Is Mineral Spirits Flammable?-Can They Catch Fire?

Otherwise known as white spirits, mineral spirits have a lot of use in industrial and domestic applications. And if you are handling them for a project or a task, you should have a fair idea about how safe it is. 

So, are mineral spirits flammable?

Mineral spirits are highly flammable. In fact, you should not store them in containers other than the approved ones, such as safety cans or plungers. If mishandled, mineral spirits can easily cause severe home fire incidents.

But that’s not everything you need to know about the topic. You should also have a proper idea about the flash point and can mineral spirits spontaneously combust or not. And reading this article will let you know it all!

Is Mineral Spirits Flammable

What Is Mineral Spirit and What Are Its Properties?

Understanding what mineral spirits are can make things a bit easier to understand. So, at the core, these are basically types of chemical substances. 

They are liquid hydrocarbon solvent mixture of two compounds, which are –

  • Aliphatic compounds
  • Alicyclic petroleum-based compounds

That said, if you are wondering what the specific properties of mineral spirits are, take a look at the list below –

  • Derived from minerals, especially petroleum
  • Colorless, clear, and generally with a mild odor
  • Does not contain any additives

What Are Mineral Spirits Used For?

Keen to know what are the use cases of mineral spirits? Well, for their unique properties, they see use in these applications –

1. Thinning Paint

Mineral spirits are generally used to thin oil-based paints. It lets the painters modify the color’s consistency, making the paint easier to work with and spread.

2. Removing Paint Spills

Considering the fact that mineral spirits can thin paints, they can be used to remove spills as well. And it’s not just for oil-based paints. You can use mineral spirits to remove pretty much any paint spills.

3. As a Cleaning Agent or Lubricant

It’s possible to use mineral spirits as a cleaning agent. To be exact, they work exceptionally well for machinery and tools. Their unique properties let them strip away grime, rust, and even built-up dirt. 

Also, you can use mineral spirits on furniture. Moreover, they are effective as a grease for auto parts.

Are Mineral Spirits Flammable? − What Is the Flammability of Mineral Spirits?

Mineral spirits are flammable. In fact, mineral spirits are also combustible. Regarding how easy it is to make them catch on fire, they can ignite very quickly.

That eventually makes the mineral spirits reside in Class II on the flammability scale. This rating states that mineral spirits have a reasonably low flash point.

Is Mineral Spirits Flammable

So, if they are not disposed of properly or stored correctly, there can be a severe fire incident. For example, you should never store or dispose of them in a place where there’s a heat source nearby.

How Does the Flammability of Mineral Spirits Compare?

According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), mineral spirits are incredibly flammable. But that’s a common scenario for most hydrocarbon-based solvents. They easily catch fire when exposed to a heat source.

Wondering what other liquids showcase the same characteristics? Well, some examples would be –

  • Turpentine
  • Petroleum
  • Benzene

Among these, turpentine is relatively common in households as it is used for mixing paints. Well, turpentine is highly combustible. And its fumes are more toxic than the fumes of mineral spirits. After all, the latter comes from distilled petroleum oils.

The Ignition/Burning Temperature of Mineral Spirits

When the mineral spirits are exposed to a specific temperature, they auto-ignite. This is generally called a particular thing’s ignition point or flash point. And for mineral spirits, the burning temperature is 38 degrees Celsius.

That’s around 473 degrees Fahrenheit. So, if you keep mineral spirits around a heat source reaching 38 degrees Celsius or higher, the liquid will catch fire.

Factors that Increase the Risk of Fire with Mineral Spirits

Find yourself working with mineral spirits? In that case, you should keep these risk factors in mind –

High Temperatures

As discussed before, mineral spirits can auto-ignite when the temperature gets to a specific point. And you should even keep this liquid outdoors. Direct sunlight can cause a fire.

Sparks and Flames

You should not keep mineral spirits near open flames or sparks. Anything can go wrong, and the mineral spirits can get in contact with fire.

Improper Storage

It goes without saying that you should always store mineral spirits in special containers. The liquid can get quickly heated up when stored in an unsuitable container. And that can result in an explosion.

Safety Precautions When Using Mineral Spirits

Just knowing the risk factors is not enough. You should also know the safety precautions to adhere to while working with mineral spirits. And they are –

  • Always handle minerals in a well-ventilated place. A cramped-up space will increase the chances of you inhaling the toxic fumes.
  • Ensure the working area is free from open flames, sparks, and heat sources.
  • Wear protective gear while handling mineral spirits. That includes eye and face protection and gloves.
  • Keep the mineral spirit away from children and pets. Also, ensure you dispose of the mineral spirits according to local regulations.
  • Clean up the spills immediately to avoid spreading the flammable liquid and lower the risk of slipping.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are the fumes of mineral spirits flammable?

The fumes of mineral spirits are flammable. In addition, the fumes are toxic to your health. For that reason, you should be very careful while handling mineral spirits.

2. Are mineral spirits flammable when dry?

Mineral spirits do not lose their flammability when they are dried up. That means you should not keep it near a heat source or open flames, even in the dry form.

Final Words

So, is mineral spirits flammable? The short answer is that they are highly flammable. You should be very careful while handling them and never use them while being in an enclosed space. On that note, is mineral oil also flammable?