Using & Recycling Diluents Safely for Oil Painting

By heather at 6:07 am on Tuesday, November 7, 2006

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
Filed under: illustrations, business of illustration

9 Comments »

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Comment by Art Framing Supplies

June 18, 2008 @ 7:13 am

Great post, I really enjoyed it. I will have to bookmark this site for later.

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Comment by Tricia Robertson

June 27, 2008 @ 9:38 am

Invaluable tips for a teacher and her students!

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Comment by oil painting

November 5, 2008 @ 7:57 am

it,s great

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Comment by Ben

November 29, 2008 @ 9:13 pm

Using petroleum distilates (odorless paint thinner). What about the layer of resin (rosin?) that settles to the bottom of the jar after a day or so? Can/should this be removed before reusing the solvent or is it an essential ingredient of the solvent that needs to be mixed back in?

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Comment by Alicia

August 12, 2009 @ 3:01 am

You have done a fantastic and praise worth job by posting such valuable information. Many of the people who do oil paintings do not know these important safety measures.

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Comment by house clearance

June 22, 2010 @ 1:08 am

oil paints can be quite tricky to deal with and you have provided some great ways of sorting them out. thanks for sharing

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Comment by paintings

December 31, 2010 @ 9:43 pm

Ya! I Agree with above comment. Me also Like Ur Message is Very Useful. paintings for sale .

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Comment by oilpaintingseller

January 16, 2011 @ 6:36 am

one day ,when i want to buy oil painting ,i find at a website www.oilpaintingseller.com,i never seen such a buautiful abstract painting and flower paintingand the price lower than other oilpainting shop.

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Comment by lily gossip

April 10, 2012 @ 10:05 pm

your using & Recycling Diluents Safely for Oil Painting is very useful.help me a lot

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