Difference Between Denatured Alcohol and Isopropyl Alcohol

Main Difference – Denatured Alcohol vs Isopropyl Alcohol

Alcohols are organic compounds having hydroxyl groups (-OH) as their functional group. These molecules can be prepared from many other compounds by chemical or biological methods. Denatured alcohol and isopropyl alcohol are two types of alcohol which differ from each other according to their nature of toxicity. The main difference between denatured alcohol and isopropyl alcohol is that denatured alcohol is composed of ethyl alcohol along with other chemical compounds whereas isopropyl alcohol is composed of only isopropyl alcohol molecules.

Key Areas Covered:

1. What is Denatured Alcohol
      – Definition, Properties, Uses
2. What is Isopropyl Alcohol
      – Definition, Properties, Uses
3. What is the difference between Denatured Alcohol and Isopropyl Alcohol
      – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Alcohol, Benzene, Denatured Alcohol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Methanol, Methyl Isobutyl Ketone, Salting in

Difference Between Denatured Alcohol and Isopropyl Alcohol - Comparison Summary

What is Denatured Alcohol?

Denatured alcohol is ethyl alcohol mixed with other chemical substances including chemicals like methanol, methyl isobutyl ketone, and benzene. This denatured alcohol is not good for human consumption since it is highly toxic due to the addition of toxic substances such as methanol. Denatured alcohol is a colorless solution. Most of the times, denatured alcohol solutions are colored by adding aniline in order to easily recognize it.

The presence of ethyl alcohol and methanol makes denatured alcohol toxic, extremely flammable and volatile. It can be absorbed through skin due to the presence of methanol. Therefore, denatured alcohol should not be used to make perfumes or bath products. However, denatured alcohol has a bad odor and a poor taste.

Denatured alcohol is used as a solvent, hand sanitizers, cosmetics, and as fuel for heating and lighting, etc. Colorless denatured alcohol can also be used to kill mildew on leather surfaces. In addition, it can be used as a solvent for dissolving compounds like glue, wax, and grease. As it does not react with glass, it can also be used for window cleaning. Although it is not good for human consumption, it is still used in cosmetic production due to its antibacterial activity.

Main Difference -  Denatured Alcohol vs  Isopropyl Alcohol

Figure 1: Denatured Alcohol colored with aniline.

What is Isopropyl Alcohol?

Isopropyl alcohol is a type of alcohol having a branched alkyl group attached to a hydroxyl group (-OH). Its chemical formula is given as C3H8O. According to the classification of alcoholic compounds, isopropyl alcohol is a secondary alcohol. That is because the carbon atom which is attached to the functional group (-OH) is bonded to two other carbon atoms directly.

Isopropyl alcohol is miscible with water due to the capability of forming intermolecular hydrogen bonds. But it is not dissolved in a salt solution. That is because the hydrogen atom in the –OH group cannot be replaced by cations present in the salt solution. Therefore, isopropyl alcohol can be separated from an aqueous solution by adding a salt. This process is known as salting in. Isopropyl alcohol is flammable, volatile and toxic, and it has a bitter taste along with a strong odor.

There are many uses of isopropyl alcohol. It is used as a good solvent for non-polar compounds, as a disinfectant and as cleaning solutions. In laboratories, it can be used as a substituent for formaldehyde when immersing biological specimens for storing.

Difference Between Denatured Alcohol and Isopropyl Alcohol

Figure 2: The Chemical Structure of Isopropyl Alcohol

Difference Between Denatured Alcohol and Isopropyl Alcohol

Definition

Denatured Alcohol: Denatured alcohol is a solution made by mixing ethyl alcohol with other chemical substances.

Isopropyl Alcohol: Isopropyl alcohol is an alcohol obtained from the fermentation of sugars or by chemical means.

Toxicity

Denatured Alcohol: Denatured alcohol is relatively high in toxicity and can cause injuries to the skin.

Isopropyl Alcohol: Isopropyl alcohol is relatively less toxic and diluted isopropyl alcohol solutions are used for medical purposes.

Chemical Composition

Denatured Alcohol: Denatured alcohol is composed of ethyl alcohol along with chemical compounds like methanol, methyl isobutyl ketone, and benzene.

Isopropyl Alcohol: Isopropyl alcohol is composed of isopropyl alcohol molecules made out of C, H and O atoms. 

Uses

Denatured Alcohol:  Denatured alcohol can be used as a solvent, fuel for heating and lightning, cosmetics, etc.

Isopropyl Alcohol: Isopropyl alcohol is used as a disinfectant and cleaning agent.

Conclusion

In organic chemistry, an alcohol is any compound having a hydroxyl group (-OH) attached to a saturated carbon in a molecule. Denatured alcohol and isopropyl alcohol are two types of alcohols that have a number of uses in different fields. The main difference between denatured alcohol and isopropyl alcohol is that denatured alcohol is composed of ethyl alcohol along with other chemical compounds whereas isopropyl alcohol is composed of only isopropyl alcohol molecules.

References:

1. “Best Uses of Denatured Alcohol.” Industrial Degreasers & Solvents. Industrial Degreasers. 01 July 2016. Web. Available here. 14 June 2017.
2. “Properties of Alcohols.” Chemistry LibreTexts. Libretexts, 28 Nov. 2016. Web. Available here. 14 June 2017.

 Image Courtesy:

1. “Denaturat” By Hiuppo – Own work (CC BY-SA 2.5) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “2-Propanol2″ By NEUROtiker (talk) – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Madhusha

Madhusha is a BSc (Hons) graduate in the field of Biological Sciences and is currently pursuing for her Masters in Industrial and Environmental Chemistry. Her interest areas for writing and research include Biochemistry and Environmental Chemistry.

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