Solvent for Shellac


I've never mixed shellac from flakes before, and decided to get some and try it.
All the literature I've seen advises using denatured alcohol to mix it up with, and I made a mistake and bought Isopropyl alcohol.
Does anyone know if isoproply will act the same as denatured, or should I go back to the store and get the right stuff?
TIA
Tanus
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According to my copy of Understanding Wood Finishing by Bob Flexner, you can use just about any kind of alcohol (methanol, ethanol, or isopropanol) to dissolve shellac. As you may know, denatured alcohol is just ethanol that has been made poisonous to avoid liquor taxes. Flexner states that the advantages of denatured alcohol are that is cheap, less harmful to the enviroment than other solvents, and it evaporates more slowly than methanol, giving you more time to brush the shellac. Actually, isopropyl is even better in this regard, as it evaporates even more slowly than ethanol.
Bottom line, you should be fine.
todd
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todd wrote:

Thanks, todd. I'll end up getting the denatured anyway, but I'll try the IPA as well.
Tanus
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This is not my area of expertise but I would not use drugstore Isopropyl. (I use that stuff all the time to clean recording equipment and such). Even the "lab grade" stuff has 9% water in it. AFAIK "Denatured" alcohol contains no water, save that which has coalesced into it from the atmosphere.
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99% isopropanol is readily available. Since ethanol is very hygroscopic, I wonder how long it takes to get to the same water content when exposed to the air.
todd
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todd wrote:

Very little time.
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Sun, Sep 10, 2006, 10:20am (EDT-1) snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com (todd) doth speaketh: <snip> ethanol is very hygroscopic, I wonder how long it takes to get to the same water content when exposed to the air.
No prob. Use Everclear. When the project is done, safely and sanely dispose of the leftover. Get a new supply next project. No prob.
JOAT I am not paranoid. I do not "think" people are after me. I "know" damn well they're after me.
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Printer Supply store has 99%IPA in 1 or 5 gallon cans.

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"Tanus" wrote in message

As Todd said, isopropyl will work fine, but if you can stick to the 99% variety, which may be even better in certain circumstances, such as when spraying on high humidity days.
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Shellac is most commonly dissolved in denatured alcohol which is ethanol with some denaturant that is poisonous but still appropriate to the application. For shellac we prefer, as denaturants, a small amount of methanol (less than 5%, I believe, I don't have that spec handy) and another small dose of isopropyl added to keep you from drinking it (and thus avoiding paying all those sin taxes to the Feds.) But shellac will dissolve in other alcohols and even acetone and those will effect the drying time of the solution. Acetone dries way fast and isopropyl dries much more slowly and is often added as a drying retardant for spraying. If you use isopropyl, get the highest percentage you can find as most rubbing-alcohol types have too much water in them.
Hardware store denatured alcohol works well with shellac but contains 5% or more water. Water and alcohol love each other and are hard to separate. In fact, if you mix equal parts water and alcohol, you'll get about 4% less than double the amount of mixture because they combine so intimately. The water in denatured alcohol can inhibit the dissolving of the flakes and slow the dry-time of the finish. Therefore, we offer anhydrous denatured alcohol which has had most of its water removed (it's very costly to get it all) for the demanding finisher. Also, alcohol loves water so much it will absorb it from the air any chance you give it so keep your containers of alcohol and your freshly mixed shellac tightly sealed.
Tanus wrote:

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I'll take your word for most of this but 1+1=1.96?

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Sun, Sep 10, 2006, 8:13pm (EDT+4) snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net (CW) doth wistfully query: I'll take your word for most of this but 1+1=1.96?
New math. Guaranteed 96% accurate.
JOAT I am not paranoid. I do not "think" people are after me. I "know" damn well they're after me.
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CW wrote:

Yep. More or less but always < 2
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Volume, weight or mass?

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Volume.
It's a little harder to change the mass. I guess my OP should have said "equal volumes" instead of equal "parts". "Parts" being too ambiguous for this forum.
This from wikipedia:
"Several unusual phenomena are associated with mixtures of ethanol and water. Ethanol-water mixtures have less volume than their individual components: a mixture of equal volumes ethanol and water has only 96% of the volume of equal parts ethanol and water, unmixed. The addition of even a few percent of ethanol to water sharply reduces the surface tension of water. This property partially explains the tears of wine phenomenon: when wine is swirled inside a glass, ethanol evaporates quickly from the thin film of wine on the wall of the glass. As its ethanol content decreases, its surface tension increases, and the thin film beads up and runs down the glass in channels rather than as a smooth sheet."
CW wrote:

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: I'll take your word for most of this but 1+1=1.96?
No, 1.92 (four percent of 2 is .08).
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BTW Andy, where's my fifty bucks?
wrote:

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