Isopropyl alcohol (IPA), also known as isopropanol, is a colourless, flammable substance found in most homes, healthcare settings, offices, school, labs and more. Often used as a disinfectant and cleaning solution, isopropyl alcohol is a commonly found ingredient in rubbing alcohol, alcohol swabs and hand sanitizer, and has a wide variety of applications across industries.
The United States Pharmaceutical Convention (USP) is an organization that develops standards for isopropyl alcohol among other things. Isopropyl alcohol must meet regulation to be graded on purity, potency and concentration.
NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) grade isopropyl alcohol is certified by regular inspections of facilities and continuous testing of products. NSF focuses on public health and safety. If a product does not meet requirements it can be recalled or decertified.
Pure isopropyl alcohol is processed without additives such as denaturants which is why it is unfit for consumption.
Industrial grade alcohol is used for manufacturing and processes such as removing thermal paste from heat sinks or dissolving organic acids in soldering fluxes. This is the most economical method for sanitising large surface areas.
Isopropyl alcohol can sometimes be effective against fungus but it doesn’t work against fungal spores. Mold and fungus develop due to moisture and humidity so adding isopropyl alcohol doesn’t have the desired impact. Bleach and hydrogen peroxide are much more effective at attacking mold and fungus.
Depending on its concentration, Isopropyl Alcohol has a number of domestic, industrial and clinical uses - the most common being:
70% Isopropyl Alcohol: penetrates cell walls more comprehensively and coagulates the proteins which kills the microorganism. This is why it is the most effective concentration for disinfection. Used for cleaning minor cuts and abrasions and helping prevent the risk of infection.
91% and 99.5% Isopropyl Alcohol: the purest forms of alcohol available and used as a disinfectant for surfaces in labs, schools or clinics. It is also used as an industrial cleaner, to prevent infection, to thin paints and inks, in windshield thawing agents and in the beauty industry for nail polish removal.
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