Just Finishing

decant the solvent to reuse for cleanup.

"l ake the gunk that remains in the strainer or the bottom of a decanted container and spread it on newspaper to dry. When it s dry, it can go in the trash.

Retire It

If you feel there is simply too much dissolved finish in the used solvent, or if there is color that you cannot remove, it is time to get rid of the solvent. Small amounts of solvent—say, less than a quart—can be evaporated off.

Line a shallow cardboard or metal tray with a sheet of polyethylene film, then lay several layers of newspaper in the bottom. (See photo, page 86.) Pour the solvent onto the newspaper and place the tray outdoors. Make sure it is not raining, or place it under an overhang. Cover it with fencing material to protect children, pets, and wildlife. When the solvent evaporates and only the dried residue remains, roll up the newspaper and put it out in the trash (not the recycling bin). You can roll up the poly sheet and save it for the next time you must evaporate off solvent.

You are not permitted to pour any of the common finish solvents (naphtha, mineral spirits, lacquer thinner, acetone, etc.) down the drain or in the sewer system. However, there is one exception.

Cleanup water from water-based coatings or latex paints can be poured down the sink or flushed down the toilet. But do NOT pour this water down storm drains out in the street. Most residential areas have sewer systems capable of dealing with this low level of contaminated water, but the street drains often go directly to rivers and streams.

Recycle It

The "greenest" alternative for dealing with unwanted solvents and finishes is to take what you have to a recycling center or toxic waste disposal site. There it will either be reused in its current form, "cleaned" in a solvent still to make it reusable, or destroyed safely. Which path the solvent takes depends both on how clean it is and the capabilities of the local center.

Some recycling centers have "barter stores" where you can drop off containers of clean solvent, or pick up partially full cans of unused solvents that others have dropped off. I would not trust such solvents for thinning coatings, because they could be contaminated. But this is a great way to get free cleanup thinner.

You can usually find a recycling center by calling your local fire department, health department, or environmental protection agency. A

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