One of the necessary evils of working with oil paints is working with solvents. Solvents & thinners can be hazardous to your health as the fumes are rapidly absorbed through your lungs and solvents can be absorbed through your skin. Here are some facts & tips on safely handling solvents when oil painting.
Using Diluents Safely
- Avoid inhilation
- Use in a well ventilated room..or better yet, outdoors
- Wear rubber gloves when handling
- Do not eat, drink, or smoke when painting using solvents
The Hazards of using Turpentine
Turpentine is a fluid obtained by the complex distillation of resin obtained from trees, mainly various species of pine. … Hazards of using Turpentine : Turpentine is an organic solvent, and thus poses many of the same hazards as do other such substances. It can burn the skin and eyes, damage the lungs and respiratory system, as well as the central nervous system when inhaled, and cause renal failure when ingested, among other things. It is highly flammable. Wikipedia
Use Mineral Spirits instead of Turps
Artists use mineral spirits as an alternative to turpentine, one that is both less flammable and less toxic. Because of interactions with pigments, artists require a higher grade of mineral spirits than many industrial users, including the complete absence of residual sulphur. Odorless Mineral Spirits are mineral spirits that have been further refined to remove the more toxic aromatic compounds, and are recommended for applications such as oil painting, where humans have close contact with the solvent. According to Robert Gamblin of Gamblin Artist Colors, the best brands contain 100% aliphatic compounds, and dry without leaving any residue. Wikipedia
How to Safely Recycle Solvents
Solvents that are dirty can be filtered & reused.
- Let the solvent stand (few hours - few days) in a sealed glass jar to allow the pigment to settle
- Pour the solvent into a clean glass jar through a coffee filter
- Let the solvent stand again to allow pigment that may have passed through the filter to settle
- Transfer to another clean glass jar and seal tightly
- Repeat if necessary
- Allow the pigment to dry and dispose in a plastic bag in the garbage
When solvents are disposed of improperly - in the garbage, on the ground or down the drain - the hazardous chemicals may contaminate lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater. Many chemicals found in landfills may contaminate the underground water table, but solvents are a primary concern. Eurobodalla Shire Council
How to Safely Dispose of Used Solvents
- Do not dump your solvents down the drain or toilet!
- Follow the instuctions on the container of your particular solvent
- Contact your local Household Hazardous Waste Collection program