Non-Denatured Ethanol: An Essential Emergency Survival Kit Item

Non-denatured ethanol for emergency survival kit list - Culinary Sovlent

Albeit natural disasters, extended power outages, or just general preparedness, for the survival-minded person, few things are as vital as food, shelter, and water.

You can add non-denatured ethanol to your list. As opposed to denatured alcohol, non-denatured ethanol is completely free of additives — just pure ethanol.  Truly prepared individuals are stocking up on a supply of non-denatured ethanol as an important part of their survival gear, prized for its various uses.

Here’s a look at everything you need to know about non-denatured ethanol — and its many benefits to part of any emergency survival kit.

What is Ethanol?

Ethanol is an organic compound product containing carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Non-denatured ethanol usually contains between 95% and 99% ethanol.

Absolute ethanol, which contains between 99% and 100% ethanol, is often called food-grade ethanol and can be used in everything from a workshop to a kitchen and a laboratory. It is usually certified organic by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Ethanol is an "alcohol", but not all alcohols are "ethanol".  Other alcohols like methanol or isopropyl should not be confused with ethanol, especially when it comes to their safety for use on or in the human body.

Ethanol is available in two forms, “denatured” and “non-denatured” varieties.  Denatured ethanol contains toxic additives that can be harmful to humans if inhaled, consumed, or applied to the skin.  Conversely, non-denatured ethanol contains no additives and should be the only ethanol variety added to an emergency preparedness kit.

What is Non-denatured Ethanol?

The most important characteristic of non-denatured ethanol is that it is entirely free of toxic additives, unlike its counterpart denatured ethanol, which adds one or more chemicals to the formula. Denatured alcohol is not considered food-grade.

“Denatured” refers to the process of taking out certain elements from the alcohol that does not chemically alter it or leave it to decompose.

Non-denatured ethanol is 100% food-grade ethyl alcohol and doesn’t have the foul smell or poisonous nature of denatured alcohol. It is colorless, flammable, and clear.

Along with having no additives or co-solvents. Non-denatured ethanol is typically at least 95% concentration.

Some forms of non-denatured ethanol are 99.6% ethyl alcohol. Many people use non-denatured alcohol on a daily basis, including laboratories, research centers, clinics, and hospitals.

It can also be used to create tinctures, essential oils, tobacco flavors, and extracts used in cooking. Environmentally conscious people generally prefer non-denatured ethanol to make extractions. Though safe for human consumption, most non-denatured alcohol is not allowed for beverage use.

Because of its high quality and absence of harmful toxins, non-denatured ethanol has a higher price tag compared with other alcohols for sale, including methanol, denatured ethanol, and isopropyl.

Along with the term food-grade ethanol, non-denatured ethanol is also called non-denatured alcohol, grain alcohol, and anhydrous ethanol.

How is it Made?

The highest-quality and most popular non-denatured ethanol available is distilled from corn only. There are often lines of certified organic ethanol distilled from non-GMO corn.

Different proofs (strengths) mean different ingredients. For example, 190-proof non-denatured alcohol contains 95% ethanol and 5% water. 200-proof ethanol has 0% water (though it can be diluted by customers to 190-proof when adding their own water).

However, there is no do-it-yourself method for increasing 190-proof non-denatured ethanol to 200-proof.

In What Forms are Non-denatured Ethanol Available?

Distilleries and other companies specialize in non-denatured ethanol. It is frequently available in various sizes, including pints, quarts, and gallons. It can often be made available in bulk, such as 5-gallon jugs and 55-gallon drums. 

Having all of the size options is a big plus for keeping non-denatured ethanol as part of a survival kit.

You can easily carry or store lightweight bottles or having large jugs stored as backup and to refill your portable quantities. Non-denatured ethanol can typically be sold in and shipped to most addresses in the United States or held at a facility for convenient pick-up.

Often, non-denatured ethanol is packaged and sold based on its primary intended use. For example, companies offer bottles geared toward cooks and perfumers, or just branded as “food-grade.”

How do I Store Non-denatured Ethanol

Any type of alcohol is best stored in dry and cool places to avoid evaporation. It should also be out of any reach of young children.

Since it is flammable, it’s best to store non-denatured ethanol in the same way you’d store other types of fuel.

If you’re stashing large quantities, consider a cool open place, like a garage or shed, to safely store non-denatured ethanol. It should not be exposed to direct sunlight.

If stored properly, non-denatured ethanol can be good to use for years. Always seal ethanol when it is not being used. 

What Can I Use Non-Denatured Ethanol For?

There are a large number of beneficial uses for non-denatured ethanol, especially as part of a emergency survival kit. Here are just a few:


Non-denatured alcohol is perfect for disinfecting anything and everything, including tools and wounds, scrapes, and cuts. In the end, non-denatured ethanol may be helpful in preventing wound infection.

It can eliminate pathogens and most microorganisms. An exception: bacterial spores.

It can disinfect medical-type tools, cooking tools, and dishes as well as to generally clean surfaces (acting in the same way that a general cleaner would).


Non-denatured alcohol doesn’t contain toxic additives and is safe to use on hands and skin that have accumulated grease from tasks including engine repair, vehicle maintenance, or any other application where grease is essential.  Applying a small amount of non-denatured ethanol to a rag or paper towel is all it takes to dissolve the grease off your skin and get you feeling clean and fresh.

Non-denatured ethanol is safe to use on all metal or plastic components that need to be degreased too.  A simple soak in a small bath of non-denatured ethanol should quickly dissolve even the thickest petroleum based grease or oil from the components leaving them good as new.

Fire Starter

When using fire for warmth, cooking food, drying clothes, or for a variety of other needs, non-denatured ethanol can be a life-saver. The ethanol should not be thrown onto an active fire under any circumstances.  Rather, a material can be soaked in to set the fire, either by putting it on wood or unlit coals.

Cooking Fuel

Non-denatured alcohol is the perfect fuel for small-scale alcohol stoves as well.  Many alcohol stove models are available for sale on the internet, or you can even find instructions online to easily build your own using the bottoms of aluminum cans and a small tool for punching holes. 

Campers and boaters have long enjoyed sourcing non-denatured ethanol over 190 proof for use in their alcohol stoves without concern for risk of polluting the environment if some fuel spills onto the ground or water.

Cooking Ingredient

Apart from being used to help with making a fire to cook food, non-denatured alcohol is also frequently used to make a wide range of extracts for everyday cooking use.

You can also make specific extracts that can be made with alcohol: lemon, vanilla, and peppermint.

This is a big plus since the extracts tend to be very costly if purchased in a grocery store or specialty food shop.

Among the items that can be preserved in alcohol: fruit, ginger, and turmeric. Non-denatured ethanol can even be used to make cocktail bitters.

Herbal Tinctures for Homemade Remedies

Along with cleaning any type of cut or abrasions, herbal remedies, or tinctures may be made with small amounts of non-denatured ethanol and herbs you grow or forage.

Tinctures use a water and alcohol mixture to concentrate herbs to treat a variety of ailments.  When sourcing non-denatured ethanol for your emergency kit, buy the highest concentration available, at least 95% (190 proof).  Sourcing 100% non-denatured ethanol (200 proof) makes diluting down to the required strength as easy as adding water.

Ethanol is particularly useful for tinctures because it extracts beneficial components from plants, flowers, and herbs while leaving behind insoluble fiber and cellulose which form the plant’s structure. According to a study in Frontiers in Pharmacology, tinctures are used by about 80 million people around the world for various needs.

Some easily accessible plants used with ethanol-based tinctures include:

  • Chamomile
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Milk thistle
  • Valerian root
  • Echinacea


As with rubbing alcohol, small amounts of non-denatured ethanol can help treat minor skin irritants, such as bug bites or contact with poisonous plants or flowers known to impact the skin and cause massive amounts of itching.  Applying non-denatured ethanol to the skin provides a drying effect which can offer relief from itching, while also provides a cool sensation as the ethanol evaporates.

Some people even use small amounts of non-denatured ethanol to make soap, using herbs or flowers for natural scents and coloring.

Deodorant for Skin, Clothes, Shoes

Non-denatured ethanol can be used as a natural deodorant, providing similar deodorizing benefits to stick or spray based deodorants without the laundry list of added chemicals those products typically contain. 

Ethanol works as a deodorant by killing germs and bacteria that can cause body odor.  To use as a deodorant, apply a small amount to a paper towel and apply directly to the underarm or any other area that may require some “freshening up”.  Non-denatured ethanol applied to a small spray botte can be sprayed onto clothing or inside shoes and boots to offer similar deodorizing effects.


Non-denatured ethanol, with its lack of dangerous toxins, is perfect for those who enjoy making their own perfume to their specific taste.

By adding it to a range of essential oils, it can create the exact aroma you are looking for.

Ethanol has the ability to simply and quickly blend with essential oils and water to make light perfumes or those more on the heavy side.

Its neutral-scent character makes non-denatured ethanol the perfect way to start a perfume scent profile from scratch.

For Trading Purposes 

Any type of alcohol is highly valuable because of its multi-use potential.

Having non-denatured ethanol in your emergency survival kit is fantastic for use in bartering, especially with those who are concerned for their survival during emergencies (for example, power outages) and in need of basic supplies to use for heat and medicine.

Having non-denatured ethanol on hand can go a long way if you’re looking for other vital items such as clothing, household supplies, food, or other tools.  Stock up on many small units for easy denomination when trading for other supplies you might need.

More Resources About Essential Survival Kit Items

Looking to fill your emergency survival kit with the best materials available, including non-denatured ethanol. These sites can help you out.

  • Buy non-denatured food grade ethanol direct from the distillery in pints, quarts, gallons, or bulk.
  • Fantastic information on everything from residential and car emergency kits to school and office kits.
  • Designed for “outdoor and urban survival.”
  • Includes a “Prepper’s guide to survival,” including step-by-step plans to getting started in prepping and food preservation tips.
  • Full of great prepper tips from those with experience with survival kits.
  • Offers a comprehensive collection of survival tips, including must-have tools and how to organize supplies.
  • Great tips and tricks for both amateur and professional preppers, including tools and techniques to make your prep plan a success.

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