Food Grade Ethanol 101

Fact: Not all alcohol is created equal.  Useful for so many things, available in so many varieties, the options available can lean to confusion among those folks seeking the safest solution for skin and body.  Use this page to learn more about what makes food grade ethanol different from isopropyl, methanol, etc. and why ethyl alcohol is the best choice for your next craft, project, or recipe.

About Alcohol vs Ethanol

The term "ethanol" is one of many correct terms used to describe products containing "ethyl alcohol".  Ethyl Alcohol is the proper chemical name of the specific type of alcohol that makes Culinary Solvent.  Only ethyl alcohol is considered food safe.  Below are some additional terms commonly used to describe ethyl alcohol.

  • Anhydrous Alcohol:  Anhydrous means "no water", and is the term used to describe ethyl alcohol products that contain 0% water.  There are chemical and mechanical means available for dehydrating water out of ethanol to obtain 200 proof, read more below.
  • Absolute Alcohol: The term "Absolute" in the chemistry world refers to alcohol that contains no more than 1% water.  
  • "Grain Alcohol" or "190 proof Grain": These terms are carried over from the beverage industry and mostly used by customers who have sourced Everclear in the past and are unaware of better alternatives like Culinary Solvent.

About Denatured vs Non-Denatured Alcohol

Non-denatured means "no additives".  Only non-denatured ethanol is food safe ethanol.  Non-denatured alcohol can be substituted for denatured alcohol.  All Culinary Solvent products contain only 100% non-denatured ethyl alcohol.  Non-denatured alcohol is subject to Federal Excise Taxes.  Excise taxes are included in the price of Culinary Solvent and are paid by the Northern Maine Distilling Company.

Denatured alcohol contains toxic additives to prevent consumption as a beverage.  Never substitute denatured alcohol for non-denatured alcohol.  Because of the additives, denatured alcohol is not subject to Federal Excise Taxes and is often significantly cheaper than pure ethanol.  Denatured ethanol can be purchased at the hardware store and may contain any combination of additives including methanol, hexane, isopropyl, even gasoline.  Many of the chemical additives used in denatured alcohol are approved because of their toxicity and should never be used in projects that will be applied to the body or consumed internally.

Learn more about the differences between denatured and non-denatured alcohol products and uses: About Denatured vs Nondenatured Alcohol.

About Proof vs ABV (Alcohol By Volume)

Proof and Alcohol by volume are terms used to describe the concentration of alcohol in a solution of water.  "Proof" is a term related to strength of alcohol contained within a mixture of water.  Proof is calculated by multiplying the ABV by two.  "200 proof" means 100% ethyl alcohol by volume.  "190 proof" means 95% Alcohol by volume, the remainder 5% comprised of water.  

Excise taxes are measured in "Proof Gallons".  Proof gallons are capable of representing the amount of alcohol present in a given volume, where wine gallons only represent volume of the liquid.  Read more about "Wine Gallons" vs "Proof Gallons", including examples.

Alcohol for Tincture, Perfumers, & Hobbyists. - What is the Difference?

There is no difference, the products are identical in every way.  Literally identical, bottle, cap, contents, label, shelf they wait on before being packed for an order...all the same. 

If there is no difference, then why have separate listings on the website?

Because, we only make and sell one thing: pure non-denatured ethyl alcohol.  Ethyl alcohol is useful for so many truly diverse applications and projects, we found it difficult to convey clearly to all customers across all uses with just a single listing.  

Honestly, how many single ingredient products out there can be used for food, beverage, baking, herbal tincture, perfume, camp stove fuel, surface disinfectant, body spray, aromatherapy, shellac for your French Polish, hand sanitizer, precision machinery, it'll lift stubborn Band-Aids from hairy forearms or remove grass stains from your favorite pair of kakis...and its a natural preservative...I could go on...)  If you've read to this point and can honestly think of another more versatile product than food grade ethanol, would you send me a message and let me know

Early on, we only had one product listing for each size and variety of Culinary Solvent, and attempted to try and convey to each type of customer that our product was right for them.  Since then we have found that creating separate listings for the same product, but targeted to a specific use, offered customers who were uncertain, that our product was intended for their specific use. 

To date we list our ethanol for sale as "for Tinctures", "for Perfumers", and "For Hobbyists".  To reiterate, just incase there is any confusion, there is zero difference in the product we ship when someone orders "Alcohol for Tinctures" vs "Alcohol for Perfumers" vs "Alcohol for Hobbyists".  The bottles shipped to fulfill these orders are identical in every way, shape, and form....they are identical.   

Customers seeking pure ethyl alcohol for their recipe or project are often seeking confirmation that this clear, odorless liquid is infact intended for their project at hand.  In an effort to streamline our customer experience, while also providing customers seeking specific confirmation that our product is right for them, we've created different listings (Tincture, Perfumers, Hobbyists) on our store to reinforce that our product can be used for that specific purpose.

Read More About "Alcohol for Tinctures", Alcohol  learn more, please visit our blog post on the topic here

About Organic Alcohol vs "Regular" - What is the difference?

Culinary Solvent is distilled from 100% Corn.  We source two different varieties, "regular" and "Certified Organic".  When customers order "Certified Organic Culinary Solvent", they can be sure that the ethanol was distilled from organic corn.  Certificates accompany the product throughout distillation and bottling, and procedures are in place to ensure that no mingling of organic or regular ethanol occurs throughout production.  For more information on our Certified Organic Ethanol, and to obtain a copy of our current organic certification for your records, visit our Organic Alcohol page.   

Question: Does "Traditionally Sourced" sound better than "Regular"...that's what Whole Foods calls it...Let me know if you have suggestions.


Who Makes Culinary Solvent?

Meet Scott and Jessica and Learn about the family owned and operated distillery in Northern Maine that makes Culinary Solvent and Twenty 2 Vodka.  

How is Food Grade Alcohol Made?

Learn about the unique micro batch distillation process used to make Culinary Solvent the best food grade ethanol available.