As an artist who loves working with oil paints and one who is obsessed with avoiding toxic chemicals, I know that the right solvents are essential to achieving the desired results. However, traditional solvents like turpentine are known to be harmful to both the painter and the environment. That’s why I’ve been on a quest to find non toxic solvents for oil painting that still get the job done. In this blog post, I’ll be sharing my experiences, findings and recommendations for non-toxic solvents that you can use for oil painting, thinning oils, and cleaning brushes.
Best Non Toxic Solvent for Oil Painting
One of the most popular and I believe best non-toxic solvents for oil painting is Gamsol. I have covered Gamsol to death in many other articles but in summary, this odorless, nontoxic solvent is a great choice for thinning paints and other media.
Gamsol is available in variety of sizes from 4.2 fluid ounces to 128 fl. oz bottles, so you can choose the size that’s right for you. With Gamsol, you can be sure that your mediums and oil paints won’t be altered – leaving you with a final artwork that looks exactly as intended.
Other Non Toxic Solvents for Oil Painting
Another great option is Safflower oil. This natural oil is often used as a solvent for oil paints and has the added benefit of being non-toxic. It’s also relatively slow-drying, which can be an advantage if you want to blend colors for an extended period.
Safflower oil is available in art supply stores and online and is a great option for artists who are looking for a more natural solution. Using Safflower oils as a solvent may sound counter to logic but you can actually use it to thin out paints after wiping the brush with a cloth and then wash out the residual paint, mediums, etc using just water and soap.
If you’re looking for an all-purpose, non-toxic solvent, then you may want to try out low odor mineral spirits (OMS). This solvent is derived from petroleum and has been treated to remove harmful components like benzene and toluene which also removes most of the strong smell as a by-product.
While it’s still not completely non-toxic, it’s considered to be much safer than turpentine. It’s also odorless, making it a great option for artists who are sensitive to strong chemical smells.
If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly option, then you may want to consider using citrus solvents. These solvents are made from the peels of citrus fruits and are biodegradable and non-toxic.
They work well as a thinner for oil paints and can also be used for cleaning brushes and other tools. However, it’s worth noting that citrus solvents can be more expensive than traditional solvents, and they may not be as effective at removing tough stains or varnish and they also have a strong smell that I would say rivals only turpentine in the ratings for strong smells.
In addition to these non-toxic solvents, there are also other methods you can use to thin your oil paints. One option is to use a medium like linseed oil or walnut oil. These oils can be mixed with your paint to thin it and create a more fluid consistency.
They also have the added benefit of increasing the gloss and transparency of your paint. However, it’s worth noting that they can also slow down the drying time of your paint if you add too much.
Another option is to use a palette knife to mix your paint. This method allows you to add more paint to your mixture without adding any additional solvents. It also gives you more control over the consistency of your paint, allowing you to create thicker or thinner mixtures as needed.
Here is a list of some of the best non toxic solvents for oil paintings that either I have used or my fellow artist friends have recommended.
- Gamblin Gamsol Oil
- Citrus Solvent
- Winsor & Newton Distilled Turpentine
- Lavender Spike Oil
- Weber Odorless Turpenoid
What is meant by toxicity when we talk about solvents for oil painting?
It’s important to note that when it comes to non toxic solvents for oil painting, there are two different terms we need to understand: volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazard classifications.
VOCs refer to the chemicals used to manufacture many commercial non toxic solvents for oil painting. These chemicals can potentially degrade the air quality in your studio and can be hazardous to your health if breathed in.
Hazard classifications describe how non toxic solvents are rated according to performance, environmental impact, and any potential risks associated with their use. Generally speaking, non-toxic solvents for oil painting will fall into one of three categories: non-hazardous, non-toxic and non-flammable.
Fortunately, there are many non toxic solvents for oil painting available today that offer excellent performance without any risk of VOCs or other hazardous chemicals. Some of the best non toxic solvents for oil painting include white spirits, turpentine substitutes, vegetable oils, and non-toxic mineral spirits.
White spirits are a non toxic solvent for oil painting that is non-flammable and non-hazardous but still offers excellent thinning properties. It is also very economical compared to other non toxic solvents as it can be purchased in larger quantities. Vegetable oils have similar non-toxic properties, but they are usually not as effective at thinning paint.
Turpentine substitutes such as odorless mineral spirits and non-toxic mineral spirits also offer non-toxic solvent options for oil painting. Odorless mineral spirits are non-flammable, non-hazardous, and non-toxic and are non-volatile. They offer great thinning properties and can be used in place of traditional solvents like turpentine, as well as non toxic alternatives such as vegetable oils.
Is there a non toxic turpentine? Citrus solvents non-toxic non-flammable, non VOCs (Volatile Organic Compound) are now available as a non toxic alternative. They are non hazardous and non-volatile, while still offering great thinning properties and are technically a turpentine (they smell as bad as turpentine in my opinion).
For cleaning brushes after painting with oil paint, non-toxic soap and water is one of the best non-toxic solutions. Soaps made specifically for oil painting are available which are non-toxic, non-polluting and non-flammable. This is a great way to ensure that your brush cleanings remain non-toxic and non-hazardous.
It is important to remember when using non toxic solvents for oil painting that they should always be used in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors. The non toxic solvents can still cause harm if inhaled or ingested, so proper safety precautions should always be taken. Additionally, non-toxic solvents can still pose a fire hazard, so be sure to keep any areas where non-toxic solvents are being used properly ventilated.
Best Non Toxic Solvents For Oil Painting, Thinning & Brush Cleaning – Wrap up!
There are many non-toxic solvents and methods available for oil painting that can help you achieve the results you want without harming your health or the environment. Gamsol is a fantastic solvent for thinning paints and other media and can be purchased in 32-ounce and 1-liter bottles you can get other alternatives now such as Sansodor.
These odorless, non-toxic solvents are safer than turpentine. Safflower oil is another great option, as it’s a natural oil that’s safe and slow-drying. Odorless mineral spirits are a versatile, all-purpose option that’s less toxic than traditional solvents, and citrus solvents are an eco-friendly alternative that’s biodegradable and non-toxic
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Joseph Colella is a frustrated artist with over 40 years experience making art (who moonlights as a certified Business Analyst with over 20 years of experience in tech). While he holds a Diploma in Information Technology, in true wasted talent style he spent years trying to get into various Art degrees from the Accademia di Belle Arti (Napoli), and failed to get into the Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts) at the University of Western Sydney. His goal is to attend the Julian Ashton School of Art at The Rocks Sydney when he retires from full time work. In his spare time, he writes for the this blog, WastedTalentInc, where he shares practical advice on art, making art, and art materials. Joseph’s art has been sold to collectors all over the world from the USA, Europe and Australasia. He is a trusted source for reliable art and copyright/fair use advice and is committed to helping his readers make informed decisions about making them a better artist.
He also loves all things watches (ok it’s an addiction) so show him some love and visit his other website https://expertdivewatch.com