Denatured alcohol is a form of ethanol with specific additives that make it unfit for human consumption. This HomeQuicks article discusses the uses of this alcohol in daily life.
Not all denatured alcohols are rubbing alcohols, whereas rubbing alcohol is one of the many types of denatured alcohol. Although both have many similar qualities, they are formulated with very different uses in mind. Rubbing alcohol is specifically intended to be rubbed on the skin, whereas denatured alcohol is not necessarily made for topical application, and often has additives that are not good for the skin, such as gasoline and acetone.
Denatured alcohol is nothing but ethanol (ethyl alcohol) which has undergone denaturing. The denaturing process refers to the removal of that property of alcohol, which makes it drinkable. This is achieved by adding poisonous and foul-tasting chemicals to ethanol, making it unfit for human consumption. There are many different ways in which ethanol can be denatured. Additives such as methanol, isopropanol, gasoline, acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, methyl isobutyl ketone, and denatonium are widely used for this purpose. In the United States, denatured alcohol is usually colorless. However, in some other countries, it is colored blue or purple using an aniline dye, so as to differentiate it from drinking alcohol. Though not intended for human consumption, denatured alcohol is used for industrial and domestic purposes. It is classified into three types:
▸ Industrial denatured alcohol (IDA) is formulated for manufacturing printing inks, detergents, resins, and dyes.
▸ Trade specific denatured alcohol (TSDA) is formulated for manufacturing skin care products, perfumes, toiletries, cosmetics, medicated creams, and ointments.
▸ Completely denatured alcohol (CDA) is formulated for domestic use.
In this HomeQuicks article we have listed out top 12 uses of denatured alcohol.
Denatured alcohol is commonly used as a fuel for small camping stoves by campers, caravanners, and back-packers. The flame is easy to extinguish. Also, you need not use special containers while transporting denatured alcohol. However, the alcohol burns from a flame that has practically no color at all. This has a potential risk of a person getting accidentally burned by the almost-invisible flames. Therefore, one should be extremely cautious while using denatured alcohol as a fuel.
Denatured alcohol is a degreasing agent that works best as a spot cleaner and for removing hard surface dirt and stains that traditional cleaning agents fail to remove. Apply denatured alcohol to a clean white cloth to remove stains from hard surfaces like tiles, wood, metal, and plastic, clear smudges from electronic component surfaces, clean up greasy spots in the kitchen, or clean your windows and mirrors. Denatured alcohol can also be used to remove mildew from leather surfaces; however, it is not suitable for suede or dyed leather. Also, it is not recommended for cleaning porous fabrics and acrylic, vinyl, or surfaces that are not coated or painted.
Denatured alcohol is used as a solvent for shellac, which is a natural resin. Carpenters usually apply a mixture of shellac and denatured alcohol to wood. This protects the wood from scratches and UV rays, and also gives it a mirror-like finish.
Denatured alcohol is often used for the purpose of sanding wood. Once you have sanded the wood, use a cloth soaked in denatured alcohol to wipe away any excess sawdust that might be caught within the grain of the wood. Since denatured alcohol is highly volatile, it raises the grain on the surface of the wood, which when sanded, provides a soft and smooth finishing to the wooden surface.
After repairing your wooden furniture, if there are traces of glue visible, you can apply denatured alcohol to get rid of them. Simply rub the undried glue with a cloth soaked in denatured alcohol.
It can be used to remove ink stains from fabric. Gently rub a cotton ball soaked in denatured alcohol over the affected area. This will slowly bring the ink to the surface, which can then be blotted using a clean wet cloth.
Red wine stains on clothing, upholstery, and carpets can be easily eliminated using denatured alcohol. Soak the stained area with the alcohol and flush the area with white vinegar to remove the leftover stains.
Denatured alcohol can be used to remove paint and fingernail polish from wood. Gently rub a cloth soaked with denatured alcohol on the affected wooden furniture to remove unwanted paint.
If you want to repaint your furniture, you will first need to remove any residual wax coatings before applying a layer of new paint. For this, rub the piece of furniture with a cloth soaked with denatured alcohol to remove all the wax finish.
Denatured alcohol can also be used to clean the strings of your bass guitar. The cleaning process is very simple. Remove the strings from the instrument and soak them in denatured alcohol for 12 to 24 hours. Now, completely dry off the strings with a clean dry cloth, and then install them back on the guitar.
Pectin is a naturally-occurring thickening agent that is most often added to jams and jellies to help them gel and thicken. To test the pectin level in homemade jam, add three teaspoons of denatured alcohol to 1 teaspoon of cooked fruit juice. If pectin is low, it will form small particles of jelly within the liquid. This indicates that more pectin needs to be added to get the ideal consistency. If pectin level is appropriate, then a thick substance is formed which means that the jam has the correct consistency.Do not taste the jam mixed with denatured alcohol. It should be used only as a sample to check pectin levels.
Denatured alcohol can be used as a means of eradicating mealybug infestation. When a plant is infected with this parasite, take the plant outside and spray with water. Then dip a cotton swab in denatured alcohol and rub over the infected area of the plant. Allow to dry naturally. Red spider mite can be exterminated by the use of a denatured alcohol solution. Prepare a solution of 5 parts water to one part denatured alcohol. Then apply/spray this solution on the infected areas. Again, allow to dry naturally.
Since denatured alcohol is highly toxic and inflammable, you need to follow some basic precautionary measures to avoid any mishap.
▸ Always wear gloves while using denatured alcohol.
▸ Keep it away from children and direct sunlight or open fires.
▸ Store it in a cool dark place.
▸ Avoid inhaling the fumes by keeping your room well-ventilated.
▸ Avoid direct contact with the skin, eyes, and face.
Denatured alcohol is often combined with methanol, which when ingested, can cause blindness or even death. In case of accidental consumption of denatured alcohol, seek medical attention immediately.