Denatured Alcohol VS Mineral Spirits – Which One to Choose

denatured alcohol vs mineral spirits

If you are into woodworking, you have probably had to think about denatured alcohol vs mineral spirits at some point. Even though they are both great, they have unique strengths and limitations. A major point for choosing between denatured alcohol and mineral spirits is considering its effect on the stained surface.

How is denatured alcohol different from mineral spirits? Denatured alcohol is alcohol with additives that make it poisonous. Mineral spirits, on the other hand, comes from petroleum. They are both solvents but mineral spirits do not mix with water. The popular names for denatured alcohol include; ‘wood alcohol’ and ‘methylated spirit.’ Popular names for mineral spirits include; ‘paint thinner’ and ‘mineral turpentine.’

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The terms denatured alcohol and mineral spirits are often interchanged.

Different countries use different names for the same product. Most people use the term ‘spirit’ to describe any distilled solvent.

What Does Denatured Alcohol Mean?

Denatured alcohol is ethanol. It is alcohol that is unfit for human consumption because it has certain chemicals.

Denaturing alcohol means removing some of its properties. Denatured alcohol has ethyl alcohol because it is not chemically altered.

When answering the question ‘What does denatured alcohol mean?’ the question ‘why?’ is obvious.

What is the point of making alcohol toxic? Pure alcohol is taxable. If it was in household products, people would easily abuse it.

The color of denatured alcohol is usually different from pure alcohol.

There are plenty of ways to denature alcohol, usually, this alcohol contains at least five percent of methanol. Methanol is highly toxic if it gets in contact with the skin.

Even though the main additive is methanol, denatured alcohol may also have isopropyl alcohol, methyl ethyl ketone, or other substances.

While ethanol comes from vegetables, fruits, and grains, methanol comes from wood stock.

If you consume denatured alcohol, you will experience the side effects of other chemicals in the mixture.

The effects depend on the denaturing agents and chemicals. Some of the most common effects include; an increased risk of cancer and organ damage.

Methanol may lead to death or permanent blindness. You should not attempt to consume it.

What Can You Use in Place of Denatured Alcohol?

If you have trouble finding denatured alcohol, there are plenty of alternatives that you may use.

What can you use in place of denatured alcohol? Some of the options include; methanol, acetone, grain alcohol, and absolute isopropyl alcohol.

Your choice should depend on how you want to use it. Absolute isopropyl alcohol may only be available with a permit.

99% isopropyl alcohol is a good substitute but its drying time is longer than denatured alcohol.

Lacquer thinner may be an appropriate choice if you are looking to thin epoxy.

Depending on the formulation, it may leave behind an oily, unpleasant residue. The residue prevents the epoxy from bonding.

As a rule, avoid any petroleum-based alternatives when applying epoxy.

However, you may use them towards the finish stage. Water and alcohol-based cleaners are the best options.

What is Mineral Spirits?

Mineral spirits is a by-product of petroleum. It is of great use to cleaners, mechanics, and painters.

It is a powerful cleansing and degreasing agent for machinery. It can clean oil and chemical grease.

The spirit is great for washing away grime and dirt from metallic parts.

It can dissolve dried paint from metal to preserve its appearance and quality.

Mineral spirits is great for cleaning paint brushes and wooden furniture.

A small amount of mineral spirits can clean and polish furniture that has a layer of varnish, shellac, or lacquer.

When used on tiles, it can clear scratches and skid marks.

When painting, it is great for erasing mistakes. When combined with cutting oil, mineral spirits is a good lubricant for cutting threads.

Mineral spirits is a good substitute for turpentine.

Painters can use it to dilute paint. Unlike turpentine, it does not have a strong odor and is not as flammable.

Mineral spirits does not cause nausea or breathing problems. It is a lot cheaper than turpentine as a paint thinner.

What Can Be Used Instead of Mineral Spirits?

If mineral spirits is not available in your area, you have plenty of alternatives.

What can be used instead of mineral spirits? Some of the best alternatives include; denatured alcohol, turpentine, acetone, and charcoal lighter fluid.

Mineral Spirits vs Denatured Alcohol to Clean Wood

Both mineral spirits and denatured wood are appropriate for cleaning wood.

You may use either one of them to clean wood before treating it with stain, paint, or shellac.

Cleaning Wood with Mineral Spirits

Pour a small amount of mineral spirits on a lint-free rag. Use the rag to wipe the wood in slow and even strokes.

Do not scrub.

If you are cleaning wood using mineral spirits, switch to a clean part of the rag as you pick up debris.

You may need to use a few rags to complete the job. Make sure that you have removed all the sawdust.

Use a clean rag to remove any mineral spirits that may be remaining on the wood surface.

You may use mineral spirits between coats of polyurethane.

Get rid of all residue before moving to the next coat. The coat should be dry before you start sanding.

You don’t need a lot of mineral spirits to clean up the debris. Mineral spirits takes 15 to 20 minutes to dry.

The time depends on the temperature. Take into account the needs of your project before proceeding to the next step.

Your wood should appear dry once the mineral spirits dissolves.

Cleaning Wood with Denatured Alcohol

Wear a pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands. Use denatured alcohol in a well-ventilated space.

Use turpentine to clean your wood. It will get rid of sealing wax and dirt.

Apply denatured alcohol to a paintbrush and use it to brush your wood. The shine should dissolve immediately.

If, however, it starts to cloud and soften, you need to mix your denatured alcohol with an equal part of lacquer thinner.

Paint a thick layer of alcohol thinner onto the wood. Use steel wool to scrub off the stripping compound.

Wipe off the stripping compound and shiny finish off the wood before it dries.

A gentle rub with denatured alcohol is enough to remove paint or fingernail polish from wood.

‘Is denatured alcohol the same as mineral spirits?’ the answer is no. Even though you may use them for similar functions, they are different.

When thinking about mineral spirits vs denatured alcohol to clean wood, you must understand their differences.

Denatured Alcohol vs Mineral Spirits

When choosing a solvent, you must consider your needs.

I find that both denatured alcohol and mineral spirits have unique benefits.

Most painters prefer mineral spirits because of its versatility and functionality. It is affordable, not so sticky, and its odor is not as offensive as turpentine.

Denatured alcohol is great for cleaning wooden surfaces and paintbrushes. It is very efficient as a cleaning agent.

Denatured alcohol is a toxic chemical so you must be careful when buying it.

The right supplier should have the right environmental accreditations. It is extremely flammable and toxic.

If you inhale it in a poorly-ventilated environment, it can cause dizziness and other health complications.

To find a good cleaning agent, you must depend on trial and error.

Note that what works for one person may not work for another.

I recently wrote an article on How Do Hinges Work (With Examples). Read it here.

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