They are both clear liquids, so is there a fairly simple test to determine if a container has one or the other? Maybe by mixing a sample with another chemical and looking for a color change? Thanks!

  • $\begingroup$ And why not just smell it? $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Dec 31, 2023 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ I try to avoid inhaling mineral sprits as much as possible. Even breathing in small amounts often can add up. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 31, 2023 at 21:29
  • $\begingroup$ Good luck avoiding vapor inhalation while making some solubility test :/ $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Dec 31, 2023 at 22:57
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If by mineral spirits you mean low boiling petroleum distillate, simply add a small amount to an equal amount of water. It will float and not dissolve; 2-propanol dissolves in water. If you mean something else please be specific. $\endgroup$
    – jimchmst
    Commented Jan 1 at 0:46
  • $\begingroup$ Ya that's what Poutnik had as an answer. I don't know what kind of mineral sprits the liquid is composed of so I can't be more specific. Luckily the question was answered with a possible solution before this question was closed, $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 5 at 18:38

1 Answer 1


Shake well a small sample with similar volume of water and let it stand. If a single phase has been formed, it is isopropyl alcohol. If liquid has formed two liquid layers, it is a mineral spirit.

Isopropyl alcohol is, similarly as ethanol, miscible with water in any ratio. Additionally, its smell reminds ethanol.

Mineral spirits, similarly as mineral oils, are not miscible with water and their mutual solubility is minimal. Additionally, their smell may remind gasoline or some paint thinners/solvents.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for sharing, I'm going to try this out when I return to the lab. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 31, 2023 at 10:57

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