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Author: Subject: What is white spirit?
Harmless

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What is white spirit?

Very little pisses me off more than manufacturers not unambiguously listing the chemical constituents of their products. In the UK and Ireland there is a product called White Spirit, every painter in these countries know what it is. The only thing said on the labels of white spirit is "Contains: Greater than 30% aliphatic hydrocarbons" or "Contains: A mixture of aliphatic hydrocarbons". Great that really narrows it down. 30% of it contains one or more of a very large category of chemicals.

In the US there is VM&P naphtha which is called varsol in Canada but exactly what this solvent is composed of I have no idea. There is also naphtha which is apparently not the same substance as VM&P naphtha then there is petroleum ether which is not an ether at all but is in fact a "mixture of aliphatic hydrocarbons". This ambiguous labelling really pisses me off. Can anyone shed some light on what these products are really composed of?

densest
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All of these are petroleum distillates. Google is your friend. The Merck Index is often a better friend for this sort of query.
Contrabasso
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Petroleum distillates are often a loosely specified mixture with some properties within various limits. More a range of components than a single compound.
The WiZard is In
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 Quote: Originally posted by SeaDonkey Can anyone shed some light on what these products are really composed of?

----------
Like white knotting, white spirit has no recognized standard of
composition. It dobe whatever its manufacture used.

For somewhat more detail -

Jeffrey R Stewart
The National Paint Dictionary
Stewart Research Laboratory
Washington, DC
3rd Edition 1948
franklyn
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Your best bet is to seek an MSDS ( Material Product Data Sheet )
for the particular product. The material content will be described
in at least cursory detail. MSDS are used by emergency medical
staff to advise on remediation for poisoning , so it must be accurate.

Google the product name and the manufacturer separately using " MSDS "
in the search criteria. If you have some notion of the actual substance
it may be found directly , sometimes.
http://hazard.com/msds
http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov

.
unionised
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My guess is that he did look up the MSDS and that's what told him it contained >30% aliphatics.

The simple truth is that if you want to buy something to wash paint brushes you buy white spirit.
If you want pure chemicals you don't buy "whatever was cheap at the refinery that day" i.e. white spirit.
Contrabasso
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A "Partly specified" mix may suit certain purposes and come at the right price point. Also it may even be a mix of chems that are hard (expensive) to separate, for which a use has been found.
Take for instance "petrol" motor car fuel. We know the calorific value and the flame and combustion properties, manufacturers may add special chemicals for own brand specials, BUT actually we don't know or care what the chemicals really are. As a partly specified mixture it is cheap at source (OK there's tax) If we bought it as a five figure specified mix of compounds the price would be probably a hundred times greater - for no performance improvement.
azo
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white spirit is also called stoddard solvent or mineral spirit.
you can buy odourless mineral spirit the only difference is it is further refined to remove toxic aromatic compounds.
white spirit is usely a mixture of saturated aliphatic and alicyclic C7 to C12 hydrocarbons with a maximum content of 25% of C7 to C12 alkyl aromatic hydrocarbons.

regards azo

Harmless

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Ah right so its C7-C12. Are alkyl aromatic hydrocarbons different to arenes? Can you give me an example of an alkyl aromatic hydrocarbon that might be present in white spirit?
stygian
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Alkyl aromatics: toluene, xylenes, ethylbenzenes.
azo
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i thought aromatic hydrocarbon are arenes ? correct me if i am wrong.
Also there are three different types and three different grades of white spirit The type refers to whether the solvent has been subjected to hydrodesulfurization (removal of sulfur) alone (type 1), solvent extraction (type 2) or hydrogenation (type 3). Each type comprises three different grades: low flash grade, regular grade, and high flash grade. The grade is determined by the crude oil used as the starting material and the conditions of distillation and i think you will find that the aliphatic hydrocarbon in white spirit would proberly be mostly n Hexane.

regards azo
Pseudomonia
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Arenes are aromatic hydrocardons, they are simply different names for the same thing.
Fyndium
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Does this product have any use in organic chemistry? It sounds like it might share some properties with heptanes, hexanes and similar. Key figure is that it's available practically everywhere for a very low cost.

EDIT:

Further investigation suggests that white spirits consists generally of higher alkanes from C8 to C12, which have boiling range from 120 to 200C, rendering them somewhat heavy for extractions. It could be a good cleansing solvent, and solvent used for precipitations, washings, etc.

Meanwhile, up to 70% of weight of lawnmower gasoline consists of C4-C6 hydrocarbons with boiling range up to 100C, indicating that it could be a viable source for alkane-based extraction solvent, the balance consisting of higher alkanes with bp up to 200C.

Possibly yet the cheapest source would be just ordinary fuel station gasoline that is fractional distilled at least once to extract the desired fractions. It contains significant fraction of very low boiling point stuff including stuff that is considered LPG that is basically dissolved into the higher alkanes, and boiling it will gasify them and cause issues unless they are either vented or condensed properly.

[Edited on 17-2-2021 by Fyndium]
Aloesci
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I live in the UK and I've also experienced the pure disappointment of searching a product label for ingredients, only to find basically no information! I've not yet found a use for "white spirit" probably because i don't know whats in it enough to trust my other chemicals to it's care as a solvent/reactant.

Its probably very flamable though.. Good for a bonfire night?
j_sum1

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When I visit the hardware store I find an array of solvents and thinners with various nondescript names. And when I look up the SDS they all say, petroleum distillates. So, no help there.
I have had some fun distilling and purifying these sometimes. Gasoline was my most recent effort. Extractions and Ire has a good video showing procedure. Basically, washing uot ethanol and any other alcohols with water. Oxidising anything unsaturated. Distilling. Drying. Fractional distillation. (I don't think I missed any steps.)
As a result I have a few fractions in my fridge: one that is likely mostly hexanes. Another that is likely mostly heptanes. These will do for extractions. If I want a synthesis then I will have to buy pure reagents.

Obviously the complexity goes up if you are after higher boiling point fractions. For a start you are going to get the aromatics. And there are more possible isomers. And you will need to get rid of ester products after the oxidation. But then it really depends on desired purpose. I have some cleaned up kerosese that I use for storing alkali metals. I don't have much idea what is in it but it is doing the job just fine.
Corrosive Joeseph
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A common UK brand...

 Quote: Hydrocarbons, C9-C12, n-alkanes, isoalkanes, cyclics, aromatics (2-25%) 100%

/CJ

Attachment: BARTOLINE-White-Spirit-SDS4652.pdf (375kB)

Being well adjusted to a sick society is no measure of one's mental health
Fyndium
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These products always have the cheapest ingredients suitable for the job, meaning it's just straight petroleum distillate from a certain boiling range. Hard to give more accurate MSDS, because there isn't one. Likely looking research papers of oil refineries will shed more light.

Primarily I was after here a very cheap, easily available and likely expendable solvent that could be substituted for something much more expensive and difficult to obtain, and likely discarded after use by dumping it into bonfire, bbq, etc instead of recovery. For more sensitive synthesis uses, named reagents would be the way to go. Ironically, I calculated that I can get toluene about the same price per L for what I could extract petroleum ethers from small engine gasoline.

I've actually watched that video of Extractions and Ire and it was interesting.
unionised
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It's not so much that it's "hard" to give a more accurate MSDS. It's that there's no point.

It's safety data.
The hazard profile from decane is essentially the same as for octadecane, and all the ones in between and all their isomers.

So you would be splitting them down into individual components, classifying each component and then adding them together again.
It's a mixture of hydrocarbons.
It will burn if you set fire to it.
It's not particularly toxic if swallowed.
It's much more of a problem if you inhale the liquid- (hence the "do not induce vomiting" label).

The MSDS isn't there for the benefit of amateur chemists.

Kobold vor NH4
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Name depends on where you live:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_spirit
"White spirit (UK) or mineral spirits (US, Canada), also known as mineral turpentine (AU/NZ), turpentine substitute, and petroleum spirits}
In Australia, white spirit is normally sold under the generic name of Shellite (a trademark of Shell Australia), and is composed of C6 to C10 straight alkanes, classing it as light pure naphtha. It is used for fuel and cleaning.[citation needed]"

At bunnings, (Diggers brand) white spirits and shellite are (for 1L) around $9, whereas mineral turpentine is$3.97

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naphtha
"In different industries and regions naphtha may also be crude oil or refined products such as kerosene. Mineral spirits, also historically known as "naphtha", is not the same chemical.
Nephi and naphthar are sometimes used as a synonyms.[1] It is also known as Shellite in Australia.[2]
One source[12] distinguishes by boiling point:
Light naphtha is the fraction boiling between 30 °C and 90 °C and consists of molecules with 5–6 carbon atoms. Heavy naphtha boils between 90 °C and 200 °C and consists of molecules with 6–12 carbon atoms.
Another source[13] differentiates light and heavy comments on the hydrocarbon structure, but offers a less precise dividing line:
Light [is] a mixture consisting mainly of straight-chained and cyclic aliphatic hydrocarbons having from five to six carbon atoms per molecule. Heavy [is] a mixture consisting mainly of straight-chained and cyclic aliphatic hydrocarbons having from seven to nine carbon atoms per molecule.
Both of these are useful definitions, but they are incompatible with one another and the latter does not provide for mixes containing both six and seven carbon atoms per molecule. These terms are also sufficiently broad that they are not widely useful"

There's more in the links, such as the final boiling point of white spirits is 220 °C, if you are not fully confused yet. I've been meaning to do some distillation and do some tests (not sure which ones yet) on the different fractions.
It's all very funny if you ask me, This spectacle of words has been a great source of amusement for me.
symboom
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I think is never good to exclude many of the ingredients what if some one is allergic to something in the product and they end up in the hospital from an unknown compound in the product.

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 Quote: Originally posted by symboom I think is never good to exclude many of the ingredients what if some one is allergic to something in the product and they end up in the hospital from an unknown compound in the product.

It's obviously impossible to list all the components of something like white spirit.
Known allergens are typically listed if they are present in significant quantities.
Deathunter88
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White spirit(UK)=mineral spirits(US)=aliphatic hydrocarbons with BP between around 150-250C

Shellite(AU)=VM&P Naphtha(US)=aliphatic hydrocarbons with BP 60-120C

None of these contain a lot of aromatic/ring compounds due to health regulations.

 Sciencemadness Discussion Board » Fundamentals » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition » What is white spirit? Select A Forum Fundamentals   » Chemistry in General   » Organic Chemistry   » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition   » Beginnings   » Responsible Practices   » Miscellaneous   » The Wiki Special topics   » Technochemistry   » Energetic Materials   » Biochemistry   » Radiochemistry   » Computational Models and Techniques   » Prepublication Non-chemistry   » Forum Matters   » Legal and Societal Issues