My Favorite Things:

Odorless Mineral Spirits


There are some people who use organic* solvents to remove the wax from their pysanky; I am no longer one of them.  The process takes long and exposes me to solvent fumes. There have been great solvents over the years that did a great job of de-waxing, but they’ve all been removed from the market either for their harmful effects on the ozone layer, or their direct carcinogenicty. No, thanks.....

I do use small amounts of solvent as a final clean-up of my pysanky.  After I’ve removed the wax with a candle, I will squirt a bit of solvent onto a tissue and gently rub it over the surface of the egg in a set manner. This will get off those thin smears of wax I’ve missed, or carbon I deposited while de-waxing.  It’s amazing how dirty the tissue will be after I give a light wipe to a “clean” pysanka.

There are several solvents that do a decent job: Goo Gone, Goof Off, Ronsonol lighter fluid.  But the best of them all seems to be Odorless Mineral Spirits, used by generations of painters. OMS comes in metal tins which seal well enough to keep the contents from evaporating–solvents tend to be quite volatile.  I transfer a small amount to a plastic squirt bottle which I keep on my work table:

I use a small bottle because the OMS evaporate from plastic bottles, and a smaller amount means less evaporation.  I pop the top open, squirt a bit on a tissue, and then clean away. It’s almost magic!


* “organic” is used in the chemical sense, meaning a liquid that has a certain chemical structure (at least 1 carbon atom and 1 hydrogen atom), low molecular weight, lipophilicity, and volatility. Organic solvents are useful because they can dissolve oils, fats, resins, rubber, plastics.......and beeswax.

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Removing Wax and Soot