warning: high rant content.
i didn't have organic chemistry in highschool, and i've never been much interested in potable alcohol from the typical end user's point of view -- i don't like its effects when drunk, neither on myself nor on many other people -- so my recent investigations into perfumery have given me some surprises.
see, i've been trying to find a high-percentage, pure-as-possible (90-95%) ethyl alcohol, in order to experiment with making alcohol-based perfumes -- essential oils dissolve nicely in it, and it's a super preservative. it's what professional perfumers use. i just want a small bottle, like half a litre. do you think that's possible to buy anywhere in this town of 80,000 people? apparently not. drugstores feature isopropyl and rubbing alcohol, and they have a strong smell, totally unsuitable. hardware stores carry methanol and a variety of denatured ethanols, all of which are not stuff i want to have sit on my skin. liquor stores offer at best vodka, which is only 40%, and carries a hefty price tag. i could get it, though i haven't found a canadian online source yet, from a chemical supply house -- but i don't want to buy a 55 gallon drum, for heaven's sakes. getting it from the US is bound to cause all sorts of cross-border trouble, and it's not like the US is any more sensible about alcohol than canada. anything i can
get locally is poisonous crap. WTF? we're not talking about weapons-grade plutonium here.
so i do a little more research. and if i understand this correctly, ethanol (ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol) is the "good" alcohol, the safest, least toxic of the lot, the stuff people drink, and what should be used in perfumes. methanol (methyl alcohol, methyl hydrate, wood alcohol), on the other hand, is a "bad" alcohol, it's highly toxic, metabolises into formaldehyde and formic acid, and can have severe degenerative effects on the retina and the central nervous system if drunk; the fumes alone aren't the cat's meow. isopropanol is somewhere in between, not quite as toxic as methanol, but more so than ethanol.
y'all probably knew this already, but i can be naive about things that never popped up on my radar: methanol appears to be a very typical thing industry puts into perfectly good ethanol to create "denatured alcohol" (which means "made unsuitable to drink"), to not have to pay the heavy taxes governments put on drinking alcohol.
i am probably really, really late with my upset, but this is outrageous. i can't get a small amount of clean alcohol to make perfume, instead i have a choice between stuff that's toxified or too thin, because my government thinks anyone who drinks booze ought to pay through the nose for it, and besides, we're apparently not adult enough to handle >40%. i wonder how many people end up in hospital each year drinking those toxified alcohols, and what that costs me, the tax payer, in turn; nevermind the human cost.
you know, that still i was talking about? now i am considering making my own alcohol. wanna bet it's illegal, even for personal use? those fuckers.
i'm clearly bucking the trend: the older i get, the more anarchist i turn, and the less respect i have for the overwheening nannydom of governments.
p.s. yes, i know i can use oils carriers rather than alcohol. but that's a different thing altogether.