Objection on Denatured Alcohol

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Askmufti.co.za

Q: You have said that denatured alcohol does not contain intoxicating characteristics but that is not a fact. “Denaturing alcohol does not chemically alter the ethanol molecule. Rather, the ethanol is mixed with other chemicals to form an undrinkable solution.” Often methanol is added which is why it is sometimes called methylated spirits. “Denatured alcohol or methylated spirits is ethanol that has additives to make it undrinkable (poisonous, extremely bad tasting, foul smelling or nauseating), to discourage recreational consumption. In some cases it is also dyed.” This adding of other substances also means there is some relief on the taxation of the ethanol, which is why some companies use it, however it is still alcohol. If you know any vanilla essence that does not have any alcohol please tell me.

A: It is true that denatured alcohol contains additives that make it unfit for consumption. However, when these chemicals are added, the whole solution turns into a poisonous substance. It loses its properties of intoxication.

Hence, if ingested in that state, it will not intoxicate but cause severe bodily damage. But even in that state, according to Shariah it is still not permissible to consume, not because it intoxicates but because it is poisonous and can cause physical harm to the body.

Furthermore, this alcohol denat is not of the category that is regarded as impure by the Muslim Jurists. Therefore our ruling of permissibility was on external application and use, not for drinking. Denatured alcohol is not used in foodstuffs. Its use is mainly industrial and commercial, as in cosmetics, fuel, stove burners, etc.

Most vanilla essences contain the usual ethanol alcohol,  though there are some available that are alcohol free. At this stage we do not have the names available.

Mufti Siraj Desai


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