Sciencemadness Discussion Board

Crown Denatured Alchohol from Lowes: Wth?

jgourlay - 20-2-2014 at 05:06

The boy is on the his "distallation of ethanol lab". He pours the Crown Denatured Alchohol into the boiling flask and puts in some water (70/30 mix by volume). Now, to me, it looks a little orangey. But I'm near sighted, it 8 pm at night outside after a really long day, so I don't pay a lot of attention.

Soon after lighting the alchohol lamp, there is clearly something not right. That orangish tint starts to flocculate (?). That seems the best term for it. Then the flocculatation congeals into a gelatiny looking orange ball in the middle of the simmering liquid.

Didn't interfere with the results or the run. this RUST? Do these metal cans with alchohol rust inside? Or coudl this be the whatever the hell they put in it to keep you from drinking it? Something else?

We saved afterwards...can we test it?

blogfast25 - 20-2-2014 at 06:09

Quote: Originally posted by jgourlay  
Or coudl this be the whatever the hell they put in it to keep you from drinking it? Something else?

We saved afterwards...can we test it?

That seems to be the most likely explanation.

macckone - 20-2-2014 at 09:08

According to the MSDS nothing of the nature you describe should be in Crown Denatured Alcohol.

There are two varieties of that product listed in the lowes
database (as well as the quart vs gallon sizes of those products).

One is about 90 - 95% ethanol with 5 - 10% isopropanol.

The other is junk:

65-75% METHANOL (67-56-1)[200-659-6]
20-30% ETHANOL (64-17-5)[200-578-6]
0-10% METHYL ISOBUTYL KETONE (108-10-1)[203-550-1]
0-10% ISOPROPANOL (67-63-0)[200-661-7]

Might as well be called contaminated methanol.
I suspect you have the later kind and the impurities are
from the manufacture of one of the ingredients.

Better off buying the boy some vodka. Less contaminants.

jgourlay - 20-2-2014 at 10:03


Thanks for that. I was always told that "Denatured Alchohol" ALWAYS meant "ethanol". I'm very glad you've schooled me on that!

blogfast25 - 20-2-2014 at 10:35

Quote: Originally posted by macckone  
Better off buying the boy some vodka. Less contaminants.

Or do a bit of home brewing/distilling. With pure sugar (correct g/L)/yeast you get to 13 % in about 3 weeks. Then moonshine to 95 % alcohol.

ZIGZIGLAR - 20-2-2014 at 13:51

Did you ask the person performing the experiment any questions? Precipitation of an orange substance could mean so many things, especially if he added anything else to the reaction. Could be Fluorescein, which is a common colourant used in denatured alcohol (in leiu of other dyes).

Also, please note that a manufacturer is NOT required by law to list NON toxic substances present in their product if they represent below 1% of the total solution. Considering they only need like 0.0001% Flourescein for it to be effective, it could very well be that. Also, plese note that there is probably Denatonium Benzoate and possibly Brucine Sulfate present at well below 1% concentrations.

I'm not sure what qualitative tests you could run to analyse the yellow substance, other than a Raman or Cromatography, I guess.

If it is being purified to be consumed, I'd reconsider. Separation of methanol from ethanol in denatured alcohol is not something that can be achieved reliabily by distillation. Perhaps if you had a really efficient column with variable reflux and really knew what you were doing and you were prepared to discard a lot of the product ...

macckone - 21-2-2014 at 10:12

Considering the likely low quality of the product as an industrial cleaner, I would consider contamination from feedstock more likely than additives. Although given the color it could be Flourescein.
I am not sure why they would add it at a low concentration though.
Usually it is added to a sufficient quantity to give a distinct color.
You are correct that non-toxic additives (ie. GRAS list chemicals) are not required to be listed on an MSDS but given the solvent use of
denatured ethanol for painting, anything that would effect the final color of the paint is probably not going to be added.