Rubbing alcohol can cause permanent injury or death if consumed. It is important that you properly use this substance by always reading the label carefully. Rubbing alcohol is typically 70% isopropanol by mass and 30% water. There are usually also additives that give it a bitter taste or make it poisonous. Some of these added ingredients include methanol and ethanol. Some rubbing alcohols may contain perfumes or artificial coloring. The addition of poisons and bitter-tasting ingredients render rubbing alcohol unfit for human consumption. Inhalation poisoning is also a risk and it is important to use rubbing alcohol in a well-ventilated area.
Direct consumption of rubbing alcohol can lead to severe intestinal problems, severe pain, liver damage, and in some cases death. If the rubbing alcohol consumed contains methanol, it can cause blindness. The lethal dose of rubbing alcohol is estimated at about 8 oz but this can vary widely, as rubbing alcohols vary in their ingredients and the levels of poisonous alcohols such as methanol, isopropyl, and ethanol.
If you drink rubbing alcohol you will experience alcohol poisoning. General symptoms of alcohol poisoning include but are not limited to: vomiting, confusion, low body temperature, slow breathing, seizures, pale or blueish skin, and unconsciousness. Isopropyl alcohol affects the central nervous system and poisoning due to this alcohol can include symptoms such as lethargy, ataxia, or entering into a coma. A person who has ingested Isopropyl alcohol will also have experienced damage to their GI tract, resulting in stomach pain, cramps and hemorrhagic gastritis.
As mentioned, poisoning from rubbing alcohol can be deadly. If you or someone you know has directly consumed rubbing alcohol it is important that treatment is received immediately. Call 911 or go to an emergency room. Keep the poisoned person upright or at the very least keep their head turned so that they do not choke on any vomit.