Denatured alcohol is ethanol (ethyl alcohol, whatcha find in booze, my friend) which has been rendered unfit for drinking by the addition of bad-tasting and poisonous chemicals. Waste of perfectly good liquor, if you ask me. I guess it's supposed to keep those lab technicians honest (and sober).

Unlike with denatured proteins or DNA, denatured alcohol hasn't been subjected to a process that causes molecular change -- it just has nasty stuff mixed into it.

There is no one additive used in producing denatured alcohol; different suppliers use different recipes. Some use methanol or isopropanol, some use gasoline.

Another name for denatured alcohol, used mostly in the UK and Australia, is methylated spirits, so called because it has methanol mixed in.

Denatured alcohol is the fuel of choice for alcohol lamps.

Denatured alcohol is also a key solvent used in a variety of printmaking endeavors because it dissolves the rosin used in aquatint and stop-out varnish.

It is also incredibly, incredibly nasty stuff. My etching professor claims that after cleaning up with it a lot back in graduate school she lost all sensation in her fingertips. I don’t know if this was just meant to scare us or was actually true, but in any case it made me treat the stuff with respect.
The standard form of denatured alcohol which is used in most chemistry labs in the UK is DEB (Denatured Ethanol B) 100, so called because it contains 100 parts per million of Bitrex, the bitterest substance known to man.

The reason this is used instead of other forms of adulteration is that this small quantity (0.01%) is 10 times more than is necessary in order to render the alcohol undrinkable, and yet is so small that the final product is essentially still pure ethanol. There are extremly few chemical procedures that require ethanol of greater purity than this, and in all of those circumstances absolute ethanol must be used.

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