A phenomenally potent pine product that can be used to remove oil-based stains, that stinks to high heaven in medium quantities (and to medium heaven in small quantities), and can cause brain damage with prolonged exposure.

I purchased some turpentine this afternoon because in my foolish attempts last night to clean a brush laden with oil-based stain in the downstairs bathroom sink (using tap water), I managed to get cherry-colored stain all over the porcelain. I had a choice, at the hardware store, between turpentine and paint thinner. I chose turpentine because it is made entirely from pine trees and has one nasty side effect, namely brain damage (unless you consume it, which I haven't done), whereas paint thinner does not appear to be so natural, and has two different components which have nasty side effects (they are carcinogens.)

I had to open the bottle very slowly - the instructions said to let air escape before removing the cap. I then mixed maybe a third of a cup of it with water in the sink. It cleaned my terribly crusty brushes right up, and made removing the stain from the sink pretty easy. But there's no ventilation to speak of in the bathroom, and even if the thought of brain damage didn't frighten me, the stuff has such a potent smell that I basically couldn't bring myself to inhale anywhere near it. I had to hold my breath while working on the sink, and then occasionally stop to go inhale.

I also tried using a mixture of turpentine and water to clean the stain off my hands - there was quite a lof of it. It worked pretty well but then I couldn't wash the turpentine smell off my hands. So now I'm afraid to eat with my hands for fear of ingesting the stuff. I'm probably being overly paranoid, but it did lead to me having a nice ceaser salad with salmon for lunch when I was thinking of having a burger or a club sandwich, and the salad was really good.

[Editor's note 1/26/2002 (Gz): Made minor spelling and formatting changes.]

Turpentine is a yellowish thick fluid oleoresin that is obtained from the sap of pine, fir, and other conifer trees.

It is made up of two principal ingredients, an essential oil, and a type of resin called rosin. The essential oil (which is called oil of turpentine) can be separated from the rosin by distillation with steam.

Turpentine that you buy commercially, is basically the essential oil. When it is pure, it is a clear, oily liquid with a strong odor of ketone.

The chief use of turpentine is as a solvent for paints and varnishes.

The physical data for turpentine are as follows:
Appearance: colourless liquid with paint-like odour
Melting point: -60 to -50 C
Boiling point: 150 - 180 C

It is a chemically stable component, but is highly flammable. It is incompatible with chlorine, and other strong oxidizers.

It is dangerous for turpentine to come into contact with mucous membranes, and it is an eye irritant. It is also harmful if inhaled at high concentrations over an extended period.

**Safety information courtesy of OSHA.

Tur"pen*tine, n. [F. t'er'ebentine, OF. also turbentine; cf. Pr. terebentina, terbentina, It. terebentina, trementina; fr. L. terebinthinus of the turpentine tree, from terebinthus the turpentine tree. Gr. , . See Terebinth.]

A semifluid or fluid oleoresin, primarily the exudation of the terebinth, or turpentine, tree (Pistacia Terebinthus), a native of the Mediterranean region. It is also obtained from many coniferous trees, especially species of pine, larch, and fir.

⇒ There are many varieties of turpentine. Chian turpentine is produced in small quantities by the turpentine tree (Pistacia Terebinthus). Venice, Swiss, or larch turpentine, is obtained from Larix Europaea. It is a clear, colorless balsam, having a tendency to solidify. Canada turpentine, or Canada balsam, is the purest of all the pine turpentines (see under Balsam). The Carpathian and Hungarian varieties are derived from Pinus Cembra and Pinus Mugho. Carolina turpentine, the most abundant kind, comes from the long-leaved pine (Pinus palustris). Strasburg turpentine is from the silver fir (Abies pectinata).

Oil of turpentine Chem., a colorless oily hydrocarbon, C10H16, of a pleasant aromatic odor, obtained by the distillation of crude turpentine. It is used in making varnishes, in medicine, etc. It is the type of the terpenes and is related to cymene. Called also terebenthene, terpene, etc. -- Turpentine moth Zool., any one of several species of small tortricid moths whose larvae eat the tender shoots of pine and fir trees, causing an exudation of pitch or resin. -- Turpentine tree Bot., the terebinth tree, the original source of turpentine. See Turpentine, above.


© Webster 1913.

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