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MMD > Archives > August 2005 > 2005.08.31 > 06Prev  Next


Cleaning Wood - Alcohol
By Jan Kijlstra

Bruce Mercer wrote in the MMD of 30 August 2005:

> The only kind of alcohol you want to use is denatured alcohol.
> It has _no_ water in it. This is also what should be used to clean
> Edison Diamond Discs.  Never use anything else containing any
> amount of water on these discs. Any hardware store will carry it.

The most common alcohol we know is ethanol (CH3-CH2-OH, also written as
C2H5OH).  Although a higher grade can be achieved by over-distilling,
pure ethanol normally consists of 96% alcohol and 4% water.

Ethanol is a cheap product to make.  Yet it's a quite expensive product
to buy, due to taxes.  Therefore it's cheaper to buy a bottle of
whisky.  Does taste a lot better also.

However, ethanol (and in fact all alcohols) are very useful in chemical
processes and products, most in bulk-processing.  Ethanol is too
expensive for almost every process.  The solution is to convert the
pure ethanol in a denatured alcohol (and forget most of the taxes).

This can be done in many ways.  Over here in Europe almost every
country has its own method.  Methanol is very often used.  Methanol
also is an alcohol.  The strongest methanol is 96%, with 4% water,
just like ethanol.

Denatured alcohol is a lot cheaper.  However, it is in no way
consumable, unless you want to die quickly and painfully.

So denatured alcohol is not free of water.  It has water in it, as
well.  It's not the amount of water -- it's the price that makes the
choice.  It is possible that a denatured alcohol is colored, mostly
blue, to make a visible difference with ethanol.  I would not use this
type for cleaning wood, since it might leave a blue residue on the
surface.

Since any denatured alcohol will be made by adding other stuff to it
I would not use it for cleaning purposes in general.  A non-colored
type on wood: maybe, after testing on non-critical places.

On plastics (from lenses to old records) I would only use pure ethanol,
despite the price.  You will need a small amount, so the price will not
hurt a lot.  And you are sure that the alcohol will vapourize 100%,
without leaving anything at all.

Jan Kijlstra


(Message sent Wed 31 Aug 2005, 13:47:39 GMT, from time zone GMT+0200.)

Key Words in Subject:  Alcohol, Cleaning, Wood

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