Mineral spirits make household tasks such as cleaning paint brushes, thinning oil-based paints and degreasing metal parts and tools easy. But getting rid of used spirits is not so simple. The liquid, sometimes called white spirits, is a hazardous waste, requiring disposal at designated collection centers. Processors can recycle this petroleum byproduct and use it for asphalt production, reducing the demand for fresh, virgin oil. Proper disposal of mineral spirits also reduces soil, air and water pollution.
Find your nearest hazardous-waste recycler. If your area does not have a year-round facility, your county, city or town may sponsor special pickups throughout the year for hazardous waste. Label the container "mineral spirits" so the recycler knows what's inside for proper disposal.
Put your used mineral spirits in a plastic bag or stable box to transport them to the hazardous-waste collection site. Place the container in the trunk or the back of a pickup truck.
Drop them off at your local hazardous-waste collection site. Or, if your area has curbside hazardous-waste pickup, place the bottle of spirits inside a sealable, noncombustible container shortly before the pickup time. Doing this prevents the liquid from burning or exploding in case of a spark. Mineral spirits burn at 473 degrees Fahrenheit, but the flash point -- the temperature at which the fumes can ignite -- is just 104 degrees.
Reuse mineral spirits you've cleaned brushes with by letting the paint solids settle and pouring off the cleaner liquid into another container that has a tight lid or cover. Use the jar with the sediment to collect future used spirits until you have enough to bring to a hazardous-waste recycling center.
- NOCO: Mineral Spirits
- Illinois Environmental Protection Agency: Household Waste Disposal Solutions
- InterFire Online: The Pocket Guide to Accelerant Evidence Collection
- North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources; On-site Reuse and Recycle of Solvents; Robert H. Salvesen
- Engineering Toolbox: Flash Point - Fuels
Jackie Johnson is a published writer and professional blogger, and has a degree in English from Arizona State University. Her background in real estate analysis prepared her for objective thinking, researching and writing.