Turning Archive 2004

alcohols as drying agents (Long, & ?boring)

>Denatured ethyl alcohol is currently of much interest to woodturners as a green wood drying agent. I thought to add some info from reading a dermatology textbook about another alcohol that may be of interest to some here. Glycerol (glycerin, glycyl alcohol) is made by combining a fat with water. It is colorless and odorless with a sweet taste and is syrupy at normal temps.

Glycerin is much used as a skin lubricant and moistener in soaps, cosmetics and emmolients. It _appears to moisten the skin, but actually dries it by bringing water from the deeper layers to the surface. I don't know if all alcohols share this internal drying characteristic, but isn't this just what we want for drying green wood?

I'm chemically naive (illiterate?) and I'm not suggesting that we use glycerin to dry our wet timber. I just thought the semblance between ethyl alcohol that dries wood and glycyl alcohol that dries skin is interesting. I wonder if glycerin is in some dish washing detergents but not all. Could that account for the disparity in effectiveness of different brands? Who knows? I sure don't!

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