Report Solvent Used In Varnishmaking... in The Pegbox Posted October 12, 2012 I'm fond of Spike as an alternative to spirits of turpentine. My folks painted for a living, so as a kid I sort of smelled enough turpentine for one lifetime! I do have some turp on hand, and use it when running various experiments. But so far, all the things I want to do in my varnish work as well or better with the spike. So that's good luck for my nose. It does dry a bit slower though. Interestingly, spike lavendar oil appears far earlier in the history of art materials than spirits of turpentine does. So in my work, my five solvents are water, lime water, alcohol spirits, spike lavendar, and light walnut oil.