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Thread: Alcohol for shellac

  1. #1

    Alcohol for shellac

    Iíve always used it, but Iím understanding the standard hardware store DNA/Fuel is not the best for shellac. Is this true?

    I recently bought a bottle of Everclear, but at $20 per 5th, Iím looking for something less expensive.

    I can buy a gallon of ďpureĒ DNA on Amazon or Mohawk but Iím not sure how much different it is than the hardware stuff.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Wayland, MA
    I like the consistency and performance of the Mohawk shellac reducer. With DNA from the hardware store you never know what you're going to get from can to can, especially now that it is sold as stove fuel; the formulation changes depending on what's cheap at the time. I use the cheap stuff for washing out brushes and such; for making up shellac that I'm already paying $20-40 a pound for I'll splurge on the $10/quart for a solvent I know is going to work well. I probably don't use but a gallon a year, so the cost ends up being nominal. If I were going through 10's or 100's of gallons a year it might be worth exploring further, at my level of use it's not.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    It's all about moisture (water) content. The dedicated reducers like the Mohawk Roger mentions and other products like Bekhol and Everclear tend to be better in that respect. I honestly just use the DNA from the 'borg myself since I largely use SealCoat "out of the can" these days...but if I got into serious mixing from flakes I'd get the better product. In the mean-time, use the run of the mill DNA for cleanup for sure.

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

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    I've never noticed any problems using stove fuel DNA from the the BORG with Zinsser Sealcoat or Amber shellac which are the only shellac products I use.


  5. #5
    More kinds of alcohol would do....if the tops were on tight. Is that is in-store vandalism, or factory screw-up instead of screw-down?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Silicon Valley, CA
    Traditionally Ethanol was used. DNA is/was usually Ethanol with something added to make it "undrinkable". For excise tax reasons DNA (now) must be poisonous, this is often done with Methanol. It also seems for cost reasons Methanol has become a higher and higher percentage in many DNAs and Methanol has severe health risks, though shellac is happy with it. There are reports that Isopropyl alcohol works, but is a little slower dissolving and drying shellac. But Isopropyl is usually sold as rubbing alcohol and that has too much water to work well.

    Your Everclear should work well, if it is the 190 proof version. E.g. in California we're limited to 151 proof, which has too much water to work.

    BTW- We just did this, but in the Neanderthal sub-forum, so there are many pointers & cautions for you here:

    No more denatured alcohol in California?

    Linked there is an earlier thread, where Allan Spears was searching for a less toxic alcohol for mixing shellac. He found:


    Which is (was) pure ethanol for less than Everclear, though you still pay excise tax. But the cautions in the full thread are informative too.

  7. #7
    I just use the off-the-shelf DNA from Menards/Home Depot. I don't have any problems with it. MN is basically limited to 80% (160 proof), so hootch isn't an option here, and I'm not driving 70 miles to Wisconsin to get 190 proof.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    New York, NY
    99% Isopropyl alcohol is certainly a less expensive option but the stuff I've got doesn't seem to work as well at dissolving shellac flakes as the 190 proof Everclear I'd used earlier. Worth the extra money IMO.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2021
    Western North Carolina, USA
    Hi Robert,

    These folks are good:

    Thanks and good health, Weogo

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Sunny California
    498 in Napa, CA has it and ships it. It is the same Behlen Behkol that Iíve used as shellac solvent for years, now rebranded/named as ďShellac Reducer.Ē It is more expensive than it used to be, but then, isnít everything?
    A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.
    Ayn Rand

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