A lot of people want to know what is denatured alcohol? While this might sound like a regular, consumable drink, it is everything but. In fact, the substance was purposely altered so that it cannot be used for drinking.
Nowadays, you can found this product in numerous chemical stores such as the Simple Solvents shop. It is a very potent substance that can be used in numerous ways, but it is especially common within industrial facilities. Oftentimes, it is used as a strong cleaning product.
In this article, we will answer what is denatured alcohol, and we will talk about its most important properties. Check it out!
What is denatured alcohol?
Depending on where you live, you might see denatured alcohol under a lot of different names. Also called wood spirits, methylated spirits, or denatured rectified spirits, this is an ethanol chemical that was altered by adding some other ingredients. This is precisely why it is called “denatured.”
A lot of different substances can be added to this chemical. Depending on these extra ingredients, the alcohol can smell awfully, it will change its taste for the worse, or it can simply become poisonous. In some cases, the product is even dyed, so you can easily distinguish it from consumable alcohol.
Companies add all these substances so that the product can no longer be consumed. Its properties should be noticeable, dissuading people from ever trying the chemical. Of course, companies don’t add these chemicals randomly. Otherwise, denatured alcohol can become even more volatile than it otherwise is.
In most cases, the product is utilized as a solvent. It can also be a strong fuel for smaller burners such as camping stoves and alcohol burners. The great thing about this substance is its versatility. You can alter alcohol's properties in so many different ways. In fact, companies are still experimenting with it.
Usually, the first thing that a chemical company will add to alcohol is methanol. It is a common additive, and it may account for 10% of the total concentration. This is why denatured alcohol is sometimes referred to as methylated spirits. You might also notice denatured products with methyl isobutyl, ketone, methyl ethyl ketone, isopropyl alcohol, and acetone.
If we’re talking about the United States, in particular, the majority of denatured substances will have less than 50% ethanol concentration. Keep in mind that the addition of other chemicals will not change the ethanol itself; it will only add other substances to the mix.
There is a good reason why companies don’t try to alter the chemicals within denatured alcohol. This is purposely done so that other users cannot separate the components, which would allow them to repurpose alcohol and other substances.
How is denatured alcohol used?
There are numerous ways we can use this substance.
The product's best trait is that it quickly evaporates. It will not leave any trace behind it, making it a perfect cleaning agent. Most commonly, it is used by painters, hobbyists, cleaning companies, and manufacturing companies.
Denatured alcohol shows enormous potential as a grime removal cleaner. You can use it on very rough, dirty spots that cannot be cleaned with other substances. As mentioned, the quickly evaporating characteristic of the product is what sets it apart from other chemicals. This is especially important if you don’t want to affect the surface with alcohol for a prolonged period of time.
As mentioned, the chemical is especially great for camping stoves. It is a clean solution that you can easily put out with water. This is especially important when you’re spending time in nature. The last thing you want to do is start a forest fire. You can also the substance for sanding or furniture finishing. Unlike rubbing alcohol, it should never be used as an antiseptic.
Like all other types of alcohol, this one is also highly flammable. People who are using it on a daily basis need to be very safe and to wear protective equipment. This is especially true when dealing with the higher quantities of the substance (like barrels). Denatured alcohol can cause all sorts of issues in closed environments that don't have proper ventilation.
What is the difference between denatured alcohol and rubbing alcohol?
Given that this product is very different in terms of its chemical composition, you can presume that it won’t be a good substitution for rubbing alcohol.
Rubbing or medical alcohol is something you can find in hospitals. It is used topically as a way of sanitizing the wounds. Interestingly enough, rubbing alcohol is also categorized as denatured alcohol. It has about 70% ethanol or isopropyl alcohol.
We use the term rubbing for describing ethyl products as well as isopropyl chemicals that have very similar traits. They are a very special type of denatured alcohol that is very different from the products we’ve previously mentioned. Instead of dissuading human consumption, this one is used within medical space. Also, it isn’t ideal fuel like some other denatured items.
Is denatured alcohol safe?
Based on everything said so far, you can easily presume that this alcohol is not safe for human consumption. It can cause poisoning, it is highly flammable, and certain types of denatured alcohol can cause dizziness, headache, vomiting, and fainting.
These chemicals are often used for cosmetics, as drying agents. They are mixed with other substances that would make them safe. And, as long as it is utilized in smaller quantities, you shouldn’t experience any issues. The problem occurs if you put too much cosmetic alcohol on your skin. First off, it will dry the tissue. If the exposure continues, it can cause skin irritation, redness, and breakouts.
Oftentimes, the problem might occur due to marketing malpractices. Some companies present denatured products as alcohol-free. According to the FDA, alcohol is a term that refers to pure ethanol, and denatured alcohol is not categorized as such. However, we cannot close our eyes in front of its enormous alcohol concentration.
Due to all of this, it is very important to buy denatured alcohol from reputable sources such as Simple Solvents.