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Shelf life for denatured alcohol

KiddervilleAcres's picture

Hi Everyone,

I just inherited a 5 gallon container of denatured alcohol and am curious as to its shelf life. Does anyone know the answer. I'm assuming that it should last a very long time.

Regards,

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!


Edited 6/4/2007 1:19 pm ET by KiddervilleAcres

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

YesMaam27577's picture

(post #111226, reply #1 of 20)

I guess that the answer, technically, depends on the purity of the original stuff.


But assuming that it's as good as most, then it will be good so long as it has not evaporated.


 


 


 


Support our Troops. Bring them home. Now.  And pray that at least some of the buildings in the green zone have flat roofs, with a stairway.

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EricT's picture

(post #111226, reply #2 of 20)

Bob,


I don't think it has a shelf-life.  It's the same type of alcohol that is used in booze, with some other stuff added to make it undrinkable.  I don't know how old the oldest booze was when it was drunk, but I know there are some mighty fine 20-year-old Scotches out there.


Eric

HowardAcheson's picture

(post #111226, reply #3 of 20)

It depends if it's been exposed to air and for how long. Alcohol absorbs moisture from the air and moisture will eventually cause it to be non-usable for thinning or dissolving shellac.

It's cheap, buy fresh.

Howie.........
Howie.........
JohnWW's picture

(post #111226, reply #4 of 20)

As long as the can is kept capped the only moisture that the alcohol can absorb would come from the air in the can and it wouldn't be that much.  If you wanted to eliminate even that amount you could flush the can with a dusting spray, they are moisture free.  The alcohol should be good forever.


John White, Shop Manager, Fine Woodworking Magazine

John White Shop Manager for FWW Magazine, 1998 to 2007

KiddervilleAcres's picture

(post #111226, reply #5 of 20)

Hi Folks,


Many thanks for all the replies.


The plan based on you folks inputs, is to decant it into 1 gallon containers.  Based on my consumption rate it should last quite a long time.  Not bad for free albeit DNA is relatively inexpensive but with gasoline prices as they seem to be going, I'll take it.


Now it's off to Homestead Finishing for some shellac flakes.  Gotta love it!


Thanks again,


 


Bob @ Kidderville Acres


 


A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

philip's picture

(post #111226, reply #6 of 20)

Under what circumstances have you "inherited" 5 gallons of this alcohol? This could have a direct bearing on the answer to your enquiry re the shelf life , in addition to your present rate of consumption (;)

Philip Marcou

Philip Marcou
KiddervilleAcres's picture

(post #111226, reply #7 of 20)

philip,


I run the scale at the local landfill which my company is operating for the town.  It's a restoration project and the 5 gal. container came in on one of the loads along with 6 solid core doors!  Made for a very productive day.


Being hazardous waste and very flammable we actually confiscated it.  The hazmat sticker is so old that it was coded by hand!  This stuff is very old but has never been opened.  Container is solid with no rust.


It has been raining for over a week now so I am waiting for a dry day to decant it into 1 gal. containers for storage, at least for now.  I have another gallon of DNA that will get used first.  My consumption rate, at least presently, says this will last a long time.


The doors came from a school renovation and are in mint condition.


Regards,


Bob @ Kidderville Acres


 


A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

frenchy's picture

(post #111226, reply #8 of 20)

Bob,


 I'm sorry but I go against the expert advice given here.  I'll be honest and admit that I don't know but if you look at the alcohol chain there is a light end and a heavy end..


  The heavy end will never disappear or will disappear very slowly while the light end is extremely volitile. 


  What I would do is test it first.. take some shellac flakes that you have no question about and try to disolve them.  If they disolve slowly that's your first warning.. now take that solution and paint it on a surface and watch how fast it dries.  If it takes over 15 minutes for the first coating that's your second warning.. if it takes over an hour buy new DNA.


  Others are right with regard the absorbtion of moisture and if the seal allowed any moisture in,  there is great risk that it's too badly contaminated to use..

DaveRicheson's picture

(post #111226, reply #9 of 20)

Try here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denatured_alcohol for the real scoop on denatured alcohol.


You are right in that there are light to heavey alcohols. The  heavey weights are glycerins and the waxs. The lightest weight is methanol (CH2OH). Think methane, ethane,propane,butane,pentane,hexane.heptane,octane, nonane, etc., starting with the simplest carbon hydrogen combination and add acarbon for each step up the molecular scale. All of them can be made into alcohols by adding the OH radical. Most are misable in water up to the waxy alcohols. They do not absorb water from the air, but condensation that can occure inside a can can act as a diluent for the alcohol.


 


Dave

KiddervilleAcres's picture

(post #111226, reply #10 of 20)

This stuff came from an automotive parts store that's being torn down.  It was made by Sterling Clark Lureton in Malden, MA. and the label says it's Denatured Ethyl Alcohol.


frenchy: I have some fresh shellac flakes on order and should arrive within the next few days.  I'll try your suggested tests and post the results.


Thanks to all for the info.


Regards,


Bob @ Kidderville Acres


 


A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

dherzig's picture

(post #111226, reply #11 of 20)

The possible reactions in the can could be oxidation to acetaldehyde and then to acetone and acetic acid. It could also possibly form ethyl ether from the fusion of two molecules of ethyl alcohol. I guess these reactions are possible, particularly if the metal in the can acts as a catalyst. However I don't seem them as being highly likely. I agree the best proof is in the testing. If it does what you need then it is right.


Edited 6/5/2007 10:16 pm ET by dherzig

Joe Sullivan's picture

(post #111226, reply #18 of 20)

Bob:


Wish I had been there for the doors AND the DNA.  Seems very wrong to me that such useful things would have been dumped, anyway.


BTW, I thought you were a software guy?


Joe

KiddervilleAcres's picture

(post #111226, reply #19 of 20)

Joe,


I sometimes feel like the Pied Piper when it comes to woodworking stuff.  Everyone in this small town knows I'm into it and I get all kinds of offers on some really great tools, and cheap too!


When I first started in computers, back in '67 I was into software.  Only mainframes in those days.  In '72 I was writing terminal emulators for Wang Labs., then into networking in the early eighties.  The line between hardware and software in networking is a mighty fine line, so one needs to know hardware almost as well.


Up here there are very few jobs and almost none in computers.  The scale is connected to a PC and we use DSL/Internet connections to the home networking via a VPN tunnel.   I had to set the whole thing up.


I guess I did a good job cause they hired me!  It works for me as the job will last another year and a half, then I get to work in the woodshop all day (retiring) and pester everyone here on Knots whenever I want to!


Lataxe need a compatriot on this side of the pond anyway.


Regards,



Bob @ Kidderville Acres


 


A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!


Edited 6/8/2007 11:59 am ET by KiddervilleAcres

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

Joe Sullivan's picture

(post #111226, reply #20 of 20)

My life and career have taken unforseen paths, too.  It is part of the fun of life -- or so I like to think.


J

brucet99's picture

(post #111226, reply #12 of 20)

Congratulations on your find.

Take it from this old petrochemical guy, your denatured alcohol will not go bad, it won't absorb significant amounts of water from the air, it has no "heavy ends" - just ethanol and a little butyl acetate or other chemical to render it undrinkable - it will not turn itself into any other chemicals. Depending on its intended use, your ETOH was probably sold at 95%.

If you live in a humid climate with large temperature swings, water could condense in a partially empty container and dilute the strength slightly.

KiddervilleAcres's picture

(post #111226, reply #13 of 20)

Much appreciation to all.

I have since decanted all of it into gallon glass containers which are air-tight. Also, I should be getting a fresh batch of shellac flakes in the next day or so and will test the DNA.

I know it's not a big deal as this stuff is relatively inexpensive; perhaps more of a convenience having an ample supply on hand. Being 20 miles from the nearest supplier is another consideration also.

Again, thanks for everyones help.

Regards,

Bob @ Kidderville Acres


 


A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

JohnWW's picture

(post #111226, reply #14 of 20)

Bob,


For safety, the alcohol should be in metal containers, if the glass cracks, or the jug is dropped, a full gallon of alcohol on the ground and in the air will lift your house right off its foundation if it ignites, and you will probably have the remaining four gallons nearby to add to the effect.


A local guy is in critical shape in a hospital burn unit when a gas water heater touched off paint thinner fumes a couple of days ago.  Apparently he was using the thinner to remove floor tile.  You have got to respect flammable liquids.


John W. 

John White Shop Manager for FWW Magazine, 1998 to 2007

KiddervilleAcres's picture

(post #111226, reply #15 of 20)

YIKES!

I will correct that post haste.

Thank you John,

Bob @ Kidderville Acres


 


A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

Wingdoctor's picture

(post #111226, reply #16 of 20)

In Central Ohio is is not really cheap. I just bought a gallon at Home Depot for $17.95 and tax. Gasoline is currently $3.15 or so, so it is almost 6 times the cost of gas for your car. Sounds like you got a good deal with this freebie!


Enjoy.

"A man's got to know his limitations." Dirty Harry Calahan
brucet99's picture

(post #111226, reply #17 of 20)

"In Central Ohio is is not really cheap. I just bought a gallon at Home Depot for $17.95 and tax. Gasoline is currently $3.15 or so, so it is almost 6 times the cost of gas for your car."

Cut your shellac with E-85? :)