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denatured alcohol formulation - mr_skittle - 09-13-2021

I've been watching lots of Tom McLaughlin's videos on YouTube lately. He was discussing the use of shellac and mentioned that not all denatured alcohol has the same formula. They all have a mix of ethanol and methanol and Tom was saying that the higher proportion of ethanol, the better it is for cutting shellac. 
Sometime recently it has all become "appliance fuel" with a 50:50 mix of the two types of alcohols. 

Is anyone else aware of this change? Is it the case that this new formulation is inferior for cutting and spraying with shellac? Does anyone know where to find denatured alcohol that is meant for shellac?


RE: denatured alcohol formulation - CEPenworks - 09-14-2021

The FDA has a whole list of denatured alcohol formulations. Most of what is sold in the box stores is mostly methanol with a couple drops of ethanol. The link below is one I get form Amazon that has no methanol. They make both a 190 proof and a 200 proof formulation. This does contain a chemical that makes you nauseous which is one method for "denaturing" since it makes you not want to drink it. This chemical is a lot safer than methanol. I always spray with a simple N95 respirator and have not had any problems. One day I did do some wiping without a glove and I felt a little queasy for a couple hours.

https://www.amazon.com/Denatured-Alcohol-190-1-Gallon-128/dp/B07XSLD2XF/ref=sr_1_8?crid=34D1GEQO9ABTG&dchild=1&keywords=denatured+alcohol+1+gallon&qid=1631617841&sr=8-8


RE: denatured alcohol formulation - mr_skittle - 09-14-2021

(09-14-2021, 06:17 AM)CEPenworks Wrote: The FDA has a whole list of denatured alcohol formulations. Most of what is sold in the box stores is mostly methanol with a couple drops of ethanol. The link below is one I get form Amazon that has no methanol. They make both a 190 proof and a 200 proof formulation. This does contain a chemical that makes you nauseous which is one method for "denaturing" since it makes you not want to drink it. This chemical is a lot safer than methanol. I always spray with a simple N95 respirator and have not had any problems. One day I did do some wiping without a glove and I felt a little queasy for a couple hours.

https://www.amazon.com/Denatured-Alcohol-190-1-Gallon-128/dp/B07XSLD2XF/ref=sr_1_8?crid=34D1GEQO9ABTG&dchild=1&keywords=denatured+alcohol+1+gallon&qid=1631617841&sr=8-8

Thanks for the link. I'm hoping to find something local but at least now I have somewhere else to get it. At $40 a gallon, it's about half the price of the Everclear I got to use in the meantime. A place called Woodfinishing Enterprises has some as well but it's pretty pricey at $14/qt.


RE: denatured alcohol formulation - Rob Young - 09-15-2021

(09-14-2021, 06:17 AM)CEPenworks Wrote: The FDA has a whole list of denatured alcohol formulations. Most of what is sold in the box stores is mostly methanol with a couple drops of ethanol. The link below is one I get form Amazon that has no methanol. They make both a 190 proof and a 200 proof formulation. This does contain a chemical that makes you nauseous which is one method for "denaturing" since it makes you not want to drink it. This chemical is a lot safer than methanol. I always spray with a simple N95 respirator and have not had any problems. One day I did do some wiping without a glove and I felt a little queasy for a couple hours.

https://www.amazon.com/Denatured-Alcohol-190-1-Gallon-128/dp/B07XSLD2XF/ref=sr_1_8?crid=34D1GEQO9ABTG&dchild=1&keywords=denatured+alcohol+1+gallon&qid=1631617841&sr=8-8

It's been a while since I looked at TDS and such for Kleen Strip and Sunnyside but maybe a few years ago is got to a 50:50 mix with methanol. The smell certainly changed. So far, other than I can't use a foam brush any more (using old t-shirt cotton pad applicators on small stuff, Taklon brush or spraying on larger) I haven't noticed any difference in application or durability. But then I'm not exactly stress testing stuff either. Wear a filtered mask or respirator when spraying and I only do it outdoors. Nitrile gloves when hand applying. 

Side note about gloves, a while back somebody complained about the nitrile gloves being slowly dissolved (I think they complained of pinholes appearing) by the methanol. As an experiment I blew up a glove like a balloon and tied it off. Then put the finger in a mason jar of Sunnyside and used tape and rubber bands to hold it in place. After a day it was still holding air, no holes. Not an exhaustive test and maybe something I should repeat with a recently purchased can.


RE: denatured alcohol formulation - mr_skittle - 09-15-2021

I'm not entirely sure if I need to be making a fuss about the formula or not. I've not really done enough finishing, or at least often enough, to notice a difference anyway. In these instances I have to go with what professionals recommend. As I attempt to make the transition from hobby to professional furniture maker, I want to do whatever I can to ensure the best possible finish.

As far as gloves, I've never had any trouble with anything but lacquer thinner. They last about 5 seconds in that stuff.


RE: denatured alcohol formulation - Willyou - 09-17-2021

I don't really have anything new to add or useful to suggest other than to say that up until recently I have used denatured alcohol from Lowes or Home Depot without paying much attention to the mix. I never had any problems using it to cut/dissolve shellac. A couple of days ago, I needed some more but all they had was the denatured alcohol also labeled "Fuel". Looking at the SDS, I note that it is 30% ethanol, 30% methanol, and 30% other stuff. So, I won't be using it except for clean-up after this. Fortunately, we have a local paint manufacturer that sells a product called Al-Co-Sol that is 90% ethanol and their price is about the same as the "Fuel". I know that doesn't help much. Sorry. For those of you that live in the south and southeast, the company name is BLP. Look them up and you will find several of their stores across the south from Louisiana to Florida


RE: denatured alcohol formulation - wmesquite - 09-21-2021

(09-13-2021, 04:27 PM)mr_skittle Wrote: I've been watching lots of Tom McLaughlin's videos on YouTube lately. He was discussing the use of shellac and mentioned that not all denatured alcohol has the same formula. They all have a mix of ethanol and methanol and Tom was saying that the higher proportion of ethanol, the better it is for cutting shellac. 
Sometime recently it has all become "appliance fuel" with a 50:50 mix of the two types of alcohols. 

Is anyone else aware of this change? Is it the case that this new formulation is inferior for cutting and spraying with shellac? Does anyone know where to find denatured alcohol that is meant for shellac?

When I first used some Behkol for shellac dissolving/reducing, it worked great and I became a fan. Soon after that it was discontinued- as it goes. I recently happened upon Jeff Jewitt's site Homestead finishing and read his comments on Mohawk Shellac Reducer. It turns out it is renamed Behkol- the same formula, just renamed after Behlen was acquired by Mohawk. He says it is preferred because it is only 4 percent methanol, and has some isobutanol added, which increases open time a little- see link below. I have followed his advice many times, bought various products, and everything worked out well. So I trust  what he says. That said, he only sells this product through his ebay store which has very high shipping, so I'd look around. Woodcraft sells it, Shellac.net sells it in gallons. It always cost more than DNA, but seemed worth it. With the price of shellac so high, it seems even more worth it.


Mohawk Reducer


I noticed y'all are mentioning spraying shellac. I think one way to go is to use Target coatings Emtech Ultraseal, which is a water based shellac. They recommend it for a sealer for their water based lacquers, but I think it works okay for a finish too. Regardless, way less hazardous than spraying shellac, and a modern wonder of chemistry.


Wade