Difference Between Varsol and Mineral Spirits

It’s disappointing when your local store runs out of your all-time favorite mineral spirits, and now the store clerk is recommending Varsol as an alternative. So you ask yourself, “Is the Varsol you’re recommending the same as the paint thinner I originally came here for?” 

Varsol is not the same as mineral spirits. It is one of the by-products of the petroleum refining process with combines other solvents in it including naphtha and mineral spirits. Both solvents do a good job of removing stains and thinning paints. 

varsol vs mineral spirits

This article will explore the difference between both Varsol and mineral spirits, as well as when to use Varsol in DIY home repair as an alternative.

What Are The Main Differences Between Mineral Spirits And Varsol?

You’ve got pending home repairs, from cleaning that paint spill to renewing those antique furniture. However, you are unexpectedly stuck with using Varsol. But don’t fret.

Varsol is slightly more refined than mineral spirits. Unlike other traditional solvents, this petroleum distillate also contains naphtha and emits a strong, at times toxic odor. However, both solvents are excellent for thinning paint, removing stains, and renewing old furniture.

Note that Varsol is a more refined form of a mineral spirit. Always dilute it 1: 20 with water before applying it on wood or cars. Better still, soak a rag in the diluted solvent and use it on your preferred surfaces. 

What Are The Uses of Varsol In A DIY Home Project?

Varsol is a paint thinner with a variety of applications in-home projects. Here are a few ways to utilize this common solvent in painting DIY home projects:

  • To degrease car parts, bicycles, and other metal parts in your garden shed or garage;
  • To remove dried-up paint on brushes, rollers, and trays;
  • To clean hard-to-remove stains on hardwood and carpets;
  • To remove stubborn stains, such as tire skid marks, off concrete floors, natural stone, and tiles;
  • For removing crayons or marker stains from walls;
  • For cleaning your granite or marble countertops.

Varsol Or Mineral Spirits: Which Is Better For DIY Stain Removal

Most DIY-ers often prefer to use one solvent for all their home projects or repairs. Using an all-purpose solvent saves cost, enabling you to become proficient with the solvent. Although Varsol and mineral spirits are effective for stain removal, there is always a lingering question; which is better for removing all types of stains?

Varsol and mineral spirits have an almost-similar chemical composition, which makes them practical for removing stains like grease or paints.

How To Remove Stains With Varsol Or Mineral Spirits

Here is how to use these solvents to remove stains:

Using Varsol Or Mineral Spirits To Remove Wood Stains

  1. Clean the wood surface and cover the parts you don’t want to work on;
  2. First, apply the solvent to a small part of the wood to test its effect;
  3. Use a wide-toothed brush to spread it evenly on the surface;
  4. Leave it alone for 15 to 20 minutes;
  5. Use a dull-bladed scraper to scrape off any polish or paint on the wood surface;
  6. Lightly scrape to avoid leaving deep marks on the furniture;
  7. Soak coarse steel wool with the solvent to gently remove all stain residue;
  8. Scrub in the direction of the grain to avoid leaving scratch marks;
  9. Use a water-soaked rag to clean the wood to neutralize the solvent.

Using Varsol Or Mineral Spirits To Degrease Metal

There are two methods of degreasing metal parts: dipping the piece into a solution or cleaning the region with a solvent.

To use the former option:

  1. Soak a lint-free cloth into the solvent.
  2. Wipe it on the metal surface to catch all the grease and debris.
  3. Do not re-use the material after cleaning. 

You can also dip the metal part into the solvent solution. Keep in mind that this method only works for small metal parts.

Using Varsol Or Mineral Spirits For General Household Cleaning

Varsol and mineral spirits are often preferable for regular household cleaning. However, most DIY-ers may lean towards the latter since they are odorless. It’s advisable to dilute 1 part of Varsol in 20 parts of water for household cleaning.

So, dab at those scuff marks or crayon stains with a solvent-soaked rag. What’s more? Always test the solvent on a small area before using it on other parts.

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Varsol Or Mineral Spirits: Which Is Better For Paint Thinning

Due to thick and clumpy paints, uneven color patches are a nightmare for experienced and wannabe home painters. It’s no surprise that painters use thinners to remove these clumps.

Both spirits are high-grade paint thinners preferred by most professional painters. These solvents remove paint clumps and increase the paint shelf-life.

How To Thin Paint With Varsol Or Mineral Spirits

To thin paint with mineral spirits or Varsol, add 4 ounces of mineral spirit or Varsol to a gallon of paint. The aim is to get a paint with the consistency of skimmed milk. Once you have achieved the right texture, dip your brush into the paint and apply it to a small surface. 

Are you satisfied with the result? If yes, then well done on a great paint job as a DIY-er.

How To Remove Paint With Mineral Spirits Or Varsol

Here’s a good rule: remove oil-based paint from brushes and rollers after painting. Removing oil-based paint from brushes lengthens their lifespan.

To remove paint:

  1. Fill a small container with a solvent.
  2. Repeatedly dip the paint brush into the solvent to release the dried paint.
  3. Lightly press the brush against the container to remove more paint. 

Note that a paintbrush comb will help to loosen up more dried paint. Continue dipping it until you are satisfied. On a final note, don’t soak the brushes for too long. The solvent also dissolves the glue holding the brush bristles.

Conclusion: Varsol As An Alternative to Mineral Spirits

Varsol and mineral spirits are both useful for most of your DIY projects. Although Varsol has a strong odor, it is as effective as mineral spirits. So, listen to that store clerk’s or eCommerce store recommendations when shopping for a solvent.