What is Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA)? Uses and chemical properties


Isopropyl Alcohol is a solvent with rapid evaporation widely used in the chemical, pharmaceutical and petrochemical industries. It’s best-known for its antiseptic properties for medical use.

Thanks to its impressive ability to evaporate in contact with the environment, it doesn’t leave residues on the skin or any other surfaces when applied. This is an advantage for cleaning products, especially for electronic appliances and parts.

Chemical properties of Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA)

Isopropyl Alcohol is less known by its chemical name Isopropanol, which has three carbons and a hydroxyl group (OH) in its structure.

On an industrial level, the alcohol is obtained by the chemical reaction resulting from the hydration of propylene in various ways, resulting as a chemical, water and alcohol. It has very broad boiling and melting points, so its use in industry and in the formulation of other products is important.

Other important properties of Isopropyl Alcohol are:

  • It’s extremely flammable.
  • It’s colourless and has an intense but pleasant odour.
  • It can oxidise in contact with the environment, turning into Acetone.

Frequent uses Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA)

Its uses are well-known and frequent, and you probably have some at home for an emergency. Its application is so wide that it can be classified according to the area or activities in which it’s used.

Isopropanol is mainly used:

  • At chemical laboratories as an indicator of reactions and a solvent for chemical reagents.
  • In medicine to disinfect surfaces and even sterilise some frequently used implements.
  • In the cosmetics and household product industries to make tonics, perfumes and skin lotions.

As you can see, its use is very widespread. We might have overlooked some important uses of Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA), but these are the main ones.