Nontoxicprint: a private, not-for-profit Research Resource on Printmaking and Painting |
advice on materials and suppliers, brands and company links,
is solely given for artist's evaluation, education
The powerful dissolving properties of water have long been exploited in all kinds of water soluble paints and inks (such as water color, gouache, or block printing ink), but for centuries the stereotypical notion of ‘oil and water don’t mix’ prevented further development. Due to this notion, whenever oils needed dissolving hydrocarbon agents such as turpentine or mineral spirits were employed, not water.
Safe Stripping and Cleaning
with Orange Zest Solvents
There is a growing number of citrus-based solvents on the market. The key ingredient, D-Limonene,
also known as orange oil, the possibly safer and innovative solvent extracted
from orange peel, can be purchased directly from the citrus industry.
For example, see www.citrusdepot.net. This
solvent is more powerful than mineral spirits, strong enough to
dissolve hardened acrylics, oil paint, printing ink, (and even some
plastics) , yet medical studies have found less carcinogenic or
neurotoxin hazards to humans comparable to the petrochemical solvents.
Users should, nevertheless, handle the solvent with care: ensure good ventilation and take fire precautions when using the new orange oil solvents. Unlike oil-based products, orange oil is considered biodegradable. Concentrated orange oil is a very powerful - not a benign - chemical that dissolves plastic and fats, hence should be treated with respect, as misuse of the concentrated oil can cause harm to the body. Extreme exposures are known to have caused lung damage in users.
truly revolutionary solvent was formulated as an alternative to
petroleum-based turpentines and thinners. It is made from 100% renewable
agricultural resources of soy, corn, and citrus, and is non-polluting,
non-carcinogenic, and bio-degradable. Less than a teaspoon will
thoroughly clean a large plate. DSolve will even strip dried ink from
etched lines." Dick Blick
below, a similar product, made for artist use: 'NaturalEarthPaint' (https://www.naturalearthpaint.com). This website also contains a useful and informative 'how-to' page on making your own traditional painting mediums, using simple ingredients and recipes (Gouache, Egg Tempera, etc.)
"Does not irritate the skin / Does not emit harmful vapors. / Soy-based" (company quote).
SAFETY NOTE: NEVER INHALE CONCENTRATED VOC's!
concentrated VOCs when inhaled (including plant-derived VOCs) may cause lung damage or even death by asphyxiation
The active ingredient in orange oil, D-Limonene is a natural yet very powerful solvent. In concentrated form and vaporized it may present a significant inhalation hazard; also it is highly flammable. If using substantial amounts of pure orange oil and over prolonged periods, work in a well ventilated area, and ideally also use an organic vapor mask. Most citrus based solvents utilize the power of this natural paint thinner in aqueous solutions, and accompanied by other ingredients such as soy oil and corn oil and detergents.
Research into Bio Solvents
The now established bio solvent industry conducts some of the research into safer solvent, paint and ink alternatives
not all their solutions are as safe as claimed!
Two companies supplying ingredients for bio-solvents and volume supplies for industrial use (for instance in the printing industry) are Citrus Depot and Vertec Biosolvents. Both of these firms conduct leading research and development into nontoxic solvent technologies.
Vertec claim to be 'the world's most innovative supplier of sustainable biobased solvents derived from corn, soybeans, citrus fruits and other renewable feedstocks', and the company also pursue a carbon-neutral policy. The company just announced a new product - its 'DLR blend', a cheaper and environmentally friendly alternative to d-limonene, which may have uses and applications in painting and printing.
'turpenoid Natural' is an extremely effective nontoxic brush cleaner and gentle brush conditioner which rinses out with plain water. Brushes are reconditioned when cleaned with Turpenoid Natural®. It is non-flammable, does not irritate skin or eyes and does not emit harmful vapors. It is an effective painting medium when used within recommended guidelines.
Use in paint mediums should not exceed 25% to ensure proper drying time. It designed for use in oil painting brush baths / is a highly effective brush cleaner and conditioner, even for brushes with dried oil, alkyd or acrylic paints / emits no harmful vapors / requires no special ventilation / conditions brushes as it cleans /rinses out with plain water / is nonflammable & noncombustible / will not deplete the ozone layer / Safe for the environment (Weber).
SoySolv II Environmentally Safe Industrial Cleaning Solvent Made from 100% soybean oil, SOYsolv® is tested and proven to be a safe, effective and powerful product for use in many applications. Nontoxic and Biodegradable. This product is used in various print studios in combination with vegetable oil as a final cleaner for inked plates. The product leaves a slightly greasy deposit; follow up with de-greasing. Not very suitable as a stripper for acrylics - use washing soda or a citrus based product instead (D-Solve).
The new company D&S offer 'nontoxic' solvents and laquers for lithography etching
'BioLaq: 'Superior Replacement for Asphaltum and Plate Lacquers'.
Excellent hard ground for etching' ('no hazmat': Graphic Chemical Co)
Adverse effectsLavender oil appears to be an endocrine disruptor, exhibiting anti-androgenic activity in vitro.
Lavender oils in soaps, shampoos, and other skin applied medications may cause prepubertal gynecomastia, which is breast development in young boys. This suggests that repeated exposure to lavender oil may promote adverse symptoms and effects. These oils can also result in skin irritation and other allergic reactions when in contact with skin, causing nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and overall bodily discomfort
One American Art Materials firm recently published an overview of Oil Painting Solvents and Essential Oils that also contains some detailed historical information: click here for the full text on their website https://www.jerrysartarama.com/images/PDFs/Artists-Guide-to-Oil-Painting-Solvents.pdf
an excerpt from the introduction section of this guide:
I. The most common solvents used today are Turpentine and Odorless Mineral Spirits
A. Turpentine: WHAT IS IT? 1.
Turpentine is made from tree sap that is secreted by conifer trees (like pine, cypress, fir, larch, fir), where the tree sap is distilled to separate the oil from the resin, creating the solvent known as Turpentine. The process to industrially distill the tree sap (and the wood that produces the sap) often uses naptha and chemicals to extract the most solvent possible. Tree sap is an oleo-resin that acts as the tree’s natural bug repellant, so it makes sense that the distilled solvent from it would be toxic to breathe. Because of headaches and health issues related to the use of Turpentine (primarily since the 1950s), the principal substitute has been Odorless Mineral Spirits.
B. Odorless Mineral Spirits: WHAT IS IT? 1. Odorless Mineral Spirits is made from distilled petroleum, with chemicals added to the petroleum distillate to eliminate the strong odor. This addition does not remove the toxic fumes from the product; rather, it only makes them less detectable to the senses. It is advertised as less toxic than Turpentine because it evaporates more slowly than Turpentine, but essentially it is de- odorized distilled industrial gasoline that is toxic to breathe but has a low odor so people do not notice the toxic fumes.
II. Essential Oils- HISTORICALLY DOCUMENTED PAINT THINNERS/SOLVENTS
1. Essential oils are one of three types of oils, all produced from organic material, which can be classified as: fixed non-drying oils, drying oils, and essential oils. They all mix readily together and thus are soluble in each other. For oil painting we are only concerned with the drying oils and essential oils
a. Fixed non-drying oils e.g. olive oil, vegetable oil: i. Produced by pressing fruit, vegetables or plants.
ii. When these oils come into contact with oxygen, they do not dry
into a solid or evaporate, they remain in their liquid state. b. Drying oils e.g. linseed (flaxseed), walnut:
i. Drying oils are produced by pressing the seeds of fruits, plants. ii. When these oils come into contact with oxygen, they dry and become hard: they change from a liquid state to a solid state.
They are used as the main vehicle mixed with pigment to make oil paints.
c. Essential oils e.g. Spike Oil, Rosemary Oil: i. Essential oils are produced from flowers and plants through a process of distillation, rather than pressing.
- Some historic examples are Lavender Spike Oil, which is made from the ‘spikes’ of a species of lavender flower, and rosemary oil.
ii. When essential oils come into contact with oxygen, they transform from a liquid state to a gaseous state; in other words, they evaporate like Turpentine and Mineral Spirits. iii. This evaporating property is one reason among others that essential oils are successful paint thinners and solvents since the Renaissance. (use the above link for the full text)
Goodbye to Turpentine | Safe Oil Painting
by Robert Maynard
Safer Paint Strippers
Exposure to some common paint stripping products
can be very hazardous, and even fatal.
OSHA lists several safer alternatives
on the following page:
Fatal Incident involving Paint Stripper | OSHA