What is Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) and what is it used for ?

What is Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol, commonly referred to as IPA or Propann-2-ol, is a flammable, clear, colourless liquid with a slightly pleasant alcoholic odour. It possesses physical,chemical and solvency properties similar to those of ethyl alcohol, making it completely miscible with water and soluble in most organic solvents. Isopropyl Alcohol is a highly versatile solvent which has a 1001 uses. Second only to water it is the most commonly used liquid for cleaning and is found in millions of products world wide. It is used in manufacturing acetone, glycerol and isopropyl acetate. A solvent for many oils, alkaloids, gums and resins, it also serves as a deicing agent for liquid fuels. The chemical compound is used in extraction processes, as a dehydrating agent, a preservative, in lotions and as a laboratory reagent.

Properties & Specification

  • Synonyms: isopropyl alcohol; propan-2-ol; 2-propanol; IPA; isopropanol; Rubbing alcohol, dimethylcarbinol; isohol; petrohol;
  • Formula: C3H7OH
  • CAS No: 67–63–0
  • EINECS No: 200–661–7
  • Molar mass: 60.1 g/mol
  • Density: 0.786 g/cm3
  • Solubility: miscible in water    
  • Melting point: –89 C
  • Boiling point: 82.5 oC
  • Flash point: 13 C (closed cup)
  • Autoignition temperature: 399 C
  • Explosion limits: Upper 12% – Lower 2%
  • Acidity (pKa): 16.5
  • Viscosity: 1.96 cP @25C
  • Vapour pressure: 48 hPa at 20C
  • Relative vapour density (air=1): 2
  • Refractive index: 1.3776

Isopropyl alcohol is miscible with water, benzene, chloroform, ethanol, ether and glycerine. It is soluble in acetone but insoluble in salt solutions. Isopropyl alcohol is incompatible with strong oxidizers, acetaldehyde, chlorine, ethylene oxide, acids, and isocyanates.

Where to Buy Isopropyl alcohol online

Uses for Isopropyl alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol is registered as an antimicrobial, bactericide, fungicide, and virucide. It is used for sterilizing and disinfecting surfaces in hospitals, dairy farms, food processing plants, eating establishments, and in household dwellings. Isopropyl alcohol is also registered for use as a topical disinfectant in animal areas in and around the house, in veterinary institutions, farm structures, poultry areas, and in hatcheries and zoo animal premises. It is registered for use in barbershops for cleaning hair cutting and styling instruments and equipment. Isopropyl alcohol is also registered as an adjuvant, used to facilitate pesticide applications in agricultural settings, and as an adjuvant in industrial water washer, cooler, and condenser systems.

  • A Disinfectant for food preparation surfaces, table tops, counters, bars and other hard surfaces.
  • Antiseptic and antibacterial agent.
  • A general cleaner – excellent for cleaning glass & lenses. Can be used to clean virtually any surface. Removes light grease, oils, dirt, food stains etc. Evaporates quickly and leaves surface squeaky clean.
  • A specialist cleaner ? for computer equipment, electronic devices, contact pins, floppy disk drive heads, lenses of LASERS in optical disc drives (DVD,CD), removes thermal paste of CPUs. Cleans printer heads including Thermal Transfer.
  • A sterilizer – For sterilising hands when preparing food or for medical personnel working in surgeries, clinics, First Aid Rooms, Nursing Homes, Hospitals etc.
  • Sterilizing utensils, equipment etc eg acupuncturists needles, hairdressers combs etc.
  • An Anti-Foamer and foam inhibitor.
  • Can be mixed with fragrances to make airfreshners and deodorants.
  • Can be used as a Deodoriser for spraying into shoes to eliminate odours.
  • Used to make Rinse agents for Dishwashers.
  • A solvent for diluting lacquers, PVC adhesives, dyes and printing inks.
  • A graffiti remover for removing inks, markers, lipstick etc.
  • A Deicer for locks and windscreens.
  • Add to Windscreen washer reservoir for a spotless windscreen every time.
  • Antifreeze.
  • A fuel additive for dissolving water or ice in fuel lines.
  • Cosmetics – hand lotions, deodorants, aftershaves.
  • Body Rub – relieves muscle stiffness.
  • As a underarm deodorant.

To treat house plants that have spider mites or white flies- spray with a solution of four parts water to three parts isopropyl alcohol and add a squirt of dishwashing liquid.

To make an effective Hand sanitiser- According to WHO (World Health Organisation) they recommend the following mix to make 1 litre of sanitiser: Isopropyl alcohol (750ml), Hydrogen peroxide 3% (42ml), Glycerine (15ml), distilled water (193ml).
Mix all ingredients together thoroughly until solution is crystal clear. Use in suitable dispenser with a spray head. Spray onto skin ensuring that all the skin has been covered and allow to air dry. Note: the hydrogen peroxide is present only as a preservative

To Make an Emergency Soft Ice Pack: Mix 1 part alcohol with 3 parts of water. fill it into a self sealing plastic bag and keep in freezer. Place over the skin, joint etc to cool.

Using Isopropyl Alcohol to prevent water from freezing:

  • 10% alcohol:90% water will reduce the freezing point of water from 0 deg C to –3 deg C.
  • 20% alcohol:80% water will reduce the freezing point of water from 0 deg C to –7 deg C.
  • 40% alcohol:60% water will reduce the freezing point of water from 0 deg C to –20 deg C

At these sorts of mixes water will not freeze at its normal 0 Deg C.

Health & Safety


R11 Highly flammable. R36 Irritating to eyes. R67 Vapours may cause drowsiness and dizziness.


S26 In case of contact with eyes, rinse immediately with plenty of water and seek medical advice. Wear protective gloves/ protective clothing/ eye protection/ face protection. Store in a well-ventilated place. Keep cool.

For full details see MSDS for IPA


Where to Buy Isopropyl alcohol online


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