Everything you need to know about denatured spirit & it’s compliance


Generally, every spirit that one holds with him for possession, use, transport, import, export, retail sale or wholesale can be done only after obtaining the respective license, in majority cases these license will be issued by the collector of the competent jurisdiction or will be issued by the Prohibition and Excise officer of the concerned state. The possession of spirit without license by any person or registered medical practitioner will vary from state to state which will be mentioned in the Respective state wise Act & Rules or in the State wise excise department website as Exemptions.

In this article let us see the types of spirit, with examples of its usage in different organizations and businesses and the legal compliance to be undertaken for possession of such spirits.


Denatured spirit has a small % of denaturing agent added to make the spirit undrinkable. Aside from the denaturing agent, denatured ethanol is exactly the same as normal ethanol. The denaturants are added to ensure that the ethanol cannot be consumed as a spirit. In this regard, denatured ethanol is very similar to methylated spirits, and it can also be called as methylated spirits. The main additive has traditionally been 10% methanol, methyl alcohol, giving rise to the term “methylated spirits”. Other typical additives include isopropyl alcohol, acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, and methyl isobutyl ketone.  Denatured alcohol can contain 70-99% ethyl alcohol and is most often denaturalized with at least 5% methanol.


Denatured alcohol has a number of uses, such as:

  • Disinfectant
  • Window Cleaning
  • Camping Stove Fuel
  • Paint Removal
  • Fire Juggling
  • Making Jam
  • Removing Ink Stains
  • Woodwork
  • Pest Control
  • Model Locomotives            

While Spirit as you can see above has a variety of usages it is usually used as a disinfectant and for cleaning. Legally every person/ organization is eligible to use or possess or even sell spirits at dispensaries. However, denatured spirit can be stored only after obtaining the respective licenses from the concerned ‘ District Collector’ or from the ‘Prohibition’ and ‘Excise department’ of the respective jurisdiction.                    

  • How to identify the denatured spirit products?

Every product that is mentioned as Methylated Spirit, Isopropyl Alcohol, Ethyl alcohol, Butyl alcohol or that which contains 10% and more of methanol/ methyl alcohol is known to be denatured spirit. This can be in the bottles, cans etc and it varies from 500 ml to 5 litres.

Some illustrations of the denatured spirit products are as under:



Every solution that is made as medicinal and toilet preparation are known as spirituous preparation, the appropriate example for spirituous preparation is alcohol-based Hand sanitizer and alcohol-based toilet cleaning solutions it also includes lacquers, French Polish, Varnish and Thinner.


(i) Any medicinal preparation containing alcohol, whether self-generated or otherwise; or

(ii) Any mixture or compound of wine with medicinal substances; whether the wine is fortified with spirit or not is a Spirituous preparation 

Each State in India has laid down thresholds and limits upto which spirituous preparation can be stored, held and used without license.  

  • How to identify the Spirituous preparation products?

Any product in which following terms are mentioned as its composition are known to be Spirituous Preparations:

1. Ethinol IP 70%v/v                3. Ethyl alcohol 95%v/v

2. Ethanol IP 70%v/v              4. Isopropyl alcohol IP

Hence, every sanitizer or toilet cleaning solutions in which its alcohol composition is mentioned as 70% v/v or above are known as spirituous preparation, every person who desires, to possess, retail or wholesale, import, export any such preparation with the above mentioned composition are require to obtain the respective licenses from the concerned collector of the respective jurisdiction or Prohibition and Excise department of the concerned State.

Note: Alcohol based perfumes or essences with the above-mentioned composition are also considered to be as Spirituous Preparation.

Some illustrations of the Spirituous preparations are as under




Rectified spirit or rectified alcohol is high concentration alcohol purified by the process of rectification (repeated or fractional distillation) repeated distillation is a process called rectification. 95.5% ethanol with 4.5% water mixture (Azeotropic Composition) called Rectified Spirit is produced from the fermented molasses containing 7% to 8% ethanol in a simple distillation process. The rectified spirit is dehydrated to produce absolute ethanol.

  • Uses

It is used to make homemade liqueurs, such as limoncello or cassis, and in cooking because its high concentration of alcohol acts as a solvent to extract flavors. Rectified spirits are also used for medicinal tinctures and as a household solvent. Medicinally, it is used externally as a rubefacient, coolant, and disinfectant, and internally as an analgesic, stomachic, and sedative.

  • How to identify the Rectified Spirit products?

Rectified spirit bottles or cans will be mentioned as rectified spirit itself in other     hand it will be mentioned as 95% or strength not lower than 66 degrees over proof.

Some illustrations of the Rectified Spirit are as under:      

These are the spirits that have been widely used in the hospitals for various purposes. License to possess rectified spirit will be issued by the concerned collector of the jurisdiction or by the State Prohibition and Excise Department. This license is valid only for one year and thereby it has to be renewed. 

Written by: M Surendar – Legal Associate, LegalitySimplified. 

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