Thinner Vs. Turpentine – Knowledge of the Basic Differences

pexels kindel media 8325716 Thinner Vs. Turpentine - Knowledge of the Basic Differences

Have you believed that thinner and turpentine are the same for all these years of your life? Well, the same was the case with me until I started painting. I felt like a kindergarten kid finding out that thinner and turpentine are similar but not the same. 

The main difference between thinner and turpentine is that thinner, as the name suggests, is a thinning agent for oil-based liquids. Moreover, it can also be used as a cleaning agent over paint. At the same time, turpentine is an essential oil extracted from pine wood that acts as a solvent for paints and a thinning agent for dyes.

Before you begin painting, you must know your liquids and solvents. Sometimes, deciding what to mix with paint becomes the hardest decision of your life. Therefore, to avoid confusion when you’re all set to begin painting, find the differences between thinner and turpentine and their advantages and disadvantages with me.

Difference between Thinner and Turpentine

Used as a thinning agent for liquidsUsed as a solvent for oil-based paints
Made from petroleumMade from pine trees
Synthetic productNatural Product
No significant effect on paint drying timeHelps paints dry quicker
Bearable odorVery strong smell
Has higher toxic compoundsEco-friendly additives
Comparatively cheaperHeavy on the pocket

Thinner and turpentine are widely used for mixing with paints before application on the walls. However, each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s dig deeper into how suitable thinner and turpentine are and what are the limitations of their usage.

THINNER – advantages and disadvantages

Readily available, anyone can purchase
It is a highly volatile and potent compound  
A fair evaporation rate
It works great on wooden, metallic, and concrete surfaces
Mainly, it is used as a cleaning agent
It dissolves well in oil-based paints and eases its application
It also helps remove paint stains
Synthetic additive
More expensive than other artificial thinning solutions like mineral spirits
Be careful when using it, as thinner is a highly addictive and toxic compound
People misuse it as many feel relaxed when they inhale the vapor of thinner
Inhaling can cause severe damage to the central nervous system
It doesn’t work on rubber and plastic surfaces and can make it rough and lose its shine

Turpentine – Advantages and disadvantages

A natural pine resin derivative and a safe compound to use
An excellent solvent for paints
Exceptional cleaner of all types of paints
Often used in the cosmetics industry
It improves paint consistency to make it more spreadable
Its high evaporation rate allows the paint to dry faster, speeding up the painting process
Cleans fresh paint stains and also the old and hardened stains
It can be effectively used as furniture polish
An eco-friendly compound that is less toxic and is free from petroleum distillates which cause pollution
It has a very strong smell that causes headaches, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting
Avoid getting eye-contact with turpentine as it can causes severe irritation, medical assistance maybe required
If swallowed, immediately get medical help as it can lead to kidney infections and adversely affect the bladder
It is a poisonous compound and can higher concentrations can lead to death
One should handle it with proper safety measures and SOPs and avoid inhaling, ingesting or injecting it

Thinner or Turpentine – Which one is better? 

Turpentine is derived from a natural source that is the pine trees. This makes turpentine less toxic than thinner. In addition, it improves the spreading ability of paint. Thus, paint mixed with turpentine gives a classic finish. Moreover, turpentine has proven to be more effective in cleaning and removing tough stains. Finally, turpentine is cheaper than thinner, making it easy for your pocket. 

However, turpentine has a powerful smell that few people can bear. If that sits well with your nose, using turpentine as a paint-thinning agent is a great decision.

Alternatives to Thinner and Turpentine

Both turpentine and thinner are available at any departmental store. However, for various reasons, some people may prefer using something other than these agents to mix with their paints. For example, some may not be comfortable with the prices or would strictly want to avoid these chemicals’ toxicity. In that case, some alternatives for turpentine are linseed oil, gamsol oil, samsodor, lavender spike oil, safflower oil, stand oil, poppy seed oil, and walnut oil.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is turpentine commonly known as in America? 

In America, Turpentine is commonly known as turps. Other names for turpentine are oil of turps, gum thus, gum spirits, gum turpentine, wood turpentine, rectified turpentine oil, sulfate wood turpentine, and sulfate turpentine.

Can you use Kerosene instead of turpentine? 

Kerosene can be an alternative to Turpentine as Kerosene and Turpentine have similar properties, and both can thin out oil-based paints. However, since turpentine originated from pine tree oil and Kerosene is petroleum that comes from crude oil, there will be a difference in their smells. 

Can I use Acetone instead of Turpentine? 

Yes! Acetone can be used instead of turpentine as a solvent for oil-based paints and as a thinner and a cleaning and stain removal agent too.

Can I use turpentine for latex-based paints? 

Latex paints are water-based paints. This is because oil doesn’t mix with water. Since turpentine is oil from pine trees, it can only work as a solvent or thinner for oil-based paints. Thus turpentine cannot be used for latex-based paints. For latex-based paints, you should only use water.

How much thinner should you use with paint?

You can mix thinner with the paint, keeping the paint to a thinner ratio of 4:1 or 3:1. You can always add a smaller quantity of thinner, check the consistency, and then decide whether you need more. However, while mixing thinner with paint, ensure that the paint quantity is always higher. 

Final Thoughts

Turpentine and thinner are both used to regulate the consistency of paint. Neither of them should be used with latex-based or water-based paints. Since turpentine is a more natural compound and low in toxicity, it is mainly preferred over a thinner one. However, turpentine is costly. If you can afford the price and bear the power smell it gives off, turpentine should be your mixing agent. However, thinner does its job effectively too.

If you are interested in which one to use for getting rid of paint from your hands, nails and face, you can read a detailed blog on our website.

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