Is mineral spirits the same as denatured alcohol and which is better to choose?

Two hundred years ago, alcohol was used exclusively for the production of alcoholic beverages. But time passed, social relations changed, the economy developed by leaps and bounds, and this led to the fact that old, familiar things had new properties that people had not previously suspected. They also appeared in alcohol.

The great successes of chemists have made it possible to find another use for alcohol. It turned out that ordinary alcohol is a good basis for varnishes, paints, detergents and cleaning agents, additives to motor fuel that increase its octane number, perfumes, pharmaceuticals.

The use of alcohol in all these industries promised considerable benefits and not only economic. There was only one obstacle that prevented the mass use of alcohol for chemical production.

It was necessary to separate the production of wine alcohol from that used for technical purposes. Soon the solution to the problem was found – denatured alcohol appeared.

The widespread use of denatured alcohol as a solvent is undeniable, however, there are also mineral spirits used for the same purpose.

So what is the difference between denaturated alcohol and mineral spirits, is it possible to replace one with another, and also which of the solvents is the most optimal option? In this article we will analyze these and many other questions, related to the denatured alcohol and mineral spirits.

Is mineral spirits the same as denatured alcohol and which is better to choose

What is denatured alcohol

Denatured alcohol is a type of ethyl alcohol, different from isopropyl alcohol, intended for use for technical purposes.

Denaturing additives are introduced into denatured alcohol. The composition of the denaturation includes several chemical substances, such as: ethyl alcohol (which is the basis), kerosene, isopropanol and methanol.

Also, it may additionally include gasoline, pyridine, some dye, as well as some other substances. The composition depends on the purpose of using the denatured alcohol and may vary. The most popular in the composition of denatured alcohol are acetone or methyl ethyl ketone. They can most often be used in case of a change in polarity and solvating properties.

Properties of denatured alcohol

After the conversion of ethyl into denatured alcohol with the help of various harmful impurities, the resulting liquid becomes poisonous and very dangerous to humans.

So denatured alcohol is not for human consumption.

Even inhaling the vapors of denatured alcohol has a toxic effect on the body of humans and animals. Therefore, the question of what is denatured alcohol, you can just answer: it’s poison in case it’s used for human consumption. Denatured alcohol contains methanol (wood alcohol), which has the ability to blind or even kill people.

Denatured alcohol evaporates quickly, conditionally this process takes about 2-3 minutes.

Another property of denatured alcohol is its easy and rapid ignition, since ethyl is extremely flammable. So you should keep denatured alcohol away from heat sources and open flames.

The property of denaturation to dissolve varnishes and paints is used in the manufacture of paint products.

The useful properties of denatured alcohol also include

  • the ability to degrease contaminated surfaces,
  • dissolve various resins, varnishes, paints.
Is mineral spirits the same as denatured alcohol and which is better to choose?

The use of denatured alcohol

The scope of denatured alcohol is quite extensive. You can use denatured alcohol (also known as methylated alcohol) both at home and in industrial conditions and in various ways. Denatured alcohol is often used as a solvent, cleaning agent, fuel additive and even as a pest control agent.

It is used in the production of:

  • paint and varnish products;
  • detergents;
  • hand sanitizers;
  • cosmetics;
  • chemical and pharmaceutical preparations;
  • fuel additives (to increase the octane number of internal combustion engines).

In some industries, denatured alcohol is used for laboratory research as burners.

The use of denatured in everyday life

From wood processing and degreasing to deep cleaning, denatured alcohol is a powerful cleaning agent that you can use at home.

Denatured alcohol is used in everyday life for:

  • cleaning wood (undiluted denatured alcohol);
  • removing various stains and sticky substances;
  • igniting burners;
  • heating rooms;
  • preventing windows from freezing;
  • cleaning and washing contaminated surfaces.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these points.

Stain remover

Denatured alcohol appears as a solution, that can be a lifesaver when it comes to ink or wine stains. Whether it is a hard or textile surface, moisten a cloth or cotton pad with denatured alcohol, and then gently apply to the affected area.

Is mineral spirits the same as denatured alcohol and which is better to choose?

To be especially careful, test the solution on the hidden part of the fabric to make sure that it is resistant to color and denatured alcohol. Let the denatured alcohol stand for a few minutes and then wipe the surface to remove the stain.

You can also use this technique to remove paint or nail polish from wooden surfaces. However, do not use denatured alcohol to treat wooden furniture with a traditional shellac coating, as alcohol will soften the shellac.

Windscreen wiper

Denatured alcohol is an ideal glass cleaner because it evaporates quickly and leaves no streaks.

Wax, shellac and glue solvent

Whether you’re working on wood or decorating old furniture, you’ll probably have to deal with glue residue or unwanted wax. It is also a great tool for removing thin shellac.

Denatured alcohol eats right into thin shellac, and if you soak a piece of furniture sealed with shellac and wait, you can immediately remove the shellac with a razor scraper or a rag.

To get rid of all this and not slow down your progress, just wipe the wooden surface with a cloth soaked in denatured alcohol, and it’s done!

Another benefit of denatured alcohol is that it’s widely used for removing sticky substances.

What are the advantages of denatured alcohol?

Denatured alcohol as a household cleaning agent has several advantages.

Denatured alcohol has antibacterial properties: very few microbes can survive contact with a methanol and pure ethanol mixed.

Denatured alcohol works fast: you can achieve the desired results in a shorter time than with a conventional commercial detergent or degreaser.

Is mineral spirits the same as denatured alcohol?

Denatured alcohol evaporates quickly: this makes it ideal for cleaning porous surfaces such as wood and moisture-sensitive metals. It is also the best cleaner for windows and glass, as there are no streaks left on it.

Best of all, denatured alcohol is cheaper than commercial cleaning products.

And here the question arises, are there solvents replacing denatured alcohol that are not inferior in advantages, and perhaps even better? And is there a need for this? Let’s figure it out.

What is a substitute for denatured alcohol?

With proper dilution, denatured alcohol can be used for various purposes at home. When you dilute it in equal parts of warm water, it acts as a general cleaner and disinfectant.

Isopropyl alcohol

The best choise is to use an isopropyl alcohol. If your isopropyl alcohol is 99% as rubbing alcohol, then it can be used instead of denatured alcohol. And if the IPA (rubbing alcohol) is low, it can’t be used.


Possible acceptable options for replacing denatured alcohol are methanol, acetone, grain alcohol (it will cost much more than isopropyl alcohol) and absolute isopropyl alcohol itself.

There are also some very specific applications in which methylated spirit can also be useful instead of denatured alcohol.

What are mineral spirits

Mineral spirits are the organic solvents, or petroleum distillate, which is obtained by direct processing (distillation) of oil. In another way, it is also called “white spirit”, or “mineral turpentine”.

It is a transparent, slightly oily liquid. Mineral spirits do not have volatile organic compounds. It belongs to substances with a low level of danger (group 4), but with prolonged inhalation of vapors, symptoms of poisoning may appear.

Is mineral spirits the same as denatured alcohol and which is better to choose?

Mineral spirits contain a significant amount of volatile substances, which gives it a specific smell. To reduce unpleasant sensations, substances that smell more pleasantly are added.

What are mineral spirits used for?

Mineral spirits are used mainly as paint thinners and solvent of any fractions of oil, sulfur compounds, nitrogen, oxygen.

Mineral spirits can also dissolve vegetable fats. The ability to dissolve fats is used if it is necessary to clean the surface before priming, applying paint, etc. It is actively used before applying paint coatings (LCP) to metals.

For cleansing

It is not worth using mineral spirits to clean fabrics or well—absorbing surfaces – you will struggle with the smell for a long time and persistently. It is very difficult to defeat him.

The most effective method is hot (superheated) steam treatment. So that the substances that give the smell are heated and evaporated.

If it is possible to heat the surface to a high temperature, volatile substances evaporate, the smell becomes less.

There are no such problems with smooth surfaces — it evaporates instantly. On the street or in a well-ventilated room, the smell is weak.

It can also be used for cleaning and degreasing machines.

Thinning oil based paints (paint thinners)

Thinning oil based paints is another application of mineral spirits as a paint thinner.

To remove oil based paint from paint brushes, grease or oils

During repair and construction, mineral spirits can be used as a means to remove old paint, which makes it really useful for paint brushes; putties, crude oil stains and grease. Odorless mineral spirits can also be used for oil painting. Mineral spirits can be considered as the most popular paint thinner.

Is mineral spirits the same as denatured alcohol and which is better to choose

To remove glue

Another useful property of mineral spirits is that it removes glue well, which remains after removing the tape, rosin stains.

For leather degreasing

Mineral spirits are also used for degreasing natural leather. Since there is no chlorine in the composition, it does not change the properties, color and texture.

For wood

It can be used to protect or “cure” wood from mold and fungi. The liquid penetrates deeply into the pores, destroying the source of damage.

In addition, the paint fits better, the consumption is reduced.

That is, white spirit can be used as a primer and antibacterial protection for wood.

As a solvent

Despite the fact that the dissolving ability of white spirit is average, it is often used to dilute many compounds to the desired consistency.

At the same time, mineral spirit is introduced into the composition, and not vice versa. Mix thoroughly until smooth. As a solvent, white spirit is used with the following formulations:

  1. oil paints;
  2. antibacterial impregnations for wood;
  3. drying oil;
  4. alkyd enamels;
  5. alkyd varnishes;
  6. bitumen mastics;
  7. rubber mastics.

When combined with paint, mineral spirits reduce viscosity. The composition is better applied and distributed, the consumption is reduced. But it is worth remembering that after drying, the surface will be glossy. If you need a matte, look for another solvent.

Advantages and disadvantages of mineral spirits

Mineral spirits have a wide range of applications, as we have already found out earlier. However, it is necessary to understand that this type of alcohols has both its advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of mineral spirits

It is an oil distillate that not only perfectly degreases, but also serves as a solvent in various products, such as aerosol paints, wood preservatives, varnish and aerosols.

Most of the white spirit produced is used in the paint industry to dilute paints and clean brushes.

It has been found that white spirit is extremely useful for cleaning metal from carbon deposits, grease and many types of oils used in machines.
Is mineral spirits the same as denatured alcohol and which is better to choose

According to the degree of exposure to the human body, it refers to substances with low danger.

Disadvantages of mineral spirits

Highly flammable product.

Vapors mixed with air create an explosive mixture.

Given these features, special attention should be paid to the storage location. Mineral spirits should be kept in a dark, cool, ventilated room, in a place inaccessible to sunlight. There should be no heat sources nearby, including heating devices.

If the smell of white spirit spreads in the room and you need to remove it, use ventilation or air purifiers.

It has a rather pungent smell. Some manufacturers, in order to reduce the unbearable smell, dilute mineral spirits with other solutions. The bad thing is that the mineral spirits capacity decreases during the cleaning process. This means that the fluid flow will be greater. This is if we talk about adding paints or mastic.

The second point is that the stains will be rubbed off worse. This is if you use the substance as a stain remover. On the other hand, if you try to remove the stain from the fabric with mineral spirits with a low degree of purification, it is extremely difficult to get rid of the smell.

What is a substitute for mineral spirits?

Despite the wide range of possible applications of mineral spirits, it can still be replaced. These can be:

  1. denatured alcohol,
  2. turpentine,
  3. aceton,
  4. lighter fluid with charcoal.

Each of these substitutes can work as a paint thinner, but they cannot replace mineral alcohols in their primary role as a paint thinner.

What are the main differences and similarities between denatured alcohol and mineral spirits?

Although both mineral spirits and denatured alcohol are a kind of solvent; denatured alcohol is considered more toxic than mineral spirits.

And yet, this is not their main difference. The most important difference between denatured alcohol and mineral spirits is considered to be their composition.

Denatured alcohol vs mineral spirits: difference in composition

As mentioned earlier, denatured alcohol is made of methanol, and mineral spirits, in turn, consist of petroleum.

  • Mineral spirits have the smell of kerosene, although there are more refined spirits without smell.

Denatured alcohol vs mineral spirits: difference in price

Another difference between denatured alcohol and mineral spirits is the price.

  • Denatured alcohols are in many cases cheaper than mineral spirits.

Denatured alcohol vs mineral spirits: difference in smell

In addition, when comparing denatured alcohol vs mineral spirits, it can be pointed out that mineral spirits are more refined than denatured alcohol and have less smell than them.

Denatured alcohol vs mineral spirits: difference in application

Denatured alcohol in most cases is intended for diluting shellac. And mineral spirits can be used to dilute oil-based paints. That’s why mineral spirits in most cases leave oily residue behind.

In this role, denatured alcohol and mineral spirits cannot be interchanged.

Denatured alcohol vs mineral spirits: difference in color

Although both mineral spirits and denatured alcohol are transparent in nature, in frequent cases denatured alcohol is colored in bright colors, for example, purple, to indicate that it should not be consumed by people.

Denatured alcohol vs mineral spirits: full evaporation time

As noted earlier, the first alcohol dries quickly within a few minutes. At that time, mineral spirits takes about 15-20 minutes to completely dry. As well as mineral spirits dissolve in water, but denatured alcohol does not.

Can mineral spirits replace denatured alcohol?

As you may have noticed, in some cases denatured alcohol can be replaced with mineral alcohol, and in some cases not. Therefore, in order to decide whether to replace one product with another, it is necessary to determine the purpose of the application.

It is for this reason that it depends on the situation. And yet, each of the alcohols discussed in this article has its advantages and disadvantages.

We hope that the information was useful and you will share it!


Is denatured alcohol the same as methylated spirits?

No, denatured alcohol is not the same as methylated spirits. However sometimes the composition of the denatured alcohol itself may include acetone or methyl ethyl ketone.

Which is better to choose?

As mentioned earlier, it is necessary to determine the purpose of alcohol. In some cases, you may need alcohol, and in some cases, mineral spirits.

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