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Ron Teplitz

Ban on denatured alcohol in California

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Some government agency, probably the California Air Resources Board, has banned sale of denatured alcohol in California. What are Californians using in spirit varnish, shellac, and alcohol burners? 

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I don’t know what Californians are using but I switched to Everclear. It’s 190 proof grain alcohol (95% alcohol). It costs more than denatured because of all the taxes that get added on to the price since it’s drinkable. 

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Go to a marina or fishing shop and look for stove fuel. It can't  be sold as solvent in CA, but boaters gotta eat. Be sure to read the label.....don't want gasoline for the Coleman.

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Ive just been using bioethanol  in the UK ,cheap and doesnt smell .Is it not available in California from bioethanol fire stores or amazon. It works great in spirit burners and in french polish.

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1 hour ago, fiddlecollector said:

Ive just been using bioethanol  in the UK ,cheap and doesnt smell .Is it not available in California from bioethanol fire stores or amazon. It works great in spirit burners and in french polish.

I use exactly the same, it's great.

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As far as I'm concerned, denatured alcohol (of the kind denatured with methanol and other toxic substances) should be banned everywhere. Just don't be like California and also ban sales of unadulterated, 190 proof alcohol. I'm guessing the reason camping stove alcohol is still legal in CA is because the denaturant they use to render it undrinkable isn't toxic.

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This thread reminds me of one of my favourite entries in Lütgendorff’s dictionary (volume II page 371) about Vincenz Pathan.

Er war als Geigenbauer ein Kunstler, als Mensch aber ein sonderbarer Kauz, den sein Vorliebe für Katzenfleisch öfter vor Gericht brachte. Auch soll er den Spiritus, den er zur Arbeit brauchte, häufig, selbst in denaturiertem Zustand, getrunken haben.”

(He was as a violin maker an artist, as a person a strange creature, whose partiality for cat meat often brought him in conflict with the law. He is reputed to have drunk the spirit that he needed for his work, even in denatured condition.)

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Maybe you should consider buying it via import through kremer NY or Germany (if the ban doesn’t affect imports). Should be still the cheapest option.

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If memory serves, denatured alcohol is mostly methanol. Not a good thing.

..Well, I not saying ethanol is good for humans, except in  some circumstances. Methanol does not dissolve shellac, does it?

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2 hours ago, Adrian Lopez said:

As far as I'm concerned, denatured alcohol (of the kind denatured with methanol and other toxic substances) should be banned everywhere. Just don't be like California and also ban sales of unadulterated, 190 proof alcohol. I'm guessing the reason camping stove alcohol is still legal in CA is because the denaturant they use to render it undrinkable isn't toxic.

I think that adding ingredients to deliberately make ethyl alcohol more toxic and damaging than it already is, isn't a great idea. Much of this probably revolves around generation of tax revenue, which for drinkable alcoholic beverages, amounted to about 9.99 billion U.S. dollars in 2019.

But no worries. Higher taxes will solve everything. :)

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1 hour ago, Bill Merkel said:

what wine goes with cat?

denatured.

I hope no one is marinating the cat! :angry:

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6 minutes ago, Rue said:

I hope no one is marinating the cat! :angry:

but you have to. They are sooo tough and chewy.

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8 hours ago, Adrian Lopez said:

As far as I'm concerned, denatured alcohol (of the kind denatured with methanol and other toxic substances) should be banned everywhere. Just don't be like California and also ban sales of unadulterated, 190 proof alcohol. I'm guessing the reason camping stove alcohol is still legal in CA is because the denaturant they use to render it undrinkable isn't toxic.

In our locale, I don't worry about such trivialities. If you make your own, you know it's safe.

I wouldn't use alcohol in a camp stove or lanterns; it promotes rust in the fuel fount; Hi test white gas is the best for this application.

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We routinely use 200 proof anhydrous alcohol in the lab. Not the cheapest thing, but super clean. 

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1 hour ago, deans said:

We routinely use 200 proof anhydrous alcohol in the lab. Not the cheapest thing, but super clean. 

Don't ever drink that stuff. Often highly poisonous entrainers are used to get around the azeotropic issue when trying to distill out to 100%.

I distill out to 94 - 95% and call it good enough. If I can drink it, I don't worry about skin absorption.

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A little denaturant is OK, but the last time I tried to buy denatured alcohol it was about 50% methanol.  That's all I could get, and i needed it for a stripping project.  Horrible.

California is right to make it illegal, but maybe they should mandate a less noxious formula instead.

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Bio ethanol also contains a denaturant although it's a small amount. 

I'm surprised that denatured alcohol contains 50% methanol. I thought in the US it was around 20%. In the UK it used to be around 5%. I'm referring to the stuff with the purple dye. 

It no longer contains methanol. In the EU the 'recipe' was harmonised, perhaps 6 or 7 years ago, methanol was removed.

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On 7/2/2020 at 5:32 PM, Barry J. Griffiths said:

I don’t know what Californians are using but I switched to Everclear. It’s 190 proof grain alcohol (95% alcohol). It costs more than denatured because of all the taxes that get added on to the price since it’s drinkable. 

Everclear has become a popular solvent in our trade, but the nearest places I can buy it are Indiana and Kentucky.

This was kindof funny:  The last time I purchased Everclear in Kentucky, I brought four bottles to the counter. The person at the counter said, "Oh, you must be a woodworker". :lol:

So it sounds like a lot of it is sold for use as a solvent. I'm curious how much of their total production goes to this use? If anyone is wondering, I think I paid about $18 per .75 litre bottle last time. Not cheap!

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Never before thought of the idea of bringing a bottle of Everclear to a violin maker as a housewarming present! It might be more appreciated than wine in some states!

Thirty-five years ago, when I was in charge of B&F supplies, I booked up on denaturing. It turns out that there are a bunch of formulas that are legal, but they have different distributions. I found one that was something like 3% peppermint oil that people in the shop thought they could tolerate, but I never was able to track down a distributor.

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I used to get cereal (rice) alcohol (1 buck the liter) till the day they started asking  me documents and bureaucracy for that. Luckily, the guy of the shop told me that no document was needed for getting alcohol for making perfume,  that was the same thing...

"Fatta la legge, trovato l'inganno"....

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That's far better than the guy behind the counter assuming that I'm making some unholy concoction called "jungle juice".  I guess I look like someone who would know what that is and even worse, I must look like I would still be drinking it and serving it to my friends.  

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2 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Everclear has become a popular solvent in our trade, but the nearest places I can buy it are Indiana and Kentucky.

This was kindof funny:  The last time I purchased Everclear in Kentucky, I brought four bottles to the counter. The person at the counter said, "Oh, you must be a woodworker". :lol:

So it sounds like a lot of it is sold for use as a solvent. I'm curious how much of their total production goes to this use? If anyone is wondering, I think I paid about $18 per .75 litre bottle last time. Not cheap!

The cheapest, crappy whiskey we can buy here is closer to $20.00 for 750ml;  I think Everclear is closer to $50.00. It's easy to see why one would be compelled to make their own.

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2 hours ago, David Burgess said:

...So it sounds like a lot of it is sold for use as a solvent. I'm curious how much of their total production goes to this use?

I wonder as well, although I imagine the food industry uses it in much higher quantity for things like extracts and cake decorations.

Here’s an article that came out when 190 proof Everclear was banned in my area:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/what-do-college-partyers-violin-makers-and-cake-decorators-have-in-common/2014/08/20/405ffb60-231e-11e4-8593-da634b334390_story.html

I’m curious to know if anyone has gone through the licensing process to get 190 or higher proof alcohol for luthiery. I started looking into getting a license for it myself last year. The cost wasn’t prohibitive, but there was a lot of red tape. Before getting the permit one had to get a supplier lined up and determine the exact amount needed for a year. Fortunately someone did the shop a favor and brought in a bottle from out of state, eliminating the need for more. 

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