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Where to get MEK? Answered

Hey all,

A few years ago I used to see MEK (Methyl Ethyl Keytone) in local hardware stores all the time. Don't know what happened, whether OSHA, or EPA, or some other .gov busybody is responsible, but now it's nowhere to be found... and I've finally run out.

Any leads on where I could purchase a jug of it for a good price?

P.S. In case anybody is wondering, I have some dried-out liquid electrical tape that uses MEK as the solvent. I am hoping to resurrect it. I suppose I could try acetone, but I'm afraid if it goes wrong it could permanently wreck my mix. :P

7 Replies

PS118Best Answer (author)2018-03-09

Okay, I had to do *a lot* of digging to find out what the laws were (ain't government transparency great?) nearest I can tell:
1) December 19, 2005 US EPA says "MEK is bad for the environment" and bans it.
2) Many states/counties go "OMG! We're all gonna die!!!" and ban it.
3) June 30, 2005 EPA says, "Haha, no. Just kidding. LOLz."
4) MEK remains banned in some places because, you just ain't cool unless you ban stuff.

Presently banned in City/County/State:


... as well as, I think, all of Canada

Here is an interactive map of what's currently up in your state. (Gray color means nothing. You need to click on the state.)


So, yeah. To get simple paint thinner nowdays you have to drive a hundred miles and smuggle it across state lines. Nice. *sigh*

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Jack A Lopez (author)PS1182018-03-09

I am impressed by your research skillz, and I thank you for sharing this information with the rest of the class.

Although, it looks like the Instructables-editor took a bite out of your link,


but, it does that sometimes.

Looks like there are some emerging entrepreneurial opportunities in the solvent smuggling business!

Probably safer than safer than smuggling drugs, or weapons, or underdocumented people.


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PS118 (author)Jack A Lopez2018-03-12

Thanks for pointing that out. Well, here it is in quotes so people can at least cut/paste.

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iceng (author)2018-03-09

Rules are kitty wumpus with disposing trichloroethylene..

It is illegal to pour into the ground, but perfectly alright to let it evaporate into our atmosphere..

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iceng (author)2018-03-08

I use trich and have access to some.. If you can't buy MEK try getting it as a free sample from a chemical manufacturer...

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Jack A Lopez (author)2018-03-08

I used to see MEK sold in hardware stores, and also paint stores, where I live, which is somewhere in the FUS (Former United States). For example, my town has both a Lowes(r) and a HomeDepot(r), and those names will probably be meaningless to anyone living outside the FUS.

Anyway, the last time I looked might have been more than a year ago, so obviously the market might be different at present.

I am guessing that you also are in the FUS, since those nyms you mention, "OSHA", and "EPA". Those also are likely meaningless to anyone living outside the FUS.

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USMC-USAF-USN (author)2018-03-08

Try asking at your local hardware store. They may have to special order it for you. I have seen it at a local hardware store and at the blue big box store witthin the last year. There are some finishes that are so tough MEK is the only thing that will touch them.

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