Isopropyl alcohol, also known as IPA, is a commonly used chemical in cleaning. As a disinfectant, this chemical is heavily utilized in both the medical and pharmaceutical industries. This makes it commonly found in hand sanitizers, with nearly every hand sanitizer product using various alcohols. However, why exactly is this chemical such a popular choice for this product?
IPA for Hand Sanitizing
This alcohol is an effective cleaner due to its ability to kill a wide range of microorganisms. This is made possible by the isopropyl alcohol’s special molecular structure; it can interact with both polar molecules and lipid compounds. This alcohol can dissolve them both, eliminating the membrane that protects the microbe.
Once the membrane has been dissolved, the rest of the cell loses structural integrity and protection from the outside world. This leads to a breakdown of core components and the dissolution of the microbe. These alcohols can kill most microbes, including fungi and bacteria. Some additional microorganisms that this kind of sanitizer can take care of are:
- E. coli
- Hepatitis B
The Best Concentration for Sanitizer
When using this chemical for hand sanitizer, it often needs to be diluted to increase its effectiveness. One reason for this is that it is highly volatile, meaning it evaporates quickly. By diluting it, this evaporation can be slowed. Most of these hand sanitizers have concentrations of 70% IPA and 30% water. This concentration has been found to offer the greatest cleaning efficiency for most applications, though some niche uses benefit from other ratios. An example is the disinfectant of electronics where too much water content does more harm than good.
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