"Oil of Turpentine," "Spirits of Turpentine, or Turps," is an essential or volatile oil, produced by distilling turpentine tapped from pines or larches. The residuum left after distillation is common rosin.

1 Dent. 2 Miller's Organic Chemistry.

3 Proceedings Society of Engineers, 1875. 4 Seddon.

"The best oil of turpentine comes from America."

"The gummy material known as Canada Balsam is produced by the Pinus Canadiensis, Venice Turpentine by the larch (Pinus larix), and French Turpentine by the Pinus maritima, which is extensively grown in the south of France." 1

Characteristics And Qualities

Ordinary oil of turpentine has a specific gravity of about .86 to .87, and boils at a temperature of 320° Fahr. If pure it should completely distil over at this temperature.

"On exposure to the air it oxidises, and is converted into a resinous sub-stanca"

"When spread upon any surface in a thin layer, as is the case when used for paint, it should dry in 24 hours, leaving a hard dry varnish." 1

Good spirits of turpentine is lighter in weight and more inflammable than bad. It is colourless, and has a pleasant pungent smell, whereas the smell of inferior qualities is disagreeable.

Good spirits of turpentine should leave a very slight residue when evaporated.

Spirits of turpentine is often adulterated with mineral oil. The purer vegetable turpentine loses bulk by evaporation, and gains weight upon exposure to the air; the spirit from the mineral oil flies off, leaving the oil without any assistance in hardening.2

Turpentine sometimes contains pyroligneous acid, and is the better for being kept and allowed to settle a long time before use.


Spirits of turpentine is used as a solvent for resins and other substances in making varnishes; also in paint to make it work more smoothly. It is useful also in flatting coats (see Part II.), but will not stand exposure to the weather.