Turpenoid Vs Gamsol – One Gives Artists Better Oil Painting Results

There are a few different types of solvents that artists use to thin their oil paints and make them easier to work with.

Both Turpenoid and Gamsol are solvents that are great for thinning oil paints, but there are some key differences between them that you should know about before you decide which one is right for you.

Personally, I like Gamsol because I have a bit more experience with it than Turpenoid and I like a real odorless thinner versus a low odor one.

Both Turpenoid and Gamsol are equally great at being a solvent for use with oil paints.

If you’re looking for something that is non toxic and non-flammable and easy on your skin then I would choose Turpenoid.

But, if you can’t find it or afford it then turpentine or oil of spike lavender will work just as well.

Turpenoid vs Gamsol

The following characteristic describes the similarities between Turpenoid and Gamsol:

  • Turpenoid and Gamsol are both highly refined mineral spirits.
  • Turpenoid and Gamsol are both great for thinning oil paints.
  • Both are great paint thinners with marginally differing evaporation times that won’t matter to most artists.
  • Both are low to non-toxic but only Turpenoid is non-flammable.
  • Both are low to no odor compared to turpentine.

The following characteristics describe the differences between Turpenoid and Gamsol:


  • Gamsol is manufactured by Gamblin.
  • Gamsol is an odorless mineral spirit.
  • Gamsol is low to non toxic.
  • Gamsol has a lower evaporation rate than Turpenoid but it too does not leave a filmy residue.
  • Gamsol is less likely to cause yellowing than Turpenoid.
  • Gamsol is not harsh on brushes.
  • Can be used to clean brushes.
  • Easily found in art supply stores and online such as Amazon or BLICK.
  • Not as strong as turpentine, not suitable for cleaning inks.
  • Should not be used with Acrylic paints.
  • Gamsol is actually flammable (classed as a Category 4 Flammable Liquid).

Further information Gamsol can be obtained from the Gamblin Safety Data Sheet here.


  • Turpenoid is manufactured by Martin/F. Weber Co.
  • While Turpenoid comes in an odorless form it tends to have a mild citrus scent.
  • Turpenoid evaporates around the same duration as turpentine and it evaporates cleanly leaving no filmy residue.
  • Turpenoid is less expensive than Gamsol.
  • Turpenoid is a good substitute for most generic turpentines.
  • Turpenoid is not harsh on brushes.
  • Turpenoid should not make up more than 25% of paint when mixed (1 part turpenoid to 3 parts paint).
  • Turpenoid is not suitable for creating washes or glazes with oil paints.
  • Any layer of paint should be touch dry before applying a new coat that contains turpenoid or you may risk unintended effects of the paint.
  • Turpenoid should not be used when mixing an impasto. A dedicated paint medium is better suited to this task.
  • Not as strong as turpentine, not suitable for cleaning inks.
  • Turpenoid Natural is not flammable and non toxic.
  • Should not be used with Acrylic paints.

Further information on Turpenoid can be obtained from the Weber Fact Sheet here.

So, which one should you use? If you are just starting out with oil painting, then Turpenoid is a great choice because it is less expensive.

Turpenoid vs Gamsol cheat sheet
Feel free to share this Turpenoid vs Gamsol Quick Comparison Chart

What can I use instead of Turpenoid?

When I was a younger artist still living at home, I would usually paint with oil paints in my bedroom and I would use a turpentine to not only thin my oil paints but also clean up my oil paint brushes.

This practice made my bedroom one toxic-smelling place (and it wasn’t because of my socks!).

My mom would complain every day that I was doing damage to my lungs and she forced me to look for alternatives to turps.

I tried a few things and since I could never find Turpenoid in my local art store (Amazon hadn’t been invented yet) I came up with the followng chemicals that I could use instead of turpenoid:


This was recommended to me by an artist friend and it is a great turpentine alternative.

It’s made by the Gamblin company and you can find it at most art stores. It’s more expensive than turpentine but, in my opinion, it’s worth it!

Gamsol is less smelly than turpentine and it evaporates more quickly. It also doesn’t damage your brushes as much.


Turpentine is a terpene, it is a cyclic hydrocarbon that is made when you distil the sap of a pine tree. It’s very smelly. It’s also flammable, so you have to be careful when using it.

Turpentine is less expensive than Gamsol but it works just as well in my opinion.

It takes longer to evaporate and it’s not as gentle on your brushes.

Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits are also a great turpentine alternative. You can find them at most hardware stores. They’re less smelly than turpentine and they evaporate more quickly.

I’ve found that mineral spirits work just as well as turpentine for cleaning my brushes and they don’t damage the bristles.

Oil of Spike Lavender

Oil of spike lavender is another great turpentine alternative. It’s made from the spike lavender plant and it has a very strong scent. You can find it at most health food stores.

I really like oil of spike lavender because it’s less toxic smelling than turpentine (it has a herb mixed with camphor sort of smell) and it evaporates more quickly. Plus, it doesn’t damage the bristles of my brushes.

Oil of Spike Lavender contains no petroleum and no turpentine.

Because Mineral Spirits and Oil of Spike Lavender had some form of smell that annoyed my wife then Gamsol won out.


  1. You say, “Turpentine is a petroleum product”. This is a false statement, and you should fix it in your article!

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