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Product Substitutions for "Special" Thinners

Kenneth K

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
I've been working with Akzo-Nobel (Interlux, Sikkens, etc) paints and Cetol lately and the instructions usually call for prepping/thinning/cleaning with Interlux "Special Thinner 216" and "Brushing Liquid 333."

High cost and limited availability led me to search for acceptable alternatives for these products. It's likely that this has all been discovered and posted on this forum before. It might be nice if we had somewhere to aggregate this kind of info on this site.

Here's what I found in my search (per the Mfg's SDS for each product).

Special Thinner 216 is:
75-100% Xylene and
10-25% Ethylbenzene

KleenStrip Xylene ($8 at Home Depot) is:
60-100% Xylene
10-30% Ethylbenzene and
0.1-1.0% other listed chemicals,
with the added note that ethylbenzene is a component of xylene.

(I think we have a match!)

Brushing Liquid 333 is:
50-75% kerosene and
50-75% naptha

(Hmmm, doesn't that make it a 50-50 mix?)
Both are readily available at Home Depot.

The online wood refinishing experts claim that pure kerosene would give the slowest evaporation and best "leveling" properties to the paint. Adding naptha offsets this and allow you to control the slow-dry effects of the kerosene.

I just read it all on the internet, so it must be true.
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Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Blogs Author
I liked 216. Can't get it now, at least in my California county. When facing big labor times I tend to buy the proprietary product because--why take a chance, amateur, won't be doing this again for a year, and so on. Yes, a scaredycat.

I have established for my own benefit that diesel fuel is a fine thinner for Interlux Schooner varnish. Often low humidity here, and the diesel slows the cure and allows the varnish to settle smooth. Smells a bit until dry.

Kenneth K

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
When facing big labor times I tend to buy the proprietary product because--why take a chance...
Yeah, I somewhat agree.

Seems I go through this dilemma on many boat purchases. At $18/qt from Defender, why squawk about the $10 to get the Mfg's product. But then there's another $10 to ship it, and now I'm paying 3 times as much. West Marine seems to know this (and the fact that I can pick it up at lunch and be painting that evening) so they mark it up to $34/qt.

In the words of Maclemore, "I call that being tricked by a business." It's almost enough to make me buy a lab coat ($16 on Amazon), watch a few episodes of Breaking Bad for inspiration, and start mixing my own chemicals at home.


Member III
Have been thinning out VC-17 bottom paint for years with alcohol instead of their expensive thinner.