Methyl Hydrate Vs Mineral Spirits

DIY’ers can use methyl hydrate and mineral spirits for similar tasks, such as cleaning paint brushes and surfaces. Because of this, it is not uncommon for people to wonder what the differences between these two solvents are.

Mineral spirits tend to be cheaper and more versatile than methyl hydrate. Whereas spirits can be used for cleaning brushes, degreasing parts, and thinning paint, methyl hydrate has more limited applications.

In this article, we detail the differences and similarities between the two solvents. Get ready to learn for yourself what you can expect when considering whether to use methyl hydrate or mineral spirits!

What is Methyl Hydrate?

Methyl hydrate is basically ethyl alcohol, or ethanol (not to be confused with methyl alcohol, or methanol). Ethanol has many uses in various industries, such as the production of plastic. DIY’ers use it for tasks like cleaning tools and surfaces.

You might see methyl hydrate mentioned as a fuel, but as a solvent, methyl hydrate comes in handy for the following purposes:

· Thinning Shellac

Shellac can give old furniture a brand new shine. However, hardware store-bought shellac usually has to be thinned to get the right consistency for problem-free application. You can also use methyl hydrate to thin shellac.

· Cleaning Paint Brushes and Rollers

Cleaning all the paint from brushes and rollers is not so easy if you only use soap and water. One of the most common uses for methyl hydrate in DIY shops is to remove excess paint off tools like paintbrushes and rollers.

· Cleaning Surfaces

Methyl hydrate is safe to use on most surfaces, including glass, metal, vinyl, concrete, asphalt, ceramic, and more. Test a small out-of-the-way area first to ensure that this cleaning solvent will not harm a surface.

· Removing Painting Mistakes

Methyl hydrate can dissolve dried paint. Just scrub some with a brush or rag on unwanted dried paint and watch it dissolve to eliminate the mistake.

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What Is Mineral Spirits?

Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits is a petroleum-distillate liquid often employed as a multi-use solvent. Although many solvents in the market can do the things that white spirits do, very few can be said to be as popular.

Mineral spirits are sold as a solvent for DIY needs such as woodworking, painting, automotive parts, cleaning, and more. Since it can dissolve oil easily, DIY’ers commonly use this oil-based solvent as a paint thinner.

Adding spirits to oil paint and finish renders this type of paint (or finish) thinner and easier to apply. Since it is an organic solvent, spirits also work wonders as a cleaner in various industries and homes.

Some of the things you can do with mineral spirits include:

· Thinning Oil-Based Paint

Mineral spirits are the go-to solution for many DIY’ers when they want to thin oil-based paint. Pouring the right amount of this solvent into your paint can get it to the right consistency to apply it to walls and anything else you are painting without hassles.

· General Cleaning

If you take on DIY projects constantly, you know that making a mess is often inevitable. You can use spirits as a general cleaner on floors, wooden furniture, and more. Plus, using spirits is much more affordable than buying expensive disinfectants and other cleaning products.

· Degreasing Parts

Working with automotive and other mechanical parts can lead to grease getting everywhere. You can use a rag soaked in mineral spirits to remove grease and grime from metal parts and clean from anywhere else that might have gotten stained.

· Giving Old Furniture New Life

If you have old furniture you want to bring back to life, mineral spirits can help you do it. This organic solvent will rid your furniture of dirt and debris while restoring its old shine.

· Removing Sticky Price Tags

When removed, price tags stuck directly to items tend to leave a sticky residue. Using soap and water to do away with this residue is not always practical. Just use mineral spirits with a rag to wipe it away in less than a minute.

Should I Use Methyl Hydrate or Mineral Spirits?

If you already have a can or two of methyl hydrate and mineral spirits at home or in your shop, you might have difficulty deciding which of the two to use. 

The answer depends on what you want to do with a solvent and how big the job happens to be.

Consider the Purpose

Methyl hydrate and mineral spirits are not always interchangeable, meaning that you cannot always substitute one for the other. For example, both might be good at cleaning brushes, but mineral spirits will thin oil-based paint more efficiently.

How Big is Your DIY Project?

How big the DIY job you are taking on should greatly influence whether you choose to use methyl hydrate or mineral spirits. 

Methyl hydrate is at least twice as expensive as mineral spirits depending on where you buy it and in what quantity.

If you are painting a small room, using methyl hydrate to clean paint brushes and paint rollers will not impact your budget much. If your painting projects are considerably more extensive and frequent, you will notice the difference in what you spend.

Safety with Methyl Hydrate vs. Mineral Spirits

Safety should always be a concern when dealing with these types of solvents, as these tend to contain toxic chemicals. Typical use should not produce adverse effects, but prolonged use can. This makes using safety gear such as gloves and goggles a must.

You should also be aware of how much ventilation a room where you will be using either methyl hydrate or mineral spirits has. 

Fumes from these types of solvents can carry health hazards that are easy to avoid with safety gear and a well-ventilated area for working. Methyl Hydrate fumes are particularly hazardous and can lead to respiratory complications.

Conclusion – Methyl Hydrate or Mineral Spirits

Methyl Hydrate and mineral spirits have a wide variety of DIY uses.

If you are able, you might want to try both of these solvents on different projects to see which one works best for you. However, while methyl hydrate might be particularly useful for thinning shellac and other materials, mineral spirits have more uses and are the least expensive option.