MEK (Mineral Spirits) banned in So. California? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 40 Old 04-19-2018, 01:02 PM Thread Starter
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MEK (Mineral Spirits) banned in So. California?

I need Mineral Spirits to thin out pure 100% tung oil.

I heard that if the labels says "Meets CA VOC Regulations", then it's reformulated, and not the real thing.

I do see these at the stores here:
Lacquer Thinner
Paint Thinner (replaces MEK and Toluene)
Turpentine
Acetone


Will any of these work as substitutes?

I did find Mineral Spirits in Ventura County, next to LA county.
Klean-Strip Odorless Mineral Spirits for California

Is this the real thing?

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post #2 of 40 Old 04-19-2018, 01:14 PM
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MEK = methyl ethyl ketone; this was banned in California in 2011.

Mineral spirits are not MEK, but California has clamped down on this as well.... and in typical California fashion, it's complicated.

If you live in (most of) southern California, you're in the SCAQMD and you're basically screwed.

The rest of California is "just" covered by CARB, so the restrictions are less onerous. At least in theory. In practice, most chain stores are going to carry just the SCAQMD friendly products.

In any case - cans with titles like "paint thinner" are mostly useless - the actual solvents used vary dramatically.

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post #3 of 40 Old 04-19-2018, 01:18 PM Thread Starter
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and Turpentine is labeled as "Turpatine" at Home depot.
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post #4 of 40 Old 04-19-2018, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanvito View Post
I need Mineral Spirits to thin out pure 100% tung oil.

I heard that if the labels says "Meets CA VOC Regulations", then it's reformulated, and not the real thing.

I do see these at the stores here:
Lacquer Thinner
Paint Thinner (replaces MEK and Toluene)
Turpentine
Acetone


Will any of these work as substitutes?

I did find Mineral Spirits in Ventura County, next to LA county.
Klean-Strip Odorless Mineral Spirits for California

Is this the real thing?
I will not (nor ever have) used or recommended petroleum-based materials.

They simply are not the same or give the same results as traditional natural materials. AKA: Pine or Citrus base thinners, which are environmentally sustainable and work in concert with Tung and Flax (and related botanical oils) much better, with a tremendously long history of positive and effective application...
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post #5 of 40 Old 04-19-2018, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Jay C. White Cloud View Post
I will not (nor ever have) used or recommended petroleum-based materials.

They simply are not the same or give the same results as traditional natural materials. AKA: Pine or Citrus base thinners, which are environmentally sustainable and work in concert with Tung and Flax (and related botanical oils) much better, with a tremendously long history of positive and effective application...
Great ! I have a bottle of citrus solvent. I wasn't sure if mineral spirits was more "effective".
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post #6 of 40 Old 04-19-2018, 04:02 PM
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Great ! I have a bottle of citrus solvent. I wasn't sure if mineral spirits was more "effective".
The only caveat I would offer is to make sure the oil supplier (and you) are certain of the citrus oil source and quality. Some are adulterated and they are not all the same. Most manufacturers/distributors of natural oils sell the applicable natural thinner as well...

Good Luck,

j
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post #7 of 40 Old 04-19-2018, 10:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanvito View Post
I need Mineral Spirits to thin out pure 100% tung oil.

I heard that if the labels says "Meets CA VOC Regulations", then it's reformulated, and not the real thing.

I do see these at the stores here:
Lacquer Thinner
Paint Thinner (replaces MEK and Toluene)
Turpentine
Acetone


Will any of these work as substitutes?

I did find Mineral Spirits in Ventura County, next to LA county.
Klean-Strip Odorless Mineral Spirits for California

Is this the real thing?
Lacquer thinner and Acetone are too hot a solvent to use in tung oil. Turpentine is a bit rare around here. I've never tried to thin tung oil with that but I think it would work. You might try a small amount first.

I've tried three different brands of Odorless mineral spirits including Klean Strip and it ruined the finish I tried it in. I couldn't even use it for clean up so I pitched all three.
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post #8 of 40 Old 04-21-2018, 11:17 PM
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Either "Mineral Spirits" or "Paint Thinner" will do the job. Odorless is just Mineral Spirits with less odor.

If you don't trust the product, do a test on a piece of scrap.

MEK or Methyl Ethyl Ketone is some really nasty stuff and incredibly flammable. I've seen MEK ignited by the hot end of a cigarette. One of its main uses was to deal with potting and protective molding compounds used in the Apollo Space program.

Many of the other solvents are being formulated with acetone to get around the SCAQMD idiots.

I don't know if it is still available in SC, but Naphtha is an excellent substitute. The big advantage is that the Naphtha will flash off quicker than either paint thinner of mineral spirits.

Rich
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post #9 of 40 Old 04-22-2018, 04:17 AM
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You never said how much solvent you needed. Tank-car load or a few ounces?
For a small amount, I'd visit a fine arts store which supplies paints and solvents for professional artists.
Nearest city of 90,000 to me has a couple of stores with quite a selection in 4 & 8 oz bottles.
DaVinci, Stevenson, Grumbacher, Windsor & Newton. . . . . lots of brands.
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post #10 of 40 Old 04-22-2018, 09:20 AM
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The issue for some is that the State of California has banned certain chemicals that used to be popular for many purposes, including woodworking. Within that, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) has imposed even further restrictions, banning additional chemicals from most of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties. They add to the list of banned chemicals from time to time, too.

San Diego and Ventura Counties are not affected by the SCAQMD restrictions, but they are subject to California rules.

Banned chemicals in most of Southern California include true mineral spirits. Before the bans, paint thinner was mineral spirits. I don't know what is in today's "paint thinner" here in So Cal, but it isn't mineral spirits.

Some companies reformulated their products for the Southern California market. I read that Waterlox has two different formulations - one for So Cal, and one for everywhere else. And Waterlox says that you better not mix the two or thin the two in the same way. You need the right thinner for your kind of Waterlox. (I have looked for Waterlox around here, but have yet to find it. Everyone says, "Yeah, we used to carry it, before the ban.")

People talk about "VOC"s here. That stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. I assume that mineral spirits count as a VOC. For example, woodworking finishes that you buy can't exceed a certain percentage of VOCs or they are banned. Of course, people who buy them want to thin them to deal with the issues that arise. If you think about it, thinning turns it into a banned product. Doh!
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post #11 of 40 Old 04-22-2018, 09:43 AM
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Can you get solvents in Nevada? It's not that far and a five gallon can would probably last the diy a decade. The finish would be a problem. It wouldn't have near as long a shelf life.
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post #12 of 40 Old 04-22-2018, 10:08 AM
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Can you get solvents in Nevada? It's not that far and a five gallon can would probably last the diy a decade. The finish would be a problem. It wouldn't have near as long a shelf life.
Yes, I just checked locally it's available in Nevada.
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post #13 of 40 Old 04-23-2018, 01:26 AM
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I know that the Home Depot on Marks Street (Across from Costco) in Henderson stocks a plethora of solvents. They also don't mind when I park in the back corner of the parking lot and do my finishing there.

Rich
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post #14 of 40 Old 04-23-2018, 10:22 AM
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Can you get solvents in Nevada? It's not that far and a five gallon can would probably last the diy a decade. The finish would be a problem. It wouldn't have near as long a shelf life.
Yes. Not just Nevada, but also Arizona. I presume that you can also buy California-banned solvents in Oregon, which is far from Southern California where I live.

Some people go to adjacent counties (e.g., Ventura and San Diego Counties) to buy solvents that are permitted in the rest of California but banned in the South Coast Air Quality Management District, aka SCAQMD, which covers most of Southern California.

I assume that people who go outside their areas to buy banned solvents are breaking some kind of law or regulation. I doubt that they target hobbyists for enforcement, but they probably do watch for commercial operations using banned chemicals. I was on a tour of a cabinet making company here in So Cal, and they mentioned that they are regularly inspected for compliance with environmental regulations. The company that was the sole source for foam surfboard cores (used all over the world) closed its business a few years ago, mostly due to constantly changing environmental regulations in Orange County and concerns about legal liability:

https://www.surfer.com/features/cleanupset_vol47_3/

By the way, California state regulations come from the California Air Resources Board (CARB). I note that their acronym is far more pronounceable than "SCAQMD."
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post #15 of 40 Old 04-23-2018, 01:42 PM Thread Starter
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I decided to stick with WATER BASED finishes for now, so I can avoid these solvents.

I can just wash brushes in soap and water, and also wipe down wood with water after sanding. The tack rag seems to work as final dust collector.
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post #16 of 40 Old 04-23-2018, 10:22 PM
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I decided to stick with WATER BASED finishes for now, so I can avoid these solvents.

I can just wash brushes in soap and water, and also wipe down wood with water after sanding. The tack rag seems to work as final dust collector.
The problem with wiping wood down with water is the water raises the grain and it then needs to be sanded again. It's the same problem with waterborne finishes, they raise the grain so you have to do a lot more between the coats sanding and more coats that you would have to do with a solvent based finish.
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post #17 of 40 Old 04-23-2018, 10:55 PM Thread Starter
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The problem with wiping wood down with water is the water raises the grain and it then needs to be sanded again. It's the same problem with waterborne finishes, they raise the grain so you have to do a lot more between the coats sanding and more coats that you would have to do with a solvent based finish.
My understanding of water popping is to intentionally get these benefits with WB finishes.

-It raises the wood fibers so the stain goes deep into the wood for a nice finish
-It makes the color stand out

I'm using GF Enduro Var WB, and GF dye stain or SC shellac, all to "simulate" the Oil look. The extra time spent is same amount of time spent cleaning oil brushes which is nasty.
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post #18 of 40 Old 04-23-2018, 11:10 PM
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My understanding of water popping is to intentionally get these benefits with WB finishes.

-It raises the wood fibers so the stain goes deep into the wood for a nice finish
-It makes the color stand out

I'm using GF Enduro Var WB, and GF dye stain or SC shellac, all to "simulate" the Oil look. The extra time spent is same amount of time spent cleaning oil brushes which is nasty.
Yes it will make the wood accept the stain better. I just don't like the way it roughens the wood. You could also achieve the same appearance by using a darker stain.
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post #19 of 40 Old 04-27-2018, 11:17 PM
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I decided to stick with WATER BASED finishes for now, so I can avoid these solvents.

I can just wash brushes in soap and water, and also wipe down wood with water after sanding. The tack rag seems to work as final dust collector.
I buy the cheap brushes from Harbor Freight and throw them away after use.

Rich
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post #20 of 40 Old 04-27-2018, 11:35 PM
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I buy the cheap brushes from Harbor Freight and throw them away after use.
I've been buying walmart brushes and throwing them away. I've never looked at HF brushes. I will have to look the next time I go there.
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