Do Mineral Spirits Evaporate? Here’s The Truth!

do mineral spirits evaporate

Mineral spirit is useful when staining and painting wood. It is mainly used for cleaning the wood surface, changing the wood color, and thinning wood finishes.

When I was using mineral spirits for the first time, I was curious about their evaporation process. So, let’s discuss, Do mineral spirits evaporate?

Yes, mineral spirits evaporate completely on wood. Mineral spirits evaporate in 15 to 20 minutes after application. But this can vary due to the outside temperature. The evaporation rate of mineral spirit is slow, and it leaves an oily residue after evaporation. Seal the mineral spirit container airtight to stop losing mineral spirits due to evaporation.

That’s a quick snapshot and there’s a lot more to know about the evaporation of mineral spirits.

In this article, we’ll discuss do mineral spirits evaporate completely, how quickly does it evaporate, the optimum temperature for the evaporation, and the removal process of reside upon evaporation as well.

Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions as well.

Let’s jump in!

Do Mineral Spirits Evaporate Completely?

Yes, mineral spirits evaporate completely within 15 to 20 minutes after the application. But this can vary on the temperature level and outside humidity.

But you may notice some oily residue after mineral spirits evaporates completely. This oily residue is the main ingredient in many kinds of mineral spirits which is hard to skip.

So, once the mineral spirits evaporate completely on the wood, you should clean the remaining oily residue which is a remnant of the dust and dirt you got off the wood surface.

By cleaning the wood again and reapplying another coat of mineral spirit, you’ll be able to get rid of that oily residue.

Make sure not to apply another coat of mineral spirit until the previous one dries and evaporates completely since you may end up with an unpleasant surface.

In simple words, yes mineral spirits do evaporate completely, but most of the time you have a cleaning work afterward to remove the residue.

How Quickly Do Mineral Spirits Evaporate?

Typically, mineral spirits evaporate within 15 to 20 minutes after the application. But its evaporation rate and drying time can vary on the amount of mineral spirits on the surface, temperature level, and humidity.

Odorless mineral spirits dry faster than low-odor mineral spirits. Odorless mineral spirits evaporate within 10 to 15 minutes.

The evaporation rate of mineral spirit is slow because of being a petroleum-based solvent. Petroleum-based solvents evaporate slower than gasoline.

Due to the high evaporation rate of gasoline, you cannot store those products with poor ventilation.

On the positive side, mineral spirits are able used even with poor ventilation due to the poor evaporate rate. But over time you’ll lose some amount of mineral spirits due to evaporation.

An unsealed container of mineral spirit usually takes 3 to 4 days to dry out completely.

If the container is airtight and properly sealed after use, the mineral spirit will last for a few years without evaporating.

Here’s how the evaporation time of mineral spirits varies on several factors,

  • When the amount of mineral spirits on the surface is high, it may take more than 20 minutes to evaporate completely.
  • When the outside temperature is high, mineral spirits evaporate quicker than 15 minutes due to the acceleration of evaporation rate under high-temperature levels.
  • When the environmental moisture level is high (high humidity) mineral spirits dry faster and evaporate quicker than they regularly do.

However, 15 minutes of drying or evaporation time is nothing compared to other wood finishing products like Tung oil, and linseed oil since they usually take more than 6 hours to dry completely.

Due to the fast-drying time of mineral spirits, you can use them for many different projects.

Here’s how to check whether your mineral spirit surface is completely dried or not,

  1. After applying mineral spirit on the wood surface, you’ll notice a shiny, wet-looking appearance on the wood surface.
  • Upon the evaporation of mineral spirits, the surface will be getting drier, and the shiny, wet look will also reduce over time.
  • When the mineral spirits evaporate completely, you’ll no longer see a shiny wet looking surface. Just a clean, dry, nice-looking surface.
  • This indicates the applied mineral spirit is completely evaporated.

If you have used mineral spirits to thin tung oil, linseed oil, or paint, the mineral spirit does evaporate and leave the surface even before the paint, tung oil or linseed oil dries fully.

Overall, the mineral spirit is a fast-drying liquid that wastes no time. Mineral spirits take 15 to 20 minutes to evaporate from wood.

Summary Of Mineral Spirit Evaporation Times

Mineral Spirit TypeEvaporation Time / Drying Time
Low-odor Mineral Spirit on wood15 – 20 minutes
Odorless Mineral Spirit10 – 15 minutes
Unopened Sealed, Airtight container2 years
Opened and then properly sealed container6 months
Opened and poorly ventilated container3 – 4 days

What Temperature Do Mineral Spirits Evaporate?

Mineral spirits evaporate at room temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit. But the evaporation rate of mineral spirits rises when the temperature is going up.

So, you can work with mineral spirit under normal conditions to get the maximum evaporation benefits. It dries faster and gives you the finish you wanted without changing the temperature level of your working area.

But working in a well-ventilated area is a must for fast and efficient drying of mineral spirits since having good air circulation increase the drying speed of mineral spirit.

Do Mineral Spirits Leave A Residue On Wood?

Yes, mineral spirits with low odor leave an oily residue on wood upon evaporation. But odorless mineral spirits do not leave a residue on the wood.

Not all mineral spirits leave residue on wood when drying. This is because of the refining process of each mineral spirit.

Not all mineral spirit goes through the same level of the refining process. Some are filtered more and some are less. This refining process defines whether the resulting mineral spirit leaves a residue on the wood or not.

This is why there is no special mineral spirit type as “odorless mineral spirit”. As a result of their refining process, some of them have become odorless and surprisingly they don’t leave behind residue.

Mineral spirits with low odor contain volatile shorter hydrocarbons. Those short volatile hydrocarbons release the odor of mineral spirit.

At the same time, those volatile short hydrocarbons are responsible for the residue that leave behind upon evaporation of low-odor mineral spirits.

Low-odor mineral spirits leave a thin sheen residue on wood upon evaporation.

Odorless mineral spirits are free of volatile short hydrocarbons that release odor and leave residue on wood during evaporation.

Therefore, always choose odorless mineral spirits for your projects without worrying about any residue left behind.

How To Remove Mineral Spirits Residue?

If you notice a residue on wood after mineral spirit evaporation, you can clean those residues by rubbing with mineral spirits or alcohol after soaking a lint-free tack cloth.

Then let the surface dry properly.

I highly recommend using alcohol over mineral spirits when removing residue since alcohol is so much cheaper than mineral spirits. Plus, the residue is never left behind.

What Do You Do After Using Mineral Spirits?

After using mineral spirit, you should place the used mineral spirit in an airtight, sealed container with no openings to the outside world.

Fill the remaining space between the used mineral spirit and lid with a suitable filler or sponge balls and close the lid tight.

Then place the container in a dry, less moisture environment.

How Long Do Mineral Spirits Last?

Mineral spirit does last for more than 5 years by using proper reusing techniques. Some mineral spirits have a shelf life of 2 years but most of them have an indefinite shelf life.

Most importantly, you should keep mineral spirits properly after use and once they get exposed to the outside world, mineral spirits tend to go bad easily.

Proper usage and sealing are a must to keep mineral spirit for so long.

That’s it, folks! Hope you have gained a lot of details about, do mineral spirits evaporate and how it behaves upon evaporation.

Let’s answer some frequently asked questions.

How To Reuse Mineral Spirit?

Here’re the steps for reusing mineral spirit properly,

  1. Pour the used mineral spirit into a glass container
  2. Fill the remaining space with sponge balls or non-reactive filler
  3. Seal and airtight the container properly
  4. Store the container in a dry, safe, and clean place
  5. Let it there for a while
  6. Pour fresh mineral spirit into the previously stored mineral spirit container since gunk is already placed at the bottom of the container
  7. Seal the container again and place it somewhere safe with the least outside interactions

How To Dispose Mineral Spirits?

Never dispose of mineral spirits in the garbage since it contains hazardous, toxic chemicals that damage the environment. Plus, they are highly flammable.

Never pour mineral spirits down the drain since they can pollute the underground water systems and pollute the soil.

Always use proper disposal techniques as a good woodworker.

Here’re some proper ways to dispose mineral spirit,

  1. Give mineral spirit with the container to a hazardous waste collection facility
  2. Contact municipality for the directions
  3. Contact the manufacturer for the disposal instructions

How Long Does It Take for Mineral Spirits to Smell Go Away?

It will take 1 to 3 days for the mineral spirits smell to go away. Usually, you’ll notice a strong smell until it evaporates completely upon application within the first 20 minutes.

But after that, the smell will slowly go ways in the next couple of days.

Make sure to wear a facemask upon application of mineral spirit since the harsh odor can cause breathing issues.

Plus, always select a well-ventilated area for the application of mineral spirits since it not only helps fast drying but also helps to remove the harsh smell of mineral spirits.

Proper air circulation is a must to keep your lungs clean when working with harsh chemicals like mineral spirits.

Are Mineral Spirits Toxic?

Yes, mineral spirits are toxic since they release harmful fumes upon evaporation, but overall mineral spirits have a low odor of acute toxicity.

Mineral spirits are hydrocarbons made from hydrogen and carbons which are considered non-toxic, but hydrocarbons made using those elements can cause irritations of the nose, lungs, and stomach upset upon inhalation.

Weak mask and work in a well-ventilated area to stay healthy when working with mineral spirits for a long time.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Do Mineral Spirits Evaporate?

In this article, we deeply discussed, do mineral spirits evaporate, how quickly do mineral spirits evaporate and how to remove residue that leaves on the surface upon the evaporation of mineral spirits, and a lot more.

Mineral spirits do evaporate when drying. Mineral spirits evaporate within 15 to 20 minutes. low odor mineral spirits leave an oily residue behind that can remove using alcohol. Odorless mineral spirits do not leave a residue behind, and they evaporate faster than low-odor ones.

Furthermore, I’ve answered some frequently asked questions as well.

Hope you have gained good knowledge about, do mineral spirits evaporate and how it happens.

Try to use mineral spirits for cleaning, finishing, or thinning in your next woodworking project and get an experience of using mineral spirits properly on wood.

Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him! Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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