Paint Thinners vs Mineral Spirits

Paint Thinner vs. Mineral Spirits – When to Use Thinners or Spirits

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Should you choose to use oil-based paint, the correct substance for thinning and corrections will have to be chosen. Consistency is a major element to consider and is as important as color! Whether for adding an effect, or, for thinning down paint to be used in a spray bottle, no matter which, the correct product will need to be used to reach the required consistency. Compare Paint thinner vs mineral spirits. While very similar they couldn’t be farther apart. Help is close at hand our guide below will enable you to choose the perfect one for your project.



What is Paint Thinner?

A firm understanding of the initial properties of the two is necessary when you compare paint thinner vs mineral thinner. While the term paint thinner is used generally when referring to a variety of painting products, genuine paint thinner could not be more different to mineral spirits! Paint thinner is used when thinning out or cleaning oil-based paints. Paint thinner is derived from the distillation of petroleum and therefore not as refined as mineral spirits. A larger amount of what we call volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is the result. Breathing apparatus is necessary as paint thinners release noxious odors. Paint thinner is an affordable long-lasting compound.

thinner and spirit fumes

The main point to remember when you compare paint thinner vs mineral spirits is that paint thinner is the less purified, more affordable option and requires extra care when used.


The Different Uses of Paint Thinner

Paint thinners are used to change the density of paint, as implied by its name. Oil-based paints require a specific solvent to dilute it, hence using paint thinners. Should you find yourself using a paint sprayer that needs paint to have a thinner validity, or should you need to apply thin layers of paint on a specific area, paint thinners are required.

Paint Thinners for Oil Paint

Paint thinner is utilized in the cleansing of oil-based paints. This is where water-based paints differ from oil-based paints, oil-based require a solvent to adequately clean any mess or splatters. This product can also be utilized in the cleaning of your brushes. Therefore if you are using oil-based paints no matter the type, paint thinners will be a prerequisite.

Paint thinners are a very versatile substance with a wide variety of uses and are suitable for a variety of different surfaces. Grease, grime, and certain marks are no match for paint thinners. Paint thinner is especially handy on wood in need a good clean after sanding. Be careful, as paint thinner is a very caustic cleaner and could cause harm on some surfaces if used too liberally.

Thin Oil Paint with Thinners



Mineral Spirits Explained

Mineral Spirits vs Paint Thinner. Are they equals? No, although mineral spirits and paint thinners are made up of lots of the same elements and have similarities they are not the same. It is vital to have an understanding of the dissimilarity of the two when making a direct comparison of paint thinner vs mineral thinner so that you can select the most appropriate product for your project. There is one big contrast in the distilling procedure of mineral spirits vs paint thinners, that being the heavier purification of mineral spirits to achieve a product containing less sulfur and VOCs. In some instances, the end product of mineral spirits does not contain any odor or toxins whatsoever. As with paint spirits vs mineral spirits, both are made from distilled petroleum.

Mineral Spirits for Oil Painting

Mineral spirits cause less pollution, which makes it the obvious choice when selecting a solvent that is going to be used in places with poor ventilation, or in the home environment where there may be animals and young children in the area. Mineral spirits is a highly efficient product to use, largely due to its heavy refining process. And mineral spirits are practically odorless which makes for a much more pleasant working experience. This product will leave a much cleaner finish when it has dried, due to its slow rate of evaporation.

Mineral spirits is a more multifaceted product to choose for cleaning as it is very good at dissolving tar and oily deposits as well as oil-based paints. Mineral spirits are also a great daily cleaner for many different surfaces and applications, from metal saws to wooden floors, mineral spirits will be an exemplary choice. When talking paint thinner vs mineral spirits for cleaning; paint thinners pollutive properties make mineral spirits the obvious choice for most projects. High-quality products come with high-quality prices. When it comes to mineral thinner vs paint thinner, the mineral thinner is the pricier option of the two. Although the price of mineral spirits is higher by the bottle, far fewer qualities are required and last much longer. The higher price of mineral spirits can often be justified

Compare Mineral Spirits to Paint Thinner


What Are the Different Uses of Mineral Spirits?

As previously specified, paint thinners and mineral spirits are frequently utilized for the same self tasks? Particular projects require the paint to be thinned to be of use, this can be achieved using mineral spirits. Alternatively, it can be utilized in the cleaning of oil-based paint. Need to clean your paintbrushes after using oil-based paint, just use mineral thinners.

Make Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits are a very versatile substance with a wide variety of uses. A very functional cleaner to be used on a variety of materials and surfaces. Grease, grime, and certain marks are no match for mineral spirits. An extremely fast-acting and capable cleanser useful when dealing with especially oily and greasy spills. When it comes to mineral spirits vs paint thinners the choice is often the latter when the project in question is situated indoors.



Mineral Spirits vs. Lacquer Thinner

There have been many comparisons between mineral spirits vs lacquer thinner in the past, this is due to both products being petroleum-based and having many common properties. Lacquer thinner is not as lubricating as mineral spirits as it does not retain as much oil from petroleum. While mineral spirits are better fitted to the removal of paint, lacquer thinner is more useful when it comes to cutting through thick grease and the clean-up of lacquer.

Mineral Spirits or Lacquer Thinner


Comparing Paint Thinner and Mineral Spirits

Many people are baffled by the comparison of paint thinner vs mineral spirits due to their apparent similarities. It is important to note and familiarize yourself with the dissimilarities between paint thinner vs mineral spirits. The table below should give you more clarity on which product is better suited for your project, mineral spirits or paint thinners?


Mineral Spirits

Paint Thinner

StrengthStronger than Paint ThinnerLess Effective than Mineral Spirits
SafetyPrecaution is recommended, however less toxic than Paint ThinnerUse extreme caution when using this product due to the volatile nature of the solvent
UsesMultifaceted uses such as thinning and cleaning of paintMulti-surface cleaner, to thin paint and clean up of paint
VOCsMineral spirits contain fewer VOCs as a result of their refinement processA higher amount of VOCs can be found due to Paint thinners being less refined
OdorProduces barely any odorProduces toxic fumes

Thinners Compared to Spirits



About Paint Thinners and Mineral Spirits

Regardless of your choice when it comes to either paint thinners or mineral spirits there are some vital points to consider. Firstly, the two products are solvents and are toxic. True, mineral spirits are available in odorless forms with almost no VOCs, this is no reason to consider them safe. It is very important to adhere to manufacturers’ usage instructions and take caution when using these products. When using paint thinners or mineral spirits it is advised, to be safe, to utilize both gloves as well as breathing apparatus especially when working indoors.

Thinners and Spirits are Solvents

Mineral spirits and paint thinner are best used in the cleaning of oil-based paints, an important factor to keep in mind is that both should be utilized before the paint dries. The materials used will clean away the paint with ease when applied while the paint is wet. When working with either water-based or latex paints you should not utilize either paint thinner or mineral spirits. The correct product to use would be a specific thinner made for latex paints, whereas water will be sufficient for water-based paints. You will not need to use a lot of mineral spirits or paint thinner as both are extremely strong.

Tip: For everyday DIY and smaller tasks, it will likely not be necessary to buy a big bottle, as you will use so little product. You need only apply a fine layer when using either product for cleaning.


Are These Substances Toxic?

In a word, YES. Both paint thinners and mineral spirits are solvents and therefore consist of toxic chemicals. As previously stated mineral spirits consist of far fewer VOCs and are far fewer odors due to the rigorous refinement of the substance. It is very important to remember that they remain chemical-based and therefore are considered moderately toxic.

Thinner vs Spirits

As paint thinners and mineral spirits are both strong solvents designed to remove heavy muck and paint, they pack quite a punch. It is vital to adhere to using and storing of both paint thinners and mineral spirits in the prescribed guidelines.


Safety Tips for Using These Products

Safety is foremost when using either paint thinner or mineral spirits and manufacturer’s guidelines should always be adhered to in order to stay safe. Below are some key points to bear in mind when using either product.

  • Avoid contact with skin and eyes as paint thinner and mineral spirits are both toxic to some extent. When using paint thinners or mineral spirits it is advised, to be safe, to utilize both gloves as well as protective eyewear especially when working indoors.
  • In case of contact with skin, wash the affected area with water and soap directly following usage of either substance. Washing your hands and other affected areas will ensure no residual oil remains on your skin.
  • You should try to maximize airflow when using these products, even if you have selected an odor-free option. Airflow helps to remove the noxious fumes that may linger in the area in which you are working when the product is in use.
  • Special attention should be used during the application of these products, due to their high propensity when used near open flames.
  • There are a few rulings to be adhered to when it comes to the storage of flammables such as mineral spirits and paint thinners. It is therefore important to ensure you store mineral spirits or paint thinners in a sealed receptacle out of the way of and heat or open flames.
  • Great value for money is to be had as very small amounts are needed to get the job done. Decanting in smaller amounts is well advised. To avoid exposure to toxic elements stick to small quantities. It is advisable to decant a lesser amount and top up as is necessary to avoid wastage.


Mineral spirits and paint thinners both have their uses and is therefore vital to take their differences into consideration when choosing which one to use. Be sure to select the correct product for your particular project and your environmental working conditions.



Frequently Asked Questions


What Is the Difference Between Paint Thinner and Mineral Spirits?

While both serve the same purposes it is essential to remember that paint thinners and mineral spirits are both distilled from petroleum. The difference between these solvents is that there are fewer VOCs and noxious smells to be found in mineral spirits. This is because it goes through a more rigorous refinement process during manufacturing.  Paint thinners, however, when compared to mineral spirits, do not contain as many VOCs, but are far more refined than paint thinners are.


How to Make Mineral Spirits?

Mineral spirits is created with little more than a petroleum distillate. Buying mineral spirits in its purest form is advisable. While similar compounds are available for purchase – including lighter gas and acetone. It is important to note that these products should not be used for the same purposes as mineral spirits.


Is Mineral Spirits the Same as Paint Thinner?

A commonly asked question is ‘is mineral spirits the same as paint thinner?’ Mineral spirits and paint thinners both have many of the same properties, however, their manufacturing process differs in many ways. Paint thinner contains more toxins and is not as multifaceted as mineral spirits.


When to Choose Paint Thinner vs Mineral Spirits?

These products can be used in various and similar projects. Paint thinners has a slightly less viscous consistency than than mineral spirits. Whereas mineral spirits is the stronger of the two, is less toxic and is odorless.


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