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Rubbing Alcohol vs. Denatured alcohol

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ALL
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Rubbing Alcohol vs. Denatured alcohol
Posted by ALL on Saturday, March 03, 2012 8:41 PM

I have Kato track and diesels.  I had originally heard to use rubbing alcohol to clean wheels and track.

Recently people and articles seem to guide me to denatured alcohol instead.  Any thoughts or experiences any of you have with either product?.

Also, my longest running engine also a Kato stalls intermittently and doesn't start well.  I know it isn't the track, since my other similar but newer engines do fine.  Any ideas or tips?.

I did come across a product called 'neverstall' at the World's Greatest Hobby show but didn't purchase it and there doesn't seem to be much about it's effectiveness online.

 

Thanks for the help.

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Saturday, March 03, 2012 8:59 PM

Rubbing Alcohol is Denatured Alcohol. If it were not Denatured, you would have to buy it at a liqueur store (it is called Everclear or something like that). Indeed, Ethanol from our ethanol plant here in town is also denatured, that is it is mixed with 15% gasoline. That *is* what makes it E-85 instead of E-100.

 

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Posted by sfcouple on Saturday, March 03, 2012 9:02 PM

Rubbing alcohol is also known as Isopropyl Alcohol, while denatured alcohol is ethanol.  They have different physical and chemical properties and both will work for track cleaning purposes.  I personally use 91% Rubbing Alcohol for most of my cleaning but have on occasion used ethanol--I haven't noticed any difference between the two for general cleaning of track and wheels.  

Wayne 

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Posted by sfcouple on Saturday, March 03, 2012 9:06 PM

BroadwayLion

Rubbing Alcohol is Denatured Alcohol. If it were not Denatured, you would have to buy it at a liqueur store (it is called Everclear or something like that). Indeed, Ethanol from our ethanol plant here in town is also denatured, that is it is mixed with 15% gasoline. That *is* what makes it E-85 instead of E-100.

 

ROAR

Lion, denatured alcohol is ethanol rendered unsuitable for drinking by adding what is essentially a poison to the alcohol.  Rubbing alcohol is isopropyl alcohol and can never be consumed.  

Wayne 

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Posted by rogertra on Saturday, March 03, 2012 9:06 PM

Rubbing Alcohol has oils added to it.  This makes it not a good choice for model work, stripping paint for example.

Isopropyl Alcohol 99% is the best choice for stripping paint.

99% and the lesser grades are the best choice for hobby use..

 

 

 

Cheers

Roger T.

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Saturday, March 03, 2012 9:15 PM

[quote user="sfcouple"]

Rubbing alcohol is also known as Isopropyl Alcohol, while denatured alcohol is ethanol.  They have different physical and chemical properties and both will work for track cleaning purposes.  I personally use 91% Rubbing Alcohol for most of my cleaning but have on occasion used ethanol--I haven't noticed any difference between the two for general cleaning of track and wheels.  

Wayne 

[/quote

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubbing_alcohol

Rubbing alcohol, USP / B.P. is a liquid prepared and used primarily for topical application. It is prepared from a special denatured alcohol solution and contains approximately 70 percent by volume of pure, concentrated ethanol (ethyl alcohol) or isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol).[1] Individual manufacturers can use their own "formulation standards" in which the ethanol content usually ranges from 70-99% v/v.[2] In Ireland and the UK, the equivalent skin preparation is surgical spirit, which is always an ethyl alcohol-isopropyl alcohol mixture.

The term "rubbing alcohol" has become a general non-specific term for either isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol) or ethyl alcohol (ethanol) rubbing-alcohol products. ...

In the United States, rubbing alcohol, USP and all preparations coming under the classification of Rubbing Alcohols must be manufactured in accordance with the requirements of the US Treasury Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, using Formula 23-H (8 parts by volume of acetone, 1.5 parts by volume of methyl isobutyl ketone, and 100 parts by volume of ethyl alcohol). It contains 97.5-100% by volume of absolute ethyl alcohol. The rest consists of water and the denaturants, with or without color additives, and perfume oils. Rubbing Alcohol contains in each 100 mL not less than 355 mg of sucrose octaacetate or not less than 1.40 mg of denatonium benzoate. The preparation may be colored with one or more color additives. A suitable stabilizer may also be added.[6]

 

ROAR

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Posted by sfcouple on Saturday, March 03, 2012 9:35 PM

Rubbing alcohol can be made from either isopropyl or ethanol; however, in either case it has to conform to specific standards as established by the federal government. Various types of what are essentially poisons, can be added to ethanol to render it unsuitable for consumption and when this is done the resulting product is called denatured alcohol. Not all denatured alcohol can be used as a rubbing alcohol.

Rubbing alcohol is obviously intended to be put on the skin and it is not safe to use just any denatured alcohol as a rubbing alcohol---unless the label on the container specifically states that it can be applied to the skin. There are some pretty harmful chemicals that can be added to ethanol to make it denatured; however, these harmful chemicals can and will be absorbed into the body through the skin and can result is some serious medical issues.

I am a retired chemist and have spent most of my adult life working in laboratories and when one uses the term “rubbing alcohol” it is normally assumed to be isopropyl alcohol. When the term “denatured alcohol” is used it is normally assumed to be ethanol that has been rendered unfit for human consumption.

The most important thing to remember is: Read The Label before using any chemical or product.

Wayne

 

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, March 04, 2012 5:18 AM

Denatured alcohol is, essentially, ethanol.  It is primarily used as a daily household cleaner, to clean up latex paint spills and paint brushes, and as a fuel for some camp stoves.  It is usually found in hardware stores.

Rubbing alcohol is a liquid prepared and used for topical applications such as an antiseptic for cleaning skin wounds, and as a cleaning and soothing agent on sore muscles.  It is prepared from a special solution of denatured alcohol, and is sold as either ethanol or isopropyl alcohol.  Formulations range from 70% to 99%.  It is usually found on pharmacy shelves.

I use denatured alcohol to clean my track, although its odor is stronger than rubbing alcohol, and it is more highly flammable.

I had read that denatured alcohol is a superb means of removing matte medium from ballast, but I soon found that 70% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol is just as effective for this purpose.  So, I suspect that rubbing alcohol can be just as effectively in cleaning nickel silver track.

As far as your Kato locomotive is concerned, as your longest running locomotive, I suspect that it needs its wheels cleaned.  You can used denatured alcohol or rubbing alcohol for this purpose.  That should get it running better and starting up more smoothly.

Rich

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Posted by BRAKIE on Sunday, March 04, 2012 11:37 AM

For cleaning track I prefer to use 91% alcohol.

A word about Denatured alcohol..This stuff will remove lettering and paint right down to the bare plastic as I found out the hard way while trying to remove some numbers.Crying

Larry

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Posted by rdgk1se3019 on Sunday, March 04, 2012 12:44 PM

I think AntonioFP45 did a thread about using alcohol for paint stripping a while back.......

 

My question would be......would Denatured alcohol cause plastic to crack or else melt down?

 

I bought a gallon of it in the blue can from Home depot to add to my Chameleon paint stripper but did not open the can yet.

Dennis Blank Jr.

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Posted by betamax on Sunday, March 04, 2012 12:57 PM

Rubbing alcohol usually is poison, and often contains glycerine as a lubricant.

Denatured alcohol is ethanol, and it is spiked with something to make it poisonous.  It makes a better solvent because there are no oils in it, such as the glycerine often used in rubbing alcohol.

As with any solvent, check that they will not attack the material you plan to use it on.

 

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Posted by Rangerover1944 on Sunday, March 04, 2012 1:09 PM

I think the alcohol question has been answered, as far as the second question:

Also, my longest running engine also a Kato stalls intermittently and doesn't start well.  I know it isn't the track, since my other similar but newer engines do fine.  Any ideas or tips?.

Clean your electrical pickup contact wheels and contacts, using the same alcohol and a q-tip.

Jim

ALL
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Posted by ALL on Sunday, March 04, 2012 2:49 PM

Thank you all for the great information, I appreciate the forum information community. Mostly I have read this is the first post.

Allan

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Posted by gmcrail on Sunday, March 04, 2012 11:49 PM

Wayne, anything labeled as "Rubbing" alcohol is isopropyl alcohol which is diluted with water and also with glycerine.  Read the label and you'll find it says something like "...glycerine added as a rubefactant." This will leave an oily film on anything you wipe it on.  That's what it's supposed to do - keep the skin from drying out.  It is not a good idea to use it on scale models. (Other kinds... well, another story. Smile)

91% Isopropyl alcohol, however, can be obtained in a 1-quart size from your pharmacy for less than $3.  I've used less than a third of my quart that I got more than 2 years ago.  The only other thing in it besides pure alcohol is distilled water.  It's great for paint removal, cleaning, degreasing, and as an external antiseptic (its intended use).  I've never seen any 99% isopropyl, and it would scare the heck out of me to use anything like that.  Way too flammable.  

Denatured alcohol, sold as a paint thinner (usually for shellac), is a very harsh form of wood alcohol, and is not, IMHO, suitable for use in model railroading.

Guys, all alcohols are not the same - they do not all come from the same source, and their chemical compositions and reactions can vary greatly.  Do some homework before you consider using any chemical.  Just because you can buy it, doesn't mean you should.

---

Gary M. Collins gmcrailgNOSPAM@gmail.com ============================================================

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Posted by sfcouple on Monday, March 05, 2012 12:30 AM

gmcrail

Wayne, anything labeled as "Rubbing" alcohol is isopropyl alcohol which is diluted with water and also with glycerine.  Read the label and you'll find it says something like "...glycerine added as a rubefactant." This will leave an oily film on anything you wipe it on.  That's what it's supposed to do - keep the skin from drying out.  It is not a good idea to use it on scale models. (Other kinds... well, another story. Smile)

91% Isopropyl alcohol, however, can be obtained in a 1-quart size from your pharmacy for less than $3.  I've used less than a third of my quart that I got more than 2 years ago.  The only other thing in it besides pure alcohol is distilled water.  It's great for paint removal, cleaning, degreasing, and as an external antiseptic (its intended use).  I've never seen any 99% isopropyl, and it would scare the heck out of me to use anything like that.  Way too flammable.  

Denatured alcohol, sold as a paint thinner (usually for shellac), is a very harsh form of wood alcohol, and is not, IMHO, suitable for use in model railroading.

Guys, all alcohols are not the same - they do not all come from the same source, and their chemical compositions and reactions can vary greatly.  Do some homework before you consider using any chemical.  Just because you can buy it, doesn't mean you should.

Thank you for the information about rubbing alcohol containing glycerine....it does make sense and I agree it may not be the best thing to use under certain circumstances.  91% Rubbing Alcohol is purchased whenever I get up to Billings, as only the 70% is available locally.

Just a minor correction: Denatured alcohol is typically ethanol (grain alcohol) with additives making it unsafe for consumption but it is not a form of wood alcohol (Methanol)---- although denatured alcohol may contain a small percentage of wood alcohol (Methanol) as a denaturing agent.  Wood alcohol, or methanol, should never be consumed as even in small quantities it attacks the optic nerve and is very toxic.  

As you mentioned, all alcohols are not the same as their physical and chemical properties vary considerably. You wisely suggested that one do some homework before using any chemical.  

Wayne

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, March 05, 2012 4:22 AM

gmcrail

Guys, all alcohols are not the same - they do not all come from the same source, and their chemical compositions and reactions can vary greatly.  Do some homework before you consider using any chemical.  Just because you can buy it, doesn't mean you should.

Denatured alcohol, sold as a paint thinner (usually for shellac), is a very harsh form of wood alcohol, and is not, IMHO, suitable for use in model railroading.

I don't see where anyone said that all alcohols are the same.

What form of track cleaner is suitable for use in model railroading in your opinion?

Rich

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Posted by JoeinPA on Monday, March 05, 2012 8:16 AM

richhotrain

 

 gmcrail:

 

Guys, all alcohols are not the same - they do not all come from the same source, and their chemical compositions and reactions can vary greatly.  Do some homework before you consider using any chemical.  Just because you can buy it, doesn't mean you should.

Denatured alcohol, sold as a paint thinner (usually for shellac), is a very harsh form of wood alcohol, and is not, IMHO, suitable for use in model railroading.

 

 

I don't see where anyone said that all alcohols are the same.

What form of track cleaner is suitable for use in model railroading in your opinion?

Rich

 

Sorry, I just couldn't let this one go.  Wood Alcohol is METHANOL while Grain Alcohol is ETHANOL.  Ethanol is quite suitable for cleaning rails,etc as is methanol although methanol is toxic if you drink it.  Remember the "bathtub Gin" that caused blindness during prohibition? When used properly they are both safe for hobbyist use.  Please be sure of your facts when you post them.

Joe

 

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, March 05, 2012 8:24 AM

JoeinPA

 richhotrain:

 

 gmcrail:

 

Guys, all alcohols are not the same - they do not all come from the same source, and their chemical compositions and reactions can vary greatly.  Do some homework before you consider using any chemical.  Just because you can buy it, doesn't mean you should.

Denatured alcohol, sold as a paint thinner (usually for shellac), is a very harsh form of wood alcohol, and is not, IMHO, suitable for use in model railroading.

 

 

I don't see where anyone said that all alcohols are the same.

What form of track cleaner is suitable for use in model railroading in your opinion?

Rich

 

 

Sorry, I just couldn't let this one go.  Wood Alcohol is METHANOL while Grain Alcohol is ETHANOL.  Ethanol is quite suitable for cleaning rails,etc as is methanol although methanol is toxic if you drink it.  Remember the "bathtub Gin" that caused blindness during prohibition? When used properly they are both safe for hobbyist use.  Please be sure of your facts when you post them.

Joe

 

Couldn't let what go?

 

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Posted by sfcouple on Monday, March 05, 2012 8:33 AM

While I prefer 91% rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol or IPA) as a track cleaner because it contains less water, I've also used 70% IPA along with denatured alcohol, or ethanol.  They all seem to work fine for me and although I certainly can't speak for anyone else there may be certain cases where one is preferred over another due to some other ingredient that may be present---and here I'm referring to the use of alcohol as a paint stripper on plastic models.  I have zero experience with the use of various alcohols in stripping paint, but this topic (stripping paint) has been discussed many times on this forum and there is a wealth of information available here.  

Wayne 

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Posted by Medina1128 on Monday, March 05, 2012 9:33 AM

Holy moly! This thread turned into one guy asking what time it was, and people wanted to tell him how to make a clock! Methinks it's time to slap a padlock on it.

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Posted by sfcouple on Monday, March 05, 2012 9:45 AM

Medina1128

Holy moly! This thread turned into one guy asking what time it was, and people wanted to tell him how to make a clock! Methinks it's time to slap a padlock on it.

Agreed, and I'm mostly to blame and apologize for dragging this thread out longer than necessary.

Wayne 

Modeling HO Freelance Logging Railroad.

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