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Isopropyl vs denatured alcohol

Haven’t been online recently. Will be soon.

Anyway, for PCB cleaning like water damage, would denatured alcohol work instead of isopropyl alcohol? Reason being, isopropyl alcohol is pretty expensive, (1 gallon, $14, $28 shipping) and my physics teacher said isopropyl and denatured alcohol all really the same thing for most uses. @pccheese doubts this, and said I should ask here first. If so, what type of denatured alcohol should I look for?

@mayer @oldturkey03 @danj

Planning to run by my local ACE hardware store.

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@pccheese is right again :-))

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@captainsnowball You should include in the question what you're going to use the alcohol on and how you're going to use it.

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@captainsnowball 70% IPA still contains 30% water. So you may add water to an already water damaged board. Don't use it!

Isopropyl alcohol has good solvating characteristics for removal of fluxes, ionic contaminants, residues, organics, oils, greases, fingerprints, water, and particulates. It removes moisture to submicron levels specifically in the higher percentage ranges (hydrophilic properties) . I use nothing less than 91% (Walmart ~$2.50) but prefer my 99% from TrueValue Hardware

Denatured alcohol is actual ethanol (C2H6O)that has added substances to make it inedible :-J. Those substances can be kerosene, acetone, turpentine or naphtha (and yes even isopropyl alcohol (C3H8O)) etc. and thus not something you want to use to clean your board of water damage. Let your teacher know that the distinction here is that denatured alcohol is a process whereas isopropyl alcohol is a product.

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Puan 7

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We use denatured alchohol is woodworking all the time. I'm surprised to learn it's ethonal.

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Thanks for the tips guys! I’m accepting this answer over others as it directly answers the question at hand.

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@oldturkey03 I managed to get a half full 16oz bottle of 91% isopropyl alcohol. One thing though. It expired 12/17 does that expiration really mean anything? I imagine its hard for bacteria to grow in a bottle of antiseptic.

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@captainsnowball no worries. The alcohol won't know it has expired :-)

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Hi! I was wondering if denatured alcohol with a mix of 65% Ethanol and 35% Isopropyl, would be a better option for this case (or cleaning circuits boards in general) than having denatured alcohol made with any of the other options you listed? this is what I've been using lately without problems, but now I'm afraid it's wrong...

Thank you in advance!

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I use methanol which has no water in it. Yes, it is somewhat expensive, but a gallon will last me for three years or longer. I also use it for glued in battery removal.

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So should I look for methanol? Or is it under a different name?

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It's also called Methyl Alcohol

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanol

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IPA is great for cleaning pcb's but the good stuff can be quite expensive. The other option is to get actual flux remover, such as this stuff: MicroCare Flux Remover. This stuff is better than IPA for removing flux. There are different brands and these can usually be found in electronic stores or can probably be ordered online too.

From what I read, denatured alcohol should work for flux removal but I have never tried it myself.

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I have a tiny bit of 70% isopropyl left, is 70% fine or will that cause issues?

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It leaves more residue...

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So not ideal?

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Do make sure you have a well ventilated room as breathing any solvent vapors can hurt you!!

Depending on what was spilled I tend to use distilled water as it can neutralize the acids and dissolve the sugars faster. While it sounds odd given the fact the phone or system may have had a bottle of water spilled into it with tap or spring water. Tap & spring water are full of minerals which is what harms your electronics! Distilled water is not conductive and won't corrode parts. I sometimes use an ultrasonic cleaner to speed things up and get into the areas I can't reach. I try not to use a brush so much and the newer boards its becoming more important as the SMT components are getting smaller! So its very easy to snag them without realizing.

I mostly use 90% isopropyl as it has less water than the lower grades and is classified as reagent so it doesn't have the other junk some isopropyl alcohol have.

The tip from Mayer pointed me to with methanol for releasing the batteries is a good one! But, you do need to be careful as some plastics react to it!

Flux remover sprays often have toluene in them which will kill your liver if you breathe it to long and often!

I visited a PCB house a many years ago, they use distilled water and a citrus based cleaner for cleaning their boards and then air drys them, this is what they use when soldering of the SMT components. It showed me not to be fearful of distilled water.

Prove to your self get a pair of clean glasses and two nails as probes held in place across from each other in the glass to hook up to an ohm meter to put some tap or spring water into one glass and distilled water in the other measure the resistance you'll see the distill water will have the most. To add to this sprinkle some table salt into the glass with distilled water it won't take much for it to become conductive!

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With distilled water, if I were to touch it, would the natural oils/paricles make it conductive?

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The only thing would be the salt in your sweat. I wear gloves so that or oils are not an issue. Besides we're washing away the contaminants of was spilled.

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I don’t know if someone would agree to me but here in my location, my best option for cleaning PCB’s is only Denatured alcohol. It seems like it works for me. I have a lot of broken boards that has been repaired using this alcohol. I even use it to remove rust from my DDR3 RAM’s pins. It’s kinda old so it has rusts. I know it’s cheap but here in my location, everything is expensive so I can’t afford 99% isopropyl alcohol. Denatured alcohol is only about 25-40 ph pesos per bottle in local hardware. (roughly 0.50 USD) and everything that I repaired using Denatured alcohol is still working. I also research a lot about this alcohol but it seems like there’s no one have answers like can it be used in electronics, repairs, etc. I can’t even find an alcohol percentage of denatured bottle so I just tried it out and it works fine untill now. Hope it helps and somebody gets an attention with this. Maybe we could actually replace or have an alternatives for isopropyl alcohol.

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Vherniel Lebis if it works for you and if your boards do not desolve or shorten out, you'll be okay with it. I am just a proponent of at least a 90%isopropyl alcohol.

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Okay, thank you. I'm just gonna make sure it's dry before I will try to test the PCB. It is also great to dissolve some adhesives too!

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Hey, I would suggest that you DO not use denatured alcohol for cleaning any electronics. Denatured alcohol will leave behind a residue that will DAMAGE electronics. Use Isopropyl alcohol the cheap stuff from the pharmacy.

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Well, our local pharmacy and even big pharmacies don't have 99% alcohol. They only sell 70% below. While denatured is easily bought in local hardware stores.

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Vherniel - See if they sell Grain Alcohol 85% Being the best!

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