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How To Thin Oil-Based Paint Without Paint Thinner?

Have you experienced having all the materials you need to paint the wood project that you completed except the paint thinner? Are you wondering if it is possible to thin your oil-based paint using only materials that you have at home? Wonder no more, for we have researched this question, and we have the answer for you.

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

If you don’t have any conventional thinner, you can use acetone or mineral spirits as thinner for your oil paints. Alternatively, you can uses these other substitutes for a paint thinner:

  • Lemon and linseed oil
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Baby oil
  • Sunflower oil or vegetable oil
  • Isopropyl alcohol

Find out how to use the items in the list as thinner and which to use for various paint types in the succeeding sections.

Read on!

Oil-based inks in a tank of water prepared for marbling, How To Thin Oil-Based Paint Without Paint Thinner?

Why do you need paint thinners?

Thinners are liquid solutions that you add to paint to reduce its thickness. Hence, the name "thinner." Paint that is too thick is difficult to spread. It is also difficult to get a smooth finish from thick paint.

If you left your paint open for a long time or if you did not properly close the lid, the paint would start to thicken and hard to use. Use thinners to make the paint usable once more.

Another reason why you need thinners on your paint is so you can use the paint on sprayers. Thick paint will clog the sprayer nozzle and make them unusable.

Once you’re done with your painting project with oil paint, you will also need thinners to clean your brushes and rollers.

A gallon of thinner placed next to old concrete wall, while a painter is removing sticky rough glue and tape remain

How to thin your oil-based paint?

Oil-based paint is great for wood projects. It creates a seal that helps protect the wood from excess moisture. Additionally, it dries to a punishment-resistant shell that helps protect the furniture’s surface.

Keep in mind, however, that oil-based paint emits VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs in paints are industrial solvents that can cause short- and long-term health issues. And since VOC levels can be five to ten times higher in enclosed rooms, use oil-based paint only on furniture that you plan to use in well-ventilated areas or on external walls of your home.

Use one part thinner for every three parts of paint. Some manufacturers have a thinning ratio on the can. Thus, it is best always to check the can first if there is a thinning ratio there and follow that.

Oil paints macro

How to use common items at home as thinner?

Did you know that you can use many common items inside your home as a substitute thinner? Yep, you can! The substitute thinners below are useful if you suddenly run out of thinners and the hardware stores are all closed.

Lemon Thinner

This substitute thinner is best for oil-based paints.

  1. Get a large bucket that you can use to mix a gallon of paint.
  2. Mix a quarter cup of lemon juice and a cup of linseed oil in the bucket.
  3. Add half a gallon of the paint and mix it thoroughly.
  4. Let the solution sit for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Add the other half gallon and mix the solution thoroughly.
  6. Let the final solution sit for at least 10 minutes before you start to paint.

FurnitureClinic Boiled Linseed Oil is available on Amazon through this link.

Acetone Thinner

This substitute thinner is ideal for oil-based paints. You can use acetone or acetone-based nail polish remover.

Pronto 100% pure acetone is available on Amazon through this link.

Safety Precaution

Acetone emits toxic fumes. Thin your paint with acetone in a well-ventilated area. Wear gloves, goggles, and a face mask before you start the thinning process.

  1. Measure one part of acetone for every three parts of paint that you will thin. Add the paint to your mixing bucket.
  2. Add half part of the acetone and mix the solution for five minutes.
  3. Pour in the other half part acetone.
  4. Mix thoroughly for another five minutes.
  5. Let the mixture sit for five minutes before you start to paint.

Water Thinner

Blue waves underwater and Bubbles

You can use water to thin latex and acrylic paints.

  1. Add a gallon of latex paint into a mixing bucket.
  2. Add half a cup of water for every gallon of paint. It is important to use water at room temperature. Slowly add water while constantly stirring the paint mix.
  3. Check the thickness of the paint after you thoroughly mix the solution. If the paint is still too thick, slowly add another half cup of water. Add more water until you get the thickness that you need. You can start to paint immediately as soon as you finish mixing the solution thoroughly.

Mineral Spirits

You can use mineral spirits or turpentine to thin oil paints. Mineral spirits come from petroleum distillates. Mineral spirits are pure distillates, while thinners are mineral spirits with additives like trimethyl benzene.

Always mix mineral spirits and paint in a well-ventilated area. Wear goggles, gloves, and a face mask before you begin. You will need at least a cup of mineral spirits for every gallon of paint.

  1. Add the paint into the mixing bucket.
  2. Add half a cup of mineral spirits into the bucket.
  3. Mix thoroughly for a few minutes.
  4. Check the consistency of the paint.
  5. Add the rest of the mineral spirits into the bucket while constantly stirring.
  6. If the paint is still too thick, add a quarter cup of mineral spirits while constantly stirring the mix.

Gamblin Gamsol Odorless Mineral Spirits is available on Amazon through this link.

Vinegar

You can use plain white vinegar as a substitute thinner for oil-based paints. Do not use vinegar with tint because this can affect the color of the paint.

You will need a three-quarter cup of vinegar for every gallon of paint.

  1. Pour the paint into the mixing bucket.
  2. Add half of the vinegar that you need and stir thoroughly.
  3. Let the mixture sit for five minutes.
  4. Add the remaining half of the vinegar and stir once more.
  5. Let the mixture sit for five minutes.
  6. Check the thickness of the paint. Add another one-third cup of vinegar if the paint is still too thick.
  7. Stir the mix thoroughly.
  8. Wait for five minutes before you use the solution for painting.

Lucy’s natural distilled white vinegar is available on Amazon through this link.

Baby Oil

Baby oil is naturally thinner than oil paint. Thus, it can be used to thin it.

Before you decide to use baby oil to thin your paint, you must know that adding oil to your paint will cause it to become shinier. Adding oil will also lengthen the drying time.

Never use baby oil that has any pigment.

Wait for the paint and baby oil to be at room temperature before mixing them.

You will need a quarter cup of baby oil for every gallon of paint.

  1. Add the paint to the mixing bucket.
  2. Add the baby oil and stir for five to seven minutes.
  3. Check the consistency. If the paint is still too thick, add another quarter of a cup. It is no longer advisable to add more than half a cup of baby oil for every gallon of paint. Always mix for five to seven minutes after you add baby oil.
  4. Wait for ten minutes after mixing before you start painting.

Johnson’s Baby Oil is available on Amazon through this link.

Sunflower Oil Or Vegetable Oil)

big bottle of oil in hand buyer at grocery

You can use sunflower oil to thin oil paint. You can follow the same procedure for using baby oil for thinning oil paint.

Isopropyl Alcohol

You can use isopropyl alcohol to thin latex paint. Use 91% isopropyl alcohol or higher for the best result. You will need less if your alcohol has a higher rating.

Use gloves and goggles before you begin.

  1. Add the paint to the mixing bucket.
  2. Add half a cup of alcohol into the bucket and mix well.
  3. Check the thickness of the paint after mixing.
  4. If the paint is still too thick, repeat Steps 2 and 3 until you get the right thickness.

Amazon Brand’s Solimo 99% Isopropyl Alcohol is available on Amazon through this link.

The Kitchen Mix

This is a mix of common ingredients in the kitchen that make a good thinner for latex paint.

  1. Heat one and a half cups of water. Wait until it boils.
  2. While waiting for the water to boil, add one and a half tablespoons of dish soap into a small container.
  3. Add half a cup of alcohol and mix the two well.
  4. Add the boiling water to the container and mix thoroughly.
  5. Wait until the mixture cools to room temperature before you proceed. This amount of mixture is enough for a gallon of paint.
  6. Pour a gallon of paint into a mixing bucket.
  7. Add half of the mixture and stir for five minutes.
  8. Add the other half of the mixture and stir for five more minutes.
  9. Let the paint mix sit for 10 minutes before painting.

Conclusion

Oil-based inks in a tank of water prepared for marbling

There are several common household items that you can use as a substitute to paint thinner for oil paint.

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