Is Gamsol Toxic? When Should and Shouldn’t You Use It?

You probably know that creating art comes at a tremendous personal cost to painters. We are not speaking about the cost of art supplies, though that also makes a sizable dent. The toxic chemicals contained in art supplies often take a toll on artists’ health and eventually cost them a fortune in medical bills.

When working with oil paint, it is necessary to use various additives to create a range of effects and patterns that are the hallmark of stunning art. If you wonder whether Gamsol is the best option, you have come to the right place.

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about Gamsol, including:

  • Why Gamsol should be your go-to when oil painting
  • When Should You Use Gamsol?
  • Situations where you shouldn’t use Gamsol
  • Minimizing your exposure to hazardous fumes during the painting process
  • Steps to take if exposed to dangerous fumes during painting.

Why Gamsol Should Be Your Go To

If you are looking for a way to thin your oil paint without compromising its quality by thinning or watering it down, someone may have already recommended Gamsol. This petroleum distillate is much better than other alternatives for several reasons. Artists prefer Gamsol because it is the least toxic of all available options. Almost all of the toxic organic solvents have been removed from Gamsol. Its concentration of harmful organic solvents is a mere 0.005%.

Gamsol is considered to be much better for your health than other mineral spirits. It contains no harsh chemicals like benzene. This mineral spirit has no smell and isn’t quite as dangerous as turpentine or full-strength paint thinner.

When Should You Use Gamsol

Gamsol is no one-hit-wonder. When you purchase it, it will be suitable for many jobs.

1. Thinning oil paint.

Oil paints rarely come in a ready-to-use consistency. The paints are infamously heavy, and artists quickly learned that using them as packaged not only inhibits their talent, it also causes the art to take extraordinarily long to dry. Seasoned artists have perfected thinning their oil paints to a tee.

Gamsol is an excellent choice for anyone looking to reduce the viscosity of their oil paint. This odorless solvent will thin your oil paint without creating an unpleasant odor in your workshop. You will then be free to exercise your creative license without thick paints or dangerous fumes weighing you down.

Although Gamsol is barely toxic, you should never use more than you need. Less is more. Artists who over-dilute their oil paint with Gamsol destroy its ability to make a film. This means your painting will be dull and lack the characteristic oil sheen. Add a little at a time and frequently mix to ensure uniformity. Once the paint has achieved the desired consistency, your paint is now ready for the brush and canvas.

2. Cleaning Paint Brushes and Palette

Your paintbrushes are almost as important as your hands. Artists ensure they care for their brushes appropriately. This is the best way to get the best performance out of them and extend their shelf life.

Failure to clean your brushes properly after each use causes a paint buildup at the base that spells disaster for the bristles. Your palette should also be cleaned after each use to prevent flakes of old paint from ruining the consistency of your next batch.

When choosing the best solvent to clean your brushes, you likely know water is off the table. You will have to choose between potentially harmful solvents. Again, Gamsol should top your list. It is excellent at cleaning up after oil paint because it quickly degrades it. Whether you need to clean your paint, palette, or work surface Gamsol will get the job done right.

Cleaning your brushes with Gamsol should be a breeze. The first step should be removing any excess paint. Next, pour a little Gamsol into a cup or bowl and swish the brushes around it. If you clean up immediately after you finish painting (as you ought to), the paint stuck between the bristles will fall right off. Gently scrub any stubbornness that stands up to the Gamsol.

Gamsol can also be used to clean any stray paint on the canvas. Apply Gamsol to the section, and let sit for a couple of seconds before dabbing it away with a cloth or a tissue. Gamsol is effective at cleaning your entire studio. However, if your brushes are made of natural hair, solvents like Gamsol will damage their structure. Instead, clean such brushes using water and soap immediately after use.

3. Altering Oil Paint

Artists can alter the characteristics of oil paint with various solvents. Whether you are a master or novice at manipulating oil paint to get the desired effect, Gamsol will come in handy. From changing your paint’s texture, drying time, or transparency, Gamsol always comes through if used correctly.

Gamsol is also commonly used to remove clear varnish from painting. Removing varnish from oil paintings is a delicate task only undertaken when an artist wants to start over or make an adjustment. Removing varnish from oil paintings involves gently rubbing the artwork in circular motions using cloth (lint-free).

4. Oil Painting Medium

Gamsol is used in thickening oil paints in the impasto technique, where it is mixed with liquid oil paint. If you have yet to try Gamsol as a thickening agent for your oil paints, combine one part of the solvent with two parts of liquid oil paint.

5. Glazing Milk Paint

Milk paint shares many properties with conventional most commercial glazing products, and it simply has the added advantage of being non-toxic and easy to clean. Gamsol can be mixed in a similar 1:2 ratio with milk paint. Water is added to the resulting mixture until the paint achieves the desired consistency.

Adding Gamsol to water has been said to create a stunning glaze effect that makes all the difference when blending different hues. It also makes it much easier to fuse multiple thin layers.

When Should You Avoid Gamsol?

By this point, Gamsol looks good enough to brush your teeth with. Wrong! Even though Gamsol is the least toxic option, there are numerous situations where it is not fit for use. These include:

1. Lack of safety training

You should always beware that Gamsol is the least harmful of all mineral spirits. This does not make it harmless. Safety handling routines are necessary to ensure you do not compromise your health.

It must be used in an aerated area, and care must be taken to clean your hands afterward. Repeated exposure may cause your skin to dehydrate and be prone to cracking. This can be easily avoided by ensuring you clean your hand with water and a moisturizing soap immediately after using Gamsol to treat your oil paint or clean your equipment.

2. Natural Resins

Gamsol is unsuitable for strong natural resins like mastic, copal, and dammar. Such resins call for a powerful mineral spirit, e.g., turpentine.

3. Allergies

Though most of the petroleum distillates have been purged from Gamsol, about 0.005% remain. If you are allergic to petroleum products or byproducts, stay away from Gamsol. The fumes or liquid could trigger an allergic reaction.

How to Avoid Exposure to Toxic Fumes When Painting

Prevention is the best cure. This section will help ensure you limit your exposure to toxic fumes when creating your masterpiece.

  • Please do not use a product before reading its label. Try to select the least toxic options available.
  • Inspect the label for instructions for use and product safety information. It would be best if you took note of first aid measures, storage instructions, and protective equipment necessary for safe use.
  • Paint in a well-ventilated area and, whenever possible, in dry weather.
  • If your painting area is not well-ventilated, use a fan and take regular breaks to catch fresh air.
  • Avoid hanging out in the same room where your artwork is drying; the evaporating fumes will likely make you light-headed.
  • Be careful to adhere to local government regulations when storing or disposing of leftover paint.

Suppose you are exposed to a toxic product while painting; refer to the instructions on the product for the best course of action. General first aid rules recommend that:

  • You wash off toxic substances under a stream of cold water and then pat dry. If irritation persists, you should seek medical attention.
  • Toxic substances in the eyes should be rinsed out under cold running water for 15 minutes before getting professional medical assistance. It is advisable to keep your eyes closed if they burn or keep tearing up.
  • If you have swallowed a toxic substance, drink a little milk or water, then seek immediate medical attention.
  • Get fresh air should you begin to feel lightheaded or dizzy.


Health and environmentally-oriented artists should always select Gamsol as their solvent of choice. It is dramatically less toxic than other mineral solvents. Why not select the least harmful multipurpose solvent for your next project?