Isopropyl Alcohol (Isopropanol)

Isopropyl alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol (also called 2-propanol or isopropanol) is a colorless, clear, flammable liquid with a strong and recognizable odor. It is made from propylene (also called propene) which comes from petroleum.  Isopropyl alcohol is often also referred to as “rubbing alcohol” although it is not the only type of rubbing alcohol.

It is highly poisonous and not suitable for consumption. It is widely used as a common ingredient in antiseptics and disinfectants, as well as for numerous industrial, automotive and laboratory purposes.

Since isopropyl alcohol is not consumable, it is not regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), is not taxed, and can be purchased nearly anywhere in strengths from 50% to 99% alcohol.


Isopropyl alcohol is highly flammable (both liquid and vapor). It can cause serious eye irritation; inhalation may cause drowsiness or dizziness. A safety data sheet should be kept on hand in the work area where isopropyl alcohol is being used, especially if it is being spritzed or sprayed.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Mixing bleach with isopropyl alcohol creates chloroform, a dangerous sedative with a heavy, sweet scent that can be absorbed through the skin or by inhalation or ingestion. It can cause unconsciousness or even death.

Ingredient Declaration

When using isopropyl alcohol in a cosmetic product, it should be identified in the ingredient declaration as isopropyl alcohol.

Note that because the alcohol evaporates quickly, when isopropyl alcohol is sprayed or spritzed on a product during the production process it may be considered an incidental ingredient.

“Alcohol” has many common and general definitions. There are several types of alcohols used in cosmetics. Each are different chemical substances and have different applicable regulations. This post deals with isopropyl alcohol. See also ethyl alcohol and rubbing alcohol.

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