Rubbing alcohol, also known as isopropyl, is a commonly liquid with tons of uses at home or in hospitals.
Its use ranges from disinfecting surfaces to removing pecky permanent stains that cannot be removed by other cleaning agents. But how do you make it?
In this article, we will talk about how to make rubbing alcohol at home, its uses, and what you should not use it for.
Let us also make it clear from the beginning that you should never drink it. We will also include the effects of drinking rubbing alcohol in this article.
Rubbing alcohol should only be used for the right reasons and following the procedure. Failure to do so can lead to serious adverse effects such as skin irritation and even poisoning.
- What to Know About Rubbing Alcohol?
- How Do You Make Ethanol Rubbing Alcohol?
- Rubbing Alcohol Usages
- When Should You Avoid Using Rubbing Alcohol?
- 6 Things You Should Never Do With Rubbing Alcohol
- You SHOULD NOT Drink Rubbing Alcohol
- Warning Again
What to Know About Rubbing Alcohol?
Rubbing alcohol is not like any other liquid or detergent you use at home. It has unique properties that make it special.
Properties of rubbing alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is both volatile and flammable. This means it can explode if it comes into contact with fire. Also, it should be stored in closed containers to prevent it from disappearing into the air as vapor. Proper storage is crucial.
Rubbing alcohol is available in different concentrations, ranging from 70 to 99%. However, stronger rubbing alcohol is not always recommended.
70% concentration is the best because it is more friendly to your skin and is effective for disinfecting surfaces and other uses.
The power of rubbing alcohol to kill bacteria and other microorganisms drops for concentrations higher than 80%.
This is because, at these higher concentrations, the liquid does not dissolve well in water, thereby becoming hard to penetrate the cells. Also, lower concentrations below 50% are ineffective.
Different Kinds of Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol takes various forms. The following are the four main types of this liquid:
- Isopropyl Alcohol – Also known as isopropanol or simply IPA. It is the most common type of rubbing alcohol used in hospitals, cleanrooms, device manufacturing, and home. IPA is very effective when used on the appropriate concentrations and following the procedure. However, it can also be dangerous if abused. It should never be consumed!
- Ethyl Alcohol – Ethyl or ethanol alcohol also works as isopropanol alcohol in killing bacteria and viruses from surfaces. It is more effective in higher concentrations of about 80%. This colorless liquid is one of the main ingredients in making beverages, meaning it can be safely consumed.
However, excess drinking of ethanol can have adverse health effects.
- Methyl Alcohol – Methyl alcohol or methanol is also a colorless liquid but a poisonous one. It has a strong scent that distinguishes it from other rubbing alcohol in this list.
Interestingly, it can be easily absorbed in the body through the eyes, skin, lungs, and digestive system.
This means you should have appropriate protective gear when working with methyl alcohol. Unlike ethyl alcohol, methyl alcohol is mainly used to make industrial solvents and pharmaceuticals.
- Denatured Alcohol – Also known as the methylated spirit, is simply ethanol with additives that make it poisonous and foul-smelling. That is done to discourage its consumption. The main uses of denatured alcohol include making cleaning agents, fuel additives, exterminators, and as a solvent.
How Do You Make Ethanol Rubbing Alcohol?
Rubbing alcohol is easy to make at home. If you live off-the-grid, then learning how to make it by yourself is crucial.
However, you can also find it in the nearby store. Making rubbing alcohol at home requires adequate preparation, and this section tells you everything.
Things You Will Need
- About 2 pounds of white sugar (unbleached sugar is preferred)
- One gallon of purified water (any other clean water can do)
- Two HDPE plastic water jugs or glass water jugs
- 1 jar of baking yeast
- About 3 feet of coiled copper wire (tube)
- One bowl of cold water or ice
- One thermometer
- One funnel
- A duct tape
Veco Plastic Spray Bottles (3 Pack
Steps To Make Ethanol Rubbing Alcohol
Now that you have seen you do not need a table full of beakers and other apparatus to make rubbing alcohol as you might have thought, it is time to get the job done. Proceed with these three steps to make your ethanol ready:
- Mix The Ingredients
Start by cleaning and sterilizing all the equipment and apparatus you will be using. Using boiling water is the quickest and simplest method.
Now, add 3 teaspoonfuls of yeast in one of the jugs and add all the sugar. Use a funnel to avoid spillages.
Heat the water until it reaches about 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius). Use your thermometer to confirm that the temperature of the water is right.
Pour water into the jug that has sugar and yeast mix from the top to about 3 inches. This makes the yeast break down sugar faster because of the large surface area.
Thoroughly mix the content until all the yeasts are dissolved into a solution.
- Fermentation The Mixture
Yeast breaks down sugar in a process called fermentation. In large-scale ethanol preparation, this is a control process. But you have nothing to worry about because you can make it at home.
Cover the jug with its content but leave room to let out the carbon dioxide formed through the fermentation process to escape.
Set the content in a dark but warm place for about two weeks. Warmth is needed to speed up the yeast action.
How do you know if fermentation is a success or not? It might sound weird if you are not taking alcohol, but you have to smell it yourself.
A strong scent of alcohol is a clear indication that the mixture has fermented. Please note that the longer it takes, the stronger your ethanol will be.
- Distillation To Make Some Ethanol
Your ethanol will be ready in two weeks. Remove the mixture from the fermentation site and transfer the content into the second jug.
Take a pot that can hold your jug with its content and leave room for water. Ensure you do not fill it to the brim because the content will spill over when boiling.
Make a lid for the jug by puncturing a hole through it. The hole should be just big enough for your tube. Insert the tube and tape it to the lid. Make sure it is airtight before using it to cover the pot with your fermented solution.
Take the empty jug, clean it, and set it on the cold water or the ice. Channel the other end of the tube from the lid to it and make it airtight.
The tube should be anchored onto its lid as you did with the other jug. Ensure the container is stable and will not topple over to spill the content.
Heat the pot with the stove set to high heat until the water begins to boil and reduce the heat to medium or low.
Continue heating as jug content heats and evaporates. Ethanol collects on the second jug over a cold water bath or ice as the distillate.
Keep your eye on the boiling water and refill it as necessary. The distillation process takes a long time, sometimes going for up to a day. But with patience, the ethanol formed should not be disappointing.
Notes when making Ethanol Rubbing Alcohol
The quality of rubbing alcohol made at home depends on the precautions you take throughout the process. The following are some of the tips that can help you improve the quality of your ethanol:
- Wash your hands clean before beginning the preparation process
- Use only a clean spoon or whisk to mix the ingredients. Sterilize these items before and after use.
- Do not touch the mixture with your hands until it is ready for use to avoid introducing impurities.
- Clean the place where you will be preparing it. Wipe the countertops or pantry with a diluted bleach solution to kill any other microorganisms.
Stainless Steel Funnels
Store Your Ethanol Rubbing Alcohol
We mentioned that rubbing alcohol is volatile and flammable. You should keep these properties in mind when keeping your prepared liquid.
Store it in a cool, well-ventilated space and away from direct sunlight. If stored under compromised conditions, rubbing alcohol can quickly degrade.
We also stated that rubbing alcohol is not for consumption. This explains why you need to keep it out of reach of children. Store it in a pantry or cupboard under lock and keep the key away.
Rubbing Alcohol Usages
There are tons of uses of rubbing alcohol either at home, hospitals, or industries.
In this section, we will mainly focus on how you can use it at home. Instead of thinking about cleaning agents and other disinfectants, make your own rubbing alcohol and use them for any of the following:
- Homemade Disinfectant
- Stainless Steel Cleaner
- Maker’s Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
- Remove Frost from Car Windows
- Refresh Sponges and Cloths
- Clean Sinks and Chrome
- Really, Truly, Clean a Dry Erase Board
- Remove Ink and Permanent Marker Stains
- Microfiber Sofa Stains
- Disinfect your Mouse and Keyboard
- Screen Cleaner
- Cleaning Blinds
- Eyeglasses Cleaner
- Hand Sanitizer
- Disinfecting tick bites
- Caring for pierced ears
- Reducing body odor
- Deodorizing shoes
- Creating homemade room deodorizer
- Creating homemade ice packs
- Cleaning and disinfecting hard surfaces
- Cleaning and sanitizing electronic devices
- Cleaning jewelry
- Alleviating nausea after a medical procedure
When Should You Avoid Using Rubbing Alcohol?
Rubbing alcohol has many uses, and there is no doubt about that. However, it is not a universal cleaning agent. There are things that you should avoid doing with it. On the list, we have the following:
- Bathing – Some people might think adding rubbing alcohol in their bath can give them extra skin protection, but that is not the case. Rubbing alcohol can get into the body system through the skin, leading to poisoning in children and adults.
- Reducing a fever – Rubbing alcohol will absorb heat from your body as it evaporates from your skin. However, this action does not lower the body temperature, making it unsuitable for treating fever. Do not even try to inhale it because of the adverse effects of doing so. Do not just think it can lower your fever.
- Treating acne – Rubbing alcohol can never treat acne. In fact, applying alcohol to your skin will worsen the situation and make you more vulnerable to acne and other skin-related diseases. It will dry your skin, triggering a false response where the skin overproduces oil. This can worsen blemishes.
- Treating lice – Rubbing alcohol is effective in killing lice but is also associated with side effects. It can cause chemical burns. Therefore, you should consider other proven ways of dealing with lice.
- Sterilizing medical and surgical equipment – Rubbing alcohol is not and should not be used for sterilizing any medical or surgical equipment. It is very ineffective in killing bacterial spores. This means that the bacterial will lie dormant but not dead, ready to multiply once the conditions are favorable.
6 Things You Should Never Do With Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is not for doing everything. Here is a list of things that you should never do with it:
- Don’t mix rubbing alcohol with bleach
- Don’t use rubbing alcohol near flames or smoking
- Don’t use rubbing alcohol in an unventilated area
- Don’t clean certain surfaces with rubbing alcohol
- Don’t use rubbing alcohol on certain wounds or skin conditions
- Don’t ingest it
Surfaces cleaning with rubbing alcohol notes:
- Finished surfaces: Avoid using any rubbing alcohol on painted, shellacked, lacquered, or varnished surfaces, including treated wood.
- Certain fabrics: Delicate or synthetic materials like acetate, rayon, wool, and silk are best to be avoided.
You SHOULD NOT Drink Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is poisonous, whether in small or large quantities. Ingesting small quantities is usually associated with mild effects, but drinking a significant amount can lead to serious poisoning.
Whatever the case, only use rubbing alcohol for the intended purpose.
What Will Happen If You Drink Rubbing Alcohol?
As mentioned, rubbing alcohol is toxic. Drinking it will lead to poisoning, often associated with one or more of the following symptoms:
- Slurred speech
- Low blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing/pulmonary swelling (due to the excessive fluid in the lungs, leading to inflammation)
- Severe abdominal pains
- Shock and respiratory failure
- Bleeding in the stomach and intestines
- Internal burning
- Pseudo-renal failure/bladder rupture
- Organ damage
Rubbing alcohol poisoning can be fatal if not treated on time. When you suspect that you or another person is poisoned, do not induce vomiting because the substance is already in the bloodstream.
Instead, take the following steps:
- Drink plenty of water to help your body to break down the toxins and flush them out. However, this should only be done if the rubbing alcohol poisoning is not associated with throat pain, difficulty in swallowing, or decreased alertness.
- Clean your eyes or skin with clean water for 15 minutes if the rubbing alcohol is in those areas.
In more severe cases, call the medics for a more professional approach.
In hospitals, rubbing alcohol poisoning is treated through dialysis, fluid replacement, or oxygen therapy. Dialysis involves the removal of IPA and acetone from the blood.
Oxygen therapy makes the lungs get rid of rubbing alcohol faster, and fluid replacement might be necessary if the patient is already dehydrated.
Prevention is better than cure. Avoid drinking rubbing alcohol to stay safe and healthy.
Also, ensure you store it out of reach of children to avoid accidental drinking. It is better still to keep it in a labeled container with a warning. These safety measures can save a life or dangers from IPA poisoning.
In this article, we looked at how to make rubbing alcohol at home. It might not be quite as strong or effective as the more concentrated, store-bought isopropyl alcohol, but still very effective.
Use it responsibly and always take precautions. Good Luck!
As always, thank readers for choosing ”Em offgrid” as a reading source! Thank you, and we hope you have found the information useful.