Isopropyl Alcohol: Applications and Properties

Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) is an organic compound with the chemical formula C3H8O and CAS number 67-63-0. The preferred IUPAC name of the chemical is propan-2-ol, though it is sometimes called rubbing alcohol, 2-propanol, isopropanol, s-propanol, iPrOH, dimethyl carbinol, or sec-propyl alcohol.

At room temperature and pressure, the substance is a colorless liquid with the density 0.786 g/cm3. It has a sharp musty smell and evaporates easily. The melting point of this organic is −89 °C, it boils at 82.6 °C. This compound is miscible with water and most of organic solvents, but it’s insoluble in salt solutions, unlike ethanol or methanol. Among the properties of isopropyl alcohol should be mentioned its considerable flammability. Its flash point is only 11.7 °C.


Due to the low toxicity and availability, isopropyl alcohol has many uses in laboratories, as well as in different industries. Here are some of the applications of this chemical:

  • It is often applied as a solvent or cleaning fluid, because of its ability to dissolve many non-polar compounds.
  • The solutions of this chemical are used in medicine as a part of hand sanitizer, disinfecting pads or rubbing alcohol. Besides, it can be applied as a water-drying aid to prevent otitis externa.
  • In laboratories, isopropanol is often used as an intermediate. For example, its reaction with aluminium gives aluminium isopropoxide, the esterification results in isopropyl acetate, etc.
  • This organic can serve as a biological specimen preservative, since it’s comparatively non-toxic.
  • It is added into some cosmetics, like aftershave and hand lotions.

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