Sansodor vs Gamsol. Which Solvent Is Better for Artists?

Sansodor vs gamsol

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There are so many solvents available to artists these days that we are spoilt for choice. Not only that, but back in my day all solvents had a strong pungent smell that took days to go away. Now we have solvents such as Sansodor and Gamsol that are so good they are hard to choose which is better. So when we have the option to buy Sansodor vs Gamsol, what do we choose?

Personally, I will state that because I am a long time user of Gamsol, and it is more widely available than Sansodor, Gamsol is the better paint thinner and solvent. But as we know, when there the fine line between two products is hair thin, which is best becomes very subjective. So, let’s take a closer look at Sansodor vs Gamsol and you can decide which one suits your needs.

What are Sansodor and Gamsol?

In my comparison of Sansodor vs Gamsol, let’s take a look at Gamsol first.

As I have stated in other Gamsol comparison posts, Gamsol is an odorless mineral spirit (OMS) solvent made by Gamblin.

Gamsol is:

Sansodor is

  • also odorless
  • transparent, colorless
  • not meant to be flammable
  • it is oilier than Gamsol
  • evaporation time of up to 6 hours
  • made by Winsor & Newton.

Painters who use oil paint recognize the value of thinning agents and solvents such as Sansodor and Gamsol to enhance both drying time and finish. Not only do these mixtures speed up the process, but they can also be used in combination with small amounts of pigment to create glazes.

What is Sansodor used for?

Sansodor is an aliphatic hydrocarbon solvent that is primarily used to thin oil paints, and it can also be used as a brush cleaner. While the fact sheet says it is not flammable it does say not to use water if it does catch fire as this can spread. Go figure that one out.

Sansodor has a faster evaporation rate than Gamsol and is slightly more oily.

One thing I did pick up from the name, I wonder if the clever marketing people at Winsor & Newton called it Sansodor as it is Sans Odor (without odor)?

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What is Gamsol used for?

Gamsol is an optimal choice of solvent for oil paints and mediums, as it is a transparent liquid with little viscosity that has no color or smell. You can easily use it to thin out your painting materials or mix them together.

Gamsol is the ideal paint thinner for oil painting as it won’t leave your work looking overly glossy. This quality makes it stand out from resin-based products, which can dry to form a plastic film on canvas surfaces.

After preparing a white gessoed panel, I applied carefully thin layers of Sansodor and Gamsol with a brush and left it undisturbed for 24 hours to let it dry.

After drying, the Sansodor and Gamsol both achieved a matte finish, precisely what I anticipated. In this case, there was no difference between these two products.

I wouldn’t advise using either Sansodor or Gamsol as a finishing varnish for an oil painting. For this, you should opt for a specialized varnish created specifically for that purpose. This will ensure your artwork looks its best and lasts over time.

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Can I use Sansodor over Gamsol?

From my experience, I found that both Sansodor and Gamsol are fairly “lean” and work fine together. I’ve even applied Sansodor over Gamsol on occasion and noticed no adverse effects.

However, the final word is up to you as an artist. You should always make sure to experiment with different solvents in your own time before committing to use them for a finished piece of artwork.

Ultimately, Sansodor and Gamsol are both great and reliable solvents for art.

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How to dispose of Sansodor and Gamsol

Gamsol is a flammable liquid while Sansodor is meant to not be, but as they are both chemicals so it is It is absolutely essential to discard hazardous materials in the correct manner as listed in the MSDS sheets below.

You can also find instructions on the MSDS sheets for each product:

MSDS for Sansodor

MSDS for Gamsol

Realistic disposal methods for Sansodor and Gamsol

As artists, it’s unlikely that we’d ever need to use liquids in such large quantities. Instead, for cleaning brushes and rags I discovered the best practice is to wipe them down with a damp cloth dipped in either Gamsol or Sansodor before washing them with warm soapy water.

Don’t waste any leftover Gamsol or Sansodo. If the jars have a mixture of either medium, simply close the lid on the jar and store it in a dark cool place, allowing for easy re-use.

How are Gamsol and Sansodor similar?

  • Gamsol is slightly more effective than Sansodor because it evaporates faster, and has a higher flash point. This means that it’s safer to use for artists who are working with solvents in an enclosed space.
  • Sansodor does have its own advantages, however, as it is less smelly, which makes painting indoors more comfortable.
  • Sansodor also has a lower VOC content, which makes it better for the environment.
  • Both Sansodor and Gamsol can be effective solvents for artists depending on their needs.

Is Sansodor good?

Sansodor is an ideal solution for thinning paint, removing messes from brushes, and crafting custom mediums.

Sansodor has the same qualities as turpentine, yet it comes with the added benefit of being much less smelly. This makes it a safer solution compared to other solvents on the market.

Because of this, many art schools recommend Sansodor as a solvent and often demand that it as the only one allowed in their studios.

Sansodor vs Gamsol – Wrap up!

I personally prefer Gamsol over Sansodor because it is more affordable and easier to obtain. Sansodor does offer a great low VOC content, which makes it better for the environment. Sansodor also has less of an odor than Gamsol, but the difference in odor is so small you will not notice.

While you may accuse me of sitting on the fence when it comes to Sansodor vs Gamsol, my suggestion would be to buy whatever you can find in stock as you will be happy with either product. Especially when compared to less refined solvents such as turpentine.

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Joe Colella - Chief Wasted Talent
Joe Colella – Chief Wasted Talent

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