Shellac - Denatured alcohol

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Forum topic by lepelerin posted 02-22-2014 09:27 PM 2061 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View lepelerin's profile


498 posts in 3660 days

02-22-2014 09:27 PM

Topic tags/keywords: resource tip question trick finishing shellac denatured alcohol

Hello All,

In Canada it seems impossible to find denatured alcohol. I am not really willing to use Methyl Hydrate (I found that it can be used to cut shellac) due to its high toxicity.
I have seen a lot of different alternatives on the web but so many contradictory opinions I do not know what to look for anymore.

What can I you use to replace denatured alcohol?

Or even better if someone knows where to find Denatured alcohol in Canada, especially in the Atlantic provinces, do not hesitate to contact me.

Your advice as usual will be highly appreciated.Thank you in advance.

edit: I am aware of LeeValley selling a shellac thinner but at approx. $16 a liter, I was looking at something better priced.

21 replies so far

View Texcaster's profile


1293 posts in 3009 days

#1 posted 02-22-2014 09:37 PM

Try a specialist paint/ finishing supplier. Hardware store metho can be used in low humidity conditions.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View bondogaposis's profile


6097 posts in 3686 days

#2 posted 02-22-2014 09:42 PM

You can use this.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View gamygeezer's profile


169 posts in 2920 days

#3 posted 02-22-2014 09:44 PM lists several options at around $7/quart. You might also try sporting goods stores, it’s used as fuel for camp stoves.

-- What's a vibrant young guy like me doing in a broken down old body like this?

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 3781 days

#4 posted 02-22-2014 11:03 PM

I find 99% alcohol does the job,it evaporates a little slower than DA,I bought a package of four bottles from Costco for ~$12.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View Richard's profile


11310 posts in 4368 days

#5 posted 02-23-2014 01:54 AM

I’ve been using Methyl Hydrate for years to Cut WHITE Shellac to use as a FAST Sealer for Raw Wood Surfaces.

It’s also what they use (or did use ….LOL..) for Fondue Fuel with a little Blue Coloring in it.

Gas Line Antifreeze is usually 100% Methyl Hydrate.

They also sell it in all of the Big Box & Hardware Stores in the Paint dept. For the express purpose of Thinning Shellac.

I agree that it is Toxic but How Toxic and is it by Inhaling or Ingesting and in what Quantities …. I really don’t know. But would all these stores be selling it if it was HEAVILY TOXIC?

It’s also Extremely Flammable and burns with a Smokeless, Odorless, Colorless Flame.

Sorry. I don’t know where you can buy Denatured Alcohol in Canada (I’m in the North Toronto Area) probably because I’ve never looked for it.

I’ll continue to use Methyl Hydrate with the Caution that I always use.

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 4025 days

#6 posted 02-23-2014 02:04 AM

Chemistry labs but ethyl alcohol in 5 gal cans and this is the perfect shellac diluent. It is not denatured so it can be safely drunk (if you’re so inclined).

It should be readily available from chemical supply houses.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View lepelerin's profile


498 posts in 3660 days

#7 posted 02-23-2014 08:02 AM

Thank you all for your answers, I will see what I can find.

View shipwright's profile


8781 posts in 4133 days

#8 posted 02-23-2014 03:54 PM

Any alcohol will work. The differences for shellac are not so much about toxicity as about volatility.
Methyl is the most volatile and IMHO too fast for shellac except as a clean up solvent or for fast sealing.
Ethyl is slower and is generally the choice.
Propyl is a little slower yet and works very well also. I actually prefer it for French polishing.

I have found gallon bottles of propyl (isopropyl, rubbing alcohol) at feed stores sold for rubbing down horses .

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View 49er's profile


182 posts in 2939 days

#9 posted 02-23-2014 05:08 PM

We have plenty of it in our gasoline here in the U.S. Its just a little hard to git it out.

Sorry for the smart-alack comment.

View AlanBienlein's profile


159 posts in 4009 days

#10 posted 02-23-2014 06:00 PM

Go to your local liquor store and get a bottle of Ever clear. Don’t over complicate it or waste time trying to find all these other alternatives.

View LakeLover's profile


283 posts in 3274 days

#11 posted 02-23-2014 06:17 PM

We can’t get Everclear here. :((

Unless you know an old guy near Yorkton SK. He may brew you a batch. If you not a Reivnuer…..

Someone on another forum said you can buy it as camp fuel at Crappy Tire.

I get mine from a small town pharmacy.

View Bluepine38's profile


3393 posts in 4420 days

#12 posted 02-23-2014 07:55 PM

If I remember correctly one of the Firefox books has a very good set of instructions on building a still so
you can make your own. It tastes better than that Everclear.

-- As ever, Gus-the 83 yr young apprentice carpenter

View QuangFromCalgary's profile


44 posts in 4333 days

#13 posted 02-23-2014 07:59 PM

You can find 99 percent alcohol in London Drug in Canada. just go to pharmacy counter and ask them. It works well for me.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 3696 days

#14 posted 02-23-2014 08:56 PM

You’re lucky. Now you can move on to a real finish.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1172 posts in 3866 days

#15 posted 02-24-2014 12:42 AM

Quang – that 99% from London Drugs is isopropanol, not ethanol. But it does work.

LL – My BIL knows that old guy from Yorkton. Nasty stuff, but might just work for shellac :-)

Some of the feed stores out west can get ethanol, also used for agricultural cleaning purposes. Presumably, it is denatured.

I use methanol for shellac. Cheap and easy to find. It does flash very quickly – good when being sprayed, but bad when applied with a rag or brush. To slow down the flashing, you can use isopropanol or turpentine as a retarder. I prefer the smell of turpentine.

Denatured Alcohol is ethanol cut with methanol to make it undrinkable. Depending on the brand, it may be up to a 50/50 mix. Not like it’s all that much safer.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

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