How to Dispose of Mineral Spirits Safely?

Mineral spirits a.k.a. white spirits are organic cleaning solvents that are used to thin oil-based paints, clean paint brushes, and other art-related activities. Mineral spirits are considered hazardous chemicals because they are extremely volatile, toxic to humans, and flammable. 

These spirits have a specific disposal protocol since they cannot be discarded in the trash or poured down the drain. This article will elaborate on how to dispose of mineral spirits properly, and explain why they are considered hazardous and cannot be thrown into the trash. 

How to Dispose of Mineral Spirits Safely?

There are several safe ways to dispose of mineral spirits. The easiest option is to give it to your municipality’s hazardous waste collection. In some municipalities you may have to drop them off. 

Not all municipalities accept mineral spirits as hazardous waste, however. Check your local guidelines to see if your county or municipality accepts them or not.  If such services are not available, then you have several options to dispose of your mineral spirits. 

Just remember, it is best to buy as much as you’ll need. Buying excess mineral spirits is a waste. However, if you do end up with more than you need, you can see if anyone in your area needs it. 

Any art school, a neighbor doing renovations or painting their house, or a construction crew will gladly accept your excess mineral spirits. One other way to get rid of them is to mix them with paint to thin it out. 

A good thing about mineral spirits is that they can be reused. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to separate mineral spirits from paints. 

  • Take your mixture of paint and mineral spirit and first filter it out to get rid of the solid gunks.
  • Put the filtrate into a sealed container. Make sure you label it, and the container is air-tight. Put the container in a cold, dry area away from sunlight.
     
  • The mineral spirits eventually move to the top and the paint sinks to the bottom. You can see the phase separation, with the clear mineral spirits at the top and the paint at the bottom.
  • Decant the clear spirits into another container and label it. Seal the container tight and put it away for later use.
  • As for the paint at the bottom, leave it to dry in a well-ventilated area for a few days then mix with cat litter.
  • Put the paint with cat litter into a bag and throw it in the trash. 

Make sure that you do not throw the mineral spirits into the trash or pour down the drain under any circumstances. These are hazardous chemicals that are flammable and toxic.

Mineral spirits are dangerous chemicals so handle with caution: 

Mineral spirits are made from petroleum distillates, these are also toxic solvents that should not be inhaled or ingested. These are commonly used types of paint thinners. These are less volatile than some other paint thinners, but should still be handled with care.

Mineral spirits have comparatively low flash points, meaning they catch fire quite easily. Their low flash points make them extremely flammable liquids, if thrown out with the trash, they can catch fire. This can injure workers who deal with waste, it can also cause serious property damage. 

Mineral spirits are also very volatile liquids, which means they evaporate readily at room temperature. Fumes from these can be toxic to inhale and cause respiratory issues. Moreover, these fumes can catch fire easily if left in a poorly ventilated space. This is why it is recommended to always work with these chemicals in well-aerated spaces. 

These properties are why these spirits are treated as hazardous chemicals. They should not be poured down the drain, as they will pollute the nearby water sources. They should not be thrown out into the garbage bin, they are highly flammable and toxic. Waste workers as well as animals that live near landfills are at risk. 

As long as proper procedure is followed, and these spirits are safely disposed of, there is nothing to worry about. 

Conclusion:

Mineral spirits a.k.a. white spirits are organic cleaning solvents that are used to thin oil-based paints, clean paint brushes, and other art-related activities. Mineral spirits are considered hazardous chemicals because they are extremely volatile, toxic to humans, and flammable. 

These spirits have a specific disposal protocol since these cannot be discarded in the trash or poured down the drain. This article elaborates on how to dispose of mineral spirits properly and explains why they are considered hazardous and cannot be thrown into the trash. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How to Dispose of Mineral Spirits Safely
Can I pour mineral spirits down the drain? 

No, these are very toxic chemicals and are highly flammable. These can cause fires in septic tanks, and be toxic to aquatic life and microbes alike. 

Can I throw mineral spirits in the garbage? 

No, these are toxic and extremely flammable. It is not recommended to throw them in the garbage. 

How do I get rid of excess mineral spirits? 

You can give them away to someone who may need it. You can also see if you have a local hazardous waste collection service. 

What if my city does not consider mineral spirits as hazardous waste? 

You can reuse your used mineral spirits, just let it sit in a cold, dark place for a few weeks, the paint will separate from the thinner. You can repeat this process many, many times. 

Are mineral spirits toxic to our health? 

Yes, it can be extremely toxic if ingested or inhaled. These can also be absorbed through the skin. So it’s best not to touch it with bare hands.

What can I do if I feel dizzy while working with mineral spirits?

Immediately move outside, or at least near an open window. If you do not feel better go to the emergency room in the hospital as soon as possible. It’s not recommended to work with mineral spirits in a poorly ventilated, or centrally ventilated room. 

References: 

  1. Lingen, R. (2022). Recycling Guide. Retrieved 31 January 2022, from https://www.dakotavalleyrecycling.org/recycling-new/green-guide#!rc-cpage=242725
  2. How to Dispose of Mineral Spirits: 11 Steps (with Pictures). (2022). Retrieved 31 January 2022, from https://www.wikihow.com/Dispose-of-Mineral-Spirits
  3. How to Dispose of Old Mineral Spirits – Woodworking | Blog | Videos | Plans | How To. (2022). Retrieved 31 January 2022, from https://www.woodworkersjournal.com/dispose-old-mineral-spirits/
  4. How Too: Dispose of Paint Thinner. (2022). Retrieved 31 January 2022, from https://www.bobvila.com/articles/how-to-dispose-of-paint-thinner/
  5. How Too: Dispose of Paint Thinner. (2022). Retrieved 31 January 2022, from https://www.bobvila.com/articles/how-to-dispose-of-paint-thinner/
  6. How Do I Dispose of Mineral Spirits. (2022). Retrieved 31 January 2022, from https://www.hunker.com/12573931/how-do-i-dispose-of-mineral-spirits
  7. How To Dispose Of Mineral Spirits (Step-by-Step Guide) – Upgraded Home. (2022). Retrieved 31 January 2022, from https://upgradedhome.com/how-to-dispose-of-mineral-spirits/
  8. Giles, A. (2022). Tips on How to Dispose of Mineral Spirits. Retrieved 31 January 2022, from https://decoratoradvice.com/tips-on-how-to-dispose-of-mineral-spirits/
  9. Recycling Paint Thinner. (2022). Retrieved 31 January 2022, from https://www.thisoldhouse.com/painting/21019335/recycling-paint-thinner
  10. Lingen, R. (2022). Recycling Guide. Retrieved 31 January 2022, from https://www.dakotavalleyrecycling.org/recycling-new/green-guide#!rc-cpage=242725

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