RE: solvents from Wal-Mart

From:Mark Ray <>

Dear Sam,

I was unable to locate my ATF guide to denatured alcohol formulations, but
let me point out that the term "Reagent Alcohol" is a controlled
appellation defined in the Code of Federal Regulations.  It consists
approximately of:
Ethanol 91%
Isopropanol 4.5%
Methanol 4.5%
It does not contain Methyl Isobutyl Ketone or any other denaturant.  It has
generally been found to be satisfactory in Histology applications.

Another alcohol used by some Histology labs is Denatured Ethanol A-2 which
consists of:
Ethanol 82%
Methanol 17%
Methyl Isobutyl Ketone 1%
This may also be the product sold in retail outlets. 

Hope this clears things up.

Mark Ray
EK Industries

> [Original Message]
> From: <>
> Cc: <>
> Date: 11/14/00 8:02:43 PM
> Subject: solvents from Wal-Mart
> Alcohol from Wal-Mart? When all else fails, read the label, which should 
> state whether the alcohol is 95% or absolute alcohol.
> There is no single "denatured" alcohol - there are at least 40 denaturing 
> formulas approved by - I think it's the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and 
> Firearms (Treasury) - with everything from poisons to bad smells to yucky 
> looking dyes. The "reagent alcohol" commonly used in histology is S3DA 
> modified (90% ethanol, 5% methanol, 5% isopropanol), with denaturation
> methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK) also used (acceptable if you can stand the 
> smell). Alcohol denatured with acetone is unsuitable for histologic
> "Rubbing alcohol" is usually 70% isopropanol, 30% water.
> Alcohol from the liquor store? That's going to be 95%, and you have to
> the very high beverage alcohol tax on it. (A few labs use pure ethanol,
> are required to maintain security procedures and to undergo BATF
> The hospital pharmacy needs a large secure storage space to make this 
> practical.)
> Xylene at Lowe's? I don't know anything about specifying xylene.
> We pay inflated prices for ordinary products when we use them in the
> care world. Circumventing this mark-up by buying industrial solvents may
> the wave of the future. Meticulous specification of standards is the only
> labs can defend themselves from real trouble here.
> Bob Richmond
> Samurai Pathologist
> Knoxville TN

--- Mark Ray
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