Non-toxic Shellac

This recipe makes use of ethonol, also known as grain alcohol. You must take proper precautions as any alcohol is flammable, and proper ventilation should be provided.

Basic shellac


  • 1 part shellac flakes
  • 5 parts Everclear™* (grain alcohol)
*Everclear™ is available in many liquor stores in 190 proof.

Mix the two ingredients in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid and let sit overnight to dissolve, shaking the contents occasionally. There will be a gummy excess remaining so this mixture must be strained through a nylon stocking before further use.

Your shellac is now ready to use. To add color to your shellac, use the following recipe:

Pigmented Shellac

You can make "pigmented shellac", or lacquer, in any color you desire. The following recipe will produce about 1½ cups of lacquer:


  • ¼ cup shellac flakes
  • 1¼ cups Everclear™ (grain alcohol)
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons Pigment or Mica Powder

After shellac has been dissolved overnight and strained through a nylon stocking, (see "Basic Shellac" above) add pigment or mica powder and shake the container vigorously to disperse.

Applying Shellac

Apply several thin coats, allowing each coat to dry for 20 to 30 minutes. (Good lacquerware can have as many as 20 coats applied.)

Use a high quality brush that will not shed hairs. Keep a pair of tweezers handy to remove any brush hairs or debris that might mar the surface.

Be cautious with any alcohol due to its highly flammable nature. Ingredients will separate when stored. Shake container before use.