Where to Buy Ethanol: Usage, Grades, Storage & Safety

Cleaning products. Beauty lotions. Sanitizers. 


Ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol is a chemical used as an essential ingredient in those items. That is because ethanol has antimicrobial properties and a high rate of evaporation.


But where can you get high-quality ethanol? Below you’ll see a brief description of alcohol grades to help you decide what type of ethanol to buy. And then the various places you can get your desired solvent.

Ethanol Uses

In the food industry, bakers use alcohol as a preservative or flavor extraction agent. At the same time, alcohol distilleries use it to make beer, whiskey, or vodka for consumption. 


People also use ethanol to mix paints, clean mirrors, electronics, and many other items without leaving streaks as water does. 


The cosmetics industry uses ethanol for its antimicrobial properties to prevent the spread of pathogens, thus preventing skin infections. 


On the other hand, hospitals use alcohol to clean medical instruments due to the disinfecting properties of the solvent.

Things to Consider Before Buying Ethanol

  • The water content.
  • Alcohol content (% purity)
  • Impurity profile (Residual solvents, DNAse/RNAse absence)
  • Production standards
  • Denaturants present
  • The alcohol grade

Alcohol Grades

Note that vendors will require you to produce an industrial alcohol permit to buy a specific alcohol grade. Furthermore, you are subject to tax payment to the federal government, depending on the type.

Pure Ethanol

Pure alcohol contains only ethyl alcohol and water without any other additives. Pure ethanol can also be anhydrous alcohol (without water) or alcohol cut with water to a percentage. However, the solvent is taxable through the federal excise tax.

Specially Denatured Alcohols

SDA is ethanol with denaturants such as methanol, acetone, or isopropyl alcohol to make them unfit for drinking. The solvent is suitable for personal care, flavor, and fragrance applications. The ethanol is not taxable, but users require a permit upon purchase.

Completely Denatured Alcohols

The CDAs have harsher denaturants such as gasoline and kerosene. Moreover, they are not subject to Federal excise tax and don’t require user permits when purchasing.

Special Industrial Solvents

The alcohol has additional denaturants added so that users don’t require a permit to buy. The extra denaturing steps are done because some consumers distill additives to consume the ethanol.

Reagent Alcohol

Reagent ethanol is commonly used for laboratory applications. The solvent has been additionally denatured thus doesn’t require a license to buy.

Where to Buy Ethanol

Good companies provide buying options depending on the volume you need. Also, you might get custom blending and private label options suited to your taste or brand.

Chemical Suppliers

Are you looking for 100% pure ethanol? Popular chemical suppliers can supply them. The vendors have a vast catalog of pure ethanol at these stores, and you can find those used for molecular biology and other laboratory applications. Those companies also denature ethanol, making it unsafe for human consumption. Moreover, there are no certificates required when purchasing. 

Order From Online Stores

Popular online stores like Amazon or eBay have a wide range of ethanol products. Whether you need alcohol for regular laboratory use or ethanol-based hand sanitizers, the stores got you covered. 


You can also get food-grade alcohol from these stores. That kind is safe for drinking and use in recipes. However, alcohol laws regulate the purchase of this ethanol, and therefore you have to ensure your country allows it. 


Moreover, don’t drink too much of this solvent at once as it impairs the nervous system, thus posing a health risk.


Medical grade ethanol is also available at the big online stores or laboratory suppliers. That solvent is excellent for medical purposes, cosmetic use, and personal care because of its high alcohol concentration. Moreover, alcohol has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.

Purchase Ethanol in Fueling Stations

Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) use an ethanol-gasoline mixture known as E85. That is because it reduces air pollution and has engine anti-knocking properties.

Purchase from the Local Pharmacy

Well-known pharmacies around the country sell 70% ethyl rubbing alcohol. The solvent is ideally used as an antiseptic.

Storage and Safety Tips

  • Ethanol is highly flammable; therefore, keep it from heat or flames. Store the solvent in cool, well-ventilated storage spaces. 
  • Rinse yourself off immediately when you spill laboratory-grade alcohol on yourself as it’s irritating to the skin.
  • When shipping ethanol, take necessary safety measures by specifying that you’re sending hazardous materials. That’s because the shipping companies have package care measures for the items.


Ethanol exists in the market divided into either denatured or non-denatured products. If you desire to purchase denatured alcohol, you’ll need a license, and you must adhere to the alcohol laws in your country. 


And if you need non-denatured ethanol, most don’t require permits to purchase. Therefore you can visit chemical suppliers, online stores, fueling stations, or pharmacies to get the type of ethanol you need. 


Author’s bio: Nikolay Stoyanov is the creator of Hemptasy.com – CBD blog that discusses all things CBD.