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Machine Maintenance: Kerosene vs Varsol

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  • Machine Maintenance: Kerosene vs Varsol

    In machine literature from the 40s-50s, Kerosene is cited as a
    maintenance solvent for use in periodic cleaning/lubrication routines.

    Is Kerosene superior to Varsol (mineral spirits) in some fashion for
    this application? Or was Kerosene simply the more widely available
    solvent back in the day?

    I use low odor Varsol DX 3139 as a primary shop solvent because
    it works well, smells less than conventional varsol and has relatively
    low combustibility.

    .

  • #2
    I got my first experience with Varsol in the gravel pit industry. Wear you attached a 35gal drum of grease to the machine and in to the auto grease system. As far as cleaning Varsol is superior to Kerosene. I would put Varsol up there next to good old-fashioned gasoline as far as cleaning goes. Kerosene might be a better lubricant but they clam WD40 is one to. I’m not sold on Mineral spirits being the same as Varsol either.

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    • #3
      Not that I can enter into which is better, but kerosene is a hellufalot easier for me to get and is a hellufalot cheaper.

      Just sayin...

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      • #4
        If mineral spirits work for you, I don't see a reason to change. Just use whichever you prefer.
        I buy WD40 by the gallon, then apply on a rag or from a pump bottle. It cuts grease okay, and leaves a water-resistant coat. Win-win.

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        • #5
          Varsol is just Stoddard Solvent and that isn't much different than kerosene. Ordinary Kerosene (lamp oil) has a lower flash point. However, kerosene can also be formulated with a range of flashpoints the same as Stoddard solvent.

          White spirits, Stoddard solvent and Varsol are all the exact same thing. Varsol is just a brand name for Stoddard solvent. That being said there is no exact specification for any of those products. Nor is there for kerosene aka paraffin or lamp oil in other countries
          Last edited by Evan; 09-18-2012, 02:36 PM.
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          • #6
            The low odor version of Varsol does come at a price. For my situation, this
            is offset by the knowledge that more odorous solvents would lead to issues
            arising from the shop being attached to the home.

            One of Kerosene's properties is that of a light lubricant. I wonder whether
            that is a consideration where Oilite® bearings are present.

            .

            Edit: to correct spelling of tradename
            Last edited by EddyCurr; 09-18-2012, 03:06 PM.

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            • #7
              WD-40 is different again and the formulation is different in Canada than in the US due to California limitations on volatile organics. In the US WD-40 is a mixture of light machine oil, Stoddard Solvent and highly hydrotreated low volatility paraffinic oils. In Canada it is Stoddard solvent and light machine oil.

              Oh yeah, I forgot the special flavour ingredient which is responsible for the colour and smell. It also contains Anise seed oil.
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              • #8
                Recently I switched to low sulfur diesel for cleaning, honing etc. It does a good job, it’s low odor, readily available and competitively priced. Its been working out very well.
                Good luck, Mike

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                • #9
                  I would be a bit concerned about being too free with various solvents that might flush the oil/grease out of bushes and slides etc.

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                  • #10
                    Thanks to all.

                    Doesn't sound so far like there is a compelling physical reason to change from
                    the Varsol DX 3139. I have a drum to use up and there may not be enough
                    demand in this lifetime.

                    Regards,
                    Ken R.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Evan View Post
                      Varsol is just Stoddard Solvent and that isn't much different than kerosene. Ordinary Kerosene (lamp oil) has a lower flash point. However, kerosene can also be formulated with a range of flashpoints the same as Stoddard solvent.

                      White spirits, Stoddard solvent and Varsol are all the exact same thing. Varsol is just a brand name for Stoddard solvent. That being said there is no exact specification for any of those products. Nor is there for kerosene aka paraffin or lamp oil in other countries
                      Varsol is a trade name for blended grades of light naphtha that meets certain test requirements.
                      The shortest distance between two points is a circle of infinite diameter.

                      Bluewater Model Engineering Society at https://sites.google.com/site/bluewatermes/

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