Denatured Alcohol for Shellac

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Forum topic by jmos posted 12-03-2011 07:17 PM 11237 views 0 times favorited 35 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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840 posts in 2399 days

12-03-2011 07:17 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing

Has anyone ever had a problem using plain old big box store denatured alcohol for dissolving shellac flakes?

Here’s my story: I can’t find the original source, but I know I read somewhere that it was not recommended to use any denatured alcohol as a shellac solvent that is not specifically labeled as suitable for shellac. Most of the big box stores carry brands that are not listed as shellac solvent. Last time I needed some I found some quarts at a paint store that were labeled as solvent, so I got two.

Anyway, I need more and couldn’t find any locally, so I ordered from Rockler. The gallon of Kleanstrip DA that came was not labeled for shellac (though the picture of the can on the Rockler website was.) I contacted Kleanstrip and asked about the two different labels and they were pretty evasive. All they did say was that their product was “not packaged to be used as a thinner.” Sounds to me like they do not endorse this use.

I’ve found some other products (Behkol, and BT&C) that are ~$10/QT, but I’d like to know it’s worth the extra money.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

-- John

35 replies so far

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3165 posts in 3138 days

#1 posted 12-03-2011 07:44 PM

Interesting. Turns out I use KS DA for thinning my shellac when I spray it. But I haven’t worked from chips. Maybe if you try methanol itself. I think their DA is actually ethanol with a bitterent in it.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View scottv11's profile


29 posts in 2592 days

#2 posted 12-03-2011 07:54 PM

I have always used big box DA. I don’t think I even read the label after reading it was DA. I have never had a problem. I would not use it after sitting around unsealed for a few weeks.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3000 days

#3 posted 12-03-2011 08:04 PM

My dad finished hardwood floors for a living for over 50 years. It would be fair to say he knew a thing or two about mixing shellac. He used a product called Solox. When that brand name was no longer around, he switched to S-L-X by Kleen Strip. This is now sold at Lowes and probably many other places.

I have read that S-L-X is 50% methanol and some other nasty stuff on camping and backpacking forums, but those comments were related to using S-L-X for cooking fuel. They prefer denatured ethanol for cooking. I would personally just go for the ethanol over ice and forget the stove, but thats just me :^)

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3717 days

#4 posted 12-03-2011 09:54 PM

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4950 posts in 3989 days

#5 posted 12-03-2011 10:48 PM

I use single malt scotch. That way I can drink my thinner. JOKIN’!
I’ve never had a prob with DNA. It is just too expensive now. Bought any lately?


View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2606 days

#6 posted 12-03-2011 11:12 PM

The SLX denatured alcohol is fine. It has a decent amount of methanol (making it pretty toxic) but it works just fine for thinning shellac and zinsser BIN primer if needed.

Others say to use dna with less denaturants (190 proof), but in real world use you probably won’t notice much, if any, of a difference. Kleanstrip green denatured alcohol is 190 proof and sold at the borgs, but I haven’t seen it in gallon size so I just stick with the SLX. Never a problem.

I’d not lose sleep over the type of dna used. SLX is available in gallons and not too expensive, so that’s what I use. FWIW though, the klean strip green dna is the same price in quart size, but I haven’t found it in gallons, otherwise I’d use that since it’s not as toxic.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Arminius's profile


304 posts in 3832 days

#7 posted 12-03-2011 11:31 PM

It is a little harder to brush properly, because it evaporates more quickly. The only other thing in my experience is that your ventilation must be better, due to the toxicity and potential effects.

View jmos's profile


840 posts in 2399 days

#8 posted 12-04-2011 04:35 AM

Thanks everyone. According to the MSDS the Kleanstrip SLX is 50% ethanol, about 50% methanol, and trace MIBK. The BT&C is 99.5% ethanol, which sounds good, but it is expensive.

-- John

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2606 days

#9 posted 12-04-2011 06:06 AM

Klean Strip Green is 90-100% ethanol and costs the same as slx in quarts. I wish it was available in gallons.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View jmos's profile


840 posts in 2399 days

#10 posted 12-04-2011 03:18 PM

Interesting NiteWalker, its an entirely separate website from the Kleanstrip site. In the description it specifically says “Not intended for sale or use as a thinner.” I’ve got to wonder if the MIBK is the issue. Neither the BT&C or Behkol have any MIBK as a denaturant.

Still, if folks are using the big box stuff successfully…

-- John

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4157 days

#11 posted 12-05-2011 02:19 AM

Ace Hardware offers a high ethanol denatured alcohol that makes a great shellac solvent.
It is manufactured by several sources, including Parks, for Ace Hardware.

-- 温故知新

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3000 days

#12 posted 12-05-2011 05:19 AM

By the way, I use S-L-X for my jewelry work as a solvent for boric acid de-oxidizer.
Walmart won’t sell me but one quart at a time. Apparently its one of the ingredients for cooking meth.

Kinda stupid cause I can just go next door to Home Depot and buy it by the gallon.

Even more stupid is I can buy all the peroxide and acetone I can load into the cart without a question. Thats all you need to make the explosive used by most terrorists.

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2606 days

#13 posted 12-05-2011 02:12 PM

That’s odd; not too long ago I bought 2 quarts of slx from walmart.
Maybe it’s a regional thing?

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View JimDaddyO's profile


550 posts in 3108 days

#14 posted 12-05-2011 03:17 PM

I have settled on using Methyl Hydrate. First, I an get it easily (in Canada). Second, it’s cheap (like me).

-- my blog: my You Tube channel:

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5002 posts in 2522 days

#15 posted 12-07-2011 02:28 PM

I use box store DNA, and currently that’s the Sunnyside label. I have comments from others about the Kleenstrip brand not being as good, but haven’t actually tried it myself. The Sunnyside brand works great.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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