Rubbing alcohol is a volatile and highly flammable liquid that 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 used topically for disinfection or to soothe, cool, or warm the skin. There are a number of innovative uses for rubbing alcohol such as household cleaning, degreasing surfaces, removing harsh odors, removing sticky substances, sanitizing cell phones, removing price stickers, etc.
Rubbing alcohol is made from 70 to 95 percent ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, and a mixture of water, acetone, methyl isobutyl ketone, and several additives that give it a bitter taste. 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.
Rubbing alcohol can be applied as a cooling and soothing agent on the skin and can also be used as a minor counterirritant. People may use rubbing alcohol, for example, on a mosquito bite. Rubbing alcohol can have a cooling effect when left to evaporate off the skin or a warming effect when rubbed in. However, rubbing alcohol can be toxic if used over large areas. Rubbing alcohol is also known to harden skin; people such as rock climbers or guitar players have used rubbing alcohol for this result. Rubbing alcohol is often used as a disinfectant, for example to sanitize surgical equipment, clean a minor cut or scrape, or to prepare skin for an injection. As an antiseptic, rubbing alcohol does well against vegetative bacteria and fair against viruses and fungi.
Rubbing alcohol oxidizes over time and becomes less than effective after the expiration date listed on the bottle.