Most solvents have common characteristics. They are liquids at room temperature. They are very volatile and produce vapors that can be inhaled or circulated by a ventilation system.
Most solvents are flammable liquids, and because of the wide range of potential ingredients in solvents, you should always check the label and/or material safety data sheet for a description of hazards.
But, most importantly to us as oil painters, solvents dissolve oil, grease, and fats effectively. It is this property alone that propels oil painters to use solvents despite the other crude characteristics that we can certainly do without.
In fact, solvents created specifically for oil painting are made to zone in on compatibility with oil colors as the good quality of solvents, and reduce the less desirable and hazardous ones.
Top 6 solvents rated….
More specifically, solvents can produce local or systemic (central nervous system) effects in people when vapors are inhaled or when liquids penetrate the skin. They are irritating to the skin, eyes and respiratory tract, and they may cause dizziness, nausea, drowsiness, or light-headedness.
Furthermore, in very high concentrations, inhalation of solvents can cause unconsciousness, convulsions and death. Obviously, it is in the artist’s best interest to try to eliminate all of these adverse reactions in order to use solvents in oil painting.
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