Although both are forms of alcohol, ethyl alcohol and Isopropyl alcohol have more differences than similarities. The differences begin at the sources they are made from. Ethel alcohol is most commonly derived from corn and isopropyl alcohol is derived from propene which can come from fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum or natural gas. Ethyl alcohol is subject to an excise tax by the federal government according to its percent proof. Isopropyl alcohol is only subject to sales tax.
Ethyl alcohol is alcohol for drinking and Isopropyl alcohol is alcohol for topical application. Ethyl alcohol can be found in alcoholic beverages. Isopropyl alcohol is alcohol that is used topically to kill germs and is a common ingredient in soaps, shampoos and cleaners, among other things. Isopropyl alcohol will cause illness or even death if it is ingested. Ethyl alcohol, on the other hand, is mainly used for drinking. Ethyl alcohol is usually sold in a diluted form for safety when drinking and although illness can occur, it's not likely unless great amounts are consumed.
Ethyl Alcohol Manufacturing
Ethyl alcohol is manufactured by reacting ethane with steam. Ethane is derived from a natural source, most commonly corn in the United States. From this, only 5 percent of the ethene is converted into ethanol gas on each pass through the steam process, so it is run through many times to achieve a 95 percent conversion of ethene to ethanol. Ethanol gasses are then cooled to form liquid ethyl alcohol. It can then be sold as pure "grain alcohol" for drinking, mixed with other edible ingredients or denatured to make it unfit for drinking to be used in industrial applications.
Isopropyl Alcohol Manufacturing
Isopropyl alcohol is made from fossil fuels that are processed through a hydration process where the propene derived from the fossil fuel is combined with water causing a chemical reaction. Distillation then occurs to process out any byproducts to form pure isopropyl alcohol. This can then be mixed back with a percent of distilled water or sold in pure form. It can also be used as ingredient in healthcare or cleaning products at this point.
Both ethyl and isopropyl alcohol are sold as antiseptics and are flammable. Otherwise, the forms vary greatly. Ethyl alcohol is considered "pure" alcohol, even when it is mixed with water and other ingredients. Ethyl alcohol can be purchased in a pure form, called grain alcohol. It is denatured and sold as a paint stripper, harsh cleanser or in other industrial non-edible forms. Isopropyl alcohol is sold in a diluted mixture of 72 percent to be less harsh as a topical treatment and at 99 percent for use as antiseptic rubbing alcohol or for use as a flammable agent. There is no edible form of isopropyl alcohol.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
Denatured Alcohol Vs. Isopropyl Alcohol
Alcohol is the name of a group of compounds with a hydroxyl group, consisting of an oxygen and hydrogen atom, attached to...
What Is Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol?
Alcohols are a class of organic compounds, one of which is isopropyl alcohol, (CH3)2CH2OH, also called rubbing alcohol, isopropanol or 2-propanol (the...
Ethanol vs. Isopropyl Alcohol to Disinfect
Ethanol and isopropyl alcohol are both members of the alcohol family and have similar disinfectant properties. Ethanol is the type of alcohol...
Uses for Rubbing Alcohol
Not to be confused with ethyl (drinking) alcohol, rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) is a household product that has many uses. It is an...
Is Methanol & Isopropyl Alcohol the Same Thing?
Methanol and isopropyl alcohol both have industrial uses, and both are toxic to humans and other mammals. Their chemical structures and other...
What Is the Difference Between Rubbing Alcohol & Peroxide?
Rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide are both commonly found in home medicine cabinets, first aid kits and doctor's offices. Although they look...
What Is the Difference Between Ethanol & Alcohol?
Ethanol is one of many kinds of alcohol. It is also known as ethyl alcohol. The three types of alcohol -- primary,...
Isopropanol Alcohol Vs. Isopropyl Alcohol
Isopropanol alcohol is synonymous with Isopropyl Alcohol. There is no difference in the chemical composition of the compound. The chemical formula is...
Main Types of Alcohol
In chemistry, there are three major types of alcohol. These include isopropyl alcohol, methyl alcohol and ethyl alcohol. Each of these types...