Methylated Spirits vs. Mineral Spirits

Whether or not to use mineral or methylated spirits is a confusing issue for many new DIYers, and it’s more difficult when blogs mix up these solvents in how-to guides. So, here’s what you need to know.

Mineral spirits and methylated spirits are necessary solvents in DIY home projects. Both solvents have extensive applications in degreasing and stain removal, but methylated spirits are preferable for dissolving water-based paints and latex.

This article will explore the similarities, differences, and specific use of these solvents in everyday home DIY projects. 

Methylated Spirits vs. Mineral Spirits: What Are the Differences? 

Here’s some vital info: the solvent names are often mixed-up in countries like Australia and New Zealand. Irrespective of the solvent name, here are a few glaring differences:

  • Methylated spirits have a purple color, while mineral spirits are clear liquids.
  • Methylated spirits are miscible in water, while mineral spirits are immiscible in any water-based solution.
  • Mineral spirits are oil-based, while methylated spirits are alcohol-based. Therefore, you can use the latter to dissolve water-based paints, latex, and for a majority of mild cleaning products.
  • Mineral spirits do not always emit odors (especially the odorless variety), while methylated spirits typically have a pungent odor or strong odor.

When to Use Methylated Spirit in Home DIY Projects 

Are methylated spirits and mineral spirits the same? Not by a mile.

DIYers can use methylated spirits or denatured alcohol for indoor and outdoor cleaning tasks, as it is a heavy-duty disinfectant and cleaning solution for removing hard stains from most surfaces. 

Methylated spirits can also dissolve shellac and remove sawdust from the furniture. You can use it to dissolve latex and glue residues from stickers. It is also perfect for thin varnishes, lacquer, and common paint.

Note: Methylated spirits are toxic and easily absorbed into the skin. Protect yourself by wearing gloves when handling this solvent. 

When to Use Mineral Spirits in Home DIY Projects 

Mineral spirits are a popular paint-thinning solvent. Most professional painters and DIYers use it to reduce paint thickness and rejuvenate dried-up or clump paints. But, that’s only a fraction of what you can do with this solvent. 

Mineral spirits can dissolve wax coverings on wood surfaces. It is also a degreasing agent for removing oil build-up in metal appliances and equipment. 

What Are the Limitations of Using These Solvents? 

Here’s the first rule for DIY home projects: there’s no one-for-all solvent for all your needs. Each solvent has a specific use or application, and the improper use may spell disaster for your projects. 

When Not to Use Methylated Spirit in Home DIY Solutions 

Methylated spirits are a highly toxic solvent, and it quickly absorbs into the skin. So, avoid using it for hand sanitizers or disinfectants. In addition, do not use it for kitchenware or any objects that come in direct contact with food. 

When Not to Use Mineral Spirits in Home DIY Solution

First, do not use mineral spirits as a paint thinner for water or latex-based paints. They are oil-based and do not mix with water. 

Second, you can not use mineral spirits as a paint thinner or scraper for dried paints. You may use a chemical stripper or a sanding tool to remove dried paint on wooden surfaces. 

Third, do not use mineral spirits to clean tire skid marks or paint on asphalt. They will soften the asphalt. 

Finally, never use mineral spirits as a fuel or fire starter in outdoor or indoor areas. 

Which is a Better Paint Thinner?

Both spirits are excellent solvent options for paint thinning. Before mixing in either spirit, understand that not all types of solvents are suitable for thinner colors. 

Methylated spirit is ideal for thinning oil, latex, and water-based paints. Since it is an alcohol-based solvent, it mixes easily with all types of paint. However, mineral spirits are oil-based solvents that only dissolve in oils, making them suitable for oil-based paints.

How to Thin Paint with Mineral Spirits or Methylated Spirits

Follow these steps to apply mineral spirits or methylated spirits in the preferred paint:

  • Get a bucket, paintbrush, and a funnel for this process.
  • Pour the paint into the bucket, and add four ounces per gallon of paint.
  • Mix the paint thoroughly until there are no clumps.
  • Test your thinned paint by running it through a funnel. It has the right consistency if it flows freely through the funnel. 
  • Spray or apply the thinned paint evenly on your preferred surface.

Which is a Better Stain Removal? Methylated Spirit vs Mineral Spirit

Which do you prefer for removing stains in most of your DIY projects? Methylated spirit or mineral spirits? Is one better than the other?

Luckily, each is an excellent degreasing solvent, and both are helpful for a wide range of stain removal and hold up to cleaning tasks, like removing a coat of paint or grease from metal parts. 

How to Remove Stains with Spirits

  • First of all, gather your tools for this process. You will need a paint brush or rag, a container, and water for a mild cleaning agent solution.
  • Pour a small amount of the solvent into a container;
  • Dip a lint-free cloth or rag into the solvent;
  • Gently or vigorously scrub the area you want to clean;
  • Wait for 10 minutes to see the effects of the solvent;
  • You can re-apply the surface if dissatisfied;
  • Pour the remaining solvent back into the main container and properly dispose of the solvent;
  • You may contact the nearest hazardous waste disposal facility on how to dispose of the rags. 

Conclusion: Choose Your Preferred Solvent

Each cleaning solvent is a brilliant solvent for most DIY home projects, whether you use them as degreasers, paint removers, or other cleaners. Remember the subtle differences between both solvents and maximize them to get the best results.