“Rubbing alcohol” often refers to either isopropyl alcohol or ethanol-based liquid. There are many uses for rubbing alcohol. Moving to the Philippines in my teens, rubbing alcohol was a must-have in your school backpack. Keep reading this article where I share my experience and share a few ideas around how rubbing alcohol can be super useful.

What is rubbing alcohol made of?

Rubbing alcohol is meant for external use as an antiseptic. It contains usually 70% absolute alcohol or isopropyl alcohol. The remaining liquid consists of water, denaturants, and perfume oils. It may also contain bitterants, a chemical that is added to some rubbing alcohol products to make it smell bitter and discourage the inhalation or ingestion.

What is the chemical formula for isopropyl alcohol?

If you’re searching for the isopropyl alcohol structure or isopropyl formula, here ya go:

C3H8O = It’s a colourless, volatile and flammable liquid, standing for three carbon (C) atoms, eight hydrogens (H) atoms, and one oxygen (O) atom. 

What is the density of rubbing alcohol?

According to WCCUSD (The school district for western Contra Costa County, California), rubbing alcohol has a density of 0.8g/mL.

How do you make rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol?

Simply put in scientific terms, isopropyl alcohol can be easily synthesized from the reaction of propylene with sulfuric acid, followed by hydrolysis.

Now, in somewhat layman terms (because who would make it at home right?) it is produced by combining water and propene in a hydration reaction or by hydrogenating acetone (not exactly a home DIY project nor safe to attempt either)

Is isopropyl alcohol the same as rubbing alcohol?

So you’ve probably noticed a few times we use the term ‘isopropyl alcohol’ alongside rubbing alcohol, you might see common search terms pop up in your search engine like “isopropyl vs rubbing alcohol” or “isopropyl alcohol vs rubbing alcohol”.

In actuality, they’re the same thing!

Rubbing alcohol is basically the generic term for denatured alcohol or

Rubbing alcohol vs hydrogen peroxide?

Rubbing alcohol is becoming less common with many now opting for hydrogen peroxide. It’s almost like water but with an extra oxygen molecule (the formula is h202) and it’s found naturally in the world.

When it comes to cleaning wounds but in terms of cleaning and its other uses (versatility). Rubbing alcohol is a great solvent and it can evaporate quickly making it an awesome choice for getting through greasy and sticky messes. It’s also great when you don’t want to leave any streaks or residue behind, like when you’re cleaning a shiny appliance, your windows, or mirrors. Hydrogen is also a good alternative however it has the tendency to whiten things.

Interesting facts about rubbing alcohol

  • Did you know? The boiling point of isopropyl alcohol is 82 C and its melting point is -89 C.
  • It was first invented in 1920 by a researcher at the Standard Oil Company (nowadays it’s called ‘Exxon’)
  • It’s called ‘Rubbing Alcohol’ because of the fact that you can use it by rubbing it onto the skin to disinfect it. 

Rubbing alcohol uses

Earlier on, I mentioned I moved to the Philippines where I learnt that rubbing alcohol is a must-have in your school back, well as I grew older it pretty much became a must-have for life, well into my 20s, whether for school, work or home it can definitely be useful, here are some uses:


‘Rinse’ your hands with a dab of this before eating for hygienic eating without running to the sink to wash your hands before meals.

Remove hairspray from mirrors

As a woman, we find ourselves spritzing hairspray on our hair and inadvertently on our mirror, a quick wipe will remove any residue on your mirrors leaving it sparkling clean

Prevent your neck from staining your shirt collar

Got a job interview or an important job meeting happening? Wipe your neck with rubbing alcohol before you get dressed – it will not only cool you down but keep your shirt from getting stained


This might not have been a problem when I was in high school, but nowadays take a look on any bus/train/tram or subway and you’ll notice everyone is on their phones. Studies have found serious pathogens on mobiles. Wipe over it at least once or twice a day with rubbing alcohol. It removes any grime and also disinfects the phone at the same time (clearer mobile screens anyone?)

Rubbing alcohol is also a great cleaner for Venetian blinds and keeps windows sparkling clean. Try it next time!

Erasing permanent marker ink

There are few things that should be permanent in life (Marriage – well in theory, among others and most certainly Death, no one expects great aunt Mabel showing up for Sunday Dinner, am I right?) but that doesn’t include permanent markers!

Thanks to rubbing alcohol you can dissolve marks made by permanent markers back to a liquid state so you can wipe them away.

Remove dog ticks

Ticks hate the taste of rubbing alcohol as much as they love the taste of your dog. Before grabbing a tick off your pup, dab it first with rubbing alcohol to make it loosen its grip. This makes getting them off much easier. You can also dab any wounds you see made by the tick to disinfect the wounds. This works with most insect bites on humans too.

Make a ‘shapeable’ ice pack

Ever seen those almost goo-ish like contents of proper ice packs? See the problem with traditional icepacks is that frozen water freezes as it is and doesn’t conform to the shape of an injured body part. Freeze a slushy, conformable ice pack, mixing 1 part rubbing alcohol with 3 parts water in a self-closing plastic bag. The next time your shoulder is aching or perhaps your child has a sore knee, wrap your homemade ‘slushy’ ice pack in a cloth and apply it to the area.

Cleans (some) jewellery

Bring back the shine of your jewellery by soaking it in rubbing alcohol before cleaning. Submerge the jewellery in rubbing alcohol for just a few minutes before drying it with a clean cloth.

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"Rubbing alcohol" often refers to either isopropyl alcohol or ethanol-based liquid. Find out the many uses for rubbing alcohol.

Posted by Rubbing Alcohol on Friday, 20 March 2020