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How To: Get Free Mineral Spirits

free mineral spiritsIf you’re painting with oil-based paints occasionally like I am, you need to have plenty of mineral spirits or paint thinner on hand to keep your brushes clean.

Mineral spirits are expensive, running around $11-14 per gallon and disposal of them is a cumbersome process since you can’t just pour them down the drain like dirty water. You have to dispose of solvents at Hazardous waste facilities.

So, in the interest of saving you money and saving the planet, I’m going to show you how to easily recycle your mineral spirits to get clean, FREE spirits that can be reused again and again.


Free Mineral Spirits

In my shop I prefer to use odorless mineral spirits to keep the fumes down. Paint thinner and mineral spirits are pretty much interchangeable. You can use this tip for just about any solvent like Naphtha, Xylene, Lacquer Thinner and others.

You’ll have to buy 1 jug of mineral spirits to start. Sadly the paint stores will not subscribe to my free spirits idea, and I haven’t seen a “Free Spirits Sunday” like Krispy Kreme occasionally does with their donuts.

To make this work, you’ll need 1 gallon of spirits or thinner, small paint cup and a 1 gallon metal paint bucket with a lid.


Clean It Up

Pour some spirits into a small cup to clean your brush. Once you’re finished cleaning, pour the used spirits into the metal paint can, always keeping the lid on tightly between uses.

I keep doing this over the weeks until I’ve used up the gallon of fresh spirits and all I’m left with is a metal can full of dirty spirits.


Let It Sit

It will take about a week for the bucket to work its magic, but if you let it sit undisturbed for a while, all the paint will settle to the bottom and the fresh clean spirits will be left on top.

Once you open the bucket, you can pour off the clean spirits into a fresh bucket and leave the slop at the bottom. Voilà! You have almost an entire gallon of free mineral spirits!

The best thing is that you can use and reuse the same mineral spirits almost indefinitely. You’ll lose a little to evaporation and some that can’t be safely removed from the slop, but it saves you the time of carting it down to the hazardous waste dump and the money of buying new solvents.

Use this little trick and I’ll know you’ll save a bunch!


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12 thoughts on “How To: Get Free Mineral Spirits

  1. in order to get the most pure and reliable product, I would suggest using distillation process similar to that is what she used to break crude oil into its various components, including but not limited to, gasoline, diesel, kerosene, xylene, toluene, propane and butane these are all petroleum components. rather than using fractional distillation as in the petroleum industry I would use batch distillation to purify the one compound. Similar to how moonshiners made alcohol. Now I’m not going to teach you how to do this order give you examples or answer questions on how to do it you need to research it yourself. I hope someone find my information helpful and benefits both themselves and environment. I am not responsible for any injuries caused by use or misuse of this information.

  2. After the mineral spirits are poured on, the new underlying tape and the new grip are slid on. After an hour of drying out, the new grip and club are ready to use.

  3. Ijust want to know how to use mineral spirit to clean my hardwood floors safely and how to clean up and dispose of the product.

  4. Use a bigger container maybe twice as big and half fill it with water. Make up a tube with a “U” bend over the top of the container to hang it so that it does not quite reach the water level. Now pour your used mineral spirits in. after a day or two the mineral spirits will be clear and you can siphon it off. All the crud sinks to the bottom. Most parts washers use their cleaners this way.

  5. Perhaps I’m using some really fine coffee filters, but I don’t find that coffee filters work well at all. It seems that the first few drops of mineral spirits go through during the pour, but, all of a sudden, without the filter’s being clogged, the mineral spirits simply stops dripping through. I’m a bit perplexed by this, as coffee, a much thicker substance, goes through with relative ease, at least during the regular coffee-making process. My only counterargument to this is that hot coffee widens the filter pores, allowing for easier passage. Maybe I should heat up the mineral spirits on the stove! (Just kidding, of course.)

    1. Coffee isn’t “thicker” what you mean is vicious. Its also not any more viscious than water, which is only ~28 SSU’s at room temperature versus ~31 SSUs for mineral spirits.

      Also, liquids at higher temperatures become less viscous and water being extremely less viscous near boiling.

      Coffee is just some flavorings diluted in water and nowhere near enough to change the viscosity by any significant amount.

  6. your process is ok unless you are cleaning greasy parts & tools. Then the spirits have dissolved the petroleum greases and is now similar to diesel and can not be reused as effectively.

  7. Solvent is much cheaper bought in bulk. If you don’t mind the smell, kerosene or diesel fuel does an acceptable job.

    I like to use a glass jug for storing used solvent. Put lots of tape on most of it, but leave a ‘viewing window’ so you can see if it has settled yet.

    Affix a permanent funnel to it. Use a funnel that matches a lid from a yogurt or butter tub. Drill the cap to fit the funnel snout.

    Prepare a siphon tube. This should slide through the funnel, and the part in the jar should be made of something stiff. Soft copper pipe works well, if you have a scrap. Use 3 feet of flexible pipe on the other end.

    This way the end of the rigid pipe can be kept an inch above the bottom.

    Another way to do this is to take a flexible tube, and put a cage of wire around he end so the end can’t reach the bottom of the jar. You may have to take the funnel cap off to use this.

  8. Do your pour-off through a funnel with either a coffee filter or a folded paper towel to catch any paint particles that may flow along. I have been using this technique for years.

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