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Get to Know the Various Uses of Isopropanol

Get to Know the Various Uses of Isopropanol

Commonly known as isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol, isopropanol or propan-2-ol is a colorless, flammable chemical product with a strong odor. Since it is relatively nontoxic and dries or evaporates quickly, it is widely used as a solvent and as a cleaning agent.

A solvent is a substance; generally a liquid that acts as a dissolving agent or that is capable of dissolving another substance.

To be more specific, it is usually used for cleaning:

1. electronic devices such as contact pins, magnetic tape and disk heads, just like those in audio and video tape recorders and floppy disk drives, the lenses of lasers in optical disc drive.
2. LCD and glass monitor screens
3. white boards and other unwanted ink related marks .

It is also used for removing stains from most fabrics, wood, and cotton as well as smudges, dirt, and fingerprints from mobile phones. The residual glue from sticky labels can also be removed by using isopropyl alcohol. Another important role of the chemical product is that it can remove brake fluid traces from hydraulic disk brake systems. This way, the brake fluid does not contaminate the brake pads that can result in poor braking. Moreover, music shops use it to make their second-hand or worn records look new.

As mentioned, isopropanol is widely used as a solvent. Specifically, it is used in solvent for:

1. topically applied preparations such as cosmetic products, including hair tonics, perfumes, skin lotions, hair dye rinses, permanents wave lotions, skin cleaners, deodorants, nail polishes, and shampoos
2. medical and veterinary products such as antiseptics, foot fungicides, first aid and medical vapor sprays, skin soother, veterinary pink eye, dehorning sprays, and house and garden insecticides

The use of propan-2-ol is also advantageous in preserving biological specimens as it is cheaper as compared to pure ethanol and it is a comparatively non-toxic alterative to formaldehyde and other synthetic preservatives. The products can further be used as a water-drying aid for treating otitis externa which is more commonly known as swimmer’s ear.

However, as much as this chemical compound is useful in a lot of things, some safety precautions must be observed when storing and using it. One of the things that should be taken into consideration is that it is highly flammable. Hence, it should be kept away from heat and open flame. When it is mixed with air or other oxidizers, it can explode through deflagration. On the other hand, it should be used in well-ventilated areas. It should be stored in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated place and the areas where it is stored and used should be “No Smoking” areas.

For safety purposes, use protective gloves while using it as ingestion, inhalation, or absorption of the product may cause poisoning. Also, like many other organic solvents, its long term application to the skin may lead to defatting. Moreover, overexposure to the solvent can cause irritation to the eyes and throat and it may produce central nervous system depression. Swallowing small amounts of the chemical is not likely to cause injury. However, when swallowed in larger amounts, it may cause serious injury and even death.

Another thing to remember about the use of this kind of alcohol is that its container may be hazardous when empty as the container may retain product residues (such as vapors and liquid). Thus, it is strongly advised to follow all warnings and precautions listed for the product. You see, as much as the product is helpful for us in many different ways, we are responsible for using it. It should be used in such a way that nobody gets harmed.