Also Known As:

turpentine, oil of turpentine, terpene


Turpentine is a strong-smelling, flammable solvent made from the resin and oil of pine trees. Pure turpentine is marketed for use as a paintbrush cleaner and paint thinner. Turpentine is also an ingredient in some varnishes and in waxes and polishes for floors and furniture.

Turpentine contains terpenes, which are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), or substances that easily evaporate into the air, producing smelly fumes. Turpentine vapors can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract and may cause headaches, coughing, nausea, dizziness and other symptoms. Children can inhale turpentine fumes when paint thinners or other products containing turpentine are being used.

If you chose to use turpentine, open windows and provide plenty of ventilation, and keep children away during use.

Health Effects

Immediate Health Effects
Longterm or Delayed Health Effects



How to detect turpentine

How to minimize exposure to turpentine



For More information

Books, articles, factsheets and reports

Other government agencies

Nonprofit organizations

Other websites

National Library of Medicine Household Products Database


Environmental Defense Chemical Scorecard