Isopropyl alcohol is a colorless and flammable liquid compound with a sharp odor. It is a popular component of rubbing alcohol and is commonly used for household chores such as cleaning, hand sanitizing, and disinfecting. As a topical agent, it kills and prevents the growth of bacteria on the skin.
In chemistry, isopropyl alcohol is part of the isopropyl hydrocarbon group that is also linked to a single hydroxyl group. The chemical formula for isopropyl alcohol is C3H80. However, the isopropyl alcohol structure is also sometimes written as CH3CHOHCH3 to focus on the location of the hydroxyl group in the isopropyl chain.
Isopropyl alcohol is liquid at room temperature. Despite this, its chemical characteristic is quite volatile, meaning it easily evaporates when left exposed. Its vapor has a sharp odor, which can be irritating to the eyes, nose, and throat. Isopropyl alcohol is also called propan-2-ol, isopropanol, and 2-propanol.
What is isopropyl alcohol used for?
Isopropyl alcohol has a wide range of use. It is a reliable and essential compound for cleaning and other medical purposes. More than that, it serves different important role in several industries too.
The following are some of its important uses:
Cleaning agent. Isopropyl alcohol is the most typical disinfectant utilized in different industries. It is a potent antimicrobial agent that prevents bacterial growth. It can kill 99.99% of germs in as quick as 10 seconds of application. For this reason, isopropyl alcohol has multiple home and industrial uses for polishing and disinfecting.
Antiseptic. For medical use, isopropyl alcohol is an important part of most first aid kits. As mentioned, it can kill bacteria quickly, which is why it is also used as an antiseptic for cleaning wounds and disinfecting medical items to combat infection.
Astringent. Isopropyl alcohol is likewise used in astringents that help shrink and control the bleeding of a cut. It is also a typical ingredient in many beauty care products, such as toners that tighten the skin and make pores less visible.
Muscle ache liniment. Using isopropyl alcohol can greatly reduce muscle pain and swelling. Its properties enable an increase in blood circulation that aids the inflamed muscle and eases the pain.
Swimmer’s ear. For swimmers, isopropyl alcohol can be their best friend. The moisture or water that is trapped deep in the ear can be challenging to remove, affecting someone’s hearing. Using isopropyl alcohol can easily dry out the moisture and protect it from possible infection.
Rubbing alcohol vs isopropyl alcohol
Are rubbing alcohol and isopropyl alcohol the same thing? The simple answer is no. Isopropyl alcohol is classified as pure alcohol with 100% concentration, meaning it does not have any other ingredient.
In contrast, rubbing alcohol is not pure alcohol and contains isopropyl alcohol, among other substances. Rubbing alcohol is sometimes mixed with water and 70% isopropyl. This formulation is very common in different rubbing alcohol brands available in the market.
In terms of its similarities, rubbing and isopropyl alcohol are both used as antibacterial and antiseptic agents. They also share similar properties like being flammable.
There is a wide array of products that use isopropyl alcohol. Listed here are some of the products that contain isopropyl alcohol as an ingredient:
- Isopropyl alcohol otic
- Isopropyl alcohol topical
- Benzocaine/isopropyl alcohol topical
- Iodine povacrylex/isopropyl alcohol topical