Wax Removal



There are many household and professional solvents that can be used as degreasers in pysankarstvo. Unfortunately, all of the non-flammable degreasers have been shown to be deleterious to the environment and have been taken off the market. 

Many of the remaining cleaning solutions are benzene derivatives and are toxic as well as flammable.  Others, like mineral spirits, are combustible.  The best of what’s left, in my opinion, seems to be odorless mineral spirits, but pysankary use a whole range of these solvents.  Below is a listing of solvents and their uses.

WARNING: All chemical degreasers still on the market are either flammable, highly flammable, or combustible.  Before using them, make sure all flames have been snuffed out.  And remember that “inflammable” does NOT mean non-flammable; it is a synonym for “flammable”!!!!

When choosing a solvent, read the  list of components carefully, and make sure any solution you use is not water-based.  Any significant amount of water in a solvent will cause the dyes on your pysanka to run.

Goof Off, a blend of toluene and other organic solvents, was a good solvent when used correctlyUnfortunately, it often wasn’t.  Good ventilation is absolutely necessary with solvents.  Methylene chloride, a component of Goof Off and other paint strippers, is quite volatile, and breathing in large amounts can cause a heart attack. That was more of a problem for those using it to strip paint off of walls or furniture but, because of the risk, many stores stopped carrying this type of solvent in 2015.

Since then Goof Off has been reformulated, with acetone replacing much of the xylol.  I have not tried the new formula, so cannot comment on how good it is

Goo Gone is a blend of petroleum distillates and orange extract, which gives it a lovely citrusy smell.  This makes it attractive to children--do not let them use it unsupervised.  While it does a good job, it is much, much slower to work than other solvents.  One must practice patience.  

Odorless Mineral Spirits. White spirit (UK & Ireland) or mineral spirits (US, Canada), also known as mineral turpentine (AU/NZ), turpentine substitute, and petroleum spirits, is a petroleum-derived clear liquid used as a common organic solvent in painting.

Mineral spirits are often used as a paint thinner, or as a component thereof, though paint thinner is a broader category of solvent. Odorless mineral spirits (OMS) have been refined to remove the more toxic aromatic compounds, and are used for applications such as oil painting.

Ronsonol (Lighter Fluid)  This used to be a popular solvent in pysankarstvo; it apparently removed wax quickly and cleanly.  However, in 2010, the Zippo corporation acquired Ronsonol, and removed the naphtha in it.  Its solvent qualities changed, and not for the better. It contains a mix of petroleum distillates with s whiff of naphtha odor per the MSDS.

Energine Spot Remover. Like Ronsonol, this used to contain naphtha, and was quite popular in pysankarstvo circles for wax removal. I vaguely recall using it in my youth. It is no longer produced.

Naphtha  Pure naphtha is another volatile liquid hydrocarbon mixture, and is still available for sale in hardware stores, for those who miss the old Ronsonol or Energine. 

Interestingly, the term “nafta” (нафта) means crude oil in Ukrainian and several other Slavic languages.  This was also once the meaning of the word in English, but that usage is now obsolete..


  Chemical Dissolution        Safety

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Useful Chemical Solvents