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Best Shellac solvent

Hi folks, Could somebody please help me. What is the best shellac
solvent? Possibly terpentine?

Thanks steve

ever tried ordinary Methyl Hydrate, put your item in a glass jar,
then rest it on the steam machine or the sonic-cleaner…and voila!
“Look Ma, no shellac” how long does this take depends of the amount
thats sticking to the your piece of jewellery…20 minutes? “thou
shalt not put alcohol near a flame”…or whoosh! b-b-q time! keep
the lid of the glass jar lightly open to allow the fumes to escape.
I use this all the time. I can go through 1 gallon a month when crazy

Denatured alcohol is really the best, any time there is
shellac/rosin in waxes or Pitch alcohol works real well. since it is
also a little safer than any other solvent,


The solvent for true shellac is alcohol. best to use denatured
ethanol probably. jesse

Hello Steve Very simple: alcohol in any form. (Ethanol or
Methanol) You can also heat up a part to melt the shellac. (if you
object allows it) Or you can also burn it out. But this is a bit

Martin Niemeijer

I beleive it is Caustic Soda at least that is what we sell the most
in good old New York…

Kenneth Singh

Hello Steve, Having just reworked a shellac finish on an antique
piece, denatured alcohol is the solvent for shellac. Pretty fumey
though, so be sure to have good ventilation or you’ll be a little
spacey. Judy in Kansas

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
B.A.E. 237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhatttan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936 FAX (785) 532-6944

Hello Steve, I think you’ll find turps a highly ineffective and
unsatisfactory solvent for shellac. The best is reagent grade ethanol
(ethyl alcohol aka “grain alcohol”). The second best, and much more
widely available, is industry grade anhydrous denatured ethyl alcohol
(typically 95% enthanol, 5% methanol). For best results what you
definitely want is 0% water in the ethanol.

Note that methanol and isopropyl alcohol are not good second choices
to ethanol. Over-the-counter isopropanol (aka “rubbing alcohol”) is
typically cut with at least 30% water and can variously contain
methanol, ethanol, or ethylene glycol. It will usually cause the
shellac to form nasty little balls that are a real bugger to dissolve
properly thereafter. Methanol (aka “wood alcohol”) is, of course,
quite poisonous and isn’t as good as ethanol anyway.

You might find these links worthwhile: Shellac FAQ: Shellac Finishing by Donald C.
Williams: Padding Shellac By
Jeff Jewitt:

Trevor F.

Hi folks, Could somebody please help me. What is the best shellac
solvent?  Possibly terpentine? 

If it’s real shellac, then you use denatured alcohol.

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL
@Ron_Charlotte1 OR

Hi Steve, I know several woodworkers that swear by denatured alcohol
(also known as methyl hydrate in Canada, I think). But be careful
with the stuff, it is highly flammable, burns with a nearly clear
blue flame that is hard to see and VERY hot.The fumes will take you
three steps past completely goofy too so use ventilation. I use it a
lot for numerous different things.


Steve: I imagine there will be many replies to this one. Anhydrous
denatured ethyl alcohol (absolute alcohol) is probably the most
common shellac solvent currently used. The best solvent for shellac
is methyl alcohol. The advantage of methyl alcohol is that it does
not form an azeotrope with water and is, therefore, easy to obtain
water free. The traditional solvent was wood alcohol, which is a
technical grade of methyl alcohol obtained by the destructive
distillation of wood. Wood alcohol is still produced in small
amounts because the regulations controlling the denaturing of ethyl
alcohol still specify “wood” alcohol. At least they did the last
time I had any reason to check into it.

Captain Blood
"Marlinespike Seamanship in Precious Metals"

Dear Steve

I find that ordinary alcohol (C2H5OH, ethanol, or ethyl alcohol)
works best for me.

Kind regards
Niels Lovschal, Bornholm, Denmark