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Old 01-22-09, 03:51 PM   #1
vgXhc
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Disposal of denatured alcohol

Hi everyone,
I've recently built a penny-stove, to be run on denatured alcohol. On our last (non-biking) camping trip we came across the problem of what to do with the left-over fuel at the end of the trip. Since we were taking a plane we couldn't just take it back with us and mailing back a half-full canister seemed silly as well. The label of the canister was rather unhelpful and only advised of obeying "federal, state, and local regulations when disposing". In the end, a ranger from a state park agreed to take the fuel but he was rather unhappy about it. Any ideas of how to get rid of the stuff?
Thanks for your ideas.
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Old 01-22-09, 04:06 PM   #2
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Burn it? Or throw it in the trash?
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Old 01-22-09, 04:11 PM   #3
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Pour it in a wide flat dish and let it evaporate?

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Old 01-22-09, 04:11 PM   #4
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Pour it in a campsite fire-pit and light it on fire.
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Old 01-22-09, 04:13 PM   #5
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Burn it? Or throw it in the trash?
For small quantities burning certainly would've been the way to go. Unfortunately, hardware stores will sell you rather large quantities of the stuff. And denatured alcohol is both flammable and toxic -- so I'd be rather uncomfortable to just throw it in the trash.
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Old 01-22-09, 04:21 PM   #6
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denatured ethanol is a pain because it's denatured by addition of nasty organic solvents. Any reason not to use regular nondenatured (grain) alcohol? That you could just pour down a drain.
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Old 01-22-09, 04:43 PM   #7
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Hic! Burp!
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Old 01-22-09, 05:17 PM   #8
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denatured ethanol is a pain because it's denatured by addition of nasty organic solvents. Any reason not to use regular nondenatured (grain) alcohol? That you could just pour down a drain.
Because it's 20x the price and not available in many states?

To the OP: I would try to burn as much of it as possible in the stove, but assuming you don't have gallons of the stuff, you can pour it in a sink with plenty of water.

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Old 01-22-09, 05:25 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by vgXhc View Post
Hi everyone,
I've recently built a penny-stove, to be run on denatured alcohol. On our last (non-biking) camping trip we came across the problem of what to do with the left-over fuel at the end of the trip. Since we were taking a plane we couldn't just take it back with us and mailing back a half-full canister seemed silly as well. The label of the canister was rather unhelpful and only advised of obeying "federal, state, and local regulations when disposing". In the end, a ranger from a state park agreed to take the fuel but he was rather unhappy about it. Any ideas of how to get rid of the stuff?
Thanks for your ideas.
Buy Heet (yellow bottle not red) since that comes in small bottles. That way you won't have so much left to dispose of. They it won't be a big deal to just burn it.
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Old 01-22-09, 08:00 PM   #10
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Pour it all in a campfire and throw in a match, don't stand too close
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Old 01-23-09, 12:15 AM   #11
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The alcohol you're talking about, as far as I am aware, is made denatured by the addition of methanol.

Alcohol is miscible with water. Flush it down the toilet, half with one flush, the second half with another flush. Or pour down the sink hole with copious quantities of water. The comparatively small volume of alcohol won't make the water flammable.
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Old 01-23-09, 07:34 AM   #12
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Thanks for all your replies! Burning it or flushing it down the toilet seem to be the most reasonable solutions, even though I'd still be a bit worried about just dumping it, as the ingredients and respective toxicity of the stuff seem to vary from brand to brand. Well, I guess I won't do any bike touring that involves flying in the near future anyway...
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Old 01-23-09, 08:45 AM   #13
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Speaking from a bad experience, use a sink, not a toilet. With a sink you can slowly pour it along with the running water, and then let the water run for a while afterwards. Trying to dump it in a toilet leads to splashing and spills and it's more annoying to dilute (lots of flushing).
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Old 01-23-09, 09:44 AM   #14
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We have this issue every year, since we buy it a liter at a time in Europe. We always just give the excess away. It's used for cleaning in Germany. If you can't give it away, as an Environmental Chemist I would prefer that you "pour it in a firepit and light it" rather than put it into the water. There are a variety of denaturants used, of varying toxicity. And sure, if there is only a little bit, it will evaporate on a hot sidewalk, but all organic vapors contribute to formation of photochemical smog.
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Old 01-23-09, 10:59 AM   #15
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We have this issue every year, since we buy it a liter at a time in Europe. We always just give the excess away. It's used for cleaning in Germany.
Since I'm from Germany, that was my plan too. However, my Canadian girlfriend thought I was crazy since apparently in North America nobody uses alcohol for cleaning In any case, the RVers on our campsite were definitely not interested in taking a can of denatured alcohol.

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If you can't give it away, as an Environmental Chemist I would prefer that you "pour it in a firepit and light it" rather than put it into the water. There are a variety of denaturants used, of varying toxicity. And sure, if there is only a little bit, it will evaporate on a hot sidewalk, but all organic vapors contribute to formation of photochemical smog.
Yeah, that's why I was hesitant to just dump it.
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