Is Rubbing Alcohol Pure or Impure?

Rubbing alcohol is a common household item that is used for various purposes. It is known for its antiseptic properties and is often used as a disinfectant for treating small cuts and wounds. However, there is a lot of confusion about whether rubbing alcohol is a pure or an impure substance. In this article, we will explore the different types of rubbing alcohol, their purity levels, and the common misconceptions about this widely used substance.

What is Rubbing Alcohol?

Rubbing alcohol is a type of alcohol that is widely used in the healthcare industry for its antiseptic properties. It is also known as isopropyl alcohol or isopropanol and is made by combining water and propene, a hydrocarbon that is derived from petroleum. Rubbing alcohol is a colorless, flammable liquid that has a strong, pungent odor, and a bitter taste. It is highly soluble in water, making it a popular choice for use as a disinfectant.

Types of Rubbing Alcohol

There are two types of rubbing alcohol that are commonly used:

Industrial Grade

Industrial grade rubbing alcohol, also known as technical grade alcohol, is used for industrial and commercial purposes. It contains 97% to 99% pure isopropyl alcohol, and the remaining 1% to 3% is water. The lower percentage of water ensures faster evaporation and makes it ideal for use in industrial applications.

Pharmaceutical Grade

Pharmaceutical grade rubbing alcohol, also known as USP grade alcohol, is used in the healthcare industry for medical purposes. It contains 70% to 99% pure isopropyl alcohol, and the remaining percentage is water. The lower percentage of alcohol ensures that it is safe for use on the skin and does not cause skin irritation or burns.

Is Rubbing Alcohol Pure or Impure?

The purity of rubbing alcohol depends on the type of alcohol being used. Industrial grade rubbing alcohol is impure as it contains a small percentage of water. This water content is added intentionally as it helps to reduce the flammability of the alcohol and makes it safe for use in the industrial setting. On the other hand, pharmaceutical grade rubbing alcohol is considered pure as it contains a lower percentage of alcohol and is designed for safe use on the skin without causing irritation or damage.

Common Misconceptions About Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing Alcohol is Safe to Ingest

One of the biggest misconceptions about rubbing alcohol is that it is safe to ingest. This is not true as rubbing alcohol is toxic when ingested, and can cause serious health issues, including damage to the internal organs, coma, and even death. Rubbing alcohol should only be used externally and should never be consumed.

Rubbing Alcohol is Effective Against All Germs

Another common misconception about rubbing alcohol is that it is effective against all types of germs. While rubbing alcohol is an effective disinfectant, it is not effective against all types of germs, including some viruses and fungi. It is essential to use rubbing alcohol as directed and in combination with other disinfecting methods to achieve optimal results.

Rubbing Alcohol Can be Used as a Substitute for Drinking Alcohol

Some people believe that rubbing alcohol can be used as a substitute for drinking alcohol. This is not true, as drinking rubbing alcohol can cause serious and long-lasting damage to the body. Rubbing alcohol should never be consumed, and if ingested accidentally, immediate medical attention should be sought.

Uses of Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol has numerous uses, including:

  • Cleaning electronic devices, including cell phones and laptops
  • Cleaning and disinfecting countertops, cutting boards, and other surfaces
  • Removing sticky residue from labels or stickers
  • Cleaning and disinfecting wounds and cuts
  • Removing nail polish and acrylic nails
  • Disinfecting and cleaning medical equipment

Conclusion

In conclusion, rubbing alcohol is a versatile product with several uses in the healthcare, industrial, and household settings. The purity of rubbing alcohol depends on the type of alcohol used, with industrial grade alcohol being impure, and pharmaceutical grade alcohol being pure. It is important to use rubbing alcohol as directed and in combination with other disinfecting methods to achieve optimal results. Lastly, it is essential to exercise caution when using rubbing alcohol and to avoid ingesting or using it in ways that are not intended.

FAQs

Here are a few FAQs related to rubbing alcohol purity:

  • Is rubbing alcohol pure? The purity of rubbing alcohol depends on the type of alcohol being used. Industrial grade rubbing alcohol is impure as it contains a small percentage of water. On the other hand, pharmaceutical grade rubbing alcohol is considered pure as it contains a lower percentage of alcohol and is designed for safe use on the skin without causing irritation or damage.
  • Can I consume rubbing alcohol? No, rubbing alcohol should never be consumed as it is toxic and can cause serious health issues, including damage to the internal organs, coma, and even death. It should only be used externally and should never be consumed.
  • Is rubbing alcohol effective against all germs? While rubbing alcohol is an effective disinfectant, it is not effective against all types of germs, including some viruses and fungi. It is essential to use rubbing alcohol as directed and in combination with other disinfecting methods to achieve optimal results.

References

References:

  • Alcohol as an intermediate: the industrial need for bio-based processes – Green Chemistry (RSC Publishing) DOI: 10.1039/c1gc16030b
  • Isopropyl Alcohol: A Review
  • USP Monographs: Alcohal (USP30), 71–74, 2007

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