Although the Hybrid Paint Medium will reduce paint to a thinner consistency it has its limits. For example if a paint pile has thickened up on your palette to a caulk-like consistency the Hybrid Medium is not going to reduce this over-thickened paint very easily. Such a case calls for a bigger hammer! These are the safest practical choices.

There are 3 different thinners that I use when necessary in my art work. They are acetone, esters and isopropyl alcohol.

The acetone may seem to be the most toxic. After all it will literally dissolve and strip away almost anything. Yes it is toxic but only if you breathe in huge vapours of it. If all you're doing is cleaning your palette or thinning paint then it's actually much safer than most solvents. The thing with acetone is that when it evaporates in the surrounding air around you it becomes non-toxic and very safe. It is such a simple chemical that it breaks down into harmless components very quickly. We produce acetone in our bodies as part of certain metabolic processes. It is my main cleaning solvent. The danger within acetone is that it is very flammable. Do not use it from large bottles. Decant it outside into small glass bottles for use at the palette. It will dissolve some plastics, not sure which, but play it safe and use glass bottles.

Esters are mono- and di-glycerides of vegetable oils. They are non-toxic and do not evaporate. They are like a very thin oil in consistency. They can burn but only under high temperatures or high pressures. Bio-diesel is a type of ester. These esters that I use are drying oil esters and they will dry slowly to a thin film. In paints they are inert, having no effect unless high amounts are used. High amounts will weaken the paint film so keep the proportions below 50% of the paints' volume. They also enhance the shine of the paint.

Isopropyl alcohol pure (not the 70% at the drug store) is a little more toxic than acetone but still much safer than turpentine. It is a less powerful cleaner than acetone but it can clean plastics without dissolving them like acetone does. It can also thin oil paints but not very well sometimes. Where it shines is in thinning alkyd resins! Especially certain types of alkyds that contain low amounts of oils in their formulation, short oil alkyds for example. It too is very flammable.


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