Alcohol For French Polishing & Spirit Varnishing

What is alcohol for french polishing?

Alcohol for french polishing is any solvent capable of dissolving lac beetle flakes (or some synthetic substitute) and then evaporating away cleanly and as quickly as possible leaving behind the cured protective finish.  

Traditionally luthiers have used denatured alcohol, nondenatured ethanol, and mineral spirit blends as the spirit base for dissolving shellac for french polishing.  Finally luthiers have access to a better, safer alternative to denatured alcohol.

Why use Culinary Solvent for your french polishing and shellac thinning?

  • Powerful, yet Nontoxic - Culinary Solvent 200 proof nondenatured alcohol contains no additives, and is only safe, pure ethanol.  100% ABV means no water for a quick and professional evaporative finish without toxic additives and emitting harmful vapors.  Culinary Solvent is the best shellac thinner for luthiers who spend hours finishing their work to perfection.   Eliminate the potential harmful effects of exposure to toxic additives by working with nondenatured solvents like Culinary Solvent.
  • Consistent Quality and Performance - Culinary Solvent contains only pure ethyl alcohol.  This single ingredient provides consistent dissolving ability and clean evaporative results you can count on.
  • Convenient - Order online, ships to you via FedEx. No permits required to my for most states. Yes we ship to California. See our complete list of states and map here.
  • Organic - Available in 190 proof and 200 proof certified organic ethanol distilled from non-gmo corn.  Certified Organic by the Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association.  Shop here for Organic 200 proof Quarts, Gallons, Bulk.

Is Culinary Solvent denatured (additives) or nondenatured (no additives)?

Culinary Solvent is nondenatured ethyl alcohol (AKA ethanol or grain alcohol).  Because there are no additives, there is a federal excise tax applied to each gallon purchased (Read more about Federal Excise Taxes). Because there are no additives, Culinary Solvent is legal to ship to California, labeled for non-beverage use and classified as a nonvolatile solvent in accordance with California state code.  While nondenatured alcohol is regulated on the federal level by the TTB, each state has it's own unique rules and regulations as well.  View our Shipping Map page with links to each state's rules and regulations.  Read More about Nondenatured Ethanol vs Denatured Alcohol here. 

190 proof vs 200 proof for your French polish recipe?

Because Culinary Solvent 200 proof contains 0% water, we recommend luthiers use 200 proof over our 190 proof for the best, high gloss shellac finish. Shop here for 200 proof alcohol for french polish.

Is Culinary Solvent safe?

Yes! Culinary Solvent is pure nondenatured ethanol.   Nondenatured means "no additives". Nondenatured ethanol may legally be purchased for nonbeverage purposes (like use in portable camp and boat stoves, among many many more!). Read More: Can I substitute nondenatured ethanol for denatured alcohol?

Is Culinary Solvent legal?

Yes!  Anhydrous ethanol bottled for industrial not-for-beverage purposes may be offered for sale and shipped to certain states via ground service in accordance with all DOT Hazmat regulations.  Read More: States also have their own set of rules, view our detailed map and links for each state here.   

Is Culinary Solvent basically Everclear?

The answer is more complicated than a quick "yes" or "no". Rest assured we are better (read more effective) for the task at hand. To start, our 200 proof alcohol has 5% less water than 190 proof Everclear....  Read our detailed explanation here: Is Culinary Solvent the same as Everclear?

How can I buy Culinary Solvent to use in my camp stove or boat stove?

Shop Here: Use our secure online store to buy Culinary Solvent by the quart, gallon, or bulk.

Can you ship Culinary Solvent to me?

Often the answer is "Yes"!. Shipping daily to California, Maine, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio.  Read More: See our complete map with quick links to our shipping regulations blog, detailing the rules and regulations for each state.

Buy food grade ethanol here from Shop here for Cculinary Solvent food grade alcohol from

Ready to get
to making?

Step 1: Buy Culinary Solvent