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Thread: Denatured Alcohol Suppliers and Substitutes

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
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    Los Angeles, California
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    Denatured Alcohol Suppliers and Substitutes

    The State of California has joined a couple other states and Canada in banning Denatured Alcohol this year. It is no longer available in any hardware store, big box or woodworking supply houses.

    That said, I still like to use shellac and went on a mission this week to find suppliers and substitutes.

    --Isopropyl Alcohol. Most drug stores contain the 95% pure variety, with the remaining 5% being water. It works, but flakes need to be thoroughly ground up and allowed to sit for a day or two. It also doesn't dry as fast as DNA.
    --Camping Stove Alcohol. I'm not sure why this is being sold, but it is. It is nearly 100% pure and can be found in surplus stores and camp supply stores.
    --Ethanol. Food grade ethanol is still available, but one must pay excise taxes on it. It is pretty expensive, but the good news is you can make a batch of shellac in the morning and get wasted in the afternoon. A true dual purpose win-win.
    --Everclear. I've been unable to find any strength more than 151 proof. I haven't tried this yet.

    Does anyone else have any experience with this issue? Please do not turn this into a political discussion as to the merits of the law, it is what it is.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    WNY
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    Can you buy Behkol?

    John

  3. #3
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    Jul 2015
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    For years, I've used the nearly 100% ethanol found in camp stove fuels and "indoor fireplace" fuel. They are not denatured with methanol (which is toxic) and instead rely on a bitterant which tastes nasty, but is not poison.

    This stuff is great and is easy to get on Amazon or at a local fireplace/stove store.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas McCurnin View Post
    ... Everclear. I've been unable to find any strength more than 151 proof. I haven't tried this yet. ...
    First, Everclear is a brand (or product) name for ethanol. Second I doubt 151 would work as it's 25% water. (California hasn't allowed 191, nearly pure, Everclear for as long as I remember. It's a beverage regulation, not one of the new solvent regulations.)

  5. #5
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    Hardly a day goes by that I am not thankful for where I live.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Art Mann View Post
    Hardly a day goes by that I am not thankful for where I live.
    Problem is what is going on in California is slowly spreading across the country.

  7. #7
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    Thank you David, that's very good advice.

  8. #8
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    Here in Illinois I've always used 91%, but they sell 70%.
    Here we can still buy gallon cans in the paint department at Lowe's, Menards and such. I prefer the little plastic (pints). The stuff in gallon cans has a strong odor that I don't care for.

    When I was a kid my dad told me when he was young, poor and homeless people with a drinking habit would strain automotive antifreeze through a loaf of bread and drink it.
    I'm guessing not many of them lived a long life.
    And, it could have just been my dad telling me something he knew was pure (200 proof) BS.

  9. #9
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    Mar 2011
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    Broomfield, CO
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    For 95% pure, this looks like a good deal. They also have a 4-gallon pack for $82.

    DNA 95%

    I usually use the Kleanstrip Green that is 91%. It costs about $8.50 a qt.

  10. #10
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    Some suppliers have started using methnol mixed with or instead of ethanol. Methanol is toxic. I can't see the whole label on that product but the "c.a.s 17-64-5" visible indicates ethanol. Maybe someone can verify what is actually in that brand, specifcally, if it contains any methanol. I'm down to my last gallon.

    JKJ

    Quote Originally Posted by Jery Madigan View Post
    For 95% pure, this looks like a good deal. They also have a 4-gallon pack for $82.

    DNA 95%

    I usually use the Kleanstrip Green that is 91%. It costs about $8.50 a qt.

  11. #11
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    Sep 2013
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    Wayland, MA
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    As of today many companies appear to be still shipping Mohawk shellac reducer (same product as Bekhol) to California. Their DNA products show the CA restriction, the shellac reducer does not. Several suppliers on Amazon sell 99% (anhydrous) isopropyl, which ships to CA and should also work fine. I've always used Bekohl/Mohawk products without difficulty.

  12. #12
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    Anybody have a good link to info on the ban? I cant find anything from the state by Googling. I want to know if its banned because of the denaturing agents or what.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Calow View Post
    Anybody have a good link to info on the ban? I cant find anything from the state by Googling. I want to know if its banned because of the denaturing agents or what.
    They have so many living on the street , could be its to make sure they don't have access to drinking it. Etiquette requires
    that when the can is passed to you ....you don't read the label.

  14. #14
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    Mar 2019
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    Los Angeles, California
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    It was banned for the same reason that Canada bans the substance--greenhouse gases. Along with DNA the ban includes mineral spirits. What is odd is that most hardware stores still sell oil based stains, and the directions suggest clean up with mineral spirits, which we all know is banned.

    I foresee water based stains and finished as the future, and oil based finishes will go away like the Dodo Bird. It is certainly inconvenient and left me with the same feeling when some states banned high oil content paint about 10 years ago. That said, manufacturers were quick to adapt water as a base for most stains, paints and finishes.

    On a certain level it makes more sense--water based stains, paints and finishes are easier to use and clean up and used oils, solvents, oil based paints and stains will no longer pollute the air and ground. I can't tell you how many times I've dumped a bucket of used mineral spirits onto the ground. Water based products decompose quicker and are safer. The same law has forced auto paint shops to reconfigure their paints and solvents, and dry cleaners to reconfigure hexane. Historically, California had an extreme problem with auto exhaust and manufacturing pollution in the late 50's and 60s. While the air is much cleaner now, if you've ever gone to Pasadena on a hot August day, and looked West, you would understand that there is more work to be done.

    The law stems from the California Air Resources Board, an agency which enacts regulations affecting air quality. I could not find an exact legal citation for you, but this is close:

    https://govt.westlaw.com/calregs/Document/I3828EED0705311E3BE6EF3DED7F4D5DB?viewType=FullTex t&originationContext=documenttoc&transitionType=Ca tegoryPageItem&contextData=(sc.Default)&bhcp=1


    Regards,

    Tom

  15. #15
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    Fortunately, there are alternatives to mineral spirits like naphtha but many solvents are quickly becoming restricted.

    I'm not sure I fully understand the issue with alcohol, but it is what it is. I do use some shellac which includes the need for alcohol or similar for reducing and cleanup. Otherwise, I've pretty much standardized on water borne and water soluble products for finishing with an occasional use of an oil-based wipe on product like Watco if a client requires it, such as to match existing. Water borne and water soluble finishing products have come a LONG way over the years fortunately.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

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