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  #1  
Old 11-18-2008, 01:00 PM
mr. jp mr. jp is offline
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Can you drink lab alcohol?

I have heard that the 99% has impurities. But what about the 70% and the 96%?
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  #2  
Old 11-18-2008, 01:19 PM
sweeteviljesus sweeteviljesus is offline
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My old math tutor who was a grad student in chemistry used to pour a little reagent-grade ethanol into his coke. He told me that the current process for producing it caused it to be no more toxic than ethanol.

FWIW,
Rob
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  #3  
Old 11-18-2008, 01:24 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Yes you can unless it is one of the denatured versions. Mix it with water and you have Vodka.
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Old 11-18-2008, 01:25 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Originally Posted by sweeteviljesus View Post
He told me that the current process for producing it caused it to be no more toxic than ethanol.

FWIW,
Rob
It usually is ethanol (aka drinking alcohol) at least in the labs I worked in.
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  #5  
Old 11-18-2008, 01:26 PM
WarmNPrickly WarmNPrickly is offline
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It depends on how it was purified, and whether or not it has been denatured. Sometimes they actually add stuff to make it undrinkable. The 95% stuff is usually OK. My parents were grad students in the 60's and they said that occasionally they had parties where that was served. It's definitely not something that is done regularly these days. It certainly isn't done "above the table" the way my parents describe it. They said somebody ran it through a GC before using it.
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  #6  
Old 11-18-2008, 01:27 PM
CC CC is offline
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By "lab alcohol" I'm guessing you're referring to ethyl alcohol. Methyl alcohol is also used in labs. It causes death when swallowed in any appreciable quantities. If you're going to be dabbling in laboratory bartending (),be sure you have the "right" lab alcohol. xo, C.
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  #7  
Old 11-18-2008, 01:46 PM
flight flight is offline
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In the lave I work in we recently needed to acquire several 55 gallon drums of 200 proof non-denatured alcohol. Yes you can drink it. The paperwork you have to go through to get it will make you need a drink too.
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  #8  
Old 11-18-2008, 01:50 PM
Interconnected Series of Tubes Interconnected Series of Tubes is offline
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Originally Posted by flight View Post
In the lave I work in we recently needed to acquire several 55 gallon drums of 200 proof non-denatured alcohol. Yes you can drink it. The paperwork you have to go through to get it will make you need a drink too.
200-proof? As in, anhydrous EtOH? I was under the impression "pure" ethanol readily reached 95% equilibrium with the water vapor in the atmosphere.
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Old 11-18-2008, 02:20 PM
si_blakely si_blakely is offline
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The other risk with pure ethanol is the fact that people do not think about how strong it is, add too much, and then you have multiple cases of alcohol poisoning. It's easy to get something that tastes like coke but has the alcohol content of a spirit.

Labs have fairly strict controls on non-denatured ethanol, and use denatured ethanol (if they can) because it is less hassle to manage and removes temptation.

That was certainly the case in the labs I've spent time in, anyhow.

Si
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  #10  
Old 11-18-2008, 02:27 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Originally Posted by Interconnected Series of Tubes View Post
200-proof? As in, anhydrous EtOH? I was under the impression "pure" ethanol readily reached 95% equilibrium with the water vapor in the atmosphere.
99% ETOH is used in labs as well and easy to order in smaller quantities.
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  #11  
Old 11-18-2008, 02:31 PM
Cluricaun Cluricaun is offline
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Originally Posted by Interconnected Series of Tubes View Post
200-proof? As in, anhydrous EtOH? I was under the impression "pure" ethanol readily reached 95% equilibrium with the water vapor in the atmosphere.
Previous thread about that.
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  #12  
Old 11-18-2008, 03:44 PM
Rick Rick is offline
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Originally Posted by si_blakely View Post
The other risk with pure ethanol is the fact that people do not think about how strong it is, add too much, and then you have multiple cases of alcohol poisoning. It's easy to get something that tastes like coke but has the alcohol content of a spirit.

Labs have fairly strict controls on non-denatured ethanol, and use denatured ethanol (if they can) because it is less hassle to manage and removes temptation.

That was certainly the case in the labs I've spent time in, anyhow.

Si
So back when I was in college, we bagged some pure ethanol from the lab. My buddy drove me to the dorm to drop me off.
I took about a 50ml hit as I got out of the car. I was immediately as thirsty as I have ever been. By the time I got to the front door, I felt drunk off my ass. Straight to the drinking fountain. Finally my mouth didn't feel like cotton.
About 15 minutes after that I felt sober again.
I strongly advise against drinking this stuff straight.
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  #13  
Old 11-18-2008, 03:50 PM
Jelymag Jelymag is offline
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I've never gotten the non-denatured kind. And you wouldn't believe the number of morons posing as scientists that think "Ain't all alcohols the same?"
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  #14  
Old 11-18-2008, 09:46 PM
sinusoidal sinusoidal is offline
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Part of the caution may be due to the fact that one of the methods for breaking the water/ethanol azeotrope involves using benzene. If you're going to try this, be sure you know the purity and what the production method was.
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  #15  
Old 11-18-2008, 09:50 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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When we needed it in the paper conservation lab I interned in, my boss went to the liquor store and bought Everclear. It worked for what we needed it for and it was a lot cheaper and less hassle, but she had to submit expense reports for cheap liquor.
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  #16  
Old 11-18-2008, 09:56 PM
WarmNPrickly WarmNPrickly is offline
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I would simply say that you shouldn't try it. There is no point. It's likely to be OK, but I don't see the entertainment value. That much alcohol could only poison you. Beer, wine and liquer are readily available and taste better. If you must, you can get Everclear. I had a bottle of Everclear once, but I used it to fuel my spark ignited Kenny rocket. I didn't drink it.
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  #17  
Old 11-18-2008, 10:23 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Originally Posted by WarmNPrickly View Post
I would simply say that you shouldn't try it. There is no point. It's likely to be OK, but I don't see the entertainment value. That much alcohol could only poison you. Beer, wine and liquer are readily available and taste better. If you must, you can get Everclear. I had a bottle of Everclear once, but I used it to fuel my spark ignited Kenny rocket. I didn't drink it.
I agree. I have only touched lab grade ethanol to my tongue and there is no way you could drink it straight. It is just vodka without much water in it. Anything you made a mixed drink with it is basically the same thing as any other super high-proof alcohol like Everclear. Once you mix it with anything, there is no point as long as you know the right ratios of ethanol to the mixers.
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  #18  
Old 11-18-2008, 10:55 PM
amarone amarone is offline
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Originally Posted by WarmNPrickly View Post
I would simply say that you shouldn't try it. There is no point.
When I was a PhD student we had parties in which we used lab alcohol to make punch. The "point" was that it was massively cheaper than buying vodka. As I recall, a Winchester (2.5 litres) cost less than £1. Not that you could buy it as an individual - the cost was booked to the lab which made it free, if dishonest. But as the lecturers (professors, in American terms) who ran the labs were throwing the parties, we didn't feel bad about it.
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  #19  
Old 11-18-2008, 11:15 PM
WarmNPrickly WarmNPrickly is offline
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Now that sounds like what my parents went through. If it's mixed properly for lots of people and by people that aren't likely to make it too strong, then it's not too much of a problem, but a couple guys with a gallon of ethanol is nothing short of dangerous. The sort of thing you describe never happened at my school as far as I know. There was plenty of drunkeness, but not using the lab alcohol.
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  #20  
Old 11-19-2008, 12:07 AM
lazybratsche lazybratsche is offline
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My bioorganic chemistry prof went off on an entertaining tangent about that...

Basically, you don't want to touch the anyhydrous (100%) stuff. To get it past 95%, the process involves addition of benzene and further distillation. You *really* don't want to drink even trace amounts of benzene.

According to him, however, the non-denatured 70% and 95% stuff was just fine. Though you should never drink that. But it would be fine if you did. It's illegal, you see, because it's licensed for laboratory use. But if you had to...

Personally, if I saw a need for this, I wouldn't touch anything denatured, anhydrous, or technical grade. The molecular biology grade stuff we use would be fine, but it's expensive enough to make the whole thing rather silly.
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  #21  
Old 11-19-2008, 09:27 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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What lazybratsche said makes sense. It is the stuff they add to get the last 4-5% of water out that makes it toxic. However I do remember we had a 5-litre flask of HPLC-grade alcohol in our house at university which we drank (over the course of a year). My memory is hazy as to whether it was the anhydrous or not - I do remember studying the impurities statement on the label for any evidence of benzene and I'm sure I wouldn't have drunk it if there was any....

On the other hand, I'm now slightly concerned :|
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  #22  
Old 11-19-2008, 09:35 AM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia View Post
When we needed it in the paper conservation lab I interned in, my boss went to the liquor store and bought Everclear. It worked for what we needed it for and it was a lot cheaper and less hassle, but she had to submit expense reports for cheap liquor.
Huh, I never pictured you as a Clemson grad.

:d&r as fast as I can:
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  #23  
Old 11-19-2008, 09:48 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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The 99% ethanol we used at my University had liquor control tax stamps pasted across the top of the bottle precisely because you could use it for drinking. And this was in Utah, where the temptation must have been strong. I never tried it myself


There was a story about some grad student who mixed the stuff with his non-alcoholic drink, and was found passed out in his office.



Heck, in my home town in New Jersey, back during Prohibition, there was a ring that purchased denatued alcohol. distilled out the alcohol (leaving the denaturing elements mostly behind, and sold the result to New York speakeasies. People will drink anythin -- and any acetone or benzene that remained in THAT stuff had to be worse that any residuum in mosern 99% alcohol.
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  #24  
Old 11-19-2008, 03:25 PM
davekhps davekhps is offline
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You *really* don't want to drink even trace amounts of benzene.
Why not? It's what makes Perrier tingle on your tongue. :-)

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpag...51C0A966958260
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  #25  
Old 11-19-2008, 03:32 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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Originally Posted by Cluricaun View Post
Interesting. My folks have alcohol (Polish Spirytus) which claims to be 96% alcohol (192 proof). If you click on the Download Sale Sheet, you can see the label is marked 96%. Then there's this German stuff which claims to be 96.5% alcohol. Are these just mislabeled, or can you go above the 95% limit?

Last edited by pulykamell; 11-19-2008 at 03:32 PM..
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  #26  
Old 11-19-2008, 04:58 PM
brossa brossa is offline
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At my med school the cadavers are preserved in 95% EtOH rather than formaldehyde. The bodies are kept in big stainless-steel 'coffins' with about 5" of alcohol at the bottom. The cadaver is on a perforated steel platform that is cranked in and out of the alcohol. +/- 32 cadavers, each in about 6 cubic feet of alcohol. Needless to say, there were drums and drums of the stuff in the basement, under lock and key, and the med students were no longer allowed to 'top off' their tanks from the storage drums.

The stuff was 95% - it couldn't be denatured because we were elbow-deep in it for weeks and weeks.
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  #27  
Old 11-19-2008, 05:38 PM
si_blakely si_blakely is offline
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Originally Posted by brossa View Post
At my med school the cadavers are preserved in 95% EtOH rather than formaldehyde.
Legend claims that Lord Nelson was stored in a full brandy barrel for the trip from Trafalgar to Gibraltar, where he was stored in Surgical Spirits. And the brandy had to be regularly topped up due to syphoning by sailors

Si
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  #28  
Old 11-19-2008, 06:27 PM
griffin1977 griffin1977 is offline
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You can indeed use the ETHANOL based lab alcohol, in mixed drinks relatively safely. However alot of it is METHANOL based. This distinction cost someone at the research lab I worked at when I was younger his eye sight.
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  #29  
Old 11-19-2008, 06:31 PM
An Gadaí An Gadaí is offline
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There was a trend for ether drinking in Ulster in the 19th century. Completely off the main topic but what would drinking ether do to you?
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  #30  
Old 11-19-2008, 06:36 PM
Zany Zeolite Zipper Zany Zeolite Zipper is offline
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Originally Posted by Colophon View Post
What lazybratsche said makes sense. It is the stuff they add to get the last 4-5% of water out that makes it toxic. However I do remember we had a 5-litre flask of HPLC-grade alcohol in our house at university which we drank (over the course of a year). My memory is hazy as to whether it was the anhydrous or not - I do remember studying the impurities statement on the label for any evidence of benzene and I'm sure I wouldn't have drunk it if there was any....

On the other hand, I'm now slightly concerned :|
You don't need to break the azeotrope with benzene anymore, a 3A or 4A molecular sieve will do the trick. Actually, I think we've had the sieves since the 60's or 70's, so it has been possible since time immemorial to get 200 proof without benzene.

Edit: What I mean is that I have seen a lot of molecular sieves for industrial work patented in the 60s and 70s. I have no idea when they were discovered/invented

Last edited by Zany Zeolite Zipper; 11-19-2008 at 06:39 PM..
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  #31  
Old 11-19-2008, 06:55 PM
seodoa seodoa is online now
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Originally Posted by si_blakely View Post
Legend claims that Lord Nelson was stored in a full brandy barrel for the trip from Trafalgar to Gibraltar, where he was stored in Surgical Spirits. And the brandy had to be regularly topped up due to syphoning by sailors

Si
People drink Mezcal with dead larvae in it. They even brag about it. Here in Japan you can get liquor with dead hornets or snakes in the bottle. I'm sure a Lord Nelson infusion in alcohol would be just fine.

I wonder if that could legally be argued as cannibalism... Time to find a country with anti-eating-people laws and disturb a few lawyers.
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  #32  
Old 11-19-2008, 07:06 PM
WarmNPrickly WarmNPrickly is offline
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Originally Posted by Zany Zeolite Zipper View Post
You don't need to break the azeotrope with benzene anymore, a 3A or 4A molecular sieve will do the trick. Actually, I think we've had the sieves since the 60's or 70's, so it has been possible since time immemorial to get 200 proof without benzene.

Edit: What I mean is that I have seen a lot of molecular sieves for industrial work patented in the 60s and 70s. I have no idea when they were discovered/invented

These seives were standard in my lab. They are easily ordered and used by anyone. Dry them in the oven at 300˚C and your good to go. I wanted mine really dry, so I cooked them with a flame under a high vacuum. I agree, the benzene azeotrope is no longer used to dehydrate alcohol. Seives are cheeper in the long run and you have fewer environmental regulations to deal with.
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