So, you need a solvent to clean up your brushes and thin out your paints, but you don’t like turpentine. If you want to know ‘what can I use instead of Turpentine for oil painting?’ then I’ve got a few helpful tips that you can put to good use. If you want a substitute for turpentine, you can use paint thinner or petroleum spirits in a pinch. These solvents fall under the category ‘White Spirit’, so if you happen to see the word ‘mineral’ in a solvent’s title then likely it will work for you as well, as it is likely ‘White Spirit’ solvent as well.
I’ll talk about this today, as well as some other solvent and thinning options that you can use with your oils, because it never hurts to have a few more tricks up your sleeve when it comes to painting! Let’s get started and you can see if you want to add these tips to your toolbox – I think you’ll find them quite useful!
What is a substitute for turpentine in oil painting?
White Spirit type solvents are the first go-to for a quick turpentine substitute. This is because most or all of us tend to have a little paint thinner or petroleum spirits in the garage or in our art workshops so it happens to be quite handy.
If you want to experiment a bit with solvents which you find that have the ‘mineral’ title in them to see if they work, then you can sometimes find some low odor varieties that are a little more pleasant to work with, but you’ll have to be patient with the process.
Now, if you absolutely can’t stand the smell of turpentine and of the other White Spirit type solvents, you can actually get a solvent that smells good. Chelsea Classical Studio has a turpentine substitute called Lavender Spike oil and while it’s not cheap, a lot of artists really love this stuff and a little goes a long way.
It has a pleasant lavender scent that you might find in a fancy soap and you definitely wouldn’t expect in a solvent. If you want to check it out, you can find it on Amazon here and give the stuff a try.
Solvent really has come a long way since I was a kid!
How do you use oil paint without turpentine?
If you just want to clean your brushes up nicely and keep turpentine out of the equation for this, then there are certainly some easy substitutes. You could just use soap and water, but that will add a lot to your cleaning time. Instead, try using linseed oil or walnut oil, and THEN go after it with the soap and water.
You can use art-specific soap brands such as Masters if you like, or simply use regular soap and water and then dab your brushes on a moisturizing soap. Leave the moisturizing soap bit on the tip (it’s tiny and works wonders) and then just give your brushes a good rinse before you start painting again and your brushes will stay clean and in good shape.
I use the regular soap and moisturizer myself, but everyone has their own personal preference!
Can I use vegetable oil to thin oil paint?
You might have heard that you can use vegetable oil or even olive oil for thinning out your oil paints, but this is a myth that I’ll dispel for you right now. You don’t want to use non-drying oils such as these, because what happens is that they will affect the overall drying time of your oil paints, to the point that they aren’t going to be drying anytime soon and if they DO, it’s not necessarily going to look very good when it does.
Walnut or Linseed oil is going to be a much better fit, as these oils are going to dry out properly and you can also use distilled oils such as lavender or rosemary, as these will evaporate properly and let your colors dry the way that they need to preserve your color and all of that crafty brushwork.
Simply put – if you want to make your oil paints drippy and unlikely to dry this year, then vegetable oil works a treat. Otherwise, stick with the classics such as linseed or walnut and they’ll thin your paint perfectly each and every time.
In this article we’ve explored alternatives to turpentine for cleaning your brushes or thinning out your oil paints. If you don’t have turpentine on hand, you can use paint thinner or petroleum spirits in a pinch and you can also go with classics like linseed or walnut oil, or even fancier, sweet-scented options such as lavender or rosemary distilled oils.
Stay away form vegetable oil as a thinner, as it’s not going to dry properly, and don’t forget to moisturize your brushes after cleaning – it keeps them feeling nice and new when it’s time to make a little art.
After all, it’s better to know too many options than too little, no?