I currently have some very old white wood stain, it takes like sixteen hours to dry. Is it possible to apply some turpentine to it to speed the drying time?

Seeing that is what they put in oil base paint to allow it to dry faster. Just a thought as I hate having to wait a full day before finishing a project.


Neither turpentine nor any other solvent will help anything dry faster. They only reduce the viscosity of the liquid, facilitating a thinner coating application. Thinner coats can dry faster, but to get the protection you want, you'd have to add more coats.

A better question might be if you can use japan drier to revive this and get it to dry faster...

  • 1
    thanks. Bye the way just for a point of information, old fashioned oil based paint was a combination of color, boiled linseed oil and turpentine. If you mixed it right with a little higher content of turpentine, the oil based paint would dry in half the time with using the same amount of coats. This is back in the thirties and forties. Sep 29 '16 at 20:34

Seeing that is what they put in oil base paint to allow it to dry faster

Turpentine doesn't promote drying that you'd notice. Although old guides frequently state that it does the effect is so marginal in practice that the effect might as well be imaginary.

What dilution does to is help to deposit a thinner layer or coating, which of course dries more quickly than something thicker. This gives the illusion that the thinning agent has promoted drying and this effect is commonly mistaken for an acceleration of drying.

It seems evident that your oil stain is past its best as 16 hours to dry is a long time, but TBH that's not completely outside the drying range for products of this type depending on conditions. However, if you want to try to speed the drying of what you have this should be achievable using liquid driers (AKA terebine), although I don't know how easily you can get a product like this where you live1.

I hate having to wait a full day before finishing a project.

Obvious piece of advice is to get new stain, but because this is white stain you can try doing the effect a different way.

Any white paint suitably thinned will give a similar (perhaps even identical) effect, with a much shorter drying time. If your projects are small enough that using a waterbased product would work your drying time could be as little as 15 minutes, although you should wait for complete drying for a couple of hours before continuing.

1If you're in California I imagine it's impossible (on two fronts, these products are very high in VOCs and also contains toxic heavy metals) and I don't know what the regs are like elsewhere. Where I am they're available on the shelves of any good paint supplier and some hardware stores, but in other places it may be stocked only behind the counter.

  • I tried using water down acrylic paint but it doesn't do a very good job unless you apply several coats. so I am right back were I started. I have never thought of using Terebine but I will look into it. Oil stains back in my day, (back in the forties) often had a drying time of 14 hours or more. I really didn't want to waste this stain, it is an off white and it applies very well, it just takes forever to dry. I live in Missouri. Thanks for the information Sep 29 '16 at 20:32
  • @WarrenSmith Re, the paint, try watering it down a little less. If you get too much of a 'glaze' on the surface a very light sanding of scuffing afterward (using steel wool or Scotch-Brite) might be sufficient to get you the look you want. If that isn't cutting it my personal favourite for mixing custom stains is enamel paint, particularly of the type that might be sold as trim paint. Thin with mineral spirits to the desired consistency, brush or wipe on then wipe away excess with a clean cloth or kitchen towel.
    – Graphus
    Sep 30 '16 at 7:11

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