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Thread: Is paint thinner and mineral spirits the same thing?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master


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    Is paint thinner and mineral spirits the same thing?

    I just got a PM asking me this in regards to cutting LLA. Someone told me many eons ago that the two were similar, but not the same.

    Any chemists with a definitive answer?

    Thanks.

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  2. #2
    Boolit Bub
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    Depends on what the store is selling as "paint thinner". Mineral spirits is a petro based product typically used for thinning oil based paints. Naphtha, Mineral Spirits, Acetone, Xylene, Turpentine, Toulene and MEK are all "paint thinners".

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Definately, not all paint thinner is mineral spirits. Mineral Spirits can be used for thinner on some paints.
    Clear as mud.
    There are so many knds of paint thinners that it will make your head swim. They are everything from oil base ( similar to desiel or naptha) to alcohol. There ar a lot of alcohols. Eg: Methyl-Ethyl -Keytome, Toloul, Toluline, Methyl Isobutal-Keytone, bla bla

    I would guess, mineral spirits to be in the petrolium group. They are all aromatic hydrocarbons.
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  4. #4
    Boolit Master 1874Sharps's Avatar
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    Recluse,

    Both are mixtures of hydrocarbons of similar volatility from fractional distilation. There are some differences, to be sure, but for the purposes of thinning lube, I would think that either paint thinner or mineral spirits would serve fine. I like the odorless stuff myself, but that is because I do not like the smell of paint thinner. Of course all safety rules, ventilation, skin exposure, etc. apply.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    What is sold in most hardware/paint stores labeled as "paint thinner" is indeed nothing but mineral spirits. Mineral spirits is considered an aliphatic hydrocarbon, but has a slight amount of aromatic hydrocarbon content. Odorless Mineral Spirits is mineral spirits with the aromatic hydrocarbons (the smelly stuff) removed, which reduces its solvency power somewhat. VM&P naphtha is a faster evaporating relative of mineral spirits and used for similar puposes. Other solvents, such as MEK, lacquer thinner, acetone, etc are indeed used to thin some types of paint but are labeled with their chemical name or specific use (lacquer thinner, for example) to differentiate them from mineral spirits. Either standard paint thinner/mineral spirits or the odorless variety will thin LLA quite well. I would avoid the other solvents for this purpose as they are more flammable/volatile and are of no advantage.
    Sorry to be long winded but I finally found something I could contibute for all I have learned on this site. I was a paint chemist for almost 40 years and a Solvent Tech service chemist for 2 of those. Hope this helps rather than confused
    God Bless, Whisler

  6. #6
    Boolit Master sagacious's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whisler View Post
    What is sold in most hardware/paint stores labeled as "paint thinner" is indeed nothing but mineral spirits. Mineral spirits is considered an aliphatic hydrocarbon, but has a slight amount of aromatic hydrocarbon content. Odorless Mineral Spirits is mineral spirits with the aromatic hydrocarbons (the smelly stuff) removed, which reduces its solvency power somewhat. VM&P naphtha is a faster evaporating relative of mineral spirits and used for similar puposes. Other solvents, such as MEK, lacquer thinner, acetone, etc are indeed used to thin some types of paint but are labeled with their chemical name or specific use (lacquer thinner, for example) to differentiate them from mineral spirits. Either standard paint thinner/mineral spirits or the odorless variety will thin LLA quite well. I would avoid the other solvents for this purpose as they are more flammable/volatile and are of no advantage.
    Sorry to be long winded but I finally found something I could contibute for all I have learned on this site. I was a paint chemist for almost 40 years and a Solvent Tech service chemist for 2 of those. Hope this helps rather than confused
    Helped me. Thanks.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    Wow, lots of goodies here.
    Ok, now that we got that out of the way,
    Is mineral spirits paint thinner, or are paint thinners mineral spirits?
    Inquireing minds want to know.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by docone31 View Post
    Wow, lots of goodies here.
    Ok, now that we got that out of the way,
    Is mineral spirits paint thinner, or are paint thinners mineral spirits?
    Inquireing minds want to know.
    I thought it was pretty clearly stated that mineral spirits is a paint thinner...one of many paint thinners.
    Naphtha, Acetone, Xylene, Turpentine, Toulene and MEK are some of the others.
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  9. #9
    Boolit Master knifemaker's Avatar
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    Our local hardware store sells paint thinner that is labeled in smaller print as being 100% mineral spirits on the label. If you need mineral spirits, just check the paint thinner labels and you should find some listed as 100% mineral spirits.
    Another use for mineral spirits, is for general firearms cleaning. Very good for semi auto firearms to remove any carbon buildup on the operating parts. I use a plastic spray bottle to spay it on my semi auto pistols and watch the black crud flow off the slide and frame. Use a toothbrush for stubborn areas give second coat of spray and blow off with a air hose nozzle.
    Remove grips prior to spraying. I learned this use of mineral spirits at the Beretta Armours course i took about 12 years ago. At that time Beretta was advising not to use Hoppe's #9 to clean their firearms if Winchester ball powder was being used in the ammo for law enforcement departments. They reccommended mineral spirits be used instead of the Hoppe's #9 to prevent a carbon buildup in the firing pin chamber that led to numerous misfires in the Beretta firearms being used by a North Eastern state police agency.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Plus 1 on Mineral spirits as a gun cleaner. Mix some baby oil with it and it will clean even better and smell a lot better too.
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  11. #11
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    Water is also a paint thinner for emulsions and distemper paints but water isn't the same as mineral spirits.


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  12. #12
    Boolit Master Russel Nash's Avatar
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    somebody asked:

    Is all paint thinner mineral spirits.. Is all mineral spirits paint thinner?
    Let me go back to my geometry days...

    all squares are rectangles, but

    not all rectangles are squares

    all circles are ellipses, but

    not all ellipses are circles

    If the guy is looking to thin LLA, then I would recommend get a low odor mineral spirits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dromia View Post
    Water is also a paint thinner for emulsions and distemper paints but water isn't the same as mineral spirits.
    Very true, plus I bought 2 gallons of water based "paint thinner" that the label claimed worked on oil based paints. Good thing it was cheap 'cuz it didn't work hardly at all.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master Boondocker's Avatar
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    You want to stay clear of any automotive reducers and thinners also. Clean good but very volatile. Mineral spirits is good stuff for gun cleaning, it is part of ED's Red. I also use it in my parts washer, I can change it out with 6 gallons on sale mineral spirits for 20$ or 65$ for 5 gallons parts washer that almost cleans as good as mineral spirits. Boon

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

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    Automotive solvents and thinners are a whole different beast.

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  16. #16
    Boolit Master


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    Many moons ago, I was hired to paint the interior of a garage. The owner gave me two different gallons (grey and light grey) and told me to mix them for an intermediate shade. I mixed (with a paddle and an electric drill) for what seemed like hours. After finishing the job (which came out fine) I went to throw the cans away and realized one was oil paint and one was latex I realize this has no bearing at all to anything in this thread, but Brets post reminded me and I've had too much coffee .(If I wasn't typing this I'd be talking Jana's ear off)
    Last edited by Bill*; 12-19-2009 at 09:38 AM.
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  17. #17
    Boolit Master




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    Quote Originally Posted by docone31 View Post
    Wow, lots of goodies here.
    Ok, now that we got that out of the way,
    Is mineral spirits paint thinner, or are paint thinners mineral spirits?
    Inquireing minds want to know.
    Yes. I say again - Yes.

    (Had to make the message long enough to be accepted by the Automated Board Message Length Police)
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  18. #18
    Boolit Master

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    What whisler said.

    What is commonly call paint thinner sold in hardware stores is for thinning oil base house paints and also for general degreasing and cleaning:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mineral_spirits

    Varsol is also used for the same purpose:

    http://www.daycon.com/msds/VARSOL-tech.pdf

    As stated, there are lots of "paint thinners/reducers" for automotive paints, laquers, epoxys, etc. but they are all much more volatile and many may also not be compatible with the same paints. Some like acetone, laquer thinner or MEK you don't near your gun stock because they will take the finish off (at least most oil or plastic finishes). Some are also quite toxic.

    Longbow

  19. #19
    Boolit Master


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    Last time I was at Home Depot they had Mineral Spirits and at half the price, Paint Thinner. The Paint Thinner is a white liquid, not clear. It sure does clean off sizing dies, though.
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  20. #20
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by longbow View Post
    What whisler said.

    What is commonly call paint thinner sold in hardware stores is for thinning oil base house paints and also for general degreasing and cleaning:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mineral_spirits

    Varsol is also used for the same purpose:

    http://www.daycon.com/msds/VARSOL-tech.pdf

    As stated, there are lots of "paint thinners/reducers" for automotive paints, laquers, epoxys, etc. but they are all much more volatile and many may also not be compatible with the same paints. Some like acetone, laquer thinner or MEK you don't near your gun stock because they will take the finish off (at least most oil or plastic finishes). Some are also quite toxic.

    Longbow
    Strange! My computer security program blocked entry to the site on Varsol. Indicated it was "toxic".

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