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Vetus-Maxwell Boatyard Tip

Sharpen your boating skills with these boatyard tips
Presented by Vetus Maxwell

Tricky Solvent Recycling

Next time you finish up an onboard painting project, why haul that old brush cleaning solution off to a recycling facility?


Disposing of used solvents these days, even comparatively benign products like paint thinner, often requires a good deal of effort and time. Not that an extra trip to the recycling center on Saturday is a huge endeavor, but then again—if you could cut down on the number of such trips, there’s a good chance you’d have more Saturdays to wholly devote to having fun onboard. Here’s how to reduce the hassle of dealing with brushing and paint thinners.

The next time you’ve finished cleaning a brush or two in a solvent, instead of sealing the stuff up inside some sort of container for transport to a recycling facility, simply pour it back into the container from which it came.


Not necessarily. Many paint jobs onboard and around boats specify the color white, or some variance thereof. And when you pour a used, white-tinged solvent back into virtually any container, the solids may very well settle out eventually, leaving virtually clear material above the sediment. The settling process, of course, takes a while, although a couple of days will usually do it.

Be careful, though. Next time you need to clean a brush, be especially judicious about pouring your solvent from the original container. The idea is to remove the clear liquid without roiling the sediment on the bottom.

How often can you employ this bit of legerdemain? My experience is four or five times at least and sometimes more. Just remember—the procedure gets a tad tricky when radically different colors of paint are involved, like white and black or white and red. But it does work rather nicely where older, trawler-ish vessels are concerned, the ones that are fitted out with lots of wood slathered with lots of white epoxy trim. And hey, by cutting down on your solvent usage, you’ll be going a tad easier on the environment and maybe you’ll even save a few pennies. I’m not saying this trick works for all solvents, by the way, but it works for some for sure. —Capt. Bill Pike

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Presented by Vetus Maxwell