Shellac solvent

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    Sam Downs

    Was about to reply about the Denatonium as well 🙂
    It didn’t smell bad and dissolved my Liberon flakes in a couple of hours with regular shaking. Haven’t had a chance to use it yet but hopefully tomorrow. That particular Amazon item is also in sale at the moment for $9.99. Unfortunately I payed almost twice that.

    Larry Geib

    Here is the SDS sheet for denatonium benzoate.

    It appears to be 80% ethylene glycol, so it’s not entirely benign. It has all the ethylene glycol toxicity issues. And the second ingredient may be the actual denaturant.
    The hazards listed are central nervous system, liver, kidney, and blood damage.

    William Nenna

    From my understanding “Everclear” is the purist alcohol obtainable. It’s pricey though. I could use it since I only mix very small batches so it never sits mixed on the shelf very long. I have used Behlen Behkol (denatured) for years with NO complaints. I save a little by using cheaper hardware store alcohol for cleaning brushes etc. Behkol is supposed to give a little longer open time and I have had no problems at all dissolving shellac in it. My own test is when I sand and only get fine white dust with NO build up on sandpaper or steel wool tells me ALL I need to know!! By the way, you can use a cheap “blade-type” coffee grinder to grind shellac flakes to fine grain that will dissolve almost instantly!


    I have used denatured alcohol without problem.

    There are really heavy taxes on drinkable ethanol here in Belgium, so it is not an option.

    I have also used without detectable problems. I have recently bought 190 proof drinkable alcohol because I hadn’t been aware of the toxicity of methanol and the amounts used in denatured alcohol. The cost is far less than my insurance deductible so I’m OK with the cost. Even without the deductible, I’ll pay to save my liver.

    The green KleenStrip has less methanol than other formulas when I checked but I don’t have to worry about gloves and respirators working in my basement with the Everclear.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 5 months ago by Cunha.
    Barry B

    if you can get everclear, look around or ask for polish rectified spirits…195 proof at a similar price to everclear.
    it was pretty scarce at the start of the pandemic but has returned to my local mega liquor store


    The liquor store that I bought it from showed stock on the internet. After looking around the store for a long time I decided to ask about it. They kept it in the back room and I had to fill out a form about what I was planning to do with it and if I hurt myself drinking it I wouldn’t hold them liable.

    This was at a state liquor store in “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire! They had been selling it for hand sanitizer use but they hadn’t had anyone mention shellac.

    I had never heard of the Polish spirits. Thanks

    Sven-Olof Jansson

    Just to come back to iso-propyl alcohol as dissolvent for a 2# cut of dewaxed shellac. When used on a black walnut desktop organiser, the result was quite depressing (please see photo). The surface became quite too shiny, I think. There were build-ups along the edges, and “lumps”, even when applied very thinly, and I had to wait more than ten minutes between layers. To add insult to injury, there was residual not fully dissolved flakes at the bottom of the jar.

    Desktop organiser

    Six months later, I now have finished a small chest (modelled from the tool chest project). The shellac flakes were at last fully dissolved, and using methylated 190-proof ethanol I brought the cut down, first to 1.5 and then to somewhat above 1. The former still gave a distinct shine, less build up, and both seemed “lumpy”. A 125µ lacquer filter removed the lumps, and using the around 1# cut I had a pleasant time applying a rapid drying shellac mix to the chest (a thanks for being vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2).


    To sum up: methylated alcohol and thin cuts, and get som 99% ethanol for a 2# cut, should French polishing be called for.

    Sven-Olof Jansson
    London, UK; Boston, MA

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