Both mineral spirits and mineral oil are widely spread and popular products both in our households and in workshops. But even though they look the same, being liquid and transparent, these two products are rather far from being similar in different terms, such as the uses for mineral spirits and mineral oils.
This is why, if you have never had to work with either of these, you might be wondering about the distinctions between mineral oil vs mineral spirits. And if this if the case, this article is exactly what you need to become more informed!
Is mineral spirits the same as mineral oil? You will find the answer to these questions here first of all. But also, we will share a lot of other handy information with you on this subject.
For example, we will tell you more about each of these products so that you know for sure what mineral spirits are and what makes them distinct from mineral oils. In addition, we will explain what each of these products is typically used.
Finally, you are going to learn how harmful they can be to human health.
Difference Between Mineral Oil And Mineral Spirits
If you have never had a chance or necessity to use either mineral spirits or mineral oil, you definitely wonder what makes them distinct. Well, basically, regardless of both these products being petroleum extracts, they do have different uses and properties.
If describe them in a few words, we would say that the mineral spirit has a generally higher molecular weight in comparison to the mineral oil. Also, it tends to be more smelly and may even have health risks!
However, these are just some general differences. We recommend you read on and learn in detail what other factors make these two liquids so unlike.
What For They Are Used?
The purpose of their use differs. We often use mineral oil for finishing wood, in particular around the kitchen and children’s room since it is a versatile and food-safe oil.
But except for serving as a wood finish, it has various other uses in a household, for example, you can make use of it in order to treat skin surfaces. Also, mineral oil can be consumed orally as an enema since it is absolutely safe for human consumption.
As for the mineral spirits, they mostly have their main uses as cleansing and degreasing agent or as a paint thinner.
You should not consume or apply mineral spirits on your ski! It is also not food-safe by any means, and can even be hazardous!
Irritation to Humans and Food Safety
As we have already mentioned, the mineral oil is quite safe, and also it is suitable for being used on humans. However, it does not mean that it can’t have any side effects.
This is why you should still double-check the label and instructions that come with the product so that you are sure you will be using it correctly.
But even despite the fact that it can have side effects, mineral oil is approved by the FDA to be food-safe. It can also be easily purchased in various pharmacies and groceries.
On the contrary, the mineral spirit is not a product that one can call food safe. Moreover, it can even be dangerous to your health! It has a kerosene odor that leads to irritation of the nasal mucosa, and also, this liquid is harmful to your skin.
So be careful when working with it. And of course, keep it away from little children to prevent them from accidentally swallowing it.
So as you can see, even though these two liquids look the same, being both transparent, they do have quite significant distinctions. And odor is the least of those.
This is why we suggest you read on in order to learn more about each of these products, mineral spirits, and mineral oil so that you could better understand their distinctions.
What’s Mineral Spirits?
In fact, the mineral spirit is a by-product of the petroleum refinement process that is commonly used as an organic solvent. It is sometimes also referred to as the white spirit.
The substance is clear and colorless, and the spirit has properties that eradicate oil on surfaces, as well as eradicate heavy oils, paints, and polyurethane on the paintbrushes.
Mineral spirits can be found in lacquers, varnishes, paint, aerosol sprays, asphalt products, and wood preservatives.
The mineral spirit has a higher molecular weight, unlike the mineral oil. And also, its ability to dissolve in oily products and evaporate fast makes it efficient in painting, or mineral spirits can also be used for wood cleaning.
You need to keep in mind that mineral spirits are not food grade or food safe!
This is why this product should never be ingested, applied to the body, or used on surfaces from which food will be directly consumed!
Mineral Spirits Uses
Many of us would first of all think of all sorts of cleaning chores when we hear the word combination “mineral spirit” or “white spirit”. However, this product can also be considered an alternative to turpentine or off-the-shelf chemicals such as paint thinner.
Except for cleaning, mineral spirits can also be successfully used for the following purposes:
- As a cleansing agents
- As degreasing agents
- In machinery and various automobile cleansing
- To eliminate grime and dirt. Especially to wash grime and dirt from various metallic equipment
- For cleaning the paintbrushes.
- For thinning paint and ink
- For thinning oil-based paint and oil-based varnishes
- In the painting industry, it can be used to rectify any errors in the paintwork.
So, as you can see, mineral spirits have way more areas of application and use than just being used as a cleaning liquid! In addition, this product is needed both in a household and for commercial use.
What Is Mineral Oil?
Unlike mineral spirits, mineral oil is a by-product of petroleum distillate. The oil is colorless, just like mineral spirits, but it is odorless, and it is a combination of alkanes.
Mineral oil has another, very distinctive feature that makes it different from mineral spirits: it is safe to use in food, on your skin, or on areas that come in contact with food and/or skin.
Below, you can find a more detailed explanation of the most common areas of use of this product.
Uses of Mineral Oil
Mineral oil is a versatile and multifunctional product because it can be used for different things around the house. One of the most common areas of its use include:
- Finishing wood
- Treating dry skin
- Relieving constipation
- Treating cracked feet
- Treating skin irritations
You can find descriptions of these uses in more detail below.
Mineral Oil As a Wood Finish
Mineral oil has no odor (unlike mineral spirits) and it is also non-toxic. This is why you can use it safely on wooden surfaces. It does not polymerize but penetrates the wood instead.
As a result, when applied to the wooden surface, mineral oil creates a protective layer (like some sort of coating or invisible shield) that protects the surface against humidity and mold and, to some extent, against wear and tear.
As a food-safe wood finish, it does not have any health hazards. This is why you can easily and with no doubt apply it on wood surfaces in the kitchen (e.g. cutting surfaces, tabletops, etc.) or on dining tables.
Additionally, it is a good finish for your kid’s wooden toys.
Treating Dry Skin
Mineral oil is good not only as a wooden surface protector. It also has properties that prevent the loss of moisture from the skin. So if you suffer from dry skin due to various reasons, consider using mineral oil as an excellent skin remedy!
This product can help you with the following skin issues.
You can make use of it to prepare an enema or laxative. for instance, if your stool is stuck, mineral oil will play a crucial role in assisting the propulsion of the stool. It will help to lubricate your bowels and thus ensure your stool has enough moisture.
The oil helps the stool to move smoothly as well. It can be an adequate remedy for people who are suffering from hemorrhoids and anal fissures as well since it ensures the stool does not cause tearing on your mucosa.
Treating Cracked Feet
The cracked foot is a widespread problem for a large percentage of the population. It is not only uncomfortable but may also be very painful. In addition, various bacteria and infections can easily get through the cracks thus leading to more serious health issues.
Luckily, mineral oil has proved to be an effective remedy for cracked feet. Just remember to apply some oil gently on your feet every night after you wash them and dry them.
After a few weeks of using the mineral oil like this, the results will be incredible!
Treating Skin Irritations and Diseases
Mineral oil is also used to treat various skin problems. However, before you start using mineral oil as a skin remedy, we recommend you seek professional medical advice from your doctor!
Like this, you will make sure that you will be applying the product correctly, and also, you will be informed about the potential side effects.
As for the skincare and treatment uses, mineral oil may be used for the following skin issues:
- Treating eczema that is a condition that results in abnormally dry skin that is inflamed and itchy.
- Treating xerosis which is a skin disease almost similar to eczema. The oil ensures that the skin retains its moisture and prevents it from drying up.
- To remove earwax. If you have dislodged earwax, the oil can help in turning it into a smooth compound that can easily flow.
Now you see that mineral oil has also quite a lot of different areas of application, both in a household and even for medical purposes. We can say that it is more useful than mineral spirits which can mostly be used for cleaning and paint or ink thinning, etc., nevertheless, both liquids should be present in your home in case you need them.
Well, now you know way more about such products as mineral oil and mineral spirit (also known as white spirit). You have learned what each of these liquids is, and what it is made of.
In addition, we have provided you with more detailed information on what each of these products is used for. So now you also know that they can be used for both household and commercial purposes.
You are also aware that these liquids are not the same, and you are informed about their distinctions.
With all this in mind, you will not only be able to use mineral oil or mineral spirit correctly. You will also be able to make use of it safely since mineral spirit is way less safe in comparison to mineral oils!
Frequently Asked Questions
⭐Can mineral spirit be applied to the skin?
No, this liquid must never be used on your skin! It may lead to bad irritations.
⭐Is it safe to ingest mineral oil?
Yes, you can do that if you follow a certain dosage: adults must intake from 15 to 45 ml or mineral oil orally. For more exact information, consult your doctor.
⭐Is mineral oil made of plants?
No, mineral oil is not made of plants or any other herbal ingredients. It is a colorless, odorless oil, composed mainly from alkanes.