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Denatured Alcohol


#1

I have been buying “Denatured Alcohol” for about $30 a gallon from a
pharmacy. I now see that a local lumber store sells a gallon for
about $10. I use it to mix with boric acid powder for firescale
protection. Do you think that the less expensive one is just as
good for my purposes?

Thank you in advance.

Dale Pavatte
Diamonds For You
Decherd, TN


#2
Do you think that the less expensive one is just as good for my
purposes? 

Yes. denatured alcohol is more costly when purchased in small
quantities at pharmacies, in part because those brands are simply
marketed differently, and perhaps the pharmacy marks it up more too.
The lumber store or hardware store likely is selling it as a shellac
thinner or general cleaner/solvent for such stuff, rather than for
some pharmacy related task. The container may look different, but the
contents will be the same, at least as far as you need be concerned.
It will work just fine for you. Many of us buy the stuff in gallon
containers labeled as shellac thinner…

Peter


#3

Hi Dale;

I think most of the denatured alcohol on the market is concentrated
enough to use with boric acid to make fire coat. If it says it’s for
"shellac solvent and/or fuel for alchohol stoves) it should work
fine. But, I’ve noticed that some brands have a very powerful
smell, not just of alcohol, but of some other additive. If you can,
try a pint first, if they sell it that way. If it’s the stinky kind,
you won’t want to go through a whole gallon of it.

David


#4

Dale,

I have been using Denatured Alcohol from my local Hardware store for
years. I don’t believe there is any difference except the price.
This Alcohol has worked just fine for me. I use it with Boric Acid
to coat my pieces and I also use it in my Alcohol lamp when needed.

Good Luck
Greg DeMark
email: greg@demarkjewelry.com
Website: www.demarkjewelry.com


#5

I’d say that, since it is one-third the price, it’s three times as
good. It is the same alcohol, only sold by a more reasonable
retailer. Items bought in pharmacies always seem to be priced higher
than elsewhere, so enjoy your new find.

James in SoFl


#6

I have been buying my Denatured Alcohol from Home Depot for years
and never had a problem. It works great for me. I work pretty much
exclusively with gold and platinum. So, I am using it all the time
with the gold. Lou


#7

Hello Dale,

I quit buying the pricey stuff from the pharmacy and now use the
denatured alcohol in a metal container from the hardware store.
Works just fine for a lot less!!

Judy in Kansas, where the lovely bright fall weather is disappearing
with a much-needed gentle rain… supposed to freeze and turn to
snow. Wow! Ol’ Man Winter is hankering to come in.

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
B.A.E. 147 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhatttan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936 FAX (785) 532-6944


#8

Have been using “hardware store” denatured alcohol for quite some
time. Detect no difference except price. Use it and save money.

Ron Neldner
Newbie to the craft


#9
         I have been buying "Denatured Alcohol" for about $30 a
gallon from a pharmacy. I now see that a local lumber store sells a
gallon for about $10. I use it to mix with boric acid powder for
firescale protection. Do you think that the less expensive one is
just as good for my purposes? 

It’s not as well filtered as the drug store stuff. I buy it all the
time for diluting my leather dyes and cleaning the brushes, and I’ve
found no difference. If you were dealing with an ultra fussy alloy,
it might make a difference, but I doubt that it makes any real
difference.

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


#10

Dale,

I use denatured alcohol that I purchase in one-quart cans from the
household cleaners section of the local grocery store. I am sure it
is the same as what you are talking about in the gallon size from the
lumber yard, because it is sold with the brand “Clean-Strip.” It has
worked for me in every way I have used it–including mixing with
boric acid for fire-scale treatment, preparing surfaces for
installing watch crystals, cleaning up excess jewelers cement, etc.

Del Pearson in Beautiful South Texas where we are supposed to get
COLD weather in the next few days–way down into the 50’s!


#11

Hi, Dale

There is denatured alcohol, and then there is denatured alcohol.
Denatured alcohol is an alcohol, such as is used for drinking
purposes, that has had a “denaturing” agent to it in order to make it
poisonous to drink. There are a number of different denaturing agents
that are used, depending on the intended end use.

What you get at the lumber store is not going to be the same stuff
that you get at the pharmacy. It may not even be the same basic type
of alcohol. For your purposes, though, it may work OK. But I would
very carefully check first, to make sure it is not (or does not
contain) something like methanol, which can be absorbed through the
skin and blind you.

Margaret


#12

The word “denatured” is not very specific. I believe it means that
it refers to the fact that the alcohol is, or has been rendered,
poisonous, therefore not subject to tax as an alcoholic beverage.
(I don’t remember the origin of my belief, so treat it as a factoid)

At one time, the shellac thinner I purchased at the hardware store
was methanol (wood alcohol, very poisonous) In recent times, the
shellac thinner is a mixture of methanol, ethanol, and acetone. The
hardware guy tells me this is because methanol is used as a
precursor to methamphetamine. While methanol is not illegal to
possess, they have been asked to inform the police if anyone is
attempting to purchase quantities of methanol.

Based on the properties I saw listed in my Merck Index, Tenth
Edition, I believe that boric acid would be more soluble in methanol
than the current mixtures of alcohol available: “One gram dissolves
in…4 ml boiling water…6 ml boiling alcohol…soly increased by
HCL, citric or tartaric acids.” I base my belief on the listed
solubilities increasing with the polarity of the solvent. Since
methanol is more polar that ethanol, the solubility should be
greater in methanol. With regard to the original question, I would
expect a methanol solution to give a slightly better boric acid
coating than ethanol. However, how do you know that “denatured” at
the pharmacy means that the alcohol is really methanol? Like many
other respondants to your question, I use the hardware store stuff.
One of these days, I plan to try out the methanol that Rio Grande
Jeweler’s supply sells. I think 5 gallons costs about $50.00

For people using alcohol as a flame coolant for their water torches,
there is a difference between the various alcohols: methanol,
isopropanol, and ethanol. Each produces a flame at a different
temperature. Source of Advertising material from the
Spirig company. (http://www.spirig.com/) Their chart is not on
their web site but in a hardcopy document entitled OPERCOSTS04.NTE
and lists the following for their brand of torch:

Hydrogen-Oxygen: 3300 C. or 5972 F.
H-O plus methanol 2700 C. or 4892 F. isopropanol 2500 C or 4532 F
H-O plus isopropanol 2500 C. or 4532 F.
H-O plus methyl ethyl ketone (methyl-ethanone or MEK) 1700 C. or 3092 F
H-O plus acetone 1500 C or 2732 F.

Someday, when I can afford to buy one of their torches, I plan to
abandon the hardware store brew. As you can see, the mixture makes
a real difference in flame properties.

Howard Woods
Eagle, Idaho


#13

Hi Dale, By all means buy denatured alcohol at the cheapest place
you can find. Add the boric acid as well as some borax (the 20
muleteam laundry additive). I’ve known many jeweler’s and they have
each had the only set of proportions that were right. They all
worked. Be careful with the alcohol, it is quite flammable. I once
lost a beard that had been very difficult and time consuming to
grow.

Have fun.
Tom Arnold


#14

Hi Dale,

 I have been buying "Denatured Alcohol" for about $30 a gallon
from a pharmacy.  I now see that a local lumber store sells a
gallon for about $10. I use it to mix with boric acid powder for
firescale protection.  Do you think that the less expensive one is
just as good for my purposes? 

Go for it!

I’ve been using denatured alcohol from the hardware store for years
with no adverse effects.

Two other sources for denatured are the hardware store & paint
store.

Dave


#15

Yes, the denatured alcohol from the hardware store or marine
supplier is the same as the stuff in the drug store. I use it from
the supply we get for our sailboat’s cookstove, to use with boric
acid as a flux. Yes, it is much cheaper!

M’lou Brubaker, Jeweler
Goodland, MN
www.craftswomen.com


#16

I hope this will put the ‘denatured alcohol’ question to rest.

In a previous life, I sold scientific equipment and chemicals for a
large scientific supply house. "Denatured’ simply means ‘to render
unfit to eat or drink.’ There are about 50 different formulas used,
depending on the end use.

Basically, it is ethanol (drinking alcohol,) which has had chemicals
added to it to make you sick (or kill you) if you drink it. The
additives are close to ethanol in some properties, which makes it
impossible to just distill them away to get a cheap buzz.

None of us would want to cheat our government out of the tax which
makes up 95% of the cost of booze, right?

Most any formula will work in an alcohol lamp, or with borax for
jewelry work. ‘Your mileage may vary’

p.s. If you choose to, you COULD use 100 proofvodka (50% ethanol)
for jewelry work instead, and drink the leftovers, if you haven’t
added borax.

David Barzilay
Lord of the Rings
607 S Hill St Ste 850
Los Angeles, CA 90014-1718
213-488-9157


#17

To the Brits, denatured alcohol is known as Methylated Spirits and
is a pleasing purple colour (part of the ‘Do Not Drink’ thing).
Amongst other things, we use it for removing oil-based stains, and it
is particularly useful for cleaning off the film of rubber particles
on car windscreens that is deposited over time from wiper blades.

In a similar vein, diesel fuel used for agricultural machinery is
coloured red to differentiate it from normal diesel used for cars -
this is because agricultural diesel is subject to a lower rate of
taxation.

Pat


#18

Hi, Howard

The word "denatured" is not very specific.  I believe it means
that it refers to the fact that the alcohol is, or has been
rendered, poisonous, therefore not subject to tax as an alcoholic
beverage. (I don't remember the origin of my belief, so treat it
as a factoid) 

This is correct.

At one time, the shellac thinner I purchased at the hardware store
was methanol (wood alcohol, very poisonous)  

It is also correct that Methanol is poisonous; you can absorb it
through your skin in sufficient quantities to blind you! Yherefore
you should avoid it! Even if it might give you a slightly better
boric acid coating.

However, how do you know that "denatured" at the pharmacy means
that the alcohol is really methanol?  

You don’t. And it almost surely is not, If you get it from a
pharmacist it will be denatured ethanol (ethyl alcohol), and most
definitely not the poisonous methanol (methyl alcohol). If you get
it at the hardware store, it could be all sorts of things. Probably
has a different denaturant than the pharmacy type, but hopefully it
will be ethanol. But I would highly recommend checking the label!

Like many other respondants to your question, I use the hardware
store stuff. One of these days, I plan to try out the methanol
that Rio Grande Jeweler's supply sells.  I think 5 gallons costs
about $50.00 

Oh, please! I hope it is not methanol! (Have you possibly confused
methanol and ethanol?) Again, I say – it is poisonous; it can blind
you! Please think again!

Margaret (the chemist)


#19

Hello Margaret,

One of these days, I plan to try out the methanol that Rio Grande
Jeweler’s supply sells.

Oh, please! I hope it is not methanol! (Have you possibly confused
methanol and ethanol?) Again, I say -- it is poisonous; it can
blind you!  Please think again! 

Also sold in Canada as Methyl Hydrate this stuff can not only kill or
blind an unsuspecting user but if the Workers Compensation Board
finds out that it is not being handled by qualified people with the
proper hazard protection then you get a hefty fine.

Tony.


#20

David,

I would be extremely interested in more on the additives
used to “denature” alcohol - especially the common gallon cans found
at paint & hardw are stores…

I have often contemplated that if whatever it is - is harmful if
swallowed - then what is it doing to us when it is ignited,
vaporized and inhaled? My thoughts are that it cannot be a good
thing…

How many of you have spilled the stuff on yourself over the years?
Where does the “additive” go then?

Many of us have been using the stuff for decades to carry our boric
acid - and I’d bet most have never considered that government greed
could be causing injury?

Brian P. Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts School
Stockton, CA 95209 USA
209-477-0550 Workshop/Studio/
instructor@jewelryartschool.com
jewelryartschool@aol.com