3 Advantages of Using Xylene

While it is potentially a dangerous chemical if used incorrectly, there are at least 3 advantages to using xylene in your home. Xylene, often referred to as xylol, is a powerful solvent. It is derived from petroleum and, for this reason, has advantages over other similar products.

1. It Is a Powerful Solvent

It may seem odd, but solvents are chemicals that are similar, on a molecular level to the substances they are designed to clean. Because it is made from petroleum, Xylene is especially good at cleaning up oil-based products like paints, stains, and other synthetic products, without damaging the surfaces they are on. Many oil-based decking enamels and varnishes can be thinned or cleaned up with xylene. Xylene will also work as a solvent when used with compounds that are applied to metals to keep them from rusting. Other substances that xylene will dissolve include adhesives (glues, caulks, and putties), grease, enamels, resins, and waterproofing agents.

2. It Thins Lacquers and Softens Some Paints

Since Xylene dissolves synthetic products, it can be mixed with certain paints and lacquers to thin them down. If one tried to spray a lacquer through a paint gun normally, the product would likely be too thick to spray and would simply clog the gun. Thinning a lacquer changes all this. When a lacquer is sprayed through a gun it not only saves time, but also ensures the lacquer is applied in a thin even coat. Similarly, when a small amount of xylene is mixed with certain paints, it will cause the paint to soften. Once softened, the paint will brush or spray on more easily, without chunks or clots. In addition, the thinner paint will go further. It will not, however, hide blemishes as well.

3. It Has a Slower Evaporation Time than Other Products

Toluene, also known as Toluol, is a product that is very similar to xylene. Toluene is also used to thin lacquer, but has a faster rate of evaporation than xylene. This will cause the lacquer to dry faster when cut with toluene than it will with xylene. Although a faster drying time seems like a benefit, when lacquer dries too quickly it does not level out properly because the product does not have the opportunity to flow together. The result is a grainy, bumpy surface that resembles a topographic map or the texture of an orange peel. Adding some xylene to the lacquer first retards the drying time and will prevent this from happening. Artists may also benefit from slowing the drying times of their paints. Artists who work with oil-based paints will find that a slower drying time increases the amount of time in which they are able to blend colors together.