All, Solvents

Methylated Spirits: Everything You Need to Know

Methylated Spirits

Methylated Spirits: Everything You Need to Know

Germs. Bugs. Stains. Those are some minor problems that you often have to deal with in your day-to-day activities.​

And if not controlled, they lead to illnesses or ruin your good clothes. You might then try out different products, but they don’t do the job well. Moreover, they damage the surfaces or items you’re trying to preserve, which then becomes counterproductive.

However, that doesn’t have to be the case. There’s a way to get the effect you need without compromising the integrity of your items. And that’s through methylated spirits.​

Below, you’ll see what they are and how you might use them in your activities. Read on.

Most people don’t know what’s the difference between 200 proof ethanol and some other types of the substance. In this article, we will discover just that. First, we will say a few things about pure ethanol, and then we will compare it with other liquids from this category.

What are Methylated Spirits?

Methylated spirit or denatured alcohol is a solvent comprised of 90% ethanol, 10% methanol, and other chemicals such as isopropyl alcohol, acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, and methyl isobutyl ketone. Companies add the additives into the ethanol to help make the methylated spirit unsafe for drinking by introducing an unpleasant taste, smell and causing nausea.

If consumed without them, the high alcohol concentration – up to 99% – can cause blindness, brain damage, or death. Therefore, as a preventive measure, some countries introduce a blue or pink dye through aniline into the methylated spirit to mark it. That standard helps prevent accidental consumption.

Properties of methylated spirit include high volatility, burns with a hot, pale blue flame, used as fuel. The solvent also has antibacterial properties and removes moisture from surfaces, thus killing bacteria and preventing their growth and multiplication.

How are Methylated Spirits Used?

Disinfecting Agent

Many hospitals use methylated spirit to disinfect surfaces due to its antibacterial properties. The methylated spirit acts by stopping the growth of bacteria by removing moisture and also by killing bacteria that was already present. The antibacterial properties also extend into sanitizing through the same bacterial killing actions.

Use in Cleaning

The methylated spirit is a highly volatile solvent used to clean hard surfaces such as plastic, glass, and metal. The denatured alcohol also helps dissolve stains such as glue, wax, paint, grease, red wine, and ink stains, producing excellent results if the methylated spirit is not colored.

One of the advantages of the methylated spirit is that it’s highly volatile. And thus, when cleaning mirrors or windows, it doesn’t leave streaks. Moreover, the solvent doesn’t cause damage when you use it to clean metal, as the denatured alcohol doesn’t last long enough to cause rust.

A Preservative in the Beauty Industry

The antibacterial action of methylated spirit has various uses apart from the hospital and cleaning activities. Cosmetic industries use denatured alcohol as a preservative in beauty products, thus preventing bacterial infections and the spread of pathogens.

The solvent stops bacterial growth by removing moisture from the cosmetic product. Also, it makes the environment unsuitable for bacterial growth and multiplication. Therefore, the cosmetic product doesn’t spoil, and the consumer never gets infections.

A Laboratory Preservative

Scientists need the organisms they need to study in pristine conditions over the long term. Those standards ensure accuracy in identifying, observing, and other investigations use. And among the chemical methods, the experts use to preserve the specimens is methylated spirit.

Experts recommend 70-80% ethanol for long-term preservation. Anything above that value is inefficient. The antibacterial properties kill bacteria, prevent growth, and remove moisture from cells and tissue, thus maintaining undamaged DNA.

After that, the scientists put the specimens at a cool temperature to prevent decomposition.

Use in Preserving Woodwork Items

Shellac, a varnishing resin, helps give a smooth finish to pieces of woodwork. Skilled carpenters add the methylated spirit to Shellac, creating a sticky mixture that gives a nice finish to the wood item. After application, users help protect their wood pieces from UV rays and scratches, and thus they last longer.

Used to Produce Smooth Items in Carpentry

Sanding is a technique used in carpentry to produce smooth surfaces on wood items. And for a better effect, you can take a piece of cloth soaked in methylated spirit and wipe away the sawdust after sanding. That action removes any sawdust stuck in the tiny grooves and thus a much smoother surface.

Methylated Spirit as Fuel

When used in stoves, the denatured alcohol provides a clean fire quickly put out with water, making it a safe fuel source. However, since the flame is colorless, beware not to burn yourself.

Use in Killing Bugs

The methylated spirit kills mealybugs and bed bugs due to the poisonous nature of the high ethanol percentage. And therefore, the higher the alcohol concentration, the more effective it is. Moreover, the denatured alcohol achieves that effect without damaging the plants or your beddings.

Use in Print

As a substance used in the aquatint printing process, rosin is challenging to use when it acquires moisture. The reagent becomes sticky and hard to remove. And that’s where you can use the methylated spirit to help remove the rosin by dissolving it.

Other Uses of Methylated Spirit

  1. You can use it to remove permanent marker stains from plastics.
  2. You can use it to thin paint.
  3. You can use it to clean bike disc plates.
  4. You can use it to clean electronics.
  5. You can use it for sticker and sticker residue removal

Drinking methylated spirit causes gastric disorder, central nervous system impairment, among other harmful effects, including death. Therefore, do not drink it. Also, wash your hands thoroughly after handling methylated spirits.


Methylated spirits are solvents that contain ethanol, methanol, and other toxic additives. Companies add blue or pink dyes to the denatured alcohols to mark them unfit for human consumption as the solvents pose a considerable health risk to the population.

The high volatility and toxicity contribute to the effectiveness of the solvent, depending on where it’s used. The use ranges from carpentry to hospital settings as one of the most efficacious agents.

That’s because the denatured alcohols work in a way that doesn’t destroy the item it’s applied to. Therefore, people can use the methylated spirits as cleaning, antibacterial, preservative, bug killing, printing, fuel, and wood furnishing agents.