The 3 Best Uses for Denatured Alcohol

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What You'll Need
Adequate ventilation in the work area
Use proper eye protection
Clean cloths

Denatured alcohol is ethyl alcohol that has been treated with chemicals that make it unfit for human consumption. These chemicals make denatured alcohol great for use with many different do-it-yourself projects around the house. Here are three of the best uses for this substance.

1. Use It as a Cleaning Agent

Denatured alcohol works great as a hard surface cleaner, especially against stains and dirt that more traditional cleaning agents fail to remove. It works best as a spot cleaner and should be applied with a cloth or rag rather than poured directly onto a surface and wiped. Along with other hard surfaces like tile, wood, metal, and plastic, denatured alcohol works great on glass. Because this type of alcohol evaporates very quickly, it will not leave streaks behind on windows or mirrors and is even safe to use on color-safe fabrics. Although the denatured alcohol is usually considered a mild solvent, it easily dissolves grease and has been known to remove light scratches from some surfaces.

2. Use It With Shellac

Many woodworkers and carpenters like to mix their own shellac or varnish for protecting the wood. Shellac is merely a natural resin, but when it is mixed with denatured alcohol, it creates a sticky substance that brushes easily onto wood and protects it from things like scratches and UV rays. Although premixed shellac products and varnishes can be found on the shelves of most hardware stores, mixing shellac and denatured alcohol at home is usually a better choice for true woodworking enthusiasts. When buying these premixed products off of the shelf, one never knows how long they have been sitting there, so you run the risk of buying an expired product. Furthermore, mixing one’s own shellac varnish ensures a lighter, more pure form of the product, and allows the mixer to make only as much as he/she needs for the project at hand. The usual ratio for a good mixture is two pounds of shellac to two gallons of denatured alcohol. This ratio is referred to as a one-pound cut.

3. Use It as a Sanding Aid

When working on a carpentry project that requires sanding wood, denatured alcohol can help achieve a softer, smoother finished surface. First, sand the wood until a good amount of sawdust has built up. Next, use a cloth soaked in denatured alcohol to efficiently wipe away any excess sawdust that may have wedged itself within the grain of the wood. As mentioned above, one of the qualities of this type of alcohol is that it evaporates very quickly. This evaporation process will, although almost imperceptibly, raise the grain on the surface of the wood. Although one might not be able to see the raised grain, once it is sanded, the result will be a surface that is noticeably smoother to the touch.

4. Cautions

Special care should be taken whenever you are using denatured alcohol. The use of proper eye protection and gloves will help to avoid injuries or even death from accidental ingestion, and eye injuries from splashing.