Paint Thin­ner Su­per Saver

Get more (and more and more) out of that can of paint thin­ner. By Capt. Bill Pike

Power & Motor Yacht - - BOATYARD TIP -

Whether it’s old en­gine oil, trans­mis­sion fluid or what­ever, stuff that’s left over from boat-re­lated projects these days is in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to dis­pose of in an en­vi­ron­men­tally cor­rect way. Cer­tainly, in days gone by, clean­ing paint brushes after us­ing them of­ten meant sub­merg­ing said brushes in sev­eral sep­a­rate baths of paint thin­ner, each one purer than the last. While this tech­nique pro­duced su­per­clean, long-last­ing, un­tainted brushes, it also pro­duced a heck of a lot of paint thin­ner that needed to be ap­pro­pri­ately dis­posed of. There’s a greener, cheaper way, although it’s ad­mit­tedly much less thor­ough and pre­cise. It’s sim­ple, re­ally.

Upon fin­ish­ing your paint job, you pour a small—the smaller, the bet­ter—amount of thin­ner into a tin can or other con­tainer, slosh the brush around in the can, wipe the brush clean with pa­per tow­els or rags (per­haps re­peat the process us­ing another can or con­tainer and clean thin­ner), and then fi­nally, once the brush is rea­son­ably clean, pour all the thin­ner you’ve used back into the can from whence it came.

Painters with picky na­tures will be hor­ri­fied at this last sug­ges­tion, of course. But, if you’re not a real hair-split­ter with an el­e­vated pinky, here’s what to ex­pect. The solids in the paint/thin­ner mix­ture which you just poured into the can will set­tle out in less than a day’s time, leav­ing a sludge of sorts on the bot­tom. Next time you need a lit­tle thin­ner, all you have to do is pour gin­gerly, be­ing care­ful not to stir up the dang sludge. The thin­ner will be amaz­ingly clear when it comes out, and the num­ber of us­ages you get from, say, a quart can of thin­ner will most likely sur­prise you.

Use and re­use: Paint thin­ner can go a supris­ingly long way if you care­fully re­cy­cle the stuff.

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