I'm reading this book, trying to learn some basics of chemistry. One of the experiments is about purifying ethanol.

Now, I have some difficulties in deciding what kind of ethanol solution I should try to purify. The drugstores appear to typically sell denatured ethanol (so it could contain e.g. methanol?) or solutions with ethanol and isopropyl alcohol.

Could potable alcohol be used? I think there's glucose in those.

PS. Doing this in my country is legal. It seems that is not the case in all parts of the world (or has not been).


1 Answer 1


Forget about the denatured alcohol! Additives are typically chosen to render their removal difficult.

Supposed you have decent setup for distillation, analytics still might be a problem.

How will you determine whether your destillation was successful or whether it just was "thermal transfer" from one flask to another?

A hydrometer to measure the density of the liquid could be helpful.

Use some cheap vodka, mix with water and try to distill the vodka off. Measure the density before and after distillation. Note the temperatures, read about strange things that can happen: azeotropes. Cheers!

If you want it more simple and obvious, mix the vodka with some food colourant. Proceed as before and watch the effect. Cheers again.

Note that one usually would not digest anything that went through any lab equipment for mixed used at a normal lab. But this is your home lab and you know what went through which labware. Anyway, keep your equipment clean and take care. Btw: Cheers!

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the input! I don't plan to digest anything :) $\endgroup$
    – ttest2
    Feb 13, 2015 at 16:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.