If you regularly do any type of woodworking or painting, you have probably had to use a solvent to clean your brushes. Whether you use paintbrush cleaner, mineral spirits, or paint thinner, at some point you will be faced with the issue of what to do with the leftover materials. Since we can’t pour these chemicals down the drain, and we shouldn’t pour them out on the ground, what exactly do we do with them? If you have ever wondered about this issue, keep reading, and I will share my method on how to store and dispose solvents. It’s much easier than you think!
How To Store and Dispose Solvents…
Over the years, I have built, finished and refinished more pieces than I can even count. But, I recall very clearly my first time using an oil based sealant. I applied a beautiful, level, urethane with my brand new, natural bristle brush. Everything was going perfectly! The piece was drying and my brush was being cleaned with mineral spirits.
This is where I became stumped. I mean, I have always known which solvent to use for different finishes. But, what do I now do with this jar of used mineral spirits. (FYI – this was back in the day before the internet). So naturally, I did what anyone in my position would do, I called my grandpa. He got me started on this road of carpentry, and I knew he would have the answer.
And sure enough, he quickly told me his method. Which, as it turns out, is now fairly common in the woodworking niche. This method is the three jar, recycle, method. By using this technique, you will not only have less waste, but you will also help to keep these chemicals from contaminating the environment.
Watch the explanation for this method. To just see the solvent portion, skip to 2:37
So, to sum it all up:
- Label the lids of each jar 1-3
- Use jar number 1 to do your initial cleaning, jar 2 for the final rinse, and jar 3 for pouring off.
- Let residue settle to bottom of jars.
- Pour older solvent into jar 1. Keep fresher solvent in jar 2.
- Do a clean out before crude reaches 1″ in depth.
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