View Full Version : handling used paint thinner

03-22-2003, 07:08 PM
How do you guys handle used paint thinner (mineral spirits)? All I know to do is let it sit for a week or so and let the paint solids settle to the bottom, then filter the solvent, pouring it into a sealable plastic container to be used again at a later date.

A couple of questions I have are:
1. Is a plastic (think tupperware) container appropriate for storing mineral spirits?
2. How do you dispose of the paint solids that are left after you've poured out the solvent? I presume, but don't know, that you should not throw it away with household garbage.



03-22-2003, 07:46 PM
I wouldn't store paint thinner in just any plastic, it can get distorted over time, losing it's seal and allowing the thinner to disappear. I use glass jars to seperate the solids, and a metal thinner can to store the recycled stuff, labled accordingly. If you don't have a metal lid for your glass jar, you can put a piece of aluminum foil on the top before screwing on the plastic lid.
As for the remaining solids, you don't want to throw 'em in the trash, as they are still in a semi liquid state, and can seep into ground waters. I lay newspape on a scrap piece of plywood 'bout 2' square, and spread the paste on it, allowing it to dry just as a painted surface. Roll up the newspaper with the dried paint stuff in it and put in regular trash.
If anyone knows a better method, let me know. This is the best I've come up with short of going thru a hazardous waste program $$$. HTH:7

Sonny Edmonds
03-22-2003, 08:56 PM
That sounds really good about solidifying and disposal.
Follows the guidelines for disposing old paint by solidifying by just leaving the top off till it all drys up. Then toss with the trash.

Round here, mineral spirits (aka: paint thinner) costs $3.85 a gallon at Homeless Depot, or the last one I got did about 6 months ago. I use so little of it, I generally find a weed somewhere along the side of the shop and give it a party. They get drunk on the stuff.
But the hang-over is a killer!

Funny thing is, they keep coming back for more. ;)

Edit in:
Oh, I forgot. I use a coffee can and it's plastic lid to keep the "working" thinner in. Seems to work fine for me.


Sonny Edmonds
"Precision Firewood Specialist"
[link:home.earthlink.net/~sonnypie/ | Sonny's Shop Pages]
God Bless America !
One Nation Under God! Or you can bite my A$$ and just leave!

03-22-2003, 09:22 PM
When you buy mineral spirits, does it come in a plastic jug or a metal can? The stuff I buy usually comes in a plastic jug.

I wouldn't say that means you can store the stuff in any plastic, though. Take a look at the little "recycle" triangle on the jug. Note the type of plastic the triangle claims the jug is made of, and try to match that type of plastic when you find an alternate container for the spirits. That's a pretty good rule of thumb.

Metal and glass containers work really well for the stuff - glass is a little more spooky around my shop because if I don't knock something off a shelf I'm not working hard enough. You could do the stratification / precipitation in a coffee can or glass jar, then transfer the juice back to its original container for storage if you like...

After the precipitate has dried, you should be able to drop it into your normal garbage. Around here, we have a "HazMat" day once a year, and they steadfastly refuse to accept dried finishes.

-- Tim --

You can always take one more step against the wind.

03-23-2003, 12:16 PM
Gentlemen, I stand corrected. It was the laquer thinner that warped the plastic lids, and so the need for the foil liner. I've seen the paint thinner in plastic jugs, the stuff I have is in metal. Thanks for setting me straight.

Sonny Edmonds
03-23-2003, 01:36 PM
Yo! Yeah, Lac thinner is a different animule. Great stuff, but has some powerfull cababilities.
Did you know that with a little persistance it can get melted shoe sole off a chromed exausht pipe? Well it can.

Anyhow I Thank You for your input. And I see no where that you need to "stand corrected". ;)


Sonny Edmonds
"Precision Firewood Specialist"
[link:home.earthlink.net/~sonnypie/ | Sonny's Shop Pages]
God Bless America !
One Nation Under God! Or you can bite my A$$ and just leave!

03-24-2003, 12:52 AM
There are different grades of plastic. For example, photographic chemicals can't be stored in bleach jugs. (It is something to do with the density of the plastic.) The old addage about gasoline and plastic just isn't true any more when you can buy plastic gasoline cans AND many new cars use plastic fuel tanks.

After I've cleaned a brush in paint thinner I'll let the solids settle out. This usually takes a month or so. Then I'll decanter the clear paint thinner off into another container for the next cleaning use. The solids usually harden in a few days and they go into the trash.


Mark F
03-24-2003, 11:20 AM
Are paint thinner and mineral spirits the same thing? Seems like they differ in price quite a bit. I just bought a gallon of paint thinner for $1.99, the mineral spirts was $1.70 for a quart.

03-25-2003, 06:35 AM
Check with your local county or city to see if they have a hazmat recycle/disposal program. In Los Angeles county and several of the cities here in CA there are places you can take your old tires, old paint, and other household chemical waste - including their corresponding containers. As far as I know LA county has monthly waste roundups. Some chemical companies, suppliers, and retailers, e.g. Kragen, also offer to accept dirty oil and household chemicals. Give them a ring.


03-25-2003, 10:51 AM
A terminology confusion has occurred. Paint thinner is an overall phrase for a number of different solvents. Mineral Spirits is a paint thinner, turpentine is also a paint thinner, just made from different stuff. The label will probably say paint thinner, and then destinguish between them by indicating Mineral Spirits etc.

Another popular terminology confusion concerns Polyurathane and varnish. Varnish is the generic term for several different filming finishes. Polyurethane is a varnish, but there are numerous other types.