Ethyl Alcohol vs. Isopropyl Alcohol: Which One is The Best for Hand Sanitizers?

Updated: Dec 29, 2020

Ever since the outbreak of novel Coronavirus that has led to the COVID-19 pandemic, hand sanitizers have become an indispensable part of our life. This has led to a sudden surge in demand for hand sanitizers. Before the pandemic, only a handful of people used hand sanitizers or even knew about them. This rapid increase in demand is evident from the fact that ethanol suppliers and isopropyl alcohol suppliers have been working relentlessly to fulfil this spike in demand. While it is recommended to use soap and water to wash the hands, this is not practically possible every time. Hence, you would see people carrying small bottles of hand sanitizers, manufactured using Ethyl Alcohol or Isopropyl Alcohol, in their pocket.

  • There are plenty of sanitizers available in the market.

  • The core component or the active ingredient in a hand sanitizer is alcohol, a broad spectrum antimicrobial.

  • There are non-alcohol based sanitizers available too. However, for preventing the spread of the novel Coronavirus, hand sanitizers, having a minimum alcohol concentration of 60-70 percent, are recommended by the WHO.

One question that bothers many people is whether the alcohol used in hand sanitizers is the same as the one used in alcoholic beverages like whiskey, wine, rum, etc.

Ethyl Alcohol vs. Isopropyl Alcohol

The two most common types of hand sanitizers that you will come across in the market are:

  • Ethyl alcohol based

  • Isopropyl alcohol based

Ethyl alcohol:

  • Ethyl alcohol, also known as ethanol is the most popular and widely used alcohol.

  • Also called grain alcohol, it is consumed as an intoxicant and is present in alcoholic beverages like beer, whiskey, etc.

  • However, the ethanol obtained from any leading ethanol supplier used in hand sanitizers is denatured ethanol.

Isopropyl alcohol:

  • Isopropyl alcohol, also known as isopropanol or 2-propanol is just rubbing alcohol used commonly as a solvent in pharmaceutical industries.

  • It is also an important constituent of aftershave lotions and hand lotions.

  • Isopropyl alcohol is extremely dangerous and cannot be consumed like ethyl alcohol.

Even though both ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol belong to the family of alcohols, they vary in their chemical structures. The former is a primary alcohol (hydroxyl group attached to primary carbon), while the latter is a secondary alcohol (hydroxyl group attached to secondary carbon).

  • Ethanol is less reactive than isopropanol.

  • Ethanol does not dehydrate easily, while isopropanol does.

Ethanol procured from a top ethanol supplier and isopropanol obtained from a leading isopropyl alcohol supplier function in a similar way to kill viruses by disrupting the protein and lipid components. According to a recommendation by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, using 65 to 95 alcohols (either ethanol or isopropanol) is enough to do the job of killing viruses.

Considering that hand sanitizers would become a new normal, even in the post Coronavirus world, both ethanol suppliers in Gujarat and isopropyl alcohol suppliers in Gujarat would be under tremendous pressure to fulfil the country's demands as well as exports.