Shellac and Denatured Alcohol

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    I’m going to buy Liberon shellac so was researching how to use it. At 35s below:

    Paul adds 1/3 denatured alcohol to 2/3 bleached shellac to the first coat. Is this done to every first coat when finishing a project? Also, is there a specific denatured alcohol I should buy?

    Or will any do:

    Thanks all.

    "Sawdust? I think you'll find that's man-glitter."


    Has anyone used denatured alcohol with shellac?

    "Sawdust? I think you'll find that's man-glitter."


    “methylated spirits or meths is denatured alcohol (ethyl alcohol solution “denatured” by adding methanol)”

    I generally use the Liberon shellac flakes with bog standard Meths you can but from DIY stores or Garden Centres. I’ve never had any problems with this approach.
    I store the mix in old sauce mix jars and have never had any issues with shelf life – even when I’ve used Meths that’s so old it’s lost the purple color and turned clear.

    Keep Calm and have a Cup of Tea


    Thanks for the reply Nikon.

    I’m having difficulty finding any DNA (at 190 proof) in the UK. Anyone know of an online supplier?

    What do you think of the cleaning technique (attached pic) for shellac brushes, both short term and long?

    "Sawdust? I think you'll find that's man-glitter."

    Richard Crockford

    Meths is DNA. Just buy whatever is available.

    I bought a big tank from amazon and it;s fine with shellac:

    Rafael Herrera

    I’ve read that you can just store the brushes in a sealed container, soak it in alcohol or shellac mix for a few minutes before use and the dry shellac will dissolve. Note that Paul is using a Hake brush, not as thick as the ones in your picture. I haven’t tried this, so I don’t know how well it works.


    Be very careful what you believe on the internet – not all denaturing is the same.

    I’ve always interpreted denatured alcohol to be mostly ethanol with percentage of added methanol to make it poisonous.
    The Barrettine referenced by Richard is ethanol with propanol and ethyl methyl keytone (check the MSDS sheets). This stuff is denatured with propanol and EMK rather than methanol.

    For anyone else here in Canada – methyl hydrate (which is on a lot of shelves) is 100% methanol (generally). Methanol is toxic enough that I looked harder to find something with a low % of denaturing methanol.

    Functionally these will probably all act about the same (I’m no expert), but it’s your health – so be aware of the risks of the chemicals you’re using, or *think* that you’re using.

    John Buckley

    Toxic if ingested so unless you or someone else drinks it there’s no problem.


    @dglaurent what have you found to dissolve shellac in Canada? I was using methyl hydrates, but am worried about damage to the optic nerve from the vapours. Have you found a suitable ethanol anywhere?


    As long as you don´t drink the stuff you have nothing to worry about. Your optic nerve is safe!
    Trust me on this i´m a physician and i confirmed it with the wife who is a retinal surgeon.


    I found denatured alcohol at a local concrete place –

    Apparently they use it for marbling or something when they do decorative countertops. The guy had no clue what I was talking about when I told him I needed it for wood finishing.

    The MSDS on the one I bought has it as 95% ethanol, 5% methanol. It was like $45 for a gallon or so if I remember correctly – so not super cheap.

    For John Buckley and dude: it’s your life and your risk tolerance. I will copy in a section of the MSDS for the Chemfax Methyl Hydrate however:

    Hazard Statement
    Highly flammable liquid and vapour. Toxic if swallowed. Toxic if it comes in contact with skin. Toxic if inhaled. Causes serious eye damage. Causes damage to organs (kidney, liver, eyes, and central nervous system) via inhalation, ingestion, and adsorption through skin.

    I’ll take the risk on a 5% concentration a little easier than a 100% concentration – your mileage may vary. As I first said, be careful what you believe, even from me – go look yourself.


    I’ve used denatured alcohol. It works fine for me. Having said that, I don’t really like the thought of exposing myself to methanol. As such, when possible, I just purchase 190 proof ethanol designed to be drank. It is a bit more costly because of sin taxes. However, I don’t use so much that the overall cost is a concern for me.

    Stijn Bossuyt

    Same here, I use food-safe alcohol (90% I believe). Not cost prohibitive, with the amounts you normally use for shellac. In Belgium, they add a little ether to denatured alcohol, and I can’t stand that smell.

    Benoît Van Noten

    Denatured alcohol: about 4.50 Eur/L ( HUBO).
    On drinkable alcohol there are “accises” ( 29.92 EUR/L of 100% alcohol) + VAT 21%

    “A partir du 1er janvier 2018, seul l’alcool éthylique dénaturé au moyen du procédé de
    dénaturation « 1 litre IPA + 1 litre MEK + 1 gramme benzoate de dénatonium par hectolitre
    d’éthanol absolu » sera considéré comme complètement dénaturé.”

    “Par hectolitre d’éthanol absolu :
    – 1,0 litre d’alcool isopropylique ;
    – 1,0 litre de méthyléthylcétone ;
    – 1,0 gramme de benzoate de dénatonium”
    Règlement d’exécution (UE) 2017/1112 de la Commission du 22 juin 2017 modifiant le Règlement (CE) n°3199/93

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