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Isopropyl Alcohol

I have a question about using isopropyl alcohol as a substitute for OMS. In one of his tutorials, Mark talks about using alcohol to clean palettes, and I've found that it works very well. Today I gave up on a painting I'd been working on and decided to scrape the paint off so the panel could be re-used. Since the rubbing alcohol was close by, I moistened a paper towel and wiped the panel. It worked great and I was happy that I didn't have to mess with the OMS.

I wonder, since I know nothing of chemicals, if this is a good idea or should just stick to the OMS and use the alcohol for cleaning palettes.

Many thanks for information anyone might have regarding OMS vs isopropyl alcohol.


  • Harrell

    Here is an extract from:
    Alcohol Aka Methylated Spirits or Grain Alcohol
    For most purposes denatured alcohol, often called Methylated Spirit is suitable. In places where the denaturing includes noticeable dyes this is less desirable. Pure grain alcohol is available where the common denatured product is objectionable. 94% grain alcohol contains water but is fine in most cases. Absolutely water free alcohol is called anhydrous. Many jurisdictions require permits to use these non denatured alcohol's. Rubbing alcohol should never be used as it contains up to 25% water and various denaturants that are unsuitable for paint use.

    Denaturants commonly found in Methylated Spirit include Methanol and Pyridine both of which are included to make the mixture less palatable for drinking. Methanol is more poisonous than grain alcohol but is actually a better solvent and can be substituted for grain alcohol where the denatured product is objectionable if suitable precautions are observed for handling this more toxic substance. Methanol is also called Wood Alcohol.
    Wikipedia says that 15g of Isopropyl Alcohol is a toxic dose for humans
    Isopropyl alcohol and its metabolite, acetone, act as central nervous system (CNS) depressants. Symptoms of isopropyl alcohol poisoning include flushing, headache, dizziness, CNS depression, nausea, vomiting, anesthesia, and coma. Poisoning can occur from ingestion, inhalation, or absorption; therefore, well-ventilated areas and protective gloves are recommended. Around 15 g of isopropyl alcohol can have a toxic effect on a 70 kg human if left untreated.
    My advice under the circumstances you describe is to sandpaper off the dried paint and re-gesso the canvas.

  • Thank you, Kingston and Denis. Denis, many thanks for doing the research. I knew it was toxic, but didn't realize how bad it is. I'll stick with walnut oil and Murphy's Oil soap for brush cleaning.
  • Only for cleaning pallet, as a laste step.
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