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  • Green for Oil Thinner - Non-toxic solvent?ApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2018-05-25 11:07:44 ... Most recent comment 2018-06-08 03:05:54
    Health and Safety Solvents and Thinners Art Conservation Topics Environment

    ​Hi all,

    There is a recent thread on the WetCanvas forum discussing the relatively new 'non-toxic' solvent produced by Sennelier under their Green for Oil Range:

    They claim that it is non-toxic and apart from the warning that it shouldn't be ingested there doesn't appear to be any warnings online about ventilation or toxicity. I was under the impression that all solvents were toxic to some extent, but if a well known brand can market this product and without any warning information then maybe it is non-toxic?

    There is speculation on the WetCanvas thread that due to it's more oil like feel and very slow evaporation rate that it is likely a 'biodiesel' - a methyl ester of fatty acids. I am not a chemist but if I understand the science correctly: 

    "Biodiesel is produced from linsed oil through a procescaled transesterifcation [12], with this proces the higherfaty acids are separated to methyl and ethyl esters usingmethanol and catalyst KOH.Biodiesel fuel has beter properties than that ofpetroleum diesel fuel such as renewable, biodegradable,non–toxic, and esentialy fre of sulfur and aromatics. Thepurpose of transesterification proces is to lower the viscosityof the oil. The viscosity values of linsed oil methyl andethyl ester highly decreases after the transesterificationproces. The viscosity values of vegetable oils vary betwen 27.2 and 53.6mm2/s, whereas those of vegetable oil methylesters betwen 3.59 and 4.63 mm2"

    So if this is correct it sounds like it is a very low viscosity oil that can be added in small amounts to thin out oil paint.

    I am going to try some out myself, but wondering if anyone hear had any experience with this product or any thoughts on it from a conservation perspective.

    It feels to me that there is a growing concern over the toxicity of solvents and the marketing of non-toxic alternatives, which might still have toxicity or archive issues.

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​These are all very interesting points and observations....first I would refer you to an earlier but related thread on the toxicity associated/not associated with spike lavender oil and other "green" solvents being marketed as safe alternatives to turpentine and mineral spirts (the latter being a rather wide and complex category). Kerith Koss Schrager's comment on the thread is particularly relevant here and I will forward your question to her in case she has anything additional to add. In the meantime some of us will try to do a bit more digging and will reach out to Sennelier to see if anyone can share some insight on these products.

    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2018-05-25 19:45:32
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​Non-toxic is pretty much just a marketing term like organic. There's no real regulatory standard. It just means that there's no research to prove it's toxic. So it could be a chemical that is in fact hazardous and no one has ever done an exposure study on it. In a 5 minute search, I couldn't easily find the ingredients or safety data sheet. I'd be suspicious of any company claiming to be looking out for your health that doesn't make this information readily available. Without any information to prove otherwise it's best to assume solvents are hazardous.

    Kerith Koss Schrager
    2018-05-26 00:06:22
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Thank you Kristen and Kerith. I didn't realise that there wasn't a proper requirement to list toxicity issues on the product. I assumed there was based on all the warnings you see on other solvents.

    If Sennelier confirm that it is a methyl ester of fatty acids then would that still be classed as toxic, or more akin to a low viscosity slow drying oil?

    Thank you!

    2018-05-26 03:11:04
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Can we clarify this thread. I would like to separate VOCs in the toxicology report as this is the main reason why people dont use solvents as theyvarevairborne and much harder to control. Thankyou.

    2018-05-26 08:11:59
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​Just a guess (since there's no hint of precise contents), but I assume, since the importer discloses that 'Green for Oils" is in the biosolvent category, it's likely based on methyl soyate or similar.  Look up something like Agri-pure AP-406 for more information.

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2018-05-28 14:59:28
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Thank you Matthew!

    I'm hoping Sennelier will come back to yourselves here or the original poster on the Wet Canvas thread with more information about what it is.

    2018-05-29 05:10:05
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    SDS Sennelier Thinner GREEN-FOR-OIL.pdfSDS Sennelier Brush Cleaner-GREEN-FOR-OIL.pdf

    2018-05-29 16:19:38
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    Hello Everyone. I am with Savoir-Faire, the exclusive importer and representative of Sennelier in the United States. I have included some SDS sheets above that I beleive should clarify many of these questions. As I receive more details, I will certainly pass them along.

    Thank you,

    Andrew Cook

    2018-05-29 16:26:01
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Thank you Andrew. Those SDS sheets don't seem to show any toxicology concerns from VOC emissions as far as I can see..

    Can you tell us, or are able to find out, if this thinner is a methyl ester of fatty acids (a biodiesel), or something else?

     I think if we understand what it is, then a lot of artists would feel more comfortable about using it.

    2018-05-29 16:53:26
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment


    I did receive some additional incites from the chemist at Sennelier (This has been translated from French to English, so please let me know if something does not make sense).

    "First of all, one shall keep in mind that the resins and oils that are used are the same as for the traditional mediums (ketonic resins for the liquid medium and safflower oil for the gel medium). The non-toxic characteristic is due to the fact that the solvent used are non-toxic. The names of these solvents are proprietary. What we can say is that they are the result of a combination of fatty acids and ester (essence) of vegetable origin."

    "-Per the above description, Green for Oil thinner is not of biodiesel origin."

    Please continue to let us know of any questions, and I will work to get you the best possible response.

    Thank you,

    Andrew Cook



    2018-06-07 12:30:34
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Thank you Andrew! :)

    2018-06-08 03:05:54

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