MSA - Solvent Compatibility



For best results always use GOLDEN MSA Solvent
  • Other full-strength commercial mineral or white spirits MUST be tested for compatibility prior to application as results vary depending on local VOC regulations. See Solvent Compatibility Testing Procedure for complete information.
  • NEVER USE low odor or odorless mineral or white spirits
  • Artist grade turpentine is compatible but should be tested to ensure no residue is left after evaporation. Stronger solvents in turpentine presents additional health concerns and increase the risk of sagging and brush drag.


If MSA Solvent is not available, a full-strength commercial mineral spirits, also referred to as white spirits might be useable but must always be tested prior to use. The test is a relatively simple process. First, make sure the temperature of your workspace and all materials are above 60° F (15. 5° C) Using a glass container to facilitate examination, mix an equal amount (1:1) of varnish and solvent, stirring with a palette knife. If compatible the varnish will quickly and easily go into solution and have excellent clarity. If the solvent is too weak or otherwise incompatible, you will usually see one of the following:

  • The varnish becomes gooey or thickens
  • The mixture develops a cloudy or milky appearance. Even if additional stirring can make this disappear it can be a point of concern as it points to the presence of waxes or other impurities that can possibly affect the final sheen and performance of the varnish.
  • Transparent and threadlike or gelatinous structures that can be discerned when looking at the mixture held up to a light. Usually a sign the varnish has failed to go completely into solution.


If the mixture fails on any of these points first double-check that the temperature of the room as well as all the materials are above 60° F (15.5° C). Some solvents we tested showed signs of failure when used at lower temperatures and were resolved by allowing the materials to reach the recommended levels. If problems still persist, adding a small amount of Xylene can usually solve the issue. In our own testing, as little as 1% addition was enough to correct most problems in even those mixtures that had clearly failed; however, it is always possible one could need more depending on the brands used and the ratio of solvent to varnish. Please Note: The use of Xylene poses additional health and safety concerns. Please follow all health and safety warnings as provided by the solvent manufacturer.


The above information is based on research and testing done by Golden Artist Colors, Inc., and is provided as a basis for understanding the potential uses of the products mentioned. Due to the numerous variables in methods, materials and conditions of producing art, Golden Artist Colors, Inc. cannot be sure the product will be right for you. Therefore, we urge product users to test each application to ensure all individual project requirements are met. While we believe the above information is accurate, WE MAKE NO EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, and we shall in no event be liable for any damages (indirect, consequential, or otherwise) that may occur as a result of a product application.