Ethyl v Isopropyl – What should Medical Centers in The Philippines Use?


It might be something that a lot of us decide on based on smells but do we really know the difference between ethyl and isopropyl alcohol? Aside from the day and night difference between their spelling, can we really tell by smell alone which cleans better? Should how much mahapdi (stinging) it is on the wound matter to how better it acts? Should medical centers in the Philippines even consider the difference?

The Basic Difference

Isopropyl is made from crude oil and ethyl is produced from yeast, the latter being the kind of alcohol we find in and mix with beverages. That’s why beer, as a product of fermentation, is alcoholic—it has ethyl.

The Price Difference

Why they differ in prices is because isopropyl can be easier to make. Isopropyl can be produced through chemical reactions, mostly by dehydrating or hydrating propylene or hydrogenating acetone. Ethyl, on the other hand, needs raw ingredients like corn, yeast, and sugar and additionally has to undergo a time-consuming transformation through fermentation. That’s why wine is so expensive, too!

The Toxicity Difference

Ethyl and Isopropyl are both toxic substance. At 100% potency, they are just dehydration agents and do so little cleaning so don’t be thinking that pure ethyl and isopropyl will disinfect better. Even though ethyl is used for alcohol, it is toxic in high concentrations that’s why commercial alcohol has percentage on the label—it needs to be mixed with other substances to get certain effects.

The Disinfecting Difference

Getting to the real question: which is more effective? Well, they actually both are good as disinfecting, it’s just that, because isopropyl is easier to make, it’s cheaper and thus a better household brand. Both of them disinfect from common bacteria and some viruses just the same, it’s just that ethyl covers more ground that’s why it is better preferred in hospitals and that’s why ethyl takes the cake as the preferred alcohol in medical centers in the Philippines.

And just for your piece of mind, no, ethyl and isopropyl do not sting differently. They are both going to hurt when applied to your wound.

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