Ethyl Alcohol vs Isopropyl Alcohol: 6 Important Facts that Every Consumer Must Know

Essential Information On Ethyl Alcohol vs Isopropyl Alcohol

The global pandemic has reminded people of the importance of proper hygiene. Aside from regular handwashing, using alcohol and alcohol-based hand sanitizers have become health essentials to stay safe and prevent the spread of coronavirus. There was a great demand for these two products that consumers purchased either ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol for personal and family use. But how much information do you know about these two types of alcohol? 


Comparing ethyl alcohol vs isopropyl alcohol is often about their effectiveness in disinfecting the hands and various surfaces. You must be aware of some important facts about ethyl and isopropyl alcohol so you can make informed decisions when buying them. Here is a list that could help you understand these types of alcohol.   


6 Essential Information On Ethyl Alcohol vs Isopropyl Alcohol


1. Chemical Characteristics

Ethyl alcohol is also known as ethanol or grain alcohol because it is produced by distilling grain and cereal products. It is an ingredient used to make alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine, brandy, or whiskey. It is also used as an antiseptic and disinfectant as well as in motor fuels. Its chemical structure is C2H5OH.


Isopropyl alcohol or isopropanol is also commonly called rubbing alcohol. The difference of ethyl alcohol vs isopropyl alcohol lies in the chemical structures. Isopropyl alcohol’s molecular structure has three carbons and seven hydrogen molecules compared to ethyl. Its chemical formula is C3H7OH. They are different where the alcoholic part of the molecule is located on the chemical structures.


2. Human Consumption

Ethyl alcohol can be safely consumed in small amounts in alcoholic beverages. However, alcohol has negative health effects and excessive consumption of ethyl can cause alcohol poisoning. The ethyl in your hand sanitizer is denatured which can make you sick when ingested. Meanwhile, drinking isopropyl alcohol is fatal to humans. Swallowing even a little amount is very dangerous to health and can easily lead to alcohol poisoning.


3. Alcohol Concentration Solution

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) suggests using hand sanitizers that contain an alcohol concentration of 60% to 90%. Weaker concentrations are less effective because there is less alcohol that can come into contact with germs. But stronger concentrations are also less effective since it does not contain enough water which is required to increase contact time with the viruses and prevents fast evaporation. If you compare ethyl alcohol vs isopropyl alcohol, the latter often has higher concentrations of 70% or more.


4. Safe To Use On The Skin

Isopropyl alcohol is usually safer to use than ethyl alcohol. This is one significant difference of ethyl alcohol vs isopropyl alcohol. But it does not mean that you can slather a large amount of it on your skin because it can cause redness, itching, and cracking. Ethyl is more drying which can cause skin discomfort.


5. Contact Time

Contact time is the amount of time necessary for a disinfectant to stay on a surface long enough to kill pathogens. A disinfectant is powerful and can quickly get rid of microbes when there is a short contact time. It is usually within 30 to 60 seconds. Examples are hand sanitizers that can disinfect within 15 seconds. In contrast, bacteria and viruses can survive longer if a disinfectant has a long contact time.


One way to compare ethyl alcohol vs isopropyl alcohol is through their concentration which affects the required amount of contact time. The higher the concentration, the longer the contact time necessary for disinfection. At least 2 to 10 minutes of contact time for 60% concentration and 5 to 15 minutes for higher concentrations of alcohol that do not exceed 80%.


6. Effective Disinfectant

There are questions on which is a better disinfectant and compare ethyl alcohol vs isopropyl alcohol. Ethyl with 60% to 80% concentrations is highly effective in removing all enveloped viruses like herpes and influenza virus and many non-enveloped viruses such as rhinovirus and adenovirus but not hepatitis A virus or poliovirus. It also demonstrates effectiveness against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19).


Isopropyl alcohol with concentrations of 60% to 80% is not fully active against non-enveloped viruses but effective against enveloped viruses.


ALSO READ: Hygiene and Sanitation Related Diseases You Need to be Aware Of


Alcohol and alcohol-based hand sanitizers are now new normal essentials since the pandemic. One of the questions being raised is that of ethyl alcohol vs isopropyl alcohol as a more effective disinfectant for hands and different surfaces. Consumers must understand the essential facts about these two types of alcohol so they can make informed decisions during purchase. The list of information can guide them about ethyl and isopropyl alcohol.              


BestLab offers a wide range of FDA-approved personal and disinfectant products such as high-quality alcohol to help you stay safe anytime and anywhere. We offer ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol that both contain 75% v/v of alcohol compounded to meet your disinfectant requirements. Our products are formulated based on the standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during the pandemic. Our ethyl alcohol products are open for retail and wholesale distribution and are available in various sizes. Shop our personal care and disinfectant products now.




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