Paint Thinner Vs Mineral Spirits

Although you have found the perfect color for your paint, it could be too thick for your desired application. A Paint’s thickness is key to a perfect application. Whether you need thin oil-based paint to pour into a spray gun or brush on thin and even coats, mineral spirits and paint thinners are liquids up to the task.

Plus, they come in handy at the end of a paint job when removing this paint from brushes or rollers.

To clarify, paint thinner is simply an overall term for any solvent used to thin paint or remove paint from brushes, rollers, and other painting tools. Examples of paint thinners and cleaning agent include turpentine, acetone, naphtha, toluene, and, of course, mineral spirits (Stoddard solvent).

paint thinner

It’s hard to decide which to use, yet here, for Do It Yourselfers, we take the two most common and look at what is the difference between mineral spirits and paint thinner. (Read Does Paint Go Bad)

By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of when to use paint thinner with harsh odors or settle for the fewer odors from mineral spirits, yet they all need the same safety tips to be followed.

Can I Use Paint Thinner Instead of Mineral Spirits?

Although both paint thinner and mineral spirits effectively clean oil-based paint, there is a subtle main difference in odor and cost. This concise overview will assist you in determining what is best for you.

Paint thinner is the greatest option for cleaning brushes because it is half the cost of mineral spirits and performs similarly. What is the difference between paint thinner and mineral spirits aside from price, are minor:

  • Both are petroleum-based substances.
  • Both can effectively clean scuff marks from flooring, yet neither will remove paint that has cured.
  • Both can clean paintbrushes and thin oil-based paints and varnishes.
  • Mineral spirits are the more refined version of paint thinner. Paint thinner contains various types of solvents, which results in it being much smellier and more volatile.
  • Mineral spirits aren’t as pungent as rubbing alcohol.
  • It’s slightly more effective in lesser doses than paint lacquer thinner because it’s more refined.

No matter which solvent you choose, use them in a well-ventilated area and follow safety measures. While mineral spirits paint, thinner is just another type of paint thinner; here, you can find the difference between mineral spirits and paint thinner.

Find out some important differences and their own advantages in the paint thinner, mineral spirits comparison. (Learn How To Remove Paint From Concrete)

What is Mineral Spirits?

Mineral spirits are heavily refined distillations of a petroleum base used to thin oil-based paints, clean brushes and more.


  • Other paint thinners are more toxic than mineral spirits.
  • Mineral spirits have a very low odor than other products, and an odor free mineral spirits version is available.
  • When used for thinning oil-based paint, the paint dries smoother and more evenly.
  • Toxic compounds are removed in production.



  • Alternative paint thinners are frequently more expensive than mineral spirits.
  • Mineral spirits should never be used with latex paint.
  • Mineral spirits are a mild irritant, though not as abrasive as certain cleaners, yet don’t work with asphalt products.

What is Paint Thinner?

Paint thinners are solvents used to thin oil-based paints, clean brushes, and other painting equipment.


  • Non-mineral spirits paint thinners are a cheaper form of paint thinners. Or mineral spirits cost more.
  • Turpentine, a paint thinner, has higher solvency than mineral spirits, as do many other paint thinners.
  • Mineral spirits remove just wet paint, whereas turpentine and other thinners remove wet and dried paint.


  • Paint thinners emit strong fumes and should only be used in well-ventilated places.
  • A lot of paint thinners are highly flammable.
  • Properly disposing of paint thinners can be a hassle.
  • Can ruin oil paints if used incorrectly

Mostly, paint thinner and mineral spirits are interchangeable, but that doesn’t mean they’re the same thing, yet both should be used in well-ventilated areas, if there is an odor or not.

Mineral spirits are petroleum distillates that contain no additions or harsh chemicals, and as a result, they have a less offensive odor than paint thinner. Mineral spirits are more expensive to produce than paint thinner because they are so much more refined. They are sometimes twice the price of paint thinner. (Learn When Should You Remove Painters Tape)

Paint thinner refers to any solution used to thin paint, unlike mineral spirits. Paint thinner is a mixture of mineral spirits and additional additives.

Because of this, paint thinner is cheaper than mineral spirits as it isn’t as refined and contains cheaper components. This saves money when cleaning paint brushes and makes paint thinner the preferred choice.

Paint thinner has a significantly stronger chemical odor than pure mineral spirits because of the added additives.

This makes it less appealing for use in confined spaces, despite its lower cost. However, paint thinner saves money over mineral spirits in most applications. Price makes mineral spirits less appealing unless a low odor is required.

mixing thinner

What Is the Difference Between Paint Thinner and Turpentine and Mineral Spirits?

Solvents are liquids that dissolve another substance. Using mineral spirits vs paint thinner, for example, can damage tools or projects. Turpentine is one of the few non-petroleum distillate solvents. Distilling pine oleoresins make it. It’s also called turpentine spirits or turps.

Turpentine over mineral spirits to thin oil- or alkyd-based paints should be done with caution as it could over-thin the paint, paint thinned to this level could run or leak. Although less toxic than petroleum-based solvents, turpentine can cause allergic reactions.

Mineral spirits, sometimes known as white spirit, is a petroleum distillate made to replace turpentine. Painters prefer it over turpentine because it is less expensive, less sticky, and has less offensive odor.

Mineral spirits vs paint thinner has an odor that some people dislike as it is sickly compared to the vapor smell of paint thinners.

Turpentine, acetone, and mineral spirits are excellent cleaners, and turpentine may even remove stubborn paint or hardened paint. Naphtha is a petroleum solvent like mineral spirits but is more volatile and mostly used as a paint thinner or for cleaning surfaces or tools.

Because naphtha is a more powerful solvent than mineral spirits, it requires less to thin paint. However, it dries paint faster, making blending strokes and eliminating drips more challenging.

Lacquer thinner is a combination of two or more solvents combined. Lacquer thinners commonly contain acetone, amyl or ethyl acetate, and toluene.

As the name implies, lacquer thinners are used to thin lacquers and clean the brushes and spray apparatus used in lacquer finishing. However, lacquer thinner can also clean brushes. They are effective paint removers even after they’ve hardened as they can soften and start thinning oil-based paints ready to clean.

brushes on thinner

What Is The Difference Between Mineral Spirits and Lacquer Thinner?

Painters typically had few choices of solvents for thinning paint or varnish or for cleaning up after painting: most used turpentine, a solvent distilled from the sap of the pine tree.

Today, painters use either mineral spirits vs paint thinners as it offers slower drying of paints. However, when professional painters spray paint, they need a stronger solvent to dissolve solids and rely on lacquer thinner. (Find the Best Paint for Shower Walls)

Mineral Spirits

All brushable paints used to be oil-based, and mineral spirits were used to thin them. Distilled from petroleum, mineral spirits (leaves an oily residue) are no longer considered equivalent to other paint thinners now that water-soluble latex paint products are on the market.

But mineral spirits are still the best thinner for alkyd paints and most varnishes. Their slow evaporation rate, when compared with another paint thinner, is desirable because it gives oil-based paints time to level out before they dry.

Lacquer Thinner

Lacquer thinner is a mixture of volatile chemicals you may find on shelves with a label designating it. Lacquer thinners contain a variety of chemicals, but they all dissolve lacquer and shellac and a variety of plastics and hardened paints.

Lacquer thinner is far more volatile than mineral spirits vs paint thinner and is the only thinner suitable for lacquer spraying. After the lacquer sets, it swiftly evaporates, and the lacquer flash dries in a matter of minutes.

Is Varsol Paint Thinner the Same as Mineral Spirits?

Varsol is a mineral spirits-containing petroleum distillate. It thins all oil-based paints, cleans brushes, rollers, and hands, and removes paint from anything else.

Imperial Oil’s registered trademark Varsol has a slightly greater purity level than mineral spirits. These products are both toxic and flammable. You can use any of these three solvents as an oil-based oil paint thinner with confidence.

As a result, they have a lot in common. These products, for example, are great for thinning oil-based paints, dissolving adhesives, degreasing, cleaning, soaking obstinate bolts, removing waxy films, and cleaning a painting instrument or brushes.

Mineral spirits or paint thinner can suffice for any of these applications; however, paint thinner will be considerably less expensive.

Aside from price, the key differences between the two solvents are minor: Both are petroleum-based products. Both can clean paintbrushes and thin oil-based paints and varnishes. Mineral spirits, in a less refined form, just paint thinner.

Varsol is a paint thinner that can be used for a variety of cleaning tasks. Paintbrushes may be cleaned, and grease and debris on a bicycle chain can be removed.

You can use the thinner as a cleaning agent on your painting utensil, remove waxy films, brushes, furniture, cars, and a variety of other objects. Like other thinners, you can’t use it on latex paints, and it is easier to use soapy water to clean brushes and rollers.

Paint Thinner Vs Mineral Spirits (1)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.