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Isopropyl Alcohol

Veterinarian Reviewed on January 9, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized

Isopropyl Alcohol


Isopropyl Alcohol is known by scientists to be a colorless chemical compound that is highly flammable and which also has a rather strong odor. It passes all the necessary chemical reactions that are characterized by simple secondary alcohols. It is produced by mixing propane and water. This is achieved through direct hydration or indirect hydration using the sulfuric acid procedure. Under a fire, it can decompose into a toxic form of gas such as carbon monoxide. Isopropyl Alcohol is miscible with ethanol, chloroform, acetone, benzene, and water.

History and Origin

The distillation process for Isopropyl Alcohol was originally discovered around the first century. Distilled pure ethanol from crude fermentation mixtures was made available for consumption and also for chemical and medicinal uses as well. Later, early civilization learned how to produce methanol that adds to ethanol being the only available alcohols before the modern times.

The discovery of alcohols as chemical compounds happened during the last century. The first industrial process to generate methanol in the year 1926 provides the ground in the development of different alcohols through direct chemical synthesis.

Ancient Uses

Ancient Egyptian scrolls have been found that actually provide directions for producing beer from plant foods, especially dates. Alcohol that was commonly found in beverages was referred to as ethanol. No pure alcohol was produced during that time; it was combined with flavorings, plant residue, and water. The ethanol produced was basically then consumed mainly for drinking.

Modern Uses

Isopropyl Alcohol is a main ingredient in many personal care and cosmetic products, such as lotions, eye makeup, bath products, cleansing products, skin care products and hair care products.

Isopropyl Alcohol dissolves many types of non-polar compounds such as oils, fats, and greases. Thus, it is useful as a cleaning fluid as well as a solvent. As an example, it can clean most common electronic components such as disk heads, magnetic tape, contact pins, and laser lenses of optical discs. It is also very effective in removing sticky thermal paste left behind in electronic parts packages. It can easily clean the glass of a CRT monitor as well as the screen of an LCD monitor.

With isopropyl alcohol, smudges are simple to remove, and also dirt, markings and fingerprints from personal gadgets such as cell phones. It removes and cleans stains from the most common fabrics and other such materials. In automotive use, it can be helpful for the removal of break fluid traces from the braking system in order not to taint the brake pads and therefore helps in maintaining effective breaking.

Isopropyl Alcohol is a good non-toxic alternative for formaldehyde and for other synthetic preservatives in preserving biological specimens. It contains the right percentage of solutions for optimal specimen preservation.

This alcohol is a vital ingredient for fuel additives in a gas dryer. Water can create problems in the fuel tank especially when significant in amount. It can freeze the fuel supply line under cold temperatures and will not separate from gasoline. Using isopropyl alcohol will make the water soluble and eventually eliminate any risk in the fuel tank. It is also available prepared in an aerosol can where its best known use is as a windscreen de-icer during the colder, harsher winter months.

Isopropyl Alcohol is also utilized for DNA extraction. When added to the DNA solution, it will precipitate the DNA and make the extraction much easier. This is due to the insolubility of the DNA with the Isopropyl Alcohol.

Side Effects

The vapor of Isopropyl Alcohol is a lot denser than air, which makes it highly flammable. It should not be exposed to any open flames and or any other significant heat sources. When combined with oxidizers or air, Isopropyl Alcohol has a tendency to explode. Cases have also been reported that Isopropyl Alcohol can form explosive peroxides. Just like other organic solvents, prolonged skin application of Isopropyl Alcohol may cause defatting.

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Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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