Mineral spirits are an inexpensive petroleum-based replacement for the vegetable-based turpentine.
Mineral spirits is commonly used as a paint thinner for oil-based paint and cleaning brushes, and as an organic solvent in other applications.
Artists use mineral spirits as an alternative to turpentine since it is less flammable and less toxic. Because of interactions with pigments in oil paints, artists require a higher grade of mineral spirits than many industrial users, including the complete absence of residual sulfur.
Mineral spirits were formerly an active ingredient in the laundry soap Fels Naptha, used to dissolve oils and grease in laundry stains, and as a popular remedy for eliminating the contagious oil urushiol in poison ivy. It was removed as a potential health risk.
Mineral spirit have a characteristic unpleasant kerosene-like odor.
Chemicalmanufacturers have developed a low odor version of mineral turpentine which contains less of the highly volatile shorter hydrocarbons.Odorless mineral spirits are mineral spirits that have been further refined to remove the more toxic aromatic compounds, and are recommended for applications such as oil painting, where humans have close contact with the solvent.
In screen printing (also referred to as silk-screening), mineral spirits are often used to clean and unclog screens after printing with oil-based textile and plastisol inks. They are also used to thin inks used in making monoprints.
Mineral spirits are often used inside liquid-filled compasses and gauges.
Mineral spirits are used for re-gripping golf clubs. After the old grip is removed, the mineral spirits are poured into the new grip and shaken. After the mineral spirits are poured on, the new underlying tape and the new grip are slid on. After an hour of drying out, the new grip and club are ready to use.
Although not normally marketed as a fuel, white spirit can be used as an alternative to kerosene in portable stoves, since it is merely a light grade of kerosene. It cannot be used as an alternative to white gas, which is a much more volatile gasoline-like fuel.
White spirits are a major ingredient in some popular automotive fuel/oil additives, such as Marvel Mystery Oil, as they are capable of dissolving varnish and sludge buildup.
Mineral spirits are commonly used for cutting fluid in ultraprecision lathes (commonly referred to as diamond turning machines).