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