Difference Between Mineral Spirits and Acetone Spirits

Mineral spirits and acetone spirits are two very widely used thinners. People mostly confuse them and use one for the other.


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Most people confuse between mineral and acetone spirits the main reason being that they both are used as thinners.

Painters use mineral spirits as a thinner to thin the paint before using them with paint sprays. Acetone spirits on the other hand are used to thin lacquer.

Some people do not prefer to use Mineral spirits this is because they are oil-based and leave a residue behind. Acetone is a natural compound and is also found in our body in small amounts.

Solvents and thinners are indispensable necessities for painting. Acetone and mineral spirits are two of the most well-known ones.

Mineral Spirits vs Acetone Spirits

The difference between mineral spirits and acetone spirits is that mineral spirits are used to thin oil-based paints while acetone spirits are used to thin lacquers.

Mineral spirits vs Acetone spirits

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonMineral SpiritAcetone Spirit
Used to thinMineral spirits are used to thin oil-based paints.Acetone spirits are used to thin lacquers for example nail polish.
Water solubilityMineral spirits are not water-soluble.Acetone spirits are water-soluble.
FlammabilityMineral spirits are less flammable hence they present less fire hazard.Acetone spirits are highly flammable hence they present a high fire hazard.
OdourMineral spirits are either odourless or smell like kerosene. Acetone spirits have a very pungent smell.
Appearance/ColorMineral spirits are transparent. Acetone spirits are colourless.
LifeMineral spirits have a very long life as they evaporate very slowlyAcetone spirits have an indefinite shelf life. They may go bad if they are exposed to air, water or light.

What are Mineral Spirits?

Mineral spirits are made out of petroleum and are very cheaply available in the market. These also have a very long life.

These are purified petroleum distillate which was made as a substitute for turpentine. They became instantly more popular than turpentine after their introduction.

They are an organic solvent which has various applications. They are mostly used as a paint thinner and hence also called as ‘painter’s friend’.

Mineral spirits are also recyclable. They have to be disposed of very carefully as they may contaminate groundwater if not disposed of properly.

Mineral spirits have a primary role in the oil industry, furniture industry, dry cleaning industry and mechanical industry.

Mineral spirits are water-soluble in nature and transparent in appearance. They are less flammable and hence pose very little risk to fire.

What are Acetone Spirits?

Acetone is an organic solvent. In earlier days when chemical synthesis was not introduced acetone spirits were produced using fermentation. Production of acetone spirits using chemical synthesis methods started in the 1960s.

It is also known as propanone. It is the primary ingredient in nail polish and acne remover treatments. It is also used as a degreaser.

It is soluble in water and has a transparent appearance. It is highly flammable and hence poses a high risk of catching fire.

Acetone spirits can be used to remove nail polish, dissolve ink stains, remove scuff marks from floors, remove permanent marker, clean tools and dissolve glues.

Acetone had to be disposed of very carefully. Acetone is a paint stripper but not a paint thinner.

Main Differences Between Mineral Spirits and Acetone Spirits

  1. Mineral spirits are used to thin oil-based paints while Acetone spirits are used to thin lacquers like nail polish. Many-a-times people use them interchangeably it must be noted that mineral spirits and acetone spirits cannot be used interchangeably.
  2. Mineral spirits are not water-soluble while Acetone spirits are water-soluble.
  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10915810701876786
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10915810701876786
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