Mineral spirits are petroleum-based cleaning solvents.
You will usually see them being used with art and decorating paint products or for cleaning furniture and floors.
Whether you are using them to thin your paint or polish your floors, it is crucial to store mineral spirits properly because they are both hazardous and flammable.
So, Can You Store Mineral Spirits in The Garage?
Yes, you can. In fact, it is advisable to keep all hazardous materials locked in a detached structure or garage away from your home. You will need to be careful, however, about where and how you store mineral spirits to prevent accidents.
Let’s review everything you need to know about storing this volatile substance.
Are Mineral Spirits Flammable?
Often used as a water or alcohol alternative, mineral spirits are petroleum-based liquids that have been refined into colorless solutions.
They are highly flammable if exposed to sparks or open flames and can also ignite if stored under very high temperatures, say 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
In scientific terms, this temperature is called the flashpoint of mineral spirits.
When a solvent is being burned, its flashpoint is its volatility or how fast it will combust when mixed with air.
OSHA requires that chemical manufacturers provide Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) to consumers for all hazardous materials.
One SDS for Minerals Spirits reports the flashpoint of this solvent as 110°F minimum.
Their flammability is the main reason you should store your mineral spirits in a well-ventilated, cool area away from direct flames.
A garage will work well as a storage location, especially since it is away from your home and kitchen where the mineral spirits could combust.
Garages are also safely insulated from direct sunlight, which could cause this volatile solvent to catch fire.
When mineral spirits burn, they release toxic fumes that can cause throat and eye irritation.
This is why they should be kept in an area with proper ventilation but away from household items like furniture.
Where in Your Garage Should You Store Mineral Spirits?
The best place to store mineral spirits in your garage is in a cool cabinet several feet above the floor.
To avoid combustion, pick a storage location that is cool but not freezing.
It should be well-ventilated and far from your vehicles and vehicle parts.
Try to avoid placing mineral spirit containers in an area directly above any water pipes.
This solvent can contaminate your water line if it leaks.
Once you have safely stored your mineral spirits, you should use a rag to clean the cabinet and surrounding area of any leaks.
This rag will immediately become flammable, so do not just throw it in the trash.
Soak it in water completely for several days, then dispose of it safely.
How to Store Mineral Spirits in Your Garage
Generally, mineral spirits will remain chemically stable under normal pressures and temperatures, so you can place containers on a regular shelf or cupboard in your garage.
It is crucial that this area be safely away from sources of ignition like sparks, flames, and heat.
Additionally, do not place mineral spirits next to alkalis and acids.
Mineral spirits are incompatible with these materials and could become unstable upon contact.
Tightly seal all the containers containing this solvent and take steps to avoid static discharge.
If possible, always store toxic substances like mineral spirits in their original containers.
The original bottle is designed to accommodate the solvent’s chemical and physical properties and is unlikely to malfunction.
Moreover, a correctly-labeled container will make it easy to respond to an emergency because you know exactly what material you are dealing with.
Safety Tips for Handling Mineral Spirits
In addition to posing environmental risks when disposed of improperly, mineral spirits are also highly irritant and toxic to inhale or ingest.
This is why you should always take safety precautions when using or storing the solvent.
Some pointers to keep in mind include:
1. Avoid Inhaling The Mist Or Vapor
Consider wearing a face mask when handling mineral spirits.
Use and store mineral spirits in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight.
Doing this will ensure you are not exposed to toxic fumes and that the solvent does not combust.
3. Protect Yourself
Wear eye protection and gloves when handling mineral spirits.
4. Take Immediate Action
Rinse off mineral spirits from your eye or skin immediately upon contact and call 911 promptly.
How Can You Dispose of Mineral Spirits?
If you do not plan on reusing your mineral spirits, you do not need to go through the hassle of storing them.
You can dispose of them responsibly, preferably through a hazardous waste facility.
Remember, mineral spirits can be harmful to the environment, so be sure to follow safety guidelines when getting rid of them.
Here are the steps you should follow:
Step 1: Find a Hazardous Disposal Center
Start by looking for a hazardous waste disposal center located close to where you live.
If there is no such facility near your place of residence, determine whether your local government has set up special pickup services for hazardous waste.
You can also contact a private company that offers such services and request they pick the spirits.
Once you find a way to get rid of your mineral spirits, pack them in correctly-labeled containers to ensure the officials dispose of them properly.
Step 2: Store the Mineral Spirits Properly
Next, you need to prepare the containers for transportation regardless of who is transporting them to the disposal site.
You can do this by placing them in sealed boxes, plastic bins, or plastic bags to avoid possible leakages.
If you are unsure of how to pack them, consult the disposal service provider about how they prefer such waste to be packaged.
It is important that you do not move the mineral spirits to your vehicle’s cabin as you wait for pickup.
Leaving them there could expose them to high temperatures or sparks.
Step 3: Drop Off the Mineral Spirits at The Disposal Site
Once you have safely packed the mineral spirits, ask the company or government officials you contacted in step 1 to come and collect them.
You could also drop them at the disposal site yourself.
The hazardous waste disposal company will give you rules to follow once you get to the site.
Step 4: Dispose of the Spirits
From here on, the disposal company will take over and get rid of the mineral spirits.
Remember to clean your car when you get home in case there were minor spillages during transit.
Mineral spirits have many uses, from cleaning stains and oil-based wood finishes to reviving oily, grimy finishes.
However, their flammability tends to raise storage concerns.
Can you store mineral spirits in the garage?
Absolutely, as long as you keep the solvent in a properly sealed container.
You also need to keep it away from high temperatures, open flames, and children and pets.
A high shelf or cabinet in a cool part of your garage will do fine.