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Chemicals and Solvents

Chemicals and Solvents

Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) 70% vs. IPA 99% - Which One Is the Better Disinfectant?

Isopropyl alcohol or IPA is a disinfecting agent used among hospitals, cleanrooms, pharmaceuticals, and electronic & medical device manufacturing industries. IPA comes in different solutions, concentrations, purity grades, and alcohol types. The various solutions have different properties which work better in specific scenarios.

What is IPA 70%?

Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) 70% is a solvent with low toxicity due to less vapor and odor and consists of 70% alcohol and 30% water. This concentration is a watered-down or diluted version of the IPA 99%. Due to its lower toxicity and flammability, the 70/30 IPA uses are for a broader range of applications such as a disinfectant in cleanrooms, medical facilities, and other general purposes.

When is 70% Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) Used?

Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) 70% can be used around the house, in industrial settings, and the medical field. Some of these uses include the following:

    • Around the house. This concentration is an excellent mixture for cleaning stainless steel appliances, mirrors, dry erase boards, etc. It can also be used as first aid to clean out cuts and scrapes before applying bandages.
    • Industrial setting. Stainless steel equipment can be wiped down and cleaned in industrial environments with the 70/30 IPA.
  • Medical field. Surfaces and medical tools are cleaned and disinfected with this mixture percentage. Doctors and hospitals use IPA 70% to clean and treat wounds to avoid infection.

  • Why is 70% the Most Effective Concentration of Isopropyl Alcohol for Disinfection?

    Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) 70% is the most efficient concentration for killing bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Once alcohol levels drop below 50% or above 70%, the disinfection properties drop sharply. Why?

    The catalyst in this scenario is water. The percentage of water in this mixture with the isopropyl alcohol is the critical factor in preventing the growth of pathogenic microorganisms by penetrating the cell wall and causing the microorganism to die. This percentage of water slows the evaporation process, increasing the time it is in contact with the surface, enhancing the effectiveness.

    Isopropyl alcohol of over 91% coagulates proteins, immediately forming a protective layer protecting other proteins from further coagulation. Solutions greater than 91% kill bacteria but require longer contact times for disinfection. This concentration enables spores to lie in a dormant state without being killed. Once conditions become favorable again, the spores once again begin to grow actively.

    As a result, Isopropyl alcohol with a concentration of over 91% doesn’t classify as a highly effective disinfectant due to its inability to kill off bacterial spores. 

    What is IPA 99%?

    IPA 99% is one of the purest forms of alcohol on the market. While it is used as a disinfectant, it is more widely used as a cleaner in manufacturing. As a cleaner, it evaporates quickly and leaves behind no residue.

    This concentration of Isopropyl alcohol does need to be appropriately stored due to it being highly flammable. It can cause dizziness if used in large quantities in areas not well vented and irritate the skin and the eyes.

    When is 99% Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) Used?

    This concentration is typically used as a cleaner for electronics, removing fats and oils, and disinfecting. It works excellent in an environment that produces water-sensitive items that favor low water content and rapid evaporation. Some of these uses include the following:

  • Cleaner. IPA 99% is non-corrosive to plastics and metals, so it works well in this cleaning scenario. Also, some of the electronics in a manufacturing setting cannot come in contact with water. IPA 99% has the lowest water concentration, making it better to use with devices such as circuit boards, computer chips, and integrated circuit adapters. It also doesn’t leave any residue behind, which can be critical during the manufacturing process at times.
  • Prevent infection. It’s often used in the tattoo and piercing industries to prevent infection.
  • Low-level disinfectant. IPA 99% is effective in disinfecting specific medical and lab-grade applications such as noncritical patient devices.
  • Everyday products. It is an effective thinner in paint strippers, as a windshield thawing agent, and to clean nails before a manicure.

  • Where Can I Buy 70% and 99% Isopropyl Alcohol?

    Lab Pro has a great selection of Isopropyl alcohol in different concentrations and volumes. Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) 70% can be purchased in a 1 pint, 1 gallon, or 55-gallon size. IPA 99% can also be purchased in a 1 pint, 1 gallon, or 55-gallon size.

    Lab Pro offers a large variety of Isopropyl Alcohol for all types of applications. For over 40 years, Lab Pro Inc. has been committed to delivering the highest quality chemicals, lab equipment, distance learning kits, lab supplies, and cleanroom PPE apparel to medical device companies and laboratories worldwide. To learn more, visit the biggest Lab Supply showroom in California, or contact us online or at 888-452-2776.

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