Denatured alcohol

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Clear, colorless liquid composed of ethanol mixed with a toxic denaturant. The added denaturant makes the alcohol unfit for consumption. Examples of denaturants are methanol, Benzol, Ether, tert-butanol, Gasoline, Methyl isobutyl ketone, Pyridine or brucine. Denatured alcohol is sold as a shellac thinner, but some denaturants may effect the quality of other varnishes. Denatured alcohol is exempt from many of the taxes placed on alcoholic beverages.

Synonyms and Related Terms

methylated spirit (Br.); reagent alcohol; denatured spirits, denatured ethanol


  • Toxic by ingestion.
  • Inhalation and contact cause irritation.
  • Dangerous fire hazard when exposed to flames. Flash point = 13C.
  • Chemtel: SDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

Miscible with water, acetone, ether, benzene

CAS 64-17-5
Melting Point -114 C
Density 0.8 g/ml
Boiling Point 78 C

Resources and Citations

  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • Reed Kay, The Painter's Guide To Studio Methods and Materials, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1983
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993