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A paint thinner is a solvent used to thin oil-based paints or clean up after their use. Commercially, solvents labeled "Paint Thinner" are usually mineral spirits having a flash point at about 40 °C (104 °F), the same as some popular brands of charcoal starter.
Solvents used as paint thinners include:
- Mineral spirits (US) / White spirit (UK)
- Mineral turpentine (turps)
- True turpentine
- Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK)
- Dimethylformamide (DMF)
- 2-Butoxyethanol, or any of the other glycol ethers
Other solvents sometimes used in the production of paint thinners include:
While painting or making the paint of proper consistency by addition of thinner liquid there is an exposure to the vapours. ACGIH has established threshold limit values (TLVs) for most of these compounds. TLV is defined as the maximum concentration in air which can be breathed by a normal person (i.e., excluding children, pregnant women, etc.) in the course of 40 hours work (in US work conditions) per week, day after day through their work life without long-term ill effects. In underdeveloped countries workers commonly experience much higher exposure to these chemicals with consequent damage to their health.
Paint thinners are solvent mixtures known to dissolve paints. It is dangerous to expose oneself to them daily. They can be used to remove tar buildup and other known compounds alike. Paint thinners work mainly on paints for exterior usage only and should not be used as a furniture polish.