Can You Microwave Rubbing Alcohol (Isopropyl Alcohol)?

Rubbing alcohol is a colorless chemical that is found in many household cleaning agents, sanitizers, and for health or manufacturing purposes. It is a sensitive chemical, that one needs to take care of when handling it, to avoid damage to your health and the environment.

Do you have a bottle of rubbing alcohol, which was previously known as isopropanol or isopropyl alcohol, and wonder if it’s safe to heat it? or if you can quickly heat it in the microwave

No, it is best not to heat rubbing alcohol, except you’re using scientific equipment made for that exact purpose. This is because it is extremely flammable, and shouldn’t be handled near high heat, microwave heat, or open flames. 

Rubbing alcohol is quite sensitive, but at the same time very useful and also dangerous. This article shall be discussing the major uses of rubbing alcohol, how to properly store it, and if it’s safe to microwave it. 

Microwave
Image: Envato Elements

Rubbing Alcohol And Its Major Uses

Rubbing alcohol is a clear chemical compound, that is very sensitive, flammable, and has a strong odor. It is used by many manufacturers to produce sanitizers, disinfectants, household cleaning agents, and some health-related products. 

Rubbing alcohol is safe when used in moderation, and according to the right usage. One shouldn’t ingest rubbing alcohol as it is harmful and should be kept out of children’s reach. It is also advised to wear protective coverings, like safety goggles or gloves when handling rubbing alcohol.

However, rubbing alcohol has a number of major uses, which are helpful both at home and even for industrial use. Let’s highlight below, some major uses of rubbing alcohol:

  • Rubbing alcohol is used in producing hand sanitizer.
  • It is used in the production of cosmetics and after-shave lotion products. 
  • It can be used to clean off products from mirrors.
  • It is used in the process of making paint.
  • It is used to clean blinders.
  • It can be helpful to treat wounds or injuries.
  • It can be used to prevent car doors or locks from freezing.
  • It can be used to remove glue residue.
  • It can be used to clean oil or ink stains from fabrics.
  • It can be used to clean and disinfect surfaces around homes. It also doubles for killing germs on surfaces. 
  • It can be used to extract DNA in medical laboratories. 

As earlier mentioned, there is a need to practice safe handling when using rubbing alcohol, and if it comes in contact with your skin or eyes, wash thoroughly with soap and water. If there’s any irritation, seek medical help immediately. 

In the case of ingestion, the victim should be given lots of water to dilute the substance, and if it’s a case of inhaling, go to an open area for fresh air, and seek medical help if there are any cases of breathing difficulties. 

Let’s further discuss, if it’s safe to microwave rubbing alcohol and how to properly store or dispose of rubbing alcohol; 

Can You Heat/Microwave Rubbing Alcohol?

Can You Microwave Rubbing Alcohol (Isopropyl Alcohol)
Image: Apartment Therapy

Although it is possible to microwave rubbing alcohol, if you’re safe and careful enough, there wouldn’t be any explosion or harmful inhalation. However, it is strictly advised not to heat, microwave, or expose rubbing alcohol to open flames. As this could lead to an explosion or harm to your health and the environment. 

Heating rubbing alcohol in a microwave may cause appliance damage, burns, or injuries to oneself or the risk of open flames. Although most microwaves are built to contain or resist small sparks and fires, this doesn’t pertain to rubbing alcohol as it is highly flammable. 

It is best to leave it to professionals or industrialists to heat rubbing alcohol, and stick to the safe and domestic use of rubbing alcohol. Also, as you can use rubbing alcohol to clean the microwave, don’t forget to turn it off or unplug the microwave when cleaning. 

Lastly, even if you successfully microwave rubbing alcohol, because of its low vaporization point, it immediately starts to cool off when removed from its heat source and becomes a fire or flame threat. 

using the microwave
Image: Envato Elements

How To Properly Store And Dispose of Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol should be carefully stored in an air/tight container and placed in a well-ventilated room. Avoid storing it close to the window panes to avoid direct sunlight. Check the expiration dates before purchasing, to avoid buying and storing it, past its expiration dates. 

Also, store it away from heat sources or sparks to avoid explosion or inferno accidents. Ensure to comply with your state’s guidelines and laws on chemical disposal.

Lastly, when disposing of, it is best to do so with airtight thrash bags and be sure to label them, so people are aware and practice careful handling of the disposed of product.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I mix rubbing alcohol and hot water? 

The combination of rubbing alcohol, hot water, and dish soap helps prevent further icing and speeds up the melting process.

Does mixing alcohol with water make it weaker?

The answer is No. The mixture of water with alcohol does not dilute the alcohol strength. Instead, it simply distributes it in a larger volume.

Is it OK to mix vinegar and rubbing alcohol?

Yes, it is. Mixing rubbing alcohol with white vinegar makes a quickly evaporating spray glass and mirror cleaner, that is helpful for domestic or household cleaning.

Conclusion

Rubbing alcohol has numerous major uses, that are essential around the home, for domestic and also industrial purposes.

Rubbing alcohol is a one-step solution as a household cleaning agent, for sanitizers, helping treat wounds, and speeding up ice-melting processes. 

However, it is advisable not to heat or microwave rubbing alcohol. This is because of its low vaporization temperature, it is extremely toxic and has a high flammable concentration. It is best when it is safely heated by professionals using scientific equipment built for that particular purpose.

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