Mineral Spirits Vs Kerosene – Complete Guide

Minerals spirits vs. kerosene is a long-contended issue for most users in DIY home projects. With lots of history and tons of reviews, most DIY-ers swear by each common solvent and debate which one is better for home use. So, we are putting the age-long argument to rest—right here and now. 

Mineral spirits and kerosene are different in their chemical properties and how they are used. Kerosene is excellent for cleaning parts, while mineral spirits can efficiently thin paints and remove stains.

How will these differences affect your DIY home projects? Read on to explore the differences between mineral spirits and kerosene.

mineral spirits vs kerosene

What Are The Main Differences Between Mineral Spirits And Kerosene?

Here are a few differences to note before using these solvents in your DIY home projects:

  • Although both solvents are petroleum-based, mineral spirits are more volatile;
  • Kerosene releases more Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) than mineral spirits during use.
  • Kerosene is a suitable cleaning solution for removing shipping grease on cast iron parts.

Mineral Spirits vs Kerosene: Which Solvent Has a Longer Shelf-life? 

Mineral spirits last longer than kerosene. Kerosene goes bad within five years of storage, as water condenses and forms in kerosene stored for a long time. Furthermore, bacteria and mold breaks down kerosene molecules and forms sludge. However, regular spirits have an indefinite shelf-life since their molecules will never separate. 

However, this is not the case for odorless mineral spirits. Odorless spirits may have a shorter shelf-life than regular spirits since they contain a mixture of water and petroleum distillate.

Which Solvent Is Safer To Use At Home?

The issue of kerosene vs. mineral spirits does not matter if both are unsafe for indoor use. 

Mineral spirits are relatively safer to use than kerosene in most home projects. Although they are both flammable, kerosene produces noxious fumes containing carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. Note that these fumes can cause complications in asthma patients, children, and pregnant women.

Kerosene emits high levels of carbon-dioxide and may cause light-headedness and suffocation. As a safety precaution, use kerosene in a well-ventilated space like in an open garage or garden shed. 

Also, use protective eyewear and nose covers when dealing with both solvents. Stop using kerosene if you feel faint or nauseous. Furthermore, contact your physician if the symptoms persist.

Both mineral spirits and kerosene are toxic when ingested or inhaled. So, always place these solvents out of the reach of children. In addition, keep the solvents away from heat sources. 

Do not store them in enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces to avoid fire outbreaks.

Is Mineral Spirits or Kerosene Better For Cleaning Parts?

It’s so satisfying to roll out of your drive-away on a newly touched-up bike or car. What about that freshly-cleaned lawnmower gliding with ease across your lawn? All you need is to select the suitable solvent to efficiently clean those greasy metal parts.

Kerosene is the preferred option for cleaning tough grease, oil goo, and rust-off metal parts. Furthermore, it loosens up rusty parts without compromising the structure. DIYers prefer mineral spirits for less tasking and small-scale cleaning. Also, mineral spirits are pretty more expensive than kerosene.

How to Use Kerosene to Clean Parts

Note: before you clean with kerosene, wear a heavy-duty glove and work in a well-ventilated area. But, use odorless kerosene and a P2 mask if you plan to work in a stuffy space.

Using Kerosene for Chassis and Underbody

  • Dampen a rag with kerosene and apply it to the tar, grease, or grime on your chassis;
  • Leave it for 10 minutes;
  • Use a microfiber cloth to wipe away the dirt.

Using Kerosene for Degrease Car Engine Parts

  • Spray low-odor on the engine and leave it for at least 10 minutes.
  • Use a microfiber cloth to scrub away the dust and grease.
  • Ensure to dry the parts to prevent engine malfunction.
  • Apply lubricant to the cleaned parts.

Using Kerosene to Clean Bicycle Chain

  • Flip your bicycle over a covered surface. This will help to contain all grease or goo;
  • Fill up a small metal container or plastic container with kerosene.
  • Dip a coarse metal sponge into the kerosene.
  • Once it is damp, use it to cover a small part of the chain.
  • Pedal backward until the chain is completely coated with kerosene.
  • Do this until the chain is entirely free from grease.
  • Clean the chain with a microfiber cloth and leave it to dry.

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Which Is A Better Type of Paint Thinner? Kerosene Vs. Mineral Spirits

Does kerosene have the same effect as mineral spirits in paint thinning? Or is one solvent better than the other? Through numerous first-hand experiences and third-party reviews, here is what we think:

Minerals spirits are often the preferred type of paint thinner. Due to a low evaporation rate, paint mixed with mineral spirits has a more level, smoother coat finish. In addition, mineral spirits do not produce solid fumes and are suitable in both poor and well-ventilated areas. 

Kerosene is often used in smaller quantities for mixing glazes in fine arts and designs. It improves inter-coat adhesion in multiple glaze layers. 

How To Use Minerals Spirits As A Paint Thinner

  • Pour the paint into a bucket.
  • Add four ounces of mineral spirits for every gallon of paint into the bucket.
  • Mix the paint thoroughly until there are no clumps.
  • Test your thinned paint by running it through a funnel. The paint has the right consistency if it flows freely through the funnel. 
  • Spray or apply the thinned paint evenly on your preferred surface. 

Conclusion: Choose What You Prefer

In the long run, the mineral spirits vs. Kerosene issues do not matter in most DIY home solutions. These solvents can work for all DIY home applications, such as stain removal, paint thinning, and staining old furniture.