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Matthew Noykos

Ethanol vs Denatured Alcohol

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I tried to buy some 190 proof Everclear (Grain Alcohol)here in Washington state, but was informed that 151 proof is the stongest allowed in the state...Anything stronger requires an import permit...so if I bring some from Idaho I could be fined...don't know about Oregon...

Would 151 proof be enough to thin shellac flake...etc?

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Ernie,

That's kind of what I was wondering too. Is there any disadvantage to the lower proof? Maybe a better question for all the chemists out there is, at what proof does alcohol stop taking on water?

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Yes, you can buy it here in Oregon. My son got me some-- I think it was $12 or $14 a bottle. (a fifth? not up on those terms...)

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Thank you for all your help and expertise but I haven't had your problem with less than 99% alcohol clouding up shellac. I've used as low as 90% alcohol to dissolve both seedlac buds and cake shellac. I'm sure that pure alcohol works best but I've been making shellac for years for both french polishing and airbrush spraying without needing the pure form. Certainly the Everclear % works for me without clouding. As someone else stated, the pure stuff doesn't stay pure anyway. I certainly don't have anything against having a couple of drinks after work, (ask anybody) but I don't imbibe during work and not as barrier to the crap they put into denatured alcohol. Have you actually had trouble with the 96% or is the clouding something you read about and didn't want to risk? There is a professional distiller in Oakland who owns a Guadanini who used to make ethanol for some of the best luthiers in SFO, Im sure it wasn't pure. It was probably the "heads" of his batch and 96%.

BTW, he sent me a case of grappa and pear brandy as a tip for making pegs for the Guad, but they got either ripped off or confiscated in the mail :angry: Catastrophe!

Ah Grappa.

I bought the highest alcohol content Everclear available in No. Ca, added shellac, and it went milky. No reading involved. May be able to get a higher concentration of ETOH elsewhere. Diluted 50/50 with water it made a good martini. Table 2 Qart Jour Guild of American Luthiers #105 Spring 2011, gives the following info, which I adapt from their table.

Product Ethanol Methanol Isopropyl alcohol Isobutanol

Spectrum ACS 190

Proof alcohol 95%

Everclear 190

proof 95%

Behken Behkol 70-90% 0-0.1% 1-10% 1-10%

100% reagent grade ethanol for molecular biology is sold by Fischer

scientific. "Due to product restrictions, we cannot sell this product online. Please call Customer Service at 1-800-766-7000 or send an email to CS.WebEmail@thermofisher.com for assistance."

Reviewed methanol intoxification. 10 cc (2tsp) ingested can cause permanent blindness. It is absorbed from the air, through the skin. Metabolism is methanol to formaldehyde to formic acid. The formic acid does the damage. The enzyme that metabolizes ethanol and methanol is alcohol dehydrogenase. Ethanol is a competetive inhibitor of methanol binding to the active site on the enzyme. Hence treatment of methanol intox with ethanol. Another enzyme inhibitor is also available.

Advice from the above magazine is to use it in a well ventilated space, with gloves, with the air being pulled away from the user, avoiding skin contact.

I have not been able to find 95% ethanol in California. May have to take a trip to Reno. Until then I use denatured alcohol.

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Rubbing alcohol is 30% water and isopropyl alcohol and will make you very sick but probably not kill you.

Not exactly. According to Wikipedia, rubbing alcohol, U.S.P., is mostly ethyl alcohol, plus other liquids and >0.3% dissolved solids. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubbing_alcohol Even if it's USP grade there's apparently some room for variation in ingredients. If it's not USP, I suppose it could be almost anything. The Wikipedia article leaves a lot of doubt.

And by the way, the dissolved solids will leave quite a residue.

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Most denatured ethanol is denatured with petrol naptha (i.e. aromatics). I think it is important to be aware of the denaturant. I still think there is no statistical difference in toxicity. I had done a few analysis looking at fuel toxicities and the variability to each component was too large to compare mixtures.

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Mike, the MSDS doesn't tell you what's in it. That's a pretty worthless MSDS. It lists it as ethanol. Under volatility it lists 100% methanol. There are other ingredients as well, which are completely unlisted.

I did a little digging. In the U.S., Fisher Scientific sells many kinds of alcohol, and they DO tell you what's in it.

I did some more digging in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. Reagent alcohol is spelled out in 27 CFR20.117:

"Reagent alcohol shall be made with 95 parts (by volume) of S.D.A. Formula No. 3–A, and 5 part (by volume) of isopropyl alcohol. Water may be added at the time of manufacture. Reagent alcohol shall not contain any ingredient other than those named in this paragraph."

Formula 3-A contains "alcohol" (presumably ethanol??) plus 5% methanol. This and others are spelled out in 27 CFR21. See http://www.ttb.gov/other/regulations.shtml . Note that methanol is also alcohol. They shouldn't let lawyers write stuff like this.

Bottom line: if you care what's in it, don't buy from someone who won't tell you.

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Recochem, maker of great turpentine, also makes a denatured alcohol that is ideal for shellac and burning in stoves.

Here is the MSDS

Go to www.jamestowndistributors.com .

Stay Tuned.

Mike

What Recochem calls Denatured Alcohol in the US, is labelled Methyl Hydrate in Canada and is pure methanol. I wouldn't recommend it's use and is the reason I asked about the Behkol, which doesn't use methanol to denature. Cheers,

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"I bought the highest alcohol content Everclear available in No. Ca, added shellac, and it went milky"

Time to run up to Ashland, see a play and buy some contraband. :P

To all others: I've only used 85% and higher to disolve shellac. It isn't very good in the lamp though. Has anyone tried taking the lower % grade of ethanol and freezing it? The achohol freezes at a higher temp so theoretically you could remove the ice and have a boost. Thats how the Founding Fathers made applejack. ;)

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I tried to buy some 190 proof Everclear (Grain Alcohol)here in Washington state, but was informed that 151 proof is the stongest allowed in the state...Anything stronger requires an import permit...so if I bring some from Idaho I could be fined...don't know about Oregon...

Would 151 proof be enough to thin shellac flake...etc?

I live in WA too and if you ask the people at the store that's what they say but they usually have the good stuff in back but you need to get a permit from the state. Its like 5 dollars for the permit and the 190 proof is much cheaper

http://liq.wa.gov/publications/LIQ%20354%20Class%201%202%20or6%20Permit.pdf

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May I ask what color some of this ethonol is? The "ethanol" around here is slightly yellow, and there is the clear - are there obvious difference in process?

After CVS moved in locally, the inexpensive "99%" isopropyl alcohol supplier shut down.

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May I ask what color some of this ethonol is? The "ethanol" around here is slightly yellow, and there is the clear - are there obvious difference in process?

After CVS moved in locally, the inexpensive "99%" isopropyl alcohol supplier shut down.

Ethanol should be clear as water unless something is added.

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"The achohol freezes at a higher temp so theoretically you could remove the ice and have a boost. Thats how the Founding Fathers made applejack."

Lower temp-- alcohol freezes at a much lower temperature than water. An aqueous solution of 90% ethanol freezes at -110 deg.F.

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I live in WA too and if you ask the people at the store that's what they say but they usually have the good stuff in back but you need to get a permit from the state. Its like 5 dollars for the permit and the 190 proof is much cheaper

http://liq.wa.gov/publications/LIQ%20354%20Class%201%202%20or6%20Permit.pdf

Are you from eastern or western WA?...Thanks I'll check into it

-Ernie

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"The achohol freezes at a higher temp so theoretically you could remove the ice and have a boost. Thats how the Founding Fathers made applejack."

Lower temp-- alcohol freezes at a much lower temperature than water. An aqueous solution of 90% ethanol freezes at -110 deg.F.

That's kind of what I meant I just didn't say it in the right direction. :blink: You could put the lower % in your freezer and the water should seperate and freeze. Lemoncello over 110 proof doesn't freeze in most iceboxes (this I know from personal experience). When I was a kid we used to make hard cider and put it out in the snow to get the applejack at the top. Chug a lug, chug a lug. Might work for 150 proof Everclear. Hasn't anybody tried it?

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In making applejack, you're starting with about a 10% ethanol solution and freeze distilling it to a maximum of maybe 30 or 40%. As the alcohol level goes up, the temperature required to "jack" it gets progressively lower, so that you wouldn't be able to do it in a home freezer. I keep a bottle of 80 proof (40%) vodka in my freezer and no water has come out, so you wouldn't be able to do it with 151-proof (76%) Everclear.

There's a phase diagram for an ethanol-water mixture here. It looks like you'd need a temperature of -120°C (-184°F) to be able to freeze distill alcohol to 95%.

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In making applejack, you're starting with about a 10% ethanol solution and freeze distilling it to a maximum of maybe 30 or 40%. As the alcohol level goes up, the temperature required to "jack" it gets progressively lower, so that you wouldn't be able to do it in a home freezer. I keep a bottle of 80 proof (40%) vodka in my freezer and no water has come out, so you wouldn't be able to do it with 151-proof (76%) Everclear.

Oh Well just an idea. Your right about the vodka in the freezer, not something I don't do myself once in a while -- slipped my mind. One time however we were staying at the beach in a rental cabin. We put a bottle of Stoli in the frezer and it actually froze. I remember it well because we made martinis out of the liquid as it was about half thawed. I don't ever remember getting that hammered on one drink. :blink: Since it was just a old rental refrigerator I can't imagine it was that much colder than a normal one. Only time I've ever had that happen though. :huh: Gee, Mr. Wizard!

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It does seem that you could get the alcohol concentration up to almost 85% if you have access to a -80°C laboratory freezer. I'd try it, but my wife would rather not have her coworkers and students coming across vodka or Everclear in the freezer. B)

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Liquid nitrogen is fairly readily available, at -321 deg. F That would do it, if it is really important to you-- it would also freeze the alcohol... so maybe that is too cold.

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