Is Gamsol The Same As Turpentine? The Truth About These Popular Art Solvents

No, Gamsol is not the same as Turpentine. While both are used to clean brushes and oil paints, Gamsol is not the same as turpentine.

Gamsol is more refined and less smelly. Turpentine is a stronger solvent that smells bad.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other qualities that make them different so let’s dig a little deeper shall we?

By the end of this blog post, you’ll have:

  • a solid understanding of the differences between these two popular solvents
  • as well as some guidance on which one might be best suited for your art.

Let’s take a quick look at what solvents actually do

Solvents are used in oil painting to thin oil paints and modify their drying times.

They can also be used to clean brushes and other tools after a painting session.

There are many different solvents out there, but Gamsol and turpentine are two of the most well-known and widely used.


Gamsol, also known as odorless mineral spirits (OMS), is a petroleum-derived solvent that has become incredibly popular in recent years.

It’s an excellent solvent for thinning oil paints and cleaning brushes, and it’s also prized for its low odor.


Gamsol smells better than turpentine

Gamsol is designed to evaporate slowly, which means it doesn’t have that strong, lingering smell that you might associate with traditional turpentine.

This makes it an attractive option for artists who are sensitive to strong odors or who work in small, poorly ventilated spaces.

Gamsol is less toxic than turpentine

In addition to its low odor, Gamsol is also considered to be less toxic than traditional turpentine.

This is because Gamsol contains fewer harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and doesn’t contain the potentially dangerous aromatic hydrocarbons found in turpentine.

Some artists even claim that Gamsol has a milder effect on their brushes, helping to extend their lifespan.


Turpentine has been a staple in artists’ studios for centuries.

Turpentine is a natural solvent that’s distilled from the resin of pine trees. It’s a powerful solvent that’s great for thinning oil paints and cleaning brushes, but it does come with a few drawbacks.

The most obvious one is its strong, pungent odor.

While some artists actually enjoy the smell of turpentine (hey, to each their own!), others find it overwhelming and even nauseating.


Turpentine is more toxic than Gamsol

Turpentine is also considered to be more toxic than Gamsol. It contains high levels of VOCs, which can cause respiratory issues and other health problems when inhaled.

Additionally, turpentine can cause skin irritation and even allergic reactions in some individuals.

Because of these factors, it’s essential to use turpentine with caution, making sure to work in a well-ventilated area and to wear gloves when handling the solvent.

Now that we’ve discussed the differences between Gamsol and turpentine, you might be wondering which one is right for you.

The answer largely depends on your personal preferences and your specific needs as an artist.

Go for the less toxic option

If you’re looking for a low-odor, less toxic option, Gamsol is likely your best bet.

It’s great for artists who work in small spaces or who are sensitive to strong smells, and it’s a safer choice for those concerned about the potential health risks associated with turpentine.

Turpentine smells worse than Gamsol

However, if you’re a traditionalist who enjoys the smell of turpentine (there are some strange people out there) and prefers a natural solvent, then turpentine might be the way to go.

Just be aware of its potential hazards and take the necessary precautions to protect your health.

Some artists also argue that turpentine provides a more vibrant, luminous quality to their paint than Gamsol, so it might be worth experimenting with if you’re chasing a specific aesthetic.

Personally I have not noticed this having worked with both for many years.

Gamsol is a much better and refined product across the board. There is no way that Gamsol is the same as turpentine.

Other solvent alternatives

It’s also worth noting that there are other solvents out there that you might want to consider. For example, Turpenoid is a popular alternative to turpentine that boasts a lower odor and less toxicity.


Citrus-based solvents, like citrus thinner, are another option that provides a natural scent (if you like the smell of overpowering orange) and is derived from renewable resources.

Personally I am not a fan. I would pick turpentine over this.

However, these alternatives may not have the same level of effectiveness as Gamsol or turpentine, so you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons based on your unique needs.

Mineral turpentine is not the same as paint thinner

Mineral turpentine and paint thinner are not exactly the same thing, but they do share some similarities.

Mineral turpentine is a specific type of solvent, while paint thinner is a more general term that can encompass a variety of solvents, including mineral turpentine.

Paint thinner contains many types of solvents

Paint thinner can contain almost any type of solvent in there and many times it is just a cocktail of solvents.

Paint thinner is a generic term that describes a variety of solvents that are used to thin oil-based paints, and it can include products like mineral spirits, odorless mineral spirits (OMS), and even turpentine.

Both substances can be used to thin oil-based paints and clean brushes, but mineral turpentine is generally considered to be stronger and more effective.

While mineral turpentine and paint thinner are often used interchangeably in casual conversation, both substances are solvents, which means they can dissolve and thin other substances, but they have slightly different properties and uses.

Paint thinner still smells

While not as bad as turpentine, paint thinner generally does have a noticeable odor.

The specific smell of paint thinner can vary depending on its formulation.

Most paint thinners have a distinct chemical odor that can be irritating or overwhelming for some people.

Which is why when you’re using paint thinner, make sure to work in a well ventilated area to minimize the risk of inhaling any fumes and to follow safety precautions.

If you’re sensitive to strong smells or work in poorly ventilated spaces, you may want to consider using a low-odor alternative, such as odorless mineral spirits or turpenoid.

Key differences between turpentine and paint thinner

Let’s take a closer look at both mineral turpentine and paint thinner to help clarify the differences between the two.

Turpentine is a powerful solvent

Mineral turpentine, also known as turpentine substitute, white spirit, or simply “turps,” is a petroleum-derived solvent that is commonly used to thin oil-based paints, varnishes, and enamels.

It can also be used to clean brushes, remove grease and grime, and dissolve adhesives. Mineral turpentine is generally considered to be more powerful and effective than paint thinner.

Mineral Turpentine has a strong smell

It has a strong, distinctive odor, and can be harmful if inhaled or ingested in large quantities, so it’s important to use it in a well-ventilated area and follow safety precautions.

Paint thinner, on the other hand, is a more generic term that can refer to a variety of solvents, including mineral turpentine and its smell can vary.

Both are usually for oil paints only

The term “paint thinner” is often used to describe any solvent that is used to thin oil-based paints, and it can include products like mineral spirits, odorless mineral spirits (OMS), and even turpentine.

Paint thinner can vary in strength and effectiveness depending on its specific formulation, but it is generally a milder solvent than mineral turpentine.

When choosing between the two, it’s important to consider factors such as strength, odor, and potential health risks, and to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety precautions when using either product.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *