Mineral spirits are surprisingly practical for many DIY projects but can be dangerous in certain situations. It is best to store them in a cool and dry place, but what if the weather has been terribly cold for a couple of months? What if you work from a cold or unheated garage? Do spirits freeze?
Mineral spirits will not freeze. The solvent has a freezing point well below that of water. This makes it suitable to be used in all weather conditions.
Despite the fact that it doesn’t freeze, there are other essential facts to know about this solvent. Read on for more information.
Handling Mineral Spirits in the Cold
Mineral spirits do not freeze since they are oil-based, but you have to handle them with care. This includes how you use them as well as how you store them.
Painting outside in the severe cold will not affect the mineral spirits you have used to thin your paint. However, the paint itself will be affected negatively at low temperatures, and you will suddenly find it hard to apply your paint evenly. Getting down to, say, -20 degrees doesn’t bode well for the solvent.
You can use mineral spirits around your home for painting, general cleaning, degreasing, and more. If you use spirits to thin paint, though, it might be best to leave the painting for warmer days.
Safety with Mineral Spirits
Safety is a big concern when using mineral spirits in the cold. Because of the low temperature range in question, it is unlikely that your solvent will ignite, but it can still happen since this solvent is highly flammable. Consider the following safety precautions carefully:
When working outside with spirits, ventilation will not be a concern. On the other hand, if you are working indoors, ensure that there is proper ventilation. Prolonged exposure to fumes from spirits can cause breathing difficulty and throat swelling. Open up all your windows or leave the garage door open to get the most ventilation you can in your limited workspace.
· Safety gear
Although spirits are a alternative to turpentine, which is more toxic, they can still irritate and even burn your skin. You should use rubber gloves to avoid this turpentine substitute from getting on your skin. If this happens, wash it off immediately.
· Seal tightly
Place any unused mineral spirits back into the original container they came in. Make sure the seal is tight before putting the solvent away for storage. This will keep your spirits suitable for future use and help you avoid possible accidents.
Storing Mineral Spirits in Cold Weather
If you live in a place that gets way below zero during winter, it might be better to store your spirits inside. Leaving them in an outside shed will expose them to unnecessary stress. A cool and dry basement will do just fine for spirits storage in winter and summer.
Even outside, spirits will not freeze, but it is best to avoid exposing them to extreme weather conditions.
It is important to stress that while freezing is not an issue, spirits are highly flammable and should be kept away from any heating sources no matter where you store them. Storing them at room temperatures between 65-70 degrees is a safe bet.
The Flashpoint of Mineral Spirits
Just as you should not store spirits in a frigid place, you should not keep them where there is extreme heat, either.
Never store mineral spirits where they can ignite. The flashpoint—the temperature at which this petroleum-based solvent suddenly catches fire—is 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Other solvents such as turpentine have a lower flashpoint, so spirits are safer in this regard.
Even rags lightly soaked in spirits can easily catch fire. Make sure not to place them near heat sources and dispose of them properly. Dry your soaked rags and take them to your local waste disposal facility.
Are Mineral Spirits Toxic When Frozen?
Mineral spirits lack an ordinary freezing point, but their toxicity does not change, no matter their ambient temperature.
OSHA classifies mineral spirits as an irritant. That might not sound too dangerous, especially when compared to the high toxicity of other solvents such as denatured alcohol and turpentine. However, prolonged exposure to spirits can harm kidneys, lungs, the nervous system, liver, eyes, etc.
Despite their relatively low toxicity, it’s vital that you employ adequate safety measures when working with spirits. As you read above, you have to pay special attention to ventilation, safety gear, and sealing spirits tightly once you store them.
Conclusion: Mineral Spirits Don’t Freeze
As we have outlined above, mineral spirits do not freeze.
Instead, you have to stress how you handle and store them. Safety considerations are also vital. If you follow our tips, you can use your spirits for DIY projects during winter and the rest of the year to get the fantastic results you are looking for!