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No denatured alcohol!

Hi all,
Where I live there is not a single bottle, can or tin of denatured alcohol. I used to buy it in Home Depot in the USA, now I’m in Canada and I can’t get it anywhere, not even jeweler supply stores. I need to make fire scale coating for sterling. Is there anything else I can use with the boric acid powder I already have?
Thanks for any help!
(disgruntled and amazed in Canada)

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Perhaps like the UK it’s known in Canada as ‘methylated spirits’?

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Go to “Home Depot” and in the ‘Paint’ section you’ll find gallons/litres
of 'Methyl Hydrate". All of my jewellery friends use this!..regards,eh!

*Gerry Lewy *


OMG Gerry, THANK YOU!!! Let’s hope my stupid HD has it. ugh lol

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Gerry, do I use it just as I would denatured? Mix with boric acid and dunk piece, flame off the green fire, then solder?

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Hi Laura,
Gerry knows his way about. Try his advice.
Finding chemicals that you want or like to try,
you need to be devious I afraid. Thats life!
Recently I wanted some potassium bi fluoride and ammonium hydrogen bi fluoride and my chemical co that had it on the shelf, wanted a 6 page application! before they would even quote me.
I shopped around and found a small Co in London(uk) who had the sense to listen to my needs and why, and quoted and shipped wihin 3 days.
Your denatured alcohol has to be available , its a basic chemical for all sorts of uses. Try surgical spirit, same stuff, every injection uses it as a pre wipe for goodness sake!, from a chemists store.

it’s called methylated spirits. It is also called cooking alcohol.

I am sure I am stating the obvious, so please don’t take offense. But it is highly flammable!

Hi All,
Since our esteemed Mod as posted above, has chipped in, lets look at this a little bit more as no one has mentioned it.
There are basically 2 types of alcohol, theres methyl and theres ethyl.
the former is poisonous and thats why its often coloured purple, distilled from wood.
The latter is whats made from fermentation into all your beers, wines, bourbons and wiskeys you have after a hard day at the forge or whatever.
It also is coloured purple when sold for industrial use with a poison added to it so wino’s dont buy it to avoid the drinks tax.
Both will work fine as a liquid for applying borax so long as there 100% ,with no water added like in beer.

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And in North America there is a third type calked isopropyl Alcohol which has s made from neither and sold widely in Canada and the US in pharmacies and supermarkets, which has different properties. Has to its safety and use in applied get borax I have no idea, just pointing out that … different countries, different strokes and it is never safe to assume because something is true in one country it is true world wide.

I will also add that in Canada that methylated spirits (denatured Alcohol) is not always coloured and is often collected blue instead tear of purple. So please don’t go by colour read the label

I have posted in the past about the importance of using chemical over commercial names when possible has we are an international board and it is all too common for the same name to mean completely different things in different countries.


In reference to your question to Gerry, while you may be able to use it in the same way it is not denatured alcohol, but is pure Methyl Alcohol.

Methyl Hydrate is a stupid synonym for Methanol, aka Methyl Alcohol, aka wood alcohol.

Methyl Alcohol has different solubility and toxicity as compared to Ethel Alcohol( AKA Ethanol AKA drinking Alcohol)

Denatured Alcohol AKA Methylated Spirits is usually almost pure Ethel Alcohol with a small amount of other agent (usually methyl alcohol).

While Methanol is the best solvent for boric acid the downsides are it is more toxic and the flame of it burning is almost invisible, so use with caution and in a well ventilated area.

FYI Solubility of Boric Acid (H3BO3) in various Alcohols commonly found in Canada, at 25 C, percent by weight:
Methanol: 22.66%

Ethanol: 11.96%

Isopropyl: 7.34%

Hope this clarifies things a little


Hi All
Another comment or two on Methanol
One of the reasons methanol is so plentiful in Canada is that it has traditionally been used as a gas line antifreeze. It used to be quite common (for those of us living in the far north of Canada ) to add a couple hundred ml of methanol to our gas tanks every time we filled up at the gas station.
Methanol is commercially made from Natural Gas. Since Natural Gas is cheap and plentiful in Canada, we are a major manufacturer and exporter of methanol.
Methanol is a clear liquid and is generally sold as such.
I buy mine in a 4 liter jug at Canadian Tire. Costs about $12.00. A single jug last me for at least a couple of years.
As has already been mentioned, it is very flammable and is poisonous, so handle with respect.

Calgary, Canada

I stopped using a protection solution many years ago after having to spray a fellow jeweler with a fire extinguisher. He dumped his solution while holding a lit torch. He and his bench were engulfed in flame.
I warm my jewelry with a torch and then submerge it in batterns flux. It completely coats the item and works just as well.

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Hi Lauralee,

I’m also in Canada (Ontario) and found denatured alcohol sold at Canadian Tire under the brand name BioFlame Ethanol. It’s stated use is to fuel bioethanol fireplaces and its about $26/gallon. It works great in my homemade flux mixed with powdered boric acid and the fumes are relatively minor (just smells like strong alcohol).

Hope this helps!


Just wanted to add that I stayed away from methyl hydrate (what’s sold in Canada in the painting section as a brush cleaner) after hearing that it can be absorbed through the skin and cause cumulative liver damage, though to be honest I’ve read so much conflicting information about ethanol vs. methanol vs. methy hydrate etc I’m not sure what to believe!

I try not to touch my firescale flux either way, but have been known to get some on my hands fiddling with pieces to solder, and felt the BioFuel ethanol was my safest bet since it apparently only contains ethanol and is meant to be burnt in a residential fireplace.

Thanks Rachel! My husband was doing research for me and said to go get bio fuel at canadian tire too. tbh, I’m terrified now of using what I don’t know, all these horror stories…makes me want to keep buying my hundred dollar gesswein product that doesn’t even work very well lol. At least I won’t combust! Where in Ontario are you? I’m in Barrie.

Here in mid-Michigan, USA, denatured alcohol can still be purchased at our local Ace Hardware store, found in their paint department.

Jon Michael Fuja

I know how you feel! I work in my home and have tried to use as many “green” metalsmithing techniques as possible like citric acid pickle and plain boric acid in alcohol for flux so I was pretty wary of using anything that had extra toxic compounds added to it like methyl hydrate. Even if I totally protected my skin (which isn’t really feasible) I’m not a chemist and wasn’t sure if burning off the methyl alcohol would release any toxic compounds into the air. The BioFlame ethanol is meant to be burnt in a ventless fireplace and claims that all that is produced by its combustion is heat, steam and CO2. I have it in a little glass jar so hopefully should it ever catch fire I can drop the lid on it and put it out easily!

I’m in Kingston Ontario. I’m jealous that you have the Georgian College Jewelry and Metals program right in your town!

In my part of the US denatured alcohol is clear.

Different alcohols do not work equally well for making a boric acid solution–quite the contrary! Since they are radically different regarding solubility of boric acid, the kind you get in a jewelers’ supply store is likely to be much more effective. The standard isopropyl alcohol you get in supermarkets and drugstores is much less effective (but you should ask for specs to make sure)!

Boric acid solubility by weight percentage in three alcohols:

Methanol 22.66%
Ethanol 11.96% (Denatured alcohol is typically over 95% ethanol)
1-Propanol 7.34 % (isopropyl alcohol)

Janet in Jerusalem