What Is Isopropyl Alcohol?

What Is Isopropyl Alcohol?

Isopropyl alcohol is colorless, low toxicity, and flammable liquid with a characteristic odor. It is secondary alcohol with an isopropyl group attached to a hydroxyl group. In this blog, you will know What Is Isopropyl Alcohol.

In 1920, chemists at the standard oil company, New Jersey, produced Isopropyl alcohol while studying petroleum products. Since then, it has been used in various industries for the manufacture of industrial chemicals.

Properties Of Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol is miscible in water, ethanol, and chloroform but immiscible in salt solutions. Additionally, it dissolves oils, alkaloids and gums, ethyl cellulose, and natural resins. It can be made by propane hydration or acetone hydrogenation. 

Propene hydration involves combining water and propene in their gaseous or liquid states. A solid catalyst is required to trigger the chemical reaction. However, the process may not consume all the chemical residues. 

Thus, isopropyl alcohol should be separated from the waste materials by distillation. Isopropyl alcohol forms an azeotrope with water resulting in 87.9% by mass isopropyl alcohol and 12.1% water. Thus, Azeotropic distillation is used to make pure isopropyl alcohol using diisopropyl ether or cyclohexane.

Indirect hydration involves mixing propene with sulphuric acid in an absorbing apparatus resulting in a sulfate ester. The second step involves mixing the sulfate esters with water and running the mixture through a hydrolyzer to break down water and the chemical compounds into isopropyl alcohol.

Isopropyl alcohol can also be made by catalytic hydrogenation of acetone. The process involves reacting acetone with hydrogen gas under high pressure in the presence of a metal catalyst. The most commonly used catalysts include Palladium, Ruthenium, or Raney Nickel.

Uses Of Isopropyl Alcohol

Due to its low toxicity, it is used across various industries. In the 1990s, it was widely used as a solvent for various industrial processes. Today, it has the following uses;

As A Solvent

Ii is non-toxic, dissolves various nonpolar compounds, and evaporates quickly, leaving no oil traces. As a result, it can be used as a solvent to clean and disinfect surfaces due to its antiseptic properties. 

Additionally, it can dissolve sticky residues and oils. Thus, it’s widely used to clean electronic equipment because it does not leave streaks or damages to the components. 

Also, you can clean magnetic tapes and optical disks and clean fingerprints from CDs and DVDs without damaging them.

As A Chemical Intermediate

You can convert it to acetone by chromic acid oxidation. Additionally, you can esterify it to isopropyl acetate. It reacts with titanium tetrachloride to form titanium isopropoxide, a chemical reagent, and with aluminum, tetrachloride forms aluminum isopropoxide, a catalyst.

Medical Use

When you mix it with water, it forms rubbing alcohol that has various medical applications. For example, it can be used as an antiseptic to kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses. It can also be used as a surface disinfectant for scissors and thermometers and in manufacturing hand sanitizers and disinfecting pads. Some studies suggest that smelling rubbing alcohol could relieve postoperative nausea.

In The Automotive Industry

It is used in the automotive industry as a fuel additive. Water can separate with gasoline in the fuel tank and freeze, destroying the fuel tank. Thus, adding isopropyl alcohol solubilizes water, preventing it from freezing in the fuel tank. Additionally, aerosolized one can be used as a door lock or windshield deicer, cleaning hydraulic brake systems and preventing brake pads from contaminating the brake fluid.

Laboratory Uses

It can be used to preserve biological specimens in a laboratory. Unlike formaldehyde and other synthetic preservatives, it is non-toxic and therefore preferred. Isopropyl can also be used for DNA extraction because DNA is insoluble in isopropyl alcohol.


It is a colorless flammable liquid and secondary alcohol with a characteristic odor. It’s less toxic, making it ideal for use as a solvent and for cleaning electronic equipment. 

Additionally, it acts as a chemical intermediate making it useful in the extraction industry. Besides, you can add water to it to form rubbing alcohol with various medicinal uses. It’s also used in the automotive industry as a fuel additive and in the laboratory as a preservative. Thus, isopropyl alcohol is a versatile solvent in the chemical industry.

Where To Buy it

You can buy isopropyl alcohol from Simple Solvents and from industrial chemical dealers. However, you can only guarantee quality by buying from a reputable company like Simplesolvents.com. The company is dedicated to delivering high-quality products while maintaining the highest industry standards.

Author’s bio: Nikolay Stoyanov is the owner of the CBD blog called Hemptasy where you canb find everything your need to know about cannabis and hemp.


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