Substitute for Denatured Alcohol?

Hey there experts,  I am working on my Kaholo 12-6 hybrid and am ready to glass the hull.  The instructions call for denatured alcohol, but unfortunately that's not available here in the San Francisco Bay Area where I am building.  Talking with a few (non-boatbuilding) folks around here, they suggested TSP as a substitute.  It is an all purpose cleaner for cleaning prior to painting.  

Does anyone have experience with this as a way to clean the hull and deck prior to glassing?

Would love some input.

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RE: Substitute for Denatured Alcohol?   

This is the stuff that I am looking at

RE: Substitute for Denatured Alcohol?

Hi JoseP.

i am a bit confused by your question....but before glassing, you just sand the wood smooth with 120 grit, vacume the dust....and then right to glassing/epoxy.

denatured alcohol would be used to clean a glassed surface that has cured and is being prepared for another coat of epoxy.  it is really only needed if you have contaminated the surface. 

i have built boats without any denatured alcohol......for cleaning an epoxy/glass surface, water with some dish soap and then rinsed with fresh water will leave it clean enough for an overcoat if you need to clean it.  

i would definitely not place any colored cleaner on bare wood.


RE: Substitute for Denatured Alcohol?

Thanks @hspira, that made me relook at the instructions to realize the denatured achohol is called for as a filler clean up step only.  The boat is sanded, so I will take a crack at glassing.  Thanks for your help.

RE: Substitute for Denatured Alcohol?

   Denatured Alcohol is available on Amazon.


RE: Substitute for Denatured Alcohol?

I use denatured alcohol to clean freshly-sanded wood before glassing. Not only does it get rid of the last bits of dust that brushing, wiping and vacuuming may miss, it also cleans of fingerprints, sweat, hand oils, etc. that many times end up on wood while working in hot weather.

So, as Howard has demonstrated with his award-winning boats, denatured alcohol may not be necessary after sanding, but there's nothing with using it.

As far as California's ban goes, the important part of cleaning with denatured alcohol is the alcohol. You need something that dissolves contaminants and evaporates quickly without harming the wood or epoxy. The denaturing is so that people won't buy the cleaning (untaxed) alcohol to drink. You can get around the ban by using high proof drinking alcohol, like Everclear. Of course, that will be more expensive but the fact that it is highly taxed overrules California's concern for your health so it will be available whenever you need it.



RE: Substitute for Denatured Alcohol?

   It is sometimes listed as "stove fuel" and available in hardware and camping stores.

RE: Substitute for Denatured Alcohol?

Yeah, you could always try vodka...should be plenty of that around if they haven't already drunk it all up in San Francisco.  Na Zdorovie!  <;-)


RE: Substitute for Denatured Alcohol?

Isopropyl ought to work. Often sold with water added (along with other chemicals likely to be fragrances mostly, as 'rubbing' alcohol) try to find the highest percentage you can if you want to use it for cleaning up epoxy:

'Denatured' can be hard to come by now, being prohibited for sale in CA and some countries like Canada too. Even what's sold as 'stove fuel' may not be pure enough alcohol for working with epoxy, and may in fact be highly refined petroleum product like what's marketed by the Coleman Company as stove fuel.

A lot of the supporting documentation for working with epoxy is getting somewhat dated after a decade or three. Regulations regarding sales of chemicals to consumers can change but the stuff we look to for user tips isn't as well-funded for updates. Still, there are effective substitutes when you take time to look around & ask others what works for them.

RE: Substitute for Denatured Alcohol?

  so as I use it the DA is used to smooth out the fillets when still soft and not tacky maybe 2 hours on so that one does not need to sand the fillets smooth. Its done with gloved finger. Do not let the DA swim onto the bare wood as it will stain it darker. 

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