Isopropyl alcohol (IUPAC name propan-2-ol; commonly called isopropanol) is a compound with the chemical formula C3H8O. It is a colorless, flammable chemical compound with a strong odor. As an isopropyl group linked to a hydroxyl group, it is the simplest example of a secondary alcohol, where the alcohol carbon atom is attached to two other carbon atoms. It is a structural isomer of 1-propanol. It is manufactured for a wide variety of industrial and household uses, and is a common ingredient in chemicals such as antiseptics, disinfectants and detergents.
Isopropyl alcohol in particular is popular for pharmaceutical applications, it is presumed due to the low toxicity of any residues. Some isopropyl alcohol is used as a chemical intermediate. Isopropyl alcohol may be converted to acetone, but the cumene process is more significant. It is also used as a gasoline additive.
Isopropyl alcohol dissolves a wide range of non-polar compounds. It also evaporates quickly, leaves nearly zero oil traces, compared to ethanol, and is relatively non-toxic, compared to alternative solvents. Thus, it is used widely as a solvent and as a cleaning fluid, especially for dissolving oils. Together with ethanol, n-butanol, and methanol, it belongs to the group of alcohol solvent.Examples of this application include cleaning electronic devices such as contact pins (like those on ROM cartridges), magnetic tape and disk heads (such as those in audio and video tape recorders and floppy disk drives), the lenses of lasers in optical disc drives (e.g., CD, DVD) and removing thermal paste from heatsinks and IC packages .
Isopropyl alcohol is esterified to give isopropyl acetate, another solvent. It reacts with carbon disulfide and sodium hydroxide to give sodium isopropylxanthate, a herbicide[ and an ore flotation reagent. Isopropyl alcohol reacts with titanium tetrachloride and aluminium metal to give titanium and aluminium isopropoxides, respectively, the former a catalyst, and the latter a chemical reagent. This compound may serve as a chemical reagent in itself, by acting as a dihydrogen donor in transfer hydrogenation.
Rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting pads typically contain a 60–70% solution of isopropyl alcohol in water. Water is required to open up membrane pores of bacteria, which acts as a gateway inside for isopropyl. A 75% v/v solution in water may be used as a hand sanitizer. Isopropyl alcohol is used as a water-drying aid for the prevention of otitis externa, better known as swimmer’s ear.
Early uses as an anesthetic
Although isopropyl alcohol can be technically used for anesthesia, its many negative drawbacks prohibit this use. Isopropyl alcohol can also be used similarly to ether as a solvent[ or as an anesthetic by inhaling the fumes or orally. Early uses included using the solvent as general anesthetic for small mammals and rodents by scientists and some veterinarians. However, it was soon discontinued, as many complications arose, including respiratory irritation, internal bleeding, and visual and hearing problems. In rare cases, respiratory failure leading to death in animals was observed.