White spirit, popularly known as "paint thinner" or mineral spirit, is a cleaning solvent derived from petroleum. It is used as an extraction solvent, a degreasing solvent and as a solvent found in aerosols, varnishes, paints and wood preservatives. Due to its cost-effectiveness, less toxicity and its ready availability in different concentrations, the white spirit has gained popularity over solvents such as turpentine. Most people use white spirit at home to clean paint brushes and dilute the paint. There is major confusion on ways to dispose of white spirit. This article summarises frequently asked questions and based on them, we shall explore the safest methods of disposal.
Can I pour White Spirit Down the Drain?
There are many environmental concerns associated with the disposal of paint thinner. White spirit is highly insoluble in water, making it toxic to the environment if let to drain into water supply systems. It can seep into the underground water, which is usually treated and pumped back for use at home. Since the white spirit eventually ends up in the filtration systems, it hinders effective treatment of the water, making it unsafe. The damage could also be seen in the water pipes and the septic tanks. If the water flows into water bodies, it could cause harm to wildlife.
White spirit is hazardous waste, therefore cannot be disposed of the drain. The best approach is to contact your local authorities who offer collection services for such waste. They provide a hazardous waste collection site where you conveniently drop off the waste, and they make arrangements for pick-up. This service is often offered at no cost.
Can You Reuse White Spirit?
White spirit can be reused. The tips below guide you on the process of reusing white spirit.
- After using the white spirit, please leave it in an airtight container for some time, and the paint residue will sink to the bottom, leaving the white spirit to settle at the top.
- Pour the paint thinner into a new container and label it for reuse. The white spirit may not be as clear, but it's still effective.
- Go ahead and use the spirit to clean your paintbrushes and make your oil paints thin.
Instead of reusing the spirit, you can choose to donate. Contact art centres, construction companies, schools, and churches near you that would make use of the white spirit. There are also many recycling companies that source for used white spirit. They recycle and then supply it in the market for sale.
Apart from knowing how to dispose of white spirit safely, you also have to be keen when handling the white spirit so that it does not cause you any harm.