Archive for Methods

What to do with old painty turpentine?

Way back in art school in the city, we used to pour our turp down the drain when it got all painty, used tons of it to clean our brushes and jars, and then we poured a bunch into our newly-cleaned jar, and got back to work.  Nowadays I have a different approach. I pour new turpentine when there is no way to clean my brush properly, but I save the old turpentine.  That’s why I usually have two turp jars.

Turpentine is a (somewhat) thorny issue.  At my house, we have septic field problems, so putting any of it down the drain is not a good idea, but you may not want to pour it down your town water drain either.  I let the paint solids settle in my turp — it might take a week or so — and then I carefully pour off the clean(ish) turp from the top and reuse — sometimes several times. The painty sluge at the bottom goes in the trash. When the turpentine is finally just too old, another solution is to pour the turp into an absorptive medium (like sawdust, shredded paper, etc, and put in the trash.  If you have a place to let it sit, it will evaporate almost completely in 2-3 months.  Our local High School also has disposal days for chemicals, and I have used that option too.  As chemicals go, turpentine (made from pine resin) is not too horrible — but it’s not great either.  Linseed oil is not harmful — just messy.  I’d probably throw it out, since it’s probably a small amount.

I hope this is helpful.


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