Do you think that mineral spirits vs paint thinner look alike? Well, they do. But, they are not one. With this guidance, you can go straight to the store and get the one you actually need without difficulties. You can even know how to use them correctly.

First, let’s make clear about what they are and what they apply for. Then, we will show you how they differ and assemble with each other. So, choosing one between is not hard any more.

What is Mineral Spirits?

Mineral spirits is a kind of solvent. It has a slight odor and evaporates quickly. It is used for cleaning oil-based tools. Besides, it is also widely applied in various fields.

Mineral spirit is the main component of a solvent mixture that is used with other synthetic resins in many industrial paints. It is also considered as a kind of paint thinner.

Printing shops use mineral spirits to make prints. Clothing and leather shoe shops utilize it as a detergent too. Because mineral spirits has a slight odor, they don’t cause bad smells. It does not affect the color of the products as well.

Paint Stripper

What is Paint Thinner?

The name has told it. “Paint thinner” is solvent used to thin the paint, removing oil paints from implements.

When thinner is mixed with paint, it will dissolve the paint and create a new mixture with a lower viscosity. It makes paint thinner easier to apply, creates a beautiful thin film as you like while also saving the amount of paint needed. Some types of paint thinner also help to reduce the drying time of paint film.

Besides, thinner can also be used to clean dirty areas during construction. It will maximize its effect on metal and concrete.

Mineral Spirits vs Paint Thinner: What are the Similarities?

What are the similaritiesYou may often confuse mineral spirits and paint thinner. But you are not the only one. Other people still make this mistake because both compounds have certain similarities, namely as follows:

  • They originate from minerals.
  • They are types of solvent.
  • People use them for the same purposes, such as cleaning up things like brushes, varnishes or surfaces. This is because both have a cleansing function. As a result, they are indispensable in the construction industry.
  • They have petroleum content.
  • They are carefully packed and preserved. Often people buy them once for later use.
  • You have to follow the principles of use and storage seriously when handling them.
  • The most common reason people confuse them is because they are interchangeable. That is, if you want to buy mineral spirits but they are out of stock, you can buy paint thinner instead. This makes people think that they are one.

Mineral Spirits vs Paint Thinner: How do They Differ from the Other One?

Mineral spirits and paint thinner look the same and work for the same purposes. Yet, they are not the same. They differ in formation, odor, cost, applications, productivity and how safe they are.

Before deciding what to buy, let’s have a look at the differences between them.


Although their origins are minerals and they are petroleum products, they are mixed from different compounds.

The composition of mineral spirits is much simpler. We even can say that mineral spirits is entirely made of petroleum distillates. Hydrocarbons make up nearly 70% of the mineral spirits. Other substances are benzene, aliphatic solvent hexane and butanol.

In contrast, people add more chemicals to create paint thinner. Besides benzene, paint thinner also includes turpentine, acetone, mineral spirits and many more. As the proportions of the ingredients are adjusted, the function of the paint thinner also changes. Hence, paint thinner is also more diverse than mineral spirits.

Both contain petrol but paint thinner gets more additives, people also call it blended mineral spirits.


ScentIf you cannot distinguish with the naked eyes, you can smell them. Both have odors, but they are mild. However, the level of smells is different. Can you guess which one has a stronger smell? The answer is paint thinner, because it is made with more compounds.

Releasing a mild scent enables workers to apply mineral spirits in some fields such as furniture or clothing.

Although they are more or less stinking, they will affect our respiratory system. So do not forget to wear masks when using them. Their application in well-ventilated environments is also essential. After use, remember to let them take time to lessen the smell.


With more ingredients, it seems that paint thinner costs more than mineral spirits, right? But, no!

Let us get this straight!

In fact, mineral spirits is more expensive than paint thinner. You can compare the prices: mineral spirits cost about $11 to $14 per gallon, while a gallon of paint thinner is around $8.

To explain, we can look at the manufacturing process. Do you know why mineral spirits is less stinking than paint thinner? It is due to its rigorous process. It requires few components but much work to purify. This purification deserves the high cost.


ApplicationsPeople buy these two solvents for cleaning, especially in housing. Yet, compared to paint thinner, mineral spirits has a wider range of applications.

Why can we say so? Because of its slight smell, people tend to use it for removing stains. Not to mention that mineral spirits is also an important factor in making garment and printing. Professional masons and artists also tend to choose mineral spirits over paint thinner.

The Productiveness

The productivenessYou should get to know the specific purposes for using solvents so you can get the correct answer. However, regarding cleaning function only, mineral spirits seems to be preferable.

Mineral spirits can totally wipe out oil, tar or even gunk stains. It evaporates more quickly and promotes an immediate effect.

For more information, their origins result in the differences in their effectiveness. Producers focus on the refinement process of mineral spirits. Meanwhile, they improve the cleansing function of paint thinner by adding more chemicals.

The Safety

The safetyIn fact, both are not much different when it comes to safety. They have all been inspected by OSHA-mandated Safety Data Sheet (SDS).

But, for comparison, paint thinner seems to be more toxic. As you can see: it smells. The smell is derived from chemicals which makes it more harmful. The more ingredients, the worse it is stinking.

About mineral spirits? It clearly has a lighter smell. Moreover, its manufacturing process is also purified to reduce toxins VOCs and sulfur.

Anyway, benzene in both can sometimes make you a little dizzy when inhaled. Even if you use them too much in a closed environment, you may faint. It is important to note that they should not be used with flammable objects such as wood or coal.

You should wear gloves when using them. In case they stick to the skin, you must wash immediately. It can completely burn your hand in this case.

You should also note the precautions for storage. Mineral spirits and paint thinner should be stored in a dry environment, staying out of reach of children and combustible objects.

Which One is Better?

Which one is betterWe have just given you some guidance about the differences as well as similarities between mineral spirits and paint thinner. The best option depends on what you use it for and how you want to apply it.

In terms of function, mineral spirits dominate. As noted, it has a lighter odor, a stronger cleansing function and is more widely applied. Obviously, with such versatile use, the price is not cheap. It is twice as expensive as paint thinner.

Paint thinner seems to be popular in price. Of course, please take a closer look. To service a large number of oil-based equipment, you also need a lot of cleaning solutions. The bigger the quantity is, the bigger the price differs. So paint thinner may satisfy your economical needs.

They both have advantages and disadvantages. Personally, we think that mineral spirits outweigh paint thinner. You will pay more for it but sometimes the price reflects the value.

Mineral Spirits Vs Paint Thinner: Which Will You Choose?

Not even a thing in the world is exactly the same as the other. The two liquids seem to be very similar but in fact they are completely different substances. Nothing is really better than the other. The only one that suits the needs of the user seems to be the best. Before making a decision, you must consider it carefully. After deciding, remember to pay close attention to the methods of use and storage, especially safety.

Hope that you can choose the best one for yourself!