Mixing cedar chips with ethanol --- trouble?

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Hi,
I guess the question is only marginally on-topic here, but I'm sure people here know more about the chemistry of the various woods than people in a chemistry newsgroup would know the practical aspects of the various woods :)
So that's the thing. I wonder if mixing cedar chips in a 50% ethanol solution and leaving it there for a week or two (sealed) would be asking for trouble.
Would it produce toxic substances or gases? Could it simply cause an explosion due to continuous gas production as a result of some chemical reaction?
Thanks for any comments / safety tips, -Zico
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Zico,
I am not sure about the flammability of 50% ethanol, but it might be flammable on it's own. I don't think that mixing it with wood would have any reactions other it removing water from the wood. I have read about using acohols on green wood and assumed that was the purpose. I have training as an analytical chemist, but on experience in your question, other than my assumptions.
I have interested in the source of your question however.
Regards,, Al
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50% ethanol = 100 proof. I can tell you from personal mustache-flaming experience that 80 proof whiskey burns. Thus, 100 proof, or 50% alcohol, will burn, too.
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This is used in alcohol lamps. Hot and blue flame. Martin
scritch wrote:

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Zico wrote: ...

For what end purpose?
I think the premise that woodworkers inherently know more chemistry because they work wood than a chemist is flawed... :)
I had a fair amount of chemistry and minor in ChemE and have done quite a lot of woodworking and can't say as I know the absolute answer to the question.
My inclination would be there wouldn't be any gas-producing reaction from anything I can think of that would be conducive to a self-initiating event.
But, I come back to the initial question...
--
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Hehehe, you're right, of course. it was not meant as an "absolute" unconditional assumption; I guess it goes to the issue of practical knowledge; woodworking people are likely to know a variety of facts about wood, including chemistry. For a chemist, I guess one can not expect that they will know the practical details about *everything*.
Anyway, coming back to the topic...
The idea is to make tincture (you know, like you make herb tinctures for nutritional/medicinal purposes --- like chamomile, various mint herbs, linden, etc. etc.).
Obviously, the cedar tincture is not for human consumption; I'm planning to use it as insects repellent, specifically ants.
I know there's a myriad of commercial products for this, but I'm somewhat reluctant to trust those products (not their effectiveness, but rather regarding their effects on our health).
That, plus I once read (it was somewhere online, though, so credibility is not necessarily high) about cedar *oil* as being a very efficient insect repellent. Since I have not found such thing commercially, I'm guessing I could try the closest to it, which I know how to do (well, I've made my own herbs tinctures for a while --- I'm guessing/hoping the process should be similar?)
If you think there's some red flag on my assumptions regarding the use I'm planning for the cedar tincture, especially whether it may be equally harmful for our health as commercial presumably toxic products, I will sure be glad to hear some more from you guys!
Anyway, thanks for the answers so far. I will let you know how it goes (in particular, if it does explode, I will surely let you know... that is, I *hope* I'll be in shape to let you know! :) )
thanks, -Zico
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Unless you are wanting to do it yourself, you can google "cedar oil" and buy oils or extracts that are much more concerntrated than you can make on your own without doing a distillation. A likely cheaper also. I have used some to soak cedar strips in for repelling moths in closets. It wasn't very expensive.
Al
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Zico wrote:

better job of disolving the cedar oils than Ethanol. With Isopropanol, while you can not sample your raw materials you will also not have to pay the tax to the government. At one time the tax was several hundred percent of the cost of the Ethanol. ie $10 worth of Ethanal cost about $100.
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Keith Nuttle wrote:

hmmm, two things:
(1) Isn't Isopropanol a more "toxic" substance than ethanol?
I'm probably splitting hairs here, and was definitely going by pure intuition --- ethanol is what one uses for the herbal tinctures intended to be *ingested*... Isopropanol (which I'm not sure if it's exactly the same as the Isopropylic Alcohol that we buy in pharmacies?), ok, we can rub it on our skin, and it is not toxic, but as far as I know it is highly toxic if ingested, no?
(2) If I go to the Liquors store and try to buy 95% Ethanol, yes, they charge me about $100 for 1.14 litres of it ... If I go to the pharmacy and by *rubbing alcohol* that says "Ethanol 95%", then I pay $5 for 500 ml ... That's more or less the proportion that you're saying for the taxes .... BTW, I'm in Canada, so not sure if the alcohol taxes issues are exactly the same from where you're writing from --- I know the alcohol taxes here are *very* high, in any case. I wonder if that's a loophole? Or maybe the ethanol one buys from the pharmacy is not really good enough for drinking it? (I would certainly not try ingesting a single drop of that thing !!! :) )
thanks, -Zico
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Denatured alcohol is ethanol with poisons and flavorants added to discourage internal consumption. It is not subject to alcohol tax. I don't recall what I pay, but it's about $12 to $15/gallon at home centers. I use it in the shop for shellac and some cleaning.
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Zico wrote:

repellent, and my comment was based strictly on the solvent properties of the two alcohols. Isopropanol would dissolve a greater percent of the cedar oils which when evaporated would leave more cedar oils on the skin. Before he proceeds he should check the toxicity of the oils from cedar.
Isopropanol is another name for Isopropyl alcohol. Since there is an odd number of carbon atoms in the Isopropanol molecule, it is a poison like Methanol (Methyl Alcohol). Therefore, yes, it should not be taken internally. Ethanol (ethyl alcohol) which has an even number of carbon atoms in the molecule.
Isopropanol is the same as you get in the pharmacy, thought the percent water may will vary depending on the intended purpose of the alcohol.
My pricing is slightly out of date, since it is what we paid for 100%, 200 proof Ethanol when I managed a laboratory, but as every one knows taxes never go down. The price of Ethanol is also based on whether it is denatured. ie a solvent is added to the ethanol so it can not be used at a party. There are many type of solvents used as denaturants.
Do you know the most dangerous chemical in the world today? One which no one is considering regulating to prevent people form being exposed to it.
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<snip>

Dihydrogen monoxide?
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Jim Willemin wrote:

I think that it was last year that one of the more foreward thinking communities in the People's Republic of California actually got to the voting stage when someone pointed out the common name for the chemical.
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No, he didn't. He said that he wanted to use it as an insecticide for ants. I doubt to many people have problems with ants crawling on them.
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Keith Nuttle wrote:

Hmm... Big misunderstanding here! :) I am the OP (and am the same person you were replying to).
And I may have used the wrong term (English is not my native language, so misunderstandings often happen when I'm involved in a conversation in English:) ) --- but no, I meant exactly the opposite --- *not* to be used on humans... Insect repellent as in, spray it around the perimeter of th house to keep ants and other crawling insects away... as much as possible anyway. it would seem like the term "insect repellent" specifically means the mosquito-repellent type of thing?
Anyway, as you point out, yes, I would be a little scared about the effect of cedar extract/oils on my skin. I mean, maybe they're ok and 100% absolutely harmless.... but I do not know if that is the case, so I wouldn't feel like trying.
Intuitively, using it for spraying next to the house, but outdoors nonetheless, sounds harmless enough.

Polychlorinated Bipheniles?? :) (though I doubt that those are not regulated). Are you referring to DEET?
thanks, -Zico
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"Zico" wrote:

Professional exterminators have access to insectisides than can be sprayed around the foundation of a building for insects that come out of the ground.
Additionally, they also have access to insectisides that can be "painted" around the base of a room that dry and leave a residual bug poison on the floor that kills the bugs (ants) when they walk across it, get it on their legs and take some back to the nest.
Neither one are available to across the counter consumers.
Lew
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On Thu, 23 Apr 2009 19:49:32 -0400, Keith Nuttle

I thought he said for ants..??? Is that some kind of torture...???
Mike O.
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<nitpick> No chemist would call it that. The IUPAC-approved name is 2-propanol. </nitpick>

Toxicity has absolutely *nothing* to do with an odd or even number of carbon atoms in the molecule: butanol, with four carbons, is toxic. For that matter, so is ethanol -- less so than any of the other simple alcohols, but toxic just the same.
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Zico wrote:

See what's in the other 5 percent of the ethanol you get at the pharmacy. It's usually "denatured", which means that that other 5 percent is something toxic.
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quite difficult.
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