As an artist, I have used both Lavender Spike Oil and Gamsol. I prefer to use Gamsol because of the lesser odor, but some artists prefer Spike Oil for its faster drying time. I have been told by many people that Spike Oil is better for certain things than Gamsol, but after doing my own research, I found this to be a myth. In this blog post The Myth of Lavender Spike Oil Vs Gamsol, I will share with you what I discovered in my research and why I believe that Gamsol is the superior choice for artists.
What is lavender spike oil and what is Gamsol?
Lavender Spike Oil is a volatile oil distilled from the lavender plant. It has a strong, pungent smell and is used as an aromatherapy oil. It is also used in some perfumes and soaps.
Gamsol is a petroleum-based solvent that is odorless and colorless. It is used by artists to dissolve oil paint from brushes and palette knives, and to thin oil paint.
Why lavender spike oil is not better than Gamsol
Lavender Spike Oil is a very strong smelling oil, and it can be overwhelming to use in large quantities. It can also cause headaches and dizziness.
I initially purchased lavender spike oil because my wife was worried about me inhaling turpentine fumes in my tiny art studio. She also hated the residual smells of turpentine on my clothing and on my hands and she demanded I look into an alternative product or I would have to set up a studio somewhere far away from the house.
The irony is that when I purchased lavender spike oil, I was told that it was used in aromatherapy and my wife would love it because all women love essential oils and all that stuff.. right? Wrong!
The day I started using lavender spike oil to clean my brushes my wife came into the studio complaining that the smell of lavender (which she apparently can’t stand) had made its way downstairs.
She opened all the doors and windows and demanded I get rid of it.
I too found the smell a little overpowering after a while but my sense of smell isn’t that great and I could cope with it. It was only after I left the house for a few hours and then came back did I notice how strong the smell actually was.
Which made me flip my phone out and order another product I had tried years earlier but didn’t consider it this time around until now. I went onto Amazon and had a bottle of Gamsol delivered (along with some incense sticks to get rid of the lavender smells).
Gamsol is much less smelly than lavender oil. In fact, I would say it has almost no smell. So if you’re looking for a less smelly alternative to lavender oil, Gamsol is a good choice.
Lavender oil is said to be good for relaxation and sleep, but I’m not sure if that’s true. I certainly didn’t find it relaxing or helpful for sleep. In fact, the lavender smell was so strong that it was actually quite jarring and made it hard to focus on anything else.
Gamsol, on the other hand, has been really helpful for me in terms of focus and concentration. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and I definitely notice a difference in my ability to focus on tasks.
So, in conclusion, lavender oil vs gamsol is really a matter of personal preference. If you’re looking for a less smelly alternative to lavender oil, Gamsol is a good choice. But if you’re looking for something to help you relax or sleep, lavender oil might be a better option but only in very very small quantities and not for use every day.
How are they both used in the art community?
Lavender oil is commonly used as a scent in soap, lotion, and beauty products. It is also used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation.
Gamsol is often used by artists as a non-toxic alternative to turpentine for cleaning brushes and thinning paint. It is also used to create special effects in paintings.
Somewhere along the line, someone discovered that lavender spike oil was great at cleaning paint from brushes, specifically oil paints. Because it was used in aromatherapy, was a naturally occurring product, etc people assumed it would be a fantastic alternative to other paint cleaners such as turpentine (and when comparing it to turpentine they would be right and justified). Against Gamsol, there is no comparison.
Why is lavender spike oil so effective at cleaning oil paints?
The lavender plant produces a natural oil that contains a high concentration of linalool. Linalool is an alcohol that dissolves the oils in paint, making it easy to clean brushes with lavender spike oil.
It works in a similar way to those orange smelling stain removers that seem to be able to dissolve all sorts of inks and paints but leaving quite a strong citrus smell on whatever it touches.
How to use lavender spike oil for cleaning brushes:
- Pour a small amount of lavender spike oil into a jar or container.
- Dip your paintbrush into the lavender spike oil and then swirl it around.
- Continue swirling the brush until all the paint is gone.
- Rinse the brush with warm water and soap to remove any lavender spike oil residue.
Lavender spike oil can also be used to thin oil paint. To do this, simply add a few drops of lavender spike oil to your paint and mix it well.
Lavender Spike Oil Vs Gamsol – Wrap up
Oil painting is a very popular form of art, but it can be difficult to clean up after. Lavender spike oil can help make cleanup a breeze. Simply add a few drops of lavender spike oil to your brushes and paint after you’ve finished painting and massage the brush with a cloth and your fingers. The lavender spike oil will help remove any excess paint and make cleanup much easier.
Seriously though, just get some Gamsol. There is no lavender spike oil vs Gamsol argument. Thank me later.
Resources for further information on both products
I have linked to a few sites that provide further information on both Gamsol and Lavender Spike Oil if you are interested in learning more or obtaining fact sheets.
Linalool Safety Data Sheet – https://cdn.caymanchem.com/cdn/msds/21575m.pdf
Additionally, I have also linked to some other articles from my site. If you read just one extra page that would do wonders for me.
I hope you enjoyed The Myth of Lavender Spike Oil Vs Gamsol, feel free to share this with artist friends or on forums if you found the information useful.
Thank you. Joe