Mineral Spirits

Definition - What does Mineral Spirits mean?

Mineral spirits are a type of solvent typically used for cleaning tools and machinery that tend to build up grease and grime. They are a petroleum byproduct often found in the form of thin oil-based materials, such as paints and varnishes.

Mineral spirits are used as solvent as an alternative to turpentine for thinning paint and cleaning paint brushes. In industry, mineral spirits are used for cleaning and degreasing machine tools and parts. Mineral spirits may also be used in conjunction with cutting oil as a thread cutting and reaming lubricant.

Mineral spirits are also known as mineral turpentine, turpentine substitute, petroleum spirits, solvent naphtha (petroleum), varsol or white spirit.

Corrosionpedia explains Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits are a mild, low-volatility petroleum distillate that can be used for degreasing and cleaning machinery.

Mineral spirits tend to be more effective than traditional paint thinner in terms of solvent properties and cleaning capabilities. Additionally, paint thinner is noxious whereas "washed" mineral spirits have a much lower odor factor, and are much easier to use for many people due to this.

There are three common types (type I, type II & type III) of mineral spirits produced in the distillation of chemicals such as aliphatic (paraffin) and alicyclic (cyclo-propane) hydrocarbons are combined with alkyl aromatic (benzene) hydrocarbons. Type II odorless mineral spirits is one of the most common types of paint thinner. It has been treated to remove aromatic solvents, allowing it to be used in the manufacture of low-odor oil-based paint.

In addition to the above types, mineral spirits are also categorized as:

  • Class 1 is a product with a high flashpoint or burn temperature and, therefore, a low volatility rating.
  • Class 2 has a somewhat lower flashpoint temperature.
  • Class 3 has the highest volatility with the lowest flashpoint of the three classes.

Because mineral spirits are used for stripping paint and other substances, they are very corrosive. Therefore, care must be taken with its use.

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