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Solvent Alternatives Guide
Petroleum Distillates


Petroleum distillates are hydrocarbon solvents produced from crude oil. These solvents include mineral spirits, kerosene, white spirits, naphtha, and Stoddard solvent.

Petroleum distillates are good for removal of heavy oil and grease, tar, and waxes. The low surface tension of many of these solvents allows them to penetrate and clean small spaces. They are flammable, so they are usually used at or near room temperature. They are typically used in immersion or hand-wipe processes. They are also found as the solvent portion of some semiaqueous solutions.

Costs range from around $3/gallon for mineral spirits to about $32/gallon for purified, electronic grade distillates.

Petroleum distillates are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and may be regulated in your area. Toxicity levels are considered low, but vary with the specific material. For example, kerosene is a possible carcinogen.

These solvents can be recycled by distillation. Disposal is by chemical incineration in an approved facility.

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Last Update: 17 March 1995