Isopropanol, or isopropyl alcohol, is a secondary alcohol. It provides the familiar smell of rubbing alcohol, where it is frequently used although this may be ethanol. Isopropanol is the largest carbon chain alcohol to be miscible with water and is a common OTC solvent.
Isopropanol is a generally nonreactive (inorganically speaking) alcohol. It can be dehydrated, and is a common reagent in organic chemistry.
Anhydrous isopropanol is used to neutralise small quantities of sodium or potassium metal, as the reaction with the alcohol is mild compared to with water and removes any reactive metal that may pose a danger if left in the lab. This property allows for the production of metal isopropoxides.
A violent runaway reaction happens when isopropanol comes into contact with a nitration bath. Toxic nitrogen dioxide is produced in a rapid reaction as the isopropanol is not nitrated but oxidised by the acids.
Isopropanol is clear, has an alcohol-like smell, burns on contact with cuts, is an antiseptic, and is miscible in water. It is a good, cheap solvent.
Isopropanol is available in concentrations anywhere from 60% to 99% (the rest being water) for a variety of applications, often cleaning electronics or sold as 'rubbing alcohol'. The most common concentrations are 70% and 91%. These store-bought solutions can be salted out up to a concentration of about 91% using sodium chloride, and nearly all water can be separated by salting out with sodium hydroxide, though this may inadvertently contaminate the isopropanol and produce sodium isopropoxide. Dry isopropanol has the potential to form explosive peroxides when distilled, so it is highly recommended that these distillations are carefully monitored if done at all.
- Chloroform synthesis
- Isopropyl chloride
- Isopropanol peroxide