[Histonet] Denatured Alcohol

Morken, Timothy Timothy.Morken <@t> ucsfmedctr.org
Thu May 19 18:24:31 CDT 2011

Joe, I thought only ethanol, punctilious (fancy word for pure), was controlled. If it is denatured it should not be controlled.

The "200 proof" normally means 100%, but the if the non-ethanol portion is another alcohol, then it still applies. The key is there is no water in it. I can't say I've ever heard of it being cut with kerosene! Usually it's methanol or isopropyl alcohol. 

BTW, a historical tidbit: " in the 18th century and until 1 January 1980, the United Kingdom defined alcohol content in terms of "proof spirit", which was defined as the most dilute spirit that would sustain combustion of gunpowder.[1]" (from Wikipedia)

The term originated in the 18th century, when payments to British sailors included rations of rum. To ensure that the rum had not been watered down, it was "proved" by dousing gunpowder in it, then tested to see if the gunpowder would ignite. If it did not, then the rum contained too much water and was considered to be "under proof". It was found that gunpowder would not burn in rum that contained less than 57.15% abv. Therefore, rum that contained this percentage of alcohol was defined to have "100 degrees proof".

Tim Morken
Supervisor, Histology, IPOX
UCSF Medical Center
San Francisco, CA, USA

-----Original Message-----
From: histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu [mailto:histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu] On Behalf Of Joe Nocito
Sent: Thursday, May 19, 2011 4:13 PM
To: Histonet
Subject: [Histonet] Denatured Alcohol

Greetings and Salutations Histoland,
    I have a question about denatured alcohol. I work in a government facility and absolute alcohol (200 proof) is still considered a controlled substance. This requires a monthly inventory by someone from another department.  Years ago (ok many, many years ago) I remember that 200 proof had an IRS sticker covering the cap.
    The alcohol we have is "denatured alcohol, 200 proof",  which according to the MSDS is cut with kerosene. There is no IRS sticker on the bottles.
Question #1- If the alcohol is cut with something other than ethanol, ( which usually it's cut with methanol) is it still 200 proof?
Question #2-  If it is "denatured", it is considered not suitable for drinking. If the substance is not suitable for drinking, then why would it be considered a controlled substance?
See my dilemma? We would like to get it removed from our "controlled" substance list, but we need a reliable source. The company (whom shall remain nameless because of my past history of inflaming vendors) was useless. I don't think the government accepts Wikipedia as an authoritative source. Thanks 

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