Difference Between Paint Thinner and Mineral Spirits

Paint Thinner vs Mineral Spirits

Painting industry has long been dependent upon specially created solvents for not only thinning of paints but also for cleaning brushes and other surfaces. Two of these solvents are known as paint thinners and mineral spirits. Both are chemicals that are derived from distillation of petroleum products and both work efficiently to thin paints and to clean objects. However, despite many similarities, paint thinners and mineral spirits are not synonymous and there are subtle differences that will be highlighted in this article.

Paint Thinner

As the name implies, a paint thinner is a solvent that is used to mix in oil based paints to thin them. This is a solvent that is also used to clean brushes and other objects. There are many different types of solvents or chemicals available in the market that are used in the paint industry as paint thinners such as acetone, mineral spirits, turpentine, Naphtha, and so on.

In normal circumstances, when a paint container is opened for use, it has a very thick consistency and the professional who has to use the paint requires thinning the paint. This is achieved by mixing a little amount of paint thinner to get the desired consistency of the paint. As paint thinners are strong chemicals that can even dissolve paints, they are dangerous chemicals and one should keep exposure to them on a minimal basis. Another thing to remember is that they are solvents for thinning and cleaning of paints and should not be used to polish furniture as they can damage the furniture.

Mineral Spirits (White Spirits)

Mineral spirits, called white spirit in UK, is a solvent that is used for thinning of paints and also as a cleaning agent. It is a petroleum distillate that is not only excellent degreaser, but also serves as a solvent in different kinds of products such as spray paints, wood preservatives, varnish, and aerosols. Most of the mineral spirits that are produced is consumed in the paint industry for thinning of paints and for cleaning of brushes. Mineral spirits have been found to be extremely useful in cleaning metal of carbon, grease, and many types of oils that are used in machinery.

Mineral spirits are made from petroleum and prove to be not only more inexpensive than turpentine but also as a safer product being less inflammable and less toxic. Most mineral spirits have kerosene like odor though new, refined mineral spirits have been produced so as to allow people to use them in screen painting and oil painting.

Paint Thinner vs Mineral Spirits

• Though mineral spirits are a kind of paint thinner, paint thinners are in general considered more toxic than mineral spirits.

• Mineral spirits have the odor of kerosene though there are more refined spirits without any odor.

• Paint thinners are cheaper than mineral spirits.

• Mineral spirits are called white spirits in UK.

• While both perform the work of thinning of paints and cleaning of objects, mineral spirits are known for their ability to work as excellent degreaser to clean machinery and tools.

• Mineral spirits are more refined than paint thinners and have less odors than them.