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Best solvent for Shellack?


#1

Can anyone point me towards the best solvent for shellack (orange
flake). The archives have not proved to be a friendly place to
search.

Thanks in advance,
Andy


#2

Can anyone point me towards the best solvent for shellack (orange
flake). The archives have not proved to be a friendly place to
search.

Ethanol.

What you’ll buy as shellac solvent, however is “denatured alcohol”,
which is mostly ethanol but usually has methanol added. But ethanol
is the actual best solvent. Denatured alcohol has little enough
denaturing agent that there seems to me no significant difference in
performace between denatured alcohol, and reagent grade ethanol.
Especially when things are speeded up by use of a warm ultrasonic,
denatured alcohol will dissolve that stuff pretty fast. Not quite a
hot knife through butter, but close.

Peter


#3
  Can anyone point me towards the best solvent for shellack (orange
flake). The archives have not proved to be a friendly place to
search. 

Hello Andy,

I think you’ll find some good info in this archived thread:

https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/best-shellac-solvent

In my experience the best solvent for shellac is ethanol. I’ve used
it for years in woodworking applications --one dissolves a lot of
shellac when you’re using it as a finish on wood-- and it’s the
best. When stores sell “shellac thinner” it’s basically ethanol. One
usually buys it “denatured” which makes it poisonous so you can’t
just drink the stuff. High-grade moonshine works too (150+ proof).
Another name for it is ethyl alcohol. In my experience methanol
isn’t worth the trouble and isopropyl is a big no-go.

Cheers,
Trevor F.
in The City of Light
www.touchmetal.com


#4

Hi Andy;

Denatured alcohol. Works better if you can put the article in glass
or metal beaker or other container and suspend it in a hot
ultrasonic cleaner. You can use a plastic container too, but the
plastic deadens the ultrasonic waves. If you are using a cold
solution, expect it to take a while.

David L. Huffman


#5

Andy,

I’ve used denatured alcohol in a plastic container, suspended in an
ultrasonic. Three to five minutes should do it. If you do not want
to put the item(s) in the ultrasonic, it will still work, it’ll just
take a bit longer.

Good luck,
David


#6

Andy,

The quickest solvent I’ve found for orange flake shellac is warm
denatured alcohol. I warm it by immersing a jar of it into heated
water in my ultrasonic cleaner. If your object is utrasound safe you
can run the cleaner to speed the action.

Paul


#7

Andy -

The best solvent in terms of speed may well be an ether, but it is
so volatile as to make it impractical, second best is methyl alcohol
(aka wood alcohol) a poison, next is ethyl alcohol (aka grain
alcohol, Everclear etc.). Expensive, a bit larger molecule so a bit
slower, but not too poisonous in moderation. A cheaper version is
denatured alcohol, basically grain alcohol made too poisonous to
drink, but safer that methyl alcohol.

Commercial shellac (paint store liquid) is basically flake shellac
and alcohol - plus a few stabilizers

Marlin


#8

denatured alchohol is a solvent for orange shellac


#9

use denatured alcohol, warming it up and putting it in a jar in the
ultrasonic speeds it up

matthew
www.mhgjewelry.com


#10

Pure “Methyl-Hydrate” is what you need,… warm it up ON your steam
machine, drop your item into this container. THEN put this container
INTO your sonic-cleaner and in literally minutes all of the
Flake-Shellac its gone…does it work?

I use this method all the time and its unbelievably fast …but you
all gotta get your alcohol warmed up and if its boils, all the
better!!!..Gerry!


#11

Thanks to everyone for your swift answers to my shellack question.
Jim, thanks for the call, I’ll ring you up next week. Peter-- good to
see you at SNAG. What did you think? Happy fourth. (I’ll be laying
tile… )

Andy


#12

New Yorkers most of them, use Caustic Soda (some times called Lye)
Hope this will help you. Read precaution & instruction before
using.

Kenneth Singh


#13
   New Yorkers most of them, use Caustic Soda (some times called
Lye) Hope this will help you.  Read precaution & instruction  
before using. 

Kenneth No offense, I would prefer the “safer way” than using a
substance that is skin & eye irritating, “speed can hurt”! I prefer
to use warmed “Methyl Hydrate” in a sonic-cleaner any day of the
year. This method is faster and safe to use on any fragile gem and above…
its “skin friendly”…Gerry!


#14

I think the Term solvent has been misconstrued. Sodium Hydroxide
is not a solvent for Shellac or other organics! It destroys them
and can act as a stripper to remove them. Not the safest stuff there
either. It is the active agent in many oven cleaners and some
paint removers. It will also damage eyes permanently.

The best( normal) solvent for shellac resin is ethanol used as a
denatured material to make it unsafe to drink abnd tax free.

jesse


#15

I have used methylated spirits (available at hardware stores) to
dissolve shellac. This must surely be cheaper than "methyl hydrate"
which is another name for methanol. Methylated spirits is just cheap
alcohol (ethyl alcohol) doped with methanol. I usually let the
mixture sit in a closed jar on my pickling plate and the gentle heat
helps it dissolve easily. I use this mixture to dissolve an aniline
dye to produce a home made French polish which can be built up in
layers on natural substances to give a lovely deep rich colour.
Looks great set in silver, but beware, it is subject to surface wear
and should only be used on pieces that do not receive much surface
rubbing, such as pendants or stud earrings. Rings and bracelets are
a no no. I have tried covering it up with other polymer
protectants, but they usually spoil the effect, and they, too,
eventually wear through.

Elizabeth Gordon-Mills
PO Box 32
Langhorne Creek
South Australia 5255
(08) 8535 8212
0411 189 023


#16

The can of flake shellac in my closet says to use denatured alcohol.
Anything more is probably overkill.

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL
@Ron_Charlotte1 OR afn03234@afn.org


#17

I think the Term solvent has been misconstrued. Sodium Hydroxide is
not a solvent for Shellac or other organics! Sodium Hydroxide is
lye, in the movies it is the powder they throw on a dead body to make
it disappear. It eats all organic matter. If you do repair,
occasionally when you clean a diamond piece of jewelry, and do some
welding, and dirt behind the stone turns black, sodium hydroxide is
what you use to remove that organic matt er when the ultrasonic and
steamer won’t do the trick.


#18
Sodium Hydroxide is not a solvent [snip] it is the powder they
throw on a dead body to make it disappear. It eats all organic
matter. 

I’m really not just trying to be difficult-- but-- of course, the
organic matter doesn’t “dissappear”… it breaks down into smaller
bits, or recombines, or… what? Dissolves? That kinda sounds like
what a solvent does to me. So, if not, then what is it?

–Noel


#19

I’m really not just trying to be difficult-- but-- of course, the
organic matter doesn’t “dissappear”… it breaks down into smaller
bits, or recombines, or… what? Dissolves? That kinda sounds like
what a solvent does to me. So, if not, then what is it?


#20
   I'm really not just trying to be difficult-- but-- of course,
the organic matter doesn't "disappear"... it breaks down into
smaller bits, or recombines, or... what? Dissolves? That kinda
sounds like what a solvent does to me. So, if not, then what is it? 

Solvents, Noel, are materials in which other materials can be
dissolved, or evenly mixed. The key here is that dissolving the
other material does not destroy it. Only separates it into separate
ions or molecules of that material, floating around in the solvent.
If you allow the solvent to evaporate, you then get back the original
material in it’s original chemical composition. Example: dissolve
salt in water, it “disappears”. Evaporate the water, you again have
salt, undamaged. Dissolving a material does not involve an actual
chemical reaction, and does not intrinsically change the chemistry of
the material that’s dissolved, only it’s physical form, from which it
can be again extracted. Some other examples: Carbon dioxide gas can
be dissolved in water, and can be easily extracted again (if there’s
enough, you only need to shake it to get some out, as in a can of
Pepsi). In our work, silver can be completely dissolved in gold, or
gold dissolved in silver. Normally they are molten when this
happens, but that’s not actually required, if you consider the
mechanism of diffusion welding. The solid crystals formed in such
solid solutions are even mixes of the two metals, which
interchangeably take random places in the crystal structure, the
same structure that would exist were it just one or the other metal.
Copper, on the other hand, is not totally soluble in silver when
solid, but IS so, when both are molten. So when the metal
solidifies, it segregates into two or more distinct crystal
compositions, with varying amounts of copper, and as it cools, the
structure is less and less stable with even those mixes. it’s that
fact that allows precipitation hardening of sterling silver, since
extended heating to below the annealing point allows the
"uncomfortable" super saturated percentages of copper to migrate out
of solution in the silver to along the crystal boundaries, where it
forms separate copper rich crystals. But in all these cases, the
hallmark is that even in solution, the essential chemical identity
of the dissolved material is preserved. In addition, the solvent
itself is also not changed by the process, and also can be separated
again from the solute (the stuff dissolved in it.)

Sodium Hydroxide, by contrast, does not do this, at least not in the
examples cited. It actually reacts chemically with organic matter,
destroying the chemical bonds that hold the various proteins, etc,
together, resulting in not just other chemicals formed from the
broken proteins, but other chemicals formed when the sodium hydroxide
reacts to form those other chemicals. Yes, the organic matter
"disappears". But you cannot get it back. Both the organic matter
and the sodium hydroxide have been chemically changed by their
interaction. Another familiar example is that food is not dissolved
in your stomach acids. Instead, it is digested, broken down from
it’s original form into simpler proteins that your body can then use.
You cannot take it back out of your stomach and get the same food
back. As we all know, the next time we see what’s left of the food
we eat, it looks rather less appetizing… (grin) (sorry 'bout that
image. Couldn’t resist…)

cheers
Peter Rowe