Mineral spirits are an industrial solvent commonly used as a paint thinner as well as in woodworking. In addition to cleaning brushes and removing paint, mineral spirits can also be used to restore and clean wood furniture. That’s why artists and woodworkers usually have a can of mineral spirits in their studios.
Since mineral spirits are a strong solvent, a lot of people wonder whether they will evaporate after application and even in storage.
Do mineral spirits evaporate? Yes, when applied to a surface, mineral spirits can evaporate at a rate that’s similar to that of other petroleum-based liquids. However, mineral spirits don’t evaporate as quickly if they are kept in a sealed bottle.
What Are Mineral Spirits?
White or mineral spirits, also referred to as petroleum spirits, are a type of solvent commonly used in the manufacture of paints, stains, and varnishes. Mineral spirits are made from petroleum distillate. It is a refined form of petroleum.
Mineral spirits are a strong solvent that is very effective at cleaning and degreasing surfaces. It can also be used to thin and remove solvent-based paints and varnishes.
An odorless version of mineral spirits is commonly used to remove dirt and grime from surfaces because it is safer for the skin than other cleaning agents.
Do Mineral Spirits Evaporate?
When mineral spirits are applied to a surface, they can evaporate in around 15-20 minutes. After the mineral spirits evaporate, the surface will look completely dry, as if there’s no liquid on top of it.
When you use mineral spirits as a paint thinner, it actually doesn’t evaporate very quickly. As long as you use up your batch of paint in one go, you don’t have to worry about the mineral spirits evaporating from your paint after a couple of minutes.
An open container of mineral spirits can take a couple of days to dry out completely. That’s why it’s always recommended to store mineral spirits in a sealed container, where they will be safe for a couple of years without evaporating.
Do Mineral Spirits Leave Behind A Residue?
Mineral spirits are a popular paint stripper, degreaser, or cleaner for particularly dirty surfaces. The simplest way to use mineral spirits is to soak a clean cloth in it and wipe down the surface until it is completely clean.
After being applied to a surface, mineral spirits can completely evaporate, which means that there’s no residue left behind that you have to wipe off. The surface will look clean and polished with no trace of mineral spirits left behind.
However, if you use mineral spirits to clean an especially dirty and greasy surface, you may see some residue on the surface after the mineral spirits have evaporated.
This is not the mineral spirits’ residue but the leftover residue of the dirt and grease. You can use a clean cloth to wipe off this residue completely.
If you see a film residue on the surface after the mineral spirits have evaporated, that might be because you have used a less refined version of mineral spirits. If the mineral spirits are highly refined, you won’t see a residue.
Less refined mineral spirits may also have a strong smell that indicates that the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have not been filtered out.
If you see an oily residue after working with less refined mineral spirits, this residue can be removed using a clean cloth soaked in denatured alcohol or paint thinner.
You should never leave a pool of mineral spirits on a surface because it may make it harder for the mineral spirits to evaporate completely and will likely leave behind a residue. Instead, you should use a cloth to wipe the surface with mineral spirits to get the best result.
Do Odorless Mineral Spirits Evaporate?
Mineral spirits also come in low-odor or odorless formulas that are highly refined, where the volatile hydrocarbons have been completely filtered out.
Because these formulas are highly refined, you won’t see any residue on the surface after the odorless mineral spirits have evaporated.
Similar to other types of mineral spirits, odorless mineral spirits also evaporate really quickly. It will leave your surface without a trace of residue after only about 15-30 minutes.
Mineral spirits may evaporate quicker or slower depending on the temperature. If you leave it in a warm room, it will take less time to evaporate completely.
Odorless mineral spirits are preferred by many people because they are more pleasant to work with, and they can be safer since all the VOCs have been filtered out.
How To Store Mineral Spirits
Although most mineral spirits products have a “Use By” date, mineral spirits can actually last for decades if stored in a sealed container at a cool temperature.
Since mineral spirits don’t expire, you can actually buy them in bulk, especially if you frequently use them in your art studio or woodworking studio.
Even if the mineral spirits have been left in storage for a while, you won’t be able to tell the difference in terms of quality, especially when you use mineral spirits as a paint thinner.
However, to keep mineral spirits from evaporating right out of the can, you should keep it in a sealed and tight container so that you can get as much use out of it as you want.
Mineral spirits can also melt plastic and damage other materials, so if you need to store mineral spirits in a container, make sure to use a solvent-resistant container that won’t be damaged by the effects of mineral spirits. Tight-seal glass containers are the best way to store mineral spirits.
Despite being relatively safe, mineral spirits are still highly flammable. To minimize the risk of ignition, use approved containers such as safety cans or plunger cans. These cans can help isolate mineral spirits from other sources of ignition.
You should always keep containers of mineral spirits and other flammable liquids away from sources of heat or fire to prevent them from igniting.
How To Dispose Of Mineral Spirits
If you use mineral spirits in painting or cleaning, then you should also know how to dispose of rags and other things that have been touched by mineral spirits properly.
Never throw away mineral spirits in the garbage or pour them down the drain because of their flammability and toxicity. Any items that could have been soaked with mineral spirits, such as towels and rags, should also be disposed of properly.
It’s important to take them to a designated hazardous-waste collection site. This facility will label the container properly to indicate the toxic and flammable material. If you don’t know where this site is, or if your municipality has one, it’s probably best to arrange a pick-up.
You can also re-use mineral spirits if you’re wary of wasting, so if you’re interested, take a look at this video from ScottRuthvenFineArt on YouTube.