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Chemicals FAQ

 

General Information

Chemical Grades

FAQs on Alcohol


General Information


Q

How can I view Material Safety Data Sheets through your Web site?

A

MSDSs for chemicals and reagents manufactured by Fisher can be easily viewed and printed from our web site.


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Q

How can I receive Certificate of Analysis?

A

You can download a Certificate of Analysis from this site.

You can also use Fisher's Fax-on-Demand System to request Certificates of Analysis (C of A) for Fisher chemicals and Acros organics products. The system is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  1. Call 201.703.3165 - Just listen to the recorded message and follow the directions.
  2. When requesting C of As, have available: the first six digits of the lot number shown on the label of the chemical you're inquiring about (lot numbers begin with two digits representing the year, such as 971234) and the first letter of the product's catalog number. Also supply your fax number.
  3. Enter information - follow the instructions and enter your request using your touch-tone telephone. Enter letters by pressing the corresponding number on your telephone keypad.
  4. Receive your certificate(s).

Your certificate(s) will be faxed promptly to the number you entered in Step 3, usually within 30 minutes. If your fax line is busy, our system will redial repeatedly and only terminate the transmission if it cannot get through in those attempts. If you don't receive a response within 30 minutes, place your request again.


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Q

Why don't all chemicals have an "outdate" to indicate shelf life?

A

Some of the chemicals from Fisher may not have an outdate simply because those materials do not decompose under normal storage conditions. They should have an indefinite shelf life if they are not contaminated or adulterated. If the product you purchase from Fisher has a known instability, an outdate will be noted on the label. Unless otherwise specified, the outdate will be the last day of the month indicated on the label.

It is good Chemical Practice, however, not to keep chemicals beyond 3 to 5 years. Over extended periods of time, conditions beyond your direct control could cause degradation of even stable compounds. Generally, the first two digits of the lot number will indicate the year of manufacture.


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Q

At which temperature should I store my chemicals?

A

Storage conditions for all Fisher chemicals would be room temperature unless otherwise stated on the label.


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Q

Are Fisher pH Buffers traceable to NIST?

A

Yes, our buffer solutions — manufactured by FisherChemical — are directly traceable to NIST. For traceability of specific product lots to specific standard lots, fax your request to 201-703-3159.


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Chemical Grades


Q

Which purity grades are Fisher chemicals manufactured to meet?

A

Fisher chemicals are available in a wide range of purity grades to meet all applications.

Grade Definition Application Certificate of Analysis
GC Resolv* Solvents with the highest purity and lot-to-lot consistency. Free of contaminants to ppb level, including those listed in the Contract Laboratory Program Target Compound List. Grade meets ACS specifications. Chromatogram available. Gas chromatography Provided with each shipment
OPTIMA* Acids and solvents of extremely high purity. Acids are analyzed for 72 metals by ICP/MS; impurity levels in ppt. Solvent impurity levels in ppm. UV absorbance curves and sample chromatograms available on request. HPLC, GC, plasma/ICP, spectrophotometry, and pesticide residue analysis Provided with each shipment
HPLC Solvents manufactured specifically for use with HPLC instruments. Grade meets all ACS specifications. Submicron filtered. HPLC and spectrophotometry procedure Available on request
Pesticide Solvents for use in analysis of pesticide residue. Pesticide grade meets or exceeds ACS standards of purity for pesticide residue analysis. GC with electron capture detector (ECD) Available on request
Spectranalyzed* Solvents for use in spectrophotometry. Grade meets all ACS specifications. Actual lot analysis is printed on label. Available on request Available on request
Biotechnology Solvents and reagents that have been specially purified and assayed for biotechnology applications. Electrophoresis, molecular biology, sequencing, and peptide and oligonucleotide synthesis Available on request
Scintanalyzed* Solvents, fluors, and prepared cocktails for liquid scintillation counting. Includes non-flammable, nontoxic, biodegradable ScintiSafe* cocktails. Liquid scintillation counting Available on request
Electronic Solvents manufactured to ensure low levels of metal contamination. Grade meets Semiconductor Equipment and Materials Institute (SEMI) requirements. Actual lot analysis is printed on the label. Electronics and circuit board manufacturing. Available on request
TraceMetal Acids manufactured to achieve low metal contamination measurable in ppm to ppb range. Each lot is analyzed for more than 30 metals by ICP/MS. Primarily used in digestion of samples prior to instrument (ICP) analysis Provided with each shipment
Certified ACS Plus Acids which, in addition to meeting or exceeding the latest specifications of the ACS, are analyzed for more than 16 metals. Actual lot analysis is printed on the label. Analytical application with tighter metal specifications Available on request
Certified ACS Reagent chemicals that meet or exceed the latest ACS specifications. Actual lot analysis is printed on the label. Analytical application requiring tight specifications Available on request
Certified Reagent chemicals for which the purity standard is established by Fisher. Purity is guaranteed to meet published maximum limits of impurities. General analytical Available on request
USP/NF/FCC/EP/BP Reagent chemicals that meet or surpass specifications of the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), the National Formulary (NF), the Food Chemicals Codex (FCC), the Pharmacopeia (EP), and/or the British Pharmacopeia (BP). Food and drug laboratories, biological testing Available on request
Histology Solvents and products that are specially prepared for use in the histology laboratory setting. Solvents are filtered for tissue processing applications. Tissue processing Available on request
Laboratory and Technical Chemicals of reasonable purity for situations where no official standards for quality or impurity levels exist. Manufacturing and general laboratory use Available on request


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FAQs on Alcohol


Q

Is there a difference between alcohol and ethanol?

A

 The term "Alcohol" can mean Pure Ethanol, Denatured Ethanol (Alcohol) or other alcohols which are not Ethanol (Ethyl Alcohol). The term "Alcohol" can refer to Pure Alcohol--undenatured Ethanol and suitable for consumption. The term "Alcohol" can also refer to pure alcohol at any level of concentration (proof). Therefore, "Pure Alcohol" is a correct term for 100% Ethanol (200 proof), 95% Ethanol (190 proof) and any concentration of Ethanol (vodka is 40% Ethanol). The term "Alcohol" can refer to Denatured Alcohol, Ethanol which is unsuitable for consumption due to the addition of toxic solvents to the pure alcohol. It can therefore refer to any denatured ethanol product, regardless of the proof of Ethanol and the concentration of Ethanol in the denatured product. SDA-39C is referred to as Specially Denatured "Alcohol", even though it contains 1% Diethyl Phthalate as a denaturant and even though the Ethanol content of this mixture can be 190 proof or 200 proof. There are several hundred standard formulas of denatured alcohol (Ethanol), all of which can be called "Alcohol". The term "Alcohol" can refer to other solvents which are non Ethanol-based but which are chemically classified as Alcohols: Isopropyl Alcohol, Methyl Alcohol, Butyl Alcohol, and Propyl Alcohol are all "alcohol" but none are ethanol (Ethyl Alcohol). Since Fisher distributes a wide range of alcohol products, care must be taken when using the term alcohol, to communicate what product or class of products is being requested.


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Q

What is the difference between pure and purity?

A

 "Pure" denotes an undenatured product or a product with a single component as opposed to a mixture. "Purity" refers to the assay or percent composition of the chemical. For example, 190-Proof pure Ethanol has an assay (Purity) of 95% Ethanol and 5% water. This distinction is very important when discussing the critical levels of contaminants and other specifications of chemical products. When referring to the "purity" of a product, it is better to use the term '"assay."


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Q

What is Anhydrous Alcohol?

A

"Anhydrous Alcohol" literally means no-water alcohol, but in reality it refers to low-water alcohol. This distinction is synonymous with 200-proof alcohol. Another term for anhydrous is "Punctilious". Our anhydrous grades of alcohol are always <0.3% water, and typically 0.2% water. Many are certified <0.1% water. The term "Punctilious" is used to denote a pure 200- proof alcohol. Some customers are not aware that "Punctilious" is a commercial trademark used by UCI to denote its products. It is also important to note that the term "Anhydrous" is not synonymous with the term "Pure." Pure Alcohol denotes an undenatured alcohol, which could be anhydrous or hydrated (190-proof or some other cut or proof). The term anhydrous is not unique to alcohol products. It is also used for a wide range of high purity solvents, many of which are manufactured by Fisher.


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Q

What is Specially Denatured Alcohol (SDA)?

A

 Specially Denatured Alcohol is pure ethanol rendered unfit for drinking by adding solvents such as methanol, ethyl acetate, or IPA in quantities specified by the Federal Government. The addition of these solvents is what "denatures" the pure alcohol, making it unfit for consumption. "Denatured" does not imply an altered ethanol molecule (as when a protein is denatured by heat or a chemical agent), but indicates that the ethanol is "spoiled" or "poisoned." Certain SDAs have additives as well as denaturants. For example, SDA-38B intended for use as a mouthwash has 1% w/v menthol as an additive. When used as a soap, it has 1% w/v lavender added. There are more than 40 SDA formulations for various applications, all of which are determined and regulated by the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms).

One of the key differences between SDAs and other denatured ethanol products (General Use Formulas) is the level of added denaturants. SDAs are typically denatured at a level between 1 and 10%, and the BATF considers these products capable of being undenatured. Since there is no Federal Excise Tax collected on SDAs, the BATF wants to be sure of the intended, legal application. This is the primary reason why a permit is required for use, storage or resale of SDAs.

Specially Denatured Alcohols are used in a wide variety of common products including personal care products, flavorings,fragrances and industrial-grade products. They are also used in laboratories, hospitals and research facilities. While SDAs are not taxed, customers must obtain proper permits from the BATF in order to use more than 5 gallons of denatured product in a one-year period. Products which do not require a BATF permit are referred to as "General Use Formulas". Fisher has the capability of manufacturing all SDAs but chooses not to produce certain formulas due to the carcinogenic nature of certain denaturants the extreme danger hazardous denaturants may pose.


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Q

What is Completely Denatured Alcohol?

A

 Completely Denatured Alcohol has a minimum level of denaturant (approximately 5%). Although the amount of denaturant is minimal, CDA does not require a permit by the BATF due to the type of denaturant used, which is considered to be very offensive (i.e., MIBK with gasoline or kerosene). However, the manufacture, resale, transport, storage and use of CDA are subject to certain Federal regulations and documentation. Completely Denatured Alcohol may not be used in manufacturing products for internal human use or consumption if any of the alcohol or its denaturants remain in the finished product.


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Q

What is the difference between natural and synthetic?

A

 Ethanol products can be made with naturally derived ethanol (commonly referred to as "grain" alcohol), or synthetically produced ethanol. Natural alcohol is commonly referred to as grain alcohol because almost all of the commercial alcohol produced in North America is derived from grain (corn). However, ethanol can also be produced naturally (fermented) from any carbohydrate source, such as wheat, cane, beet and fruits like grape and apple. While grain and synthetic alcohols are technically the same (the molecule is identical), there are differences in the amounts of contaminants (sec-butanol, acetone and methanol) in each. . An experienced chemist with a High Resolution Gas Chromatograph can detect the difference in grain and synthetic by looking at these contaminants in the parts-per-million (ppm) range.


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Q

What is the difference between 190-proof and 200-proof?

A

 All ethanol products--whether pure or denatured, natural or synthetic--have a proof, which is a measure of water content. Any level of proof can be produced based on the amount of water added (referred to as dilution or cut of water).

Proof can also be derived by calculating two times the actual ethanol concentration by volume. Industrially, the majority of ethanol products, whether pure or denatured, can be classified as 200-proof or 190-proof. The third most common proof is 192, used primarily in beverage-grade applications. Proof, then, is a measure of the water or ethanol content of pure or denatured alcohol, even if the ethanol is only one component of the finished product. all ethanol products should be referred to and requested by proof.


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Q

What is the difference between Taxable and Nontaxable Alcohol?

A

 Pure alcohol is considered taxable alcohol. The federal government requires an excise tax of $13.50 per proof gallon (200-proof pure alcohol = $27.00/wine gallon). A tax-exempt certificate is required to be on file with Fisher for us not to charge the federal excise tax on pure alcohol. The excise tax is paid immediately to the Federal government. Fisher does not make any profit from collecting or handling the excise tax, nor does it receive aportion of it as a fee. All other denatured ethanol products do not require the payment of a Federal Excise Tax. Only customers with an exemption from paying the Federal Excise Tax on Alcohol are free from paying this tax. Eligibility for exemption is determined by the BATF and not Fisher.


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Q

Is there a difference between "Proof Gallon" and "Wine Gallon?"

A

 Yes. The federal government taxes by the "Proof Gallon", so the proof becomes significant in taxable situations. For instance, 200-proof pure ethanol has two "Proof Gallons" per every one gallon of alcohol. The actual physical quantity of one gallon is then referred to as a "wine gallon." 190-proof ethanol has 1.9 proof gallons per wine gallon of ethanol.


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Q

Can pure ethanol be purchased without a BATF permit?

A

 Yes, but a federal excise tax must be paid. Current federal tax is $13.50 per "Proof Gallon," which is $27.00 per gallon for 200-proof ethanol. Fisher includes the federal excise tax in your invoice.


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Q

Can specially denatured alcohol be bought without a BATF permit?

A

 Yes, but purchases are limited to up to 5 gallons of SDA product in one year A BATF permit is required to purchase more than 5 gallons in one year.


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Q

I need custom packaging. Can you do this?

A

 Yes. Fisher custom-packages many chemicals. Contact your Fisher representative for details.


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Q

I need chemicals that comply with international testing requirements. Can Fisher supply these items to me?

A

 Yes. Fisher's certifies many products to various international specifications. Please contact your Fisher representative with your request.


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