What is Denatured Alcohol?

Published on February 5th, 2013 Denatured Alcohol ImageIt is a common question, what is denatured alcohol? Denatured Alcohol is ethanol (ethyl alcohol) that has been made unfit for human consumption by the addition of another chemical to it. The property of alcohol that makes it drinkable is removed, this is what denaturing refers to, not the chemical alteration of the alcohol or decomposing it.

How is Alcohol Denatured?

There are many different ways that ethanol is denatured, hundreds in fact. The purpose of denatured alcohol is to use it as a fuel or solvent that contains over 5% methanol. Methanol which is highly toxic can be absorbed across the skin, it is flammable and has a boiling point that is close to ethanol. This is why it is not recommended to use denatured alcohol for bath products or perfumes because it is unclear what has been added to the ethanol and can cause safety issues. Denatured alcohol is often used within cosmetics that contains water and other agents such as Bitrex or Aversion. Many countries will color denatured alcohol blue or purple using an aniline dye. This is done in order to distinguish it from consumption-grade ethanol.

Common Uses for Denatured Alcohol

  • Sanding Aide
  • Solvent
  • Fuel
  • Glass
  • Printing
  • Cosmetics

What Effects Does the Consumption of Denatured Alcohol Have?

Denatured Alcohol is not for human consumption and can be dangerous. Denatured alcohol is often combined with methanol. When Methanol is ingested it can cause blindness or even death. If you or a loved one has consumed denatured alcohol or methanol seek medical attention immediately.  
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