This post will show you what isopropyl alcohol is and the four classes of each product. You’ll also know the benefits to expect, various lab applications of different concentrations, and how to handle the solvent.
Read on to find out more.
What is Isopropyl Alcohol?
Isopropyl alcohol or IPA is an excellent cleaning and disinfecting agent. This solvent is a cost-effective and high-efficacy laboratory product that doesn’t damage the items you use it on.
Other isopropanol applications include electronics and medical device manufacturing, hospital disinfection, and cleanrooms.
What are the Different Classes of Isopropyl Alcohol?
Manufacturers grade isopropyl alcohol according to regulatory standards. Thus, you’ll get:
You’ll get consistency and safety with this product for laboratory, fragrance, pharmaceutical, or industrial use.
United States Pharmacopeia Convention (USP) ensures that the isopropyl alcohol you buy has the highest purity, concentration, and potency. They also ascertain that packaging facilities adhere to the FDA’s packaging and storage protocols.
The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) regulates isopropyl alcohol production, ensuring you get a high-quality product. The organization also tests every solvent and inspects manufacturing facilities to ensure optimal operational standards.
Pure IPAProcessors make pure IPA without denaturants such as methanol, kerosene, or acetone. Those additives make the solvent unfit for human consumption. Hence, you can use the solvent to maintain accuracy in your lab reactions.
Industrial Grade IPA
This IPA is ideal if you want a cost-effective way for general purpose cleaning of large surface areas. Also, you can use that alcohol to clean the thermal paste from laboratory heating sinks. And scientists use this solvent as a reagent for dissolving organic acids in rosin-based soldering fluxes.
Which Isopropyl Alcohol is More Effective, 70% or 90%?
Water plays a significant role in the solvent’s effectiveness when killing microbes. Thus, the more water your IPA has, the better it will kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi present in your laboratory instruments. But you’ll have a useless product if you dilute the alcohol to below 50%.
Ensure your solvent has the correct alcohol: water ratio for the best cleaning results. The ideal proportions for making high-quality isopropanol include an alcohol concentration between 60 – 90% with water between 10 – 40%. You’ll thus inhibit or kill pathogenic bacteria present on your items.
The water you’ve added increases the surface contact time between the alcohol and the micro-organism. That diluting process reduces the solvent’s evaporation as IPA is exceptionally volatile. Also, this fluid acts as a catalyst in the cell wall protein denaturation for better outcomes.
For example, a study shows that you’ll kill the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria in less than 10 seconds using 50% isopropyl alcohol. In contrast, 90% of the solvent can take over two hours to produce that same effect, hence ineffective.
Ideally, use a 70% IPA solution with 30% of water.
Other Benefits of 70% Isopropyl Alcohol70% IPA enhances your lab’s safety as the solvent produces lesser fumes. Hence, you reduce toxicity and flammability. Additionally, you’ll lower the fire accident risk because water slows the solvent’s volatility and formation of explosive peroxides.
The product is also cost-effective because of the 30% water that prolongs surface contact. Thus, there’s no need for the less effective but costly 90% isopropyl alcohol for general purpose cleaning.
Where can You Apply > 90% Isopropyl Alcohol?
The solvent is excellent for cleaning laboratory electronics. Hence, scientists and electricians prefer using isopropyl alcohol because it dries fast from the items and has low water content. You’ll thus protect water-sensitive items from rust and short-circuiting.
Concentrated IPA is invaluable when dissolving dirt, grease, and sticky residues after laboratory operations. However, the solvent expires faster because it absorbs a large amount of water from the air.
Cleaning Laboratory Electronics with Isopropyl Alcohol.Lab wipes and reagent-grade IPA bottles clean electronic components without spoiling them. Also, these products don’t leave oil traces on the items you’ve cleaned.
However, isopropyl alcohol wrecks polycarbonate electronic parts. You might avoid that effect with a dilute solution, but it’s better never to use isopropanol on those items. Sensitive items include print circuit boards (PCBs), seals, and gaskets.
Using IPA on those products disrupts the electric flow that should be constant. That action leads to short-circuits. Also, you might cause permanent damage to those items, leading to losses.
Do not use the solvent in cleaning objects that gain heat after use. You risk combustion as volatile isopropyl alcohol ignites easily.
Are Pre-saturated Isopropyl Alcohol Wipes Effective?
Yes. IPA wipes are a convenient way to clean and sanitize small surface areas.
That physical wiping-down action allows you to reach dirty laboratory corners. You’ll also clean delicate electronic setups effectively.
A 70% alcohol wipe gives you a precise isopropyl alcohol amount without excessive odor or wastage. On the other hand, a 90% IPA wipe allows you to remove resins and pastes without shedding fabric and lint on your electronic parts.
Pre-saturated wipes help you maintain the integrity and function of sensitive electronic parts. You’ll get that effect because the solvent’s wetting action prevents the generation of static energy. Thus, the tactic prevents disrupting the electronic flow.
Does Isopropyl Alcohol Kill Bacterial or Fungal Spores?
No, the solvent doesn’t. Spores have a high resistance to disinfecting alcohols and other unfavorable conditions such as heat. But remember that the microbe might grow back actively in better conditions.
How to Handle and Store Isopropyl Alcohol in Your LabUse the IPA while wearing personal protective equipment (PPEs) like gloves, masks, and chemical-resistant lab coats.
Also, store the solvent in a safety cabinet that is cool, dry, and well-ventilated. Keep the product away from heat and flames as it’s volatile and highly flammable.
There are four types of isopropyl alcohol on the market. You can use those products in a laboratory setting as a disinfectant or cleaning agent. This solvent works by killing bacteria and preserving the quality of your items, unlike other cleaning agents like water.
Use 70% isopropyl alcohol for general cleaning. But apply > 90% IPA if you’re cleaning laboratory electronics because the solvent evaporates fast before causing a short circuit.