seems like it would work and perhaps be safer so everyone is happy and healthy.

    I figured I’d post and see what folks think these days about this. How many of you have switched to (or have always used) a drying oil for this purpose? I’m just about out of my gallon sized container of OMS, so now would be a good time to switch if I’m going to. Also, which drying oil would people say is best for this purpose? Walnut and poppy seem to be the two that get mentioned most frequently. Between those two is it a “six of one…” sort of situation?

    Just like any other man, only more so.


    I would follow up with one other question… I’ve been using one of those DaVinci metal canisters with the little metal basket in it for cleaning with OMS. I’ve started thinking perhaps a Silicoil cleaner might be a gentler way to go – wiping a brush across that smooth rounded coil seems like it’d be easier on brushes than having them get snagged on the holes in the metal basket while being swished in the canister of OMS. Anyone agree or disagree with this?

    Just like any other man, only more so.


      I can’t make decisions regarding the health of other people. But I can say that, personally, I think the concerns over OMS are overblown. Where are the studies indicating that oil painters using OMS are likelier than acrylic painters to contract cancer/heart disease/pneumonia/brain damage/cholera/malaria/AIDS/leprosy/testicular elephantiasis or whatever it is that OMS supposedly does to you?

      I use Kleenstrip Odorfree Green OMS, supposedly more environmentally friendly than other varieties, with a lower flash point. It’s cheap — purchased at the hardware store — which means I don’t feel a wallet-pinch when I dump out the old and fill my jar with new. I use that stuff just for cleaning, though I think it would probably work in actual mediums. Something like Gamsol is probably better for the actual thinning and application of paint.

      The silicoil wire-thingie is good. Used one many years ago. Today, though, I use an old wide-mouthed salsa jar 1/5 filled with those smooth, round glass bead-thingies used in decoration. (Like these.) You can get a bag of ’em at the dollar store. I agree that one ought not rub brushes up against harsh or sharp edges.

      Yes, I am cheap. Transcendentally cheap. I’m seriously thinking of writing a book titled “The Frugal Artist.”



      Thank you. Yes, I’m using Gamsol, which is also supposed to be safer than other OMS products, so who knows. I guess I’m thinking if there’s an alternative that works as well and is solvent-free it couldn’t hurt to try it. I guess I could pick up a container of walnut oil and poppy oil and see which I like better, but was curious to see if anyone here had a preference for one over the other or if they were essentially the same in terms of their ability to clean brushes…

      The Silicoil is only like $7 or so. Might as well pick one of those up too, though I like your DIY glass bead thingie solution as well! :good:

      Just like any other man, only more so.


        Not an English speaker so bear with me..
        Using ‘green’ soap myself to clean brushes, works fine, extremely cheap and harmless, in The Netherlands we call it ‘green’ soap, ‘soft’ soap or ‘brown’ soap, depending on the region of Holland/Belgium you’re from.. made from oils. In the past made from Cannabis-oil (the soap was green), these day’s it is made from cheap Soybean and/or Rutabaga (the soap is brown).. I wonder how that’s called in English? It’s available at all in other countries?
        It was often used to clean brushes by Dutch/Belgian painters for 150/200 years or so as I understand it..
        Have been avoiding the OMS products for cleaning as much as possible, from whatever brand.


          Using Gamsol in my brush cleaning process seemed to cause outside bristles to bend out.

          Now I use walnut oil exclusively.


          Mark – that’s cool. We could learn a lot from what you do in Holland and Belgium!

          Tom – I’ve wondered about that too – many of my brushes do get that look that you describe. I think I’m making the right move.

          Thanks everyone.

          Just like any other man, only more so.

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