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Thread: No more denatured alcohol in California?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Carlsbad, CA
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    No more denatured alcohol in California?

    My go to finish is shellac. I prefer to make my own fresh by dissolving flakes in denatured alcohol. Went to the hardware store to buy some more denatured alcohol for fresh batch of shellac and was very dismayed to learn that apparently there is some kind of regulation that now prevents the sale of denatured alcohol in California. I don't know all the details, but I checked Lowe's, Home Depot, Sherwin-Williams and Dunn Edwards paints and even REI camping store. No joy!

    I have no idea what the rationale is this regulation, and frankly doesn't matter. I'm screwed. Any suggestions for some alternative solvent or how I might be able to get denatured alcohol? Do you think I could buy it online and have it shipped in? I went to the Bev Mo – they have Everclear that is "120 proof, 40% alcohol", do you think that would work?

    I very much appreciate any and all suggestions!

    All the best, Mike

  2. #2
    It will not work . Way too much water.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
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    It is used as a clean burning fuel in some stoves, especially in outdoor burners and on boats, I have one. Check marine stores and fuel suppliers. It would indeed be strange if they are telling people you can no longer cook on your stove!
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  4. #4
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  5. #5
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    Oct 2019
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    Maryland
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    Might depend upon which Everclear is used, seems it's bottled at 60%, 75.5%, 94.5% and 95% alcohol by volume (120, 151, 189, and 190 U.S. proof respectively)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Fairlawn, OH
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    16
    I've used 190 proof Everclear. Excellent results, definetly a cleaner shellac with noticeable fastrer dry times. Problem was the price -20 bucks a fifth, could be cheaper in other states.

    gotta tell you Mike- really enjoy your build threads.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    So Cal
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    2,884
    Mike look in your area for a professional paint store.
    The one out near me still carry’s the good stuff even in 5 gal cans.
    Aj

  8. #8
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    Nov 2014
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    West Granby CT
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    I use 190 proof Everclear as well with good results. Maybe you can find that in a higher proof?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Silicon Valley, CA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Matthews View Post
    Nope. Not the California liquor store stuff. Not a clean air reg, but public health / prop up the wine industry reg, limits the max proof for drinking to 151 (75%) alcohol. (BTW- Mike the 120 proof 40% stuff you were told about just isn't right. 100 proof is 50% alcohol, the conversion factor is 2. "Pure" alcohol absorbs water from the air and is limited to 191 proof, ~95%, without being heroic and is what you really want.)

    I'm told Behlem / Mohawk Shellac Reducer is allowed and available and is a good version of what used to be label denatured alcohol. Best stuff is probably 190 proof grain alcohol, rumor is you can get it in Arizona, if you're up for a little boot-legging, and there have been a couple reports of successfully mail ordering it. It's also been reported that alcohol fuel, as used in table top fire pits, can be had with bitterants (sp?) instead of methanol, and will work well. (Sorry, I haven't tried any of these. I've just noted them for "someday".)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
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    South West Ontario
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    Yes Jim it will. In Canada 94% alcohol is carried by the government liquor stores, not on the shelf but in the back room. Only pharmacies are able to purchase it with a requisition, the price is right up there with the cheapest vodka.
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  11. #11
    California banned denatured alcohol - at least for sale in small quantities such as one gallon cans. It's supposed to be because of air quality concerns.

    Have you tried ordering it from out of state? I see it for sale on Amazon. Not cheap, but not as expensive as 190 proof Ethanol.

    Mike

    [Here's one on Amazon. I haven't tried to order it so maybe they won't ship to CA.]

    [Here's another. Only a half gallon, however.]
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 02-17-2021 at 9:16 PM.
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  12. #12
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    Road trip to Tijuana!?
    There is a very fine line between “hobby” and “mental illness.” - Dave Barry

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Location
    Camarillo, CA
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    I bought some at a West Marine within the last couple of months. It is still sold as stove fuel. The last time I checked my local REI was out, but I bet you can still find it at some camping stores.

    I’ve never tried isopropyl alcohol, but that is available at 99% from Amazon.

    Of course, I’d only do that as a hobbyist. If you do that as a business, your local air district may not be happy.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Soaper View Post
    Might depend upon which Everclear is used, seems it's bottled at 60%, 75.5%, 94.5% and 95% alcohol by volume (120, 151, 189, and 190 U.S. proof respectively)
    the 95 % works well . But just leaving the top off for a an hour or two on a humid day will ruin it. The lower proof only desolves.....
    hopes....and dreams.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    773
    I just went through this last year. Denatured is mostly gone and then not over 70% alcohol. Can't even buy Everclear at a useful proof. There appears to be no other solvent.

    My crystal ball sees a trip to AZ or NV in your future.

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