Solvents List: Differences & Uses

Solvents List: Acetone

ACETONE – This is a colourless and highly flammable solvent and can be found as an ingredient in products or used on its own. It also has a rapid evaporation rate from the atmosphere, water and soil. As a solvent it is used in the manufacture of most plastics, added as a volatile component to certain paint production, a thinning agent in fibreglass resin, polyester resin, vinyl, adhesives and nail polish remover. On its own it is primarily used as a cleaning agent when preparing metal, dissolves two-part epoxies and superglue before hardening, clean tools and removes dirt and residue from glass and porcelain without discolouring the item. It is also used widely in the artist industry for transfers of prints and photocopies. Acetone is also produced and disposed of by our own bodies and has certain medicinal qualities when used correctly.

Solvents List: Benzene

BENZENE – This is a colourless, flammable liquid and is mainly found as a component in other solvents and can be used on its own as a cleaning agent. Benzene is mostly used in the production of plastic, rubber, resin, nylon, glue, dye, paint, detergent and pesticides. Is naturally found in crude oil and is a component of petroleum products. In the paint industry Benzene is added as a component and speeds up the drying and curing processes. Extremely toxic and hazardous, benzene may cause various illnesses if used incorrectly or exposed to for prolonged periods of time.

Solvents List: Lacquer Thinners

LACQUER THINNERS – This solvent is used to thin down certain paint products and is normally found in the automotive, industrial and furniture industries. Due to the chemical composition / makeup of these products, they will require thinners to enable them to perform in the way they are intended. Mineral turps would not be suitable for these products due to the composition of the products. Wood lacquer is an example of a product where thinners would be used for thinning / spraying a product that contains nitro cellulose. If thinners is used to thin a varnish or enamel surface instead of turps, the paint will dry before adhering to the surface and will result in a shrunken finish. Thinners evaporates rapidly and should not be used as a cleaning agent.

Solvents List: Mineral Turpentine

MINERAL TURPENTINE / WHITE SPIRITS – This solvent is used extensively in paint manufacture and as a cleaning agent. It is slow-drying and does not evaporate easily, thus aiding adhesion of coatings to surfaces. This is important for spraying purposes. Turpentine is found as a solvent in aerosols, paint, varnishes, preservatives and furniture waxes. It is used to clean brushes as it prevents paint from hardening and ruining the bristles. Enamels and varnishes contain turps as a component. Another reason why turps is used for thinnning is to prevent negative chemical reactions.

Solvents List: Genuine Turpentine

GENUINE TURPS – This is a fluid obtained by distillation of resin from trees whereas mineral turps is a petroleum byproduct. Genuine turps is normally expensive as once distilled you only get between 5 to 10kg of the product from 1 ton of pulp. Used mostly by artists when doing paint mediums, genuine turpentine also has many medicinal uses, and is found in Vicks Vapor Rub.

Solvents List: Xylene

XYLENE – This solvent can be found in small quantities in crude oil, gasoline and airplane fuel. It is more commonly used in the printing, rubber and leather industries in application aspects. Xylene is also found as a component in ink and adhesives. In the paint industry, xylene is used to promote slow-drying in paints and varnishes where required. As a cleaning agent, it is used for cleaning steel and silicone. However, it is important to note, that this product can discolour items and paint.

6 thoughts on “Solvents List: Differences & Uses

  1. Many thanks but still a bit confused when to REALLY use thinners or turpentine when painting / spraying. I see you say thinners are used with a wood lacquer and not varnish! Then, what is the difference between these two then…?

    • Hi Leon, thanks for getting in touch and apologies for the confusion. Hopefully the following will clarify things:

      What is Varnish?

      Varnish is a clear, hard solution that is principally applied to wood to give it a glossy finish while forming a protective film around it. Varnish consists of a resin, a drying oil, and a thinner or solvent. Since varnishes have very little colour, they can also be applied over a wood stain to enhance the shine of the wood.

      What Is Lacquer?

      Lacquer is a type of solvent-based product that is made by dissolving nitrocellulose together with plasticizers and pigments in a mixture of volatile solvents. Lacquer also contains a solution of shellac in alcohol that creates a synthetic coating, causing it to form a high gloss surface.

    • Hi Matome, thank you for getting in touch.

      Please note that those products are from our Industrial Wood range. In which area are you? Alternatively you may contact our orders department and ask them to check which store in your region stocks the products – 011 951 4515.

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