About Zest-it Oil Paint Dilutant and Brush Cleaner
What is Zest-it Oil Paint Dilutant and Brush Cleaner? The simple answer is, it's a more environmentally friendly, non-flammable, pleasant to use, biodegradable alternative to 'turps' and white spirit, made using the zest of citrus fruit for cleaning brushes and thinning paint, a much safer solvent for studio use.
Please note: If you prefer a non-citrus smell then try the Zest-it Solvent (Citrus Free), ideal for those oil painters who wish a little more 'bite' to their solvent, prefer a non-citrus smell and a slightly faster drying time than the original Zest-it Oil Paint Dilutant and Brush Cleaner. View Zest-it Solvent (Citrus Free) page.
Not so simple answer, Zest-it Oil Paint Dilutant and Brush Cleaner is a solvent primarily for use by oil painters. It is made from an Aliphatic Hydrocarbon and pure food grade Citrus Oil. It has a neutral pH value and contains no CFC's or Aromatics and has low VOC's. It is a clear, colourless liquid which has a pleasant 'orangey citrus' smell, is inherently biodegradable and evaporates without leaving any residue. Independent laboratory tests show it has no detrimental effect to the oil paint or pigment quality, proven stability and a long active life.
View the Product range.
Why use Zest-it?
Zest-it isn't irritating to the eyes or skin in normal use, although splashes may irritate, just like soap when you get it in your eyes.
Used normally with good hygiene it doesn't irritate the skin, although keeping the hands wet with Zest-it can defat and cause dryness of the skin, if dryness occurs then we recommend a good quality hand cream. See Zest-it Artists Hand Lotion (a requested new product). If you have dermatitis or any other skin condition on your hands, then we recommend the use of Nitrile® gloves. See letter
Zest-it is not classed as a toxic substance, nor is it classed as flammable but have 'safety sense' and keep it away from flames or sparks and don't heat it up.
If you have a known allergy to citrus fruit then it may be best not to use this product. See letter
Zest-it Oil paint Dilutant and Brush Cleaner has an active strength (in our tests - 'used' Zest-it over 10 years old will still clean brushes efficiently) that is longer lasting than turpentine or white spirit, it is reusable with very little lost by evaporation, therefore you use less. When you've used Zest-it for brush cleaning, at the end of the painting session, leave the Zest-it to stand for a good few hours preferable overnight. The paint sediment will settle to the bottom of the container, the clear Zest-it can then be decanted off and re-used.
(Some people tell us they filter 'used' Zest-it through cotton wool and an old 'nylon stocking'. The Colleges and Universities take large quantities, they recycle and save on waste by filtering through paper towelling).
Zest-it as a Brush Cleaner is kind to your brushes. 'Turps' and white spirit are know to 'leech out' the natural oils from bristle and hair brushes, causing them to go brittle and dry over time, because Zest-it contains citrus oils it helps maintain the integrity of your brush hair or bristle giving your brushes a much longer life.
You can read about brush cleaning by clicking the link.
The sediment needs to be disposed of sensibly, as with any solvent containing the remains of oil painting (pigment and oil). It is not advisable 'just to throw it down the sink or drain', an easy way is to pour the sediment onto dry sand or soil before disposing. To reduce the amount of sediment it is best to wipe the worst of the paint from your brushes with newspaper or paper towel.
Zest-it used as a Paint Dilutant (diluent). Using Zest-it as an Oil Paint Dilutant to dilute the paint for applying colour to a 'ground',
it may be just a little slower drying than white spirit, which for most people isn't a problem. See letter For more information about traditional and 'alla prima' oil painting techniques use this link.
Our tests show, that most oil paint can be diluted down to ink consistency without any adverse effect on the oil paint or the binding of it to the surface, so you can lay in your underpainting with confidence.
It can also be mixed with linseed oil in the normal way and used as a painting medium and dissolves Gum Damar crystals to make Damar Varnish.
Wherever you would have used turpentine or white spirit, you can now use Zest-it as an alternative to these.
If you would like to see it in action use the link to watch the video
Other ways to use Zest-it Oil Paint Dilutant and Brush Cleaner. Because Zest-it is more than "just a brush cleaner" not only can it be used for cleaning brushes and thinning oil paint, it can also be used to clean painting knives, palettes, remove wet oil paint from a canvas, your clothes and hands.
If used on clothes, remove clothes beforehand and test an area, then with soap and water.
If you use it to clean the hands, wash well after with soap and water, apply a hand cream or use the Artists Hand Soap, which will clean your hands and has a built-in conditioner to leave them supple.
You can thin oil paint to an 'ink consistency' for use with dip pen nibs, use with oil paint sticks, oil pastels and oil based ink, also with wax and wax based products.
To read what 'they' say about Zest-it please see the testimonials page where people have been kind enough to share their thoughts, health issues and experiences of using Zest-it. This page also contains letters/emails sent direct, links to Zest-it reviews on other websites and magazine reviews.
This is a very typical type of email we receive, 'since using Zest-it they don't suffer with headaches anymore' and 'I don't have to put up with the smell', like they did when using other products.
It is so true, what I said about the 'Zest it'....if it wasn't for that I would not be painting in oils again, it has made such a difference to my work and I really enjoy myself now....Maureen. 3.Feb.00 e-mail
If you would like to view the technical information for Zest-it Oil Paint Dilutant and Brush Cleaner please use this link MSDS explained.
Some people have confused Zest-it with 'citrus thinners' because of the 'citrusy smell'. You may have read on other sites that 'citrus thinners' give off hazardous fumes and they may do, but Zest-it is not 'citrus thinners'. Zest-it has been thoroughly tested to today's industry standards and does not give off hazardous vapours or fumes and for many people is the studio safe solvent of choice especially when working in the home.
Since this information page was put up on the web in 1999, we as a company and the Zest-it range of products have naturally developed by design and request. Still keeping to our "Safe Solutions for Artists" concept, you can find all the different products with links to specific pages for more details.
October 2012 Please Note:
At the beginning of this year we were informed that the EU and REACH, in continuing their classification of chemicals, including essential oils and natural oils, had re-classified the orange element of our original Zest-it Oil Paint Dilutant and Brush Cleaner.
The orange element is an Orange Terpene, it is a food grade natural oil, extracted from the rind/peel of oranges after they have been juiced. (it is not d-limonene; see Note below). This re-classification means this natural orange oil (and many other natural oils) now need to have an image and phrase - 'toxic to aquatic organisms, may cause long-terms adverse effects in the aquatic environment' on the back label.
However, it is not considered toxic to fish, not expected to be hazardous to the environment, it is easily biodegradable (meaning: nature can break it down) and is not bioaccumulating (meaning: it does not concentrate in an organism over time).
This re-classification however does mean it costs more to transport, it has extra notices on the label, extra paperwork and extra packaging of the product.
As a company we have always strived to have products that are safer for the public and the environment. After much anguish over the re-classification and attendant implications, we took the decision to change to a lemony/grapefruit smell instead of the orangey smell, as this has not been re-classified.
You, our customers and users of our product, have since told us, quite clearly, that you do not like the 'lemony' smell and that you want the Original Zest-it Oil Paint Dilutant and Brush Cleaner back.
We've listened and so, as from 10th of October the 'original orangey smelling Zest-it' is back!
I personally thank all those who willingly gave feedback, also those that have worked so hard and unstintingly with me to bring back the Original Zest-it Oil Paint Dilutant and Brush Cleaner - many thanks to you all.
Note: Our Orange Terpene is substance number CAS:8028-48-6, on the internet it has been said that Zest-it is d-Limonene, this is not so, d-Limonene is substance number CAS:5989-27-5: furthermore most orange oil/terpenes have also been re-classified.
Stockist Zest-it Trade site
For a list of UK Retail Stockist by area or Retailers by County and where you can purchase on-line.
For Zest-it Retail and Wholesale Stockist outside the UK please use the link.
On a personal note - I have been painting with oils for over 25 years, I nearly gave up oil painting because of the headaches and nausea I suffered using Turpentine and another popular painting medium.
I did not make Zest-it available to others until I had researched it thoroughly and tested it in every conceivable way and was sure the product would not do me, my family or my paintings any harm. Jacqui.