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What Are Mineral Spirits in the UK?

If you are anything like me and spend a lot of time looking at DIY blogs then you will have come across the term mineral spirits. This is a term used by our American friends all the time.

If you have ever looked to purchase mineral spirits in the UK though you will have probably come away empty-handed. So what gives? What are mineral spirits in the UK?

Well, mineral spirits are what we call White Spirit. That’s all there is to it really. It’s the same product called by a different name.

Mixing in White Spirit
Mixing in White Spirit

So it’s not Methylated Spirits?

No, Methylated Spirits is not another name for Mineral Spirits or White Spirit. It is a completely different product altogether.

Methylated spirits are just ethanol with additives that make it horrible to drink. The additives are added to stop people from drinking it as it is pure alcohol.

Methanol is commonly added to make it difficult to distil the alcohol. Because of this, drinking methylated spirits can sometimes lead to blindness!

Is white Spirit Turpentine

While often referred to as turps, white spirit is not turpentine.

Turpentine is created from the sap of pine trees, while white spirit is petroleum-based. They do however share the same uses. Turpentine used to be the dominant product but has been almost entirely replaced by white spirit.

This is why the names are used interchangeably as white spirit has replaced turpentine.

White spirit has took over as it is a lot less irritable to the human body than turps. Turps is strongly lung irritating and while white spirits is no saint, it is a lot better.


Sunday 17th of October 2021

White Spirit (UK) = Mineral Spirit (US)

Methylated Spirits = Ethanol in a range of funky colours

Turpentine = Turpenpine because incomes from the sap of pine trees

But What is the best stuff for cleaning paint off paintbrushes?

What Spirit is the best for thinning Laquer or paint? I heard it might be pure ethanol, if you can get your hands on it.

Also, why isn't white spirit white!