Common Solvents That Can be Recovered to Save Your Company Money

Solvent in use

A huge number of industries use solvents on a daily basis for a wide variety of applications. However, did you know that these businesses can save a significant amount of money by recycling and recovering their used solvents?

In fact, a well-thought-out recycling and recovery program will help your business to reduce liquid waste disposal expenses, demonstrate environmentally-friendly commitments, and recover used solvents.

Here at Maratek, our solvent recycling and recovery equipment or recycling and recovery services can reduce your company’s solvent costs by up to 95 percent by providing you with the engineering solutions or professional services you need to recover virgin-like solvents from your waste steam. 

In fact, Maratek Envrionmental’s professionally-engineered recycling and recovery equipment or recycling and recovery services works no matter what solvent you use - including Gun Wash, Lacquer Thinner, MEK, Acetone, Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA), Varsol, Blanket Wash, Methanol, and Butanol and many others. 

In this blog, we take a look at some of the most common solvents that can be recovered and recycled using our equipment, with an in-depth look at what these solvents actually are and why they are so unique. 

Lacquer Thinner

When using solvent-based paint, lacquer thinner is the best solvent to utilize. Its main purpose is to thin the paint and clean instruments such as spray guns, brushes and rollers after the use of lacquer paints. Lacquer thinner breaks down the resins in lacquer paint much more effectively than water, making for an easier removal. 

It is also common to use the thinner on the spray gun to make the lacquer flow better and come out with a glossy, no streak finish. Lacquer thinner is a very useful solvent, but it must be used in little doses and carefully as it is highly flammable and toxic. Lacquer thinner is most commonly derived from: Acetone, Butyl Acetate, Methyl Ethyl Ketone, Toluene, Xylene.


Gunwash is a specifically formulated lacquer thinner that is especially used to clean lacquer spray guns and other instruments. It is not intended to be used for thinning lacquers which is what differentiates it from lacquer thinner. Gunwash typically contains toluene and is less flammable and therefore it is commonly used in auto shops. However, gunwash blends come in various types and each application will vary.


MEK, which can also be referred to as Methyl Ethyl Ketone, is a highly-efficient and versatile solvent for surface coatings. It is a liquid solvent that is mainly used in surface coatings, adhesives, and printing inks. MEK is valuable in formulating high solids coatings which reduces emissions from coating operations.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) was the first commercial synthetic alcohol and has remained relevant to this day. It is very commonly used in cosmetics such as aftershave lotion, skin toners, and hand lotion. It is also used as a bacteria killing agent in antiseptics, sanitizers and for cleaning small wounds. IPA is also known to be a good surface cleaner that can be used in homes or offices, or industrial manufacturing facilities. 

It is used as a solvent in certain industries such as printing, 3D printing, pharmaceutical and more. IPA must be used carefully as inhaling its fumes and using too much on skin can cause negative side effects. When used correctly in moderation, IPA is one of the most versatile solvents and can be used in many different industries and applications.


Acetone is a common solvent that is known for its use in deep cleaning and ink removal. It can also sometimes be found in cosmetics and personal care products, most commonly nail polish remover. Acetone is a common ingredient in solvent blends that result in lacquers for industries such as automotive and furniture finishes.

Acetone is a common ingredient in these kinds of blends as it is a strong degreaser and can remove deep grime. Compared to other solvents, acetone has low toxicity, meaning it is safer to use. Acetone, while being highly versatile and effective, is also cheap and easy to obtain making it a desirable solvent. Acetone is also used in cabinetry painting when water based paints are utilized. It is a great solvent to clean equipment such as spray guns, brushes, rollers, and various other items. 


Toluene is often used commercially and industrially. It is used as a solvent in paints, thinners, lacquers, glues, nail polish remover and also printings and leather tanning processes. It occurs naturally in crude oil and in the tolu tree. Toluene is also found in gasoline as it improves octane ratings. It can be used as fuel for two-stroke and four-stroke engines as well. Increased exposure to toluene can result in irritation of the eyes, respiratory tract, and dryness of skin. Like most solvents on this list, it is versatile and has many different applications.


Varsol is a solvent paint thinner that is also used as a cleaning agent. It can clean paintbrushes and remove grease and dirt from all kinds of surfaces. It is used to clean grease from automotive parts and tools and even cleans furniture and cars. Its ability to loosen dirt makes it a common cleaning ingredient outside of its main use of cleaning paint residue on painting instruments. Varsol is often compared with acetone as they are both great choices for deep cleaning dirt and grease off a variety of surfaces.

Blanket Wash

Blanket Wash has a self-explanatory name as it is used to clean the blanket in offset sheet-fed printing. The blanket is the carrier of the image and it is a good idea to clean it with blanket wash when the image must be moved or adjusted. Do not attempt to wash blankets that keep you warm at home with this solvent, it will not go well. Unlike most of the solvents explained in this post, blanket wash has one use and is not versatile like acetone, IPA and varsol.

Want to learn more about solvent recycling and recovery, and how it can save your business money? Contact Maratek environmental today. Our team of experts would love to explain how the recycling process works and how your company can benefit from it.


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