Uses of 96-degree alcohol


Surely you have in your first aid kit a bottle of alcohol of 96 or 70 degrees, you may even have both. Have you ever wondered what they are for or which of them is better? We all know the disinfectant and bactericidal power of alcohol, but in these moments of doubt, many readers wonder if alcohol works against the coronavirus or if it completely kills bacteria and germs.

Uses of 96-degree alcohol

In this article, we want to shed some light on the subject and tell you all the uses of 96-degree alcohol, what is the difference between both types of alcohol and, most importantly, what is the most effective type of alcohol to disinfect.

Does 96-degree alcohol work against the coronavirus?

96-degree alcohol, also called ethyl alcohol or ethanol, is a potent antiseptic for the skin that has the ability to destroy germs, reduce the number of microorganisms found in the skin and even prevent the appearance of them.

While it is not correct to say that 96-degree alcohol effectively kills coronavirus (COVID-19), the World Health Organization recommends the following measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and avoid cotagio [1]:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 40-60 seconds, making sure to cover your thumbs, the spaces between your fingers and the entire back of your hand well with soap.
  • Disinfect them with products based on ethyl or isopropyl alcohol, as alcohol-based disinfectant gels have the ability to destroy viruses and other microorganisms.

In any case, the best thing you can do is wash your hands and apply the disinfectant immediately afterwards. In this way, you will destroy as many germs as possible and decrease your chances of getting infected.

As for the disinfection of surfaces, the ability of germs to survive on any surface can be from hours to days, everything will depend on the conditions to which they are exposed such as temperature, humidity of the environment, among other factors.

As a preventive measure, it is advisable to clean surfaces, especially those with greater contact such as railings, knobs or handles. The cleaner and more sanitized our hands are, the less chance there is of viruses and microorganisms surviving in them. If you are looking for hand sanitizers, furniture and clothing, you will find more than one recipe in our article How to make homemade disinfectant.

Do you want a very practical trick? Add 2 tablespoons of 96-degree alcohol to 250 grams of aloe vera, pour it into a bottle with a dispenser and you can take a homemade disinfectant anywhere. Keep in mind that this disinfectant does NOT have the same effectiveness as those manufactured in laboratories and sold by pharmacies, because at home it cannot be made with the sterilization conditions it needs. You can follow a more potent recipe in our article Alcohol disinfectant, hydrogen peroxide and glycerin.

Continued use of alcohol can dehydrate and irritate the skin. Use moisturizers so as not to damage it.

What is 96-degree alcohol for?

Surely on some occasion you have wondered what ethyl alcohol is and if it has something to do with the one you have at home. Ethyl alcohol is nothing more than the 96-degree alcohol you find in pharmacies that is often used as a wound disinfectant.

Ethyl alcohol is a powerful antiseptic that can be used in times of high virus contagion such as the flu. It is a colorless chemical compound that is mainly used to disinfect areas of the skin that have been in contact with viruses or microorganisms and prevent infections, but alcohol 96 has other uses that you may not know. These are the most frequent:

Acts as a deodorant

One of the uses of alcohol that surely you did not imagine is that of deodorant. Its antiseptic power, together with its ability to eliminate bacteria and bad smell, make it a deodorant product that we can use in case we do not have the specific product.

We do not recommend using it daily because commercial deodorants, although they also carry alcohol among their ingredients, contain numerous components that also take care of your skin, moisturizing and nourishing it. You can prepare your own deodorant by adding alcohol to the recipe that we present in our article How to make homemade deodorant.

Eliminates lice

When we talk about eliminating parasites such as lice, home remedies such as tea tree always come to mind. However, did you know that alcohol is also a remedy to combat pediculosis? To create your remedy against lice you just have to mix it with a few drops of lavender oil. Spray it to make it easier to apply and spray it on your hair. It is important that you leave on at least 1 hour before rinsing and using the nit or comb for lice. Find out more in our article How to remove lice and nits with folk remedies.

Removes enamels and other substances

Alcohol can remove nail polish, although it will do so more slowly than acetone, so we only recommend this method as an alternative or emergency method. So that it does not cost you to remove the enamel, we advise you:

  1. Soak cotton in alcohol and lightly press each nail so that it soaks well with product.
  2. Proceed to remove the enamel on each finger by exerting a slight pressure of the cotton with the thumb and circular movements, as if you were giving a massage.
  3. Applying this technique instead of rubbing the cotton insistently on the nail, your nail plate will suffer less.

In addition to nail polish, alcohol can also be helpful in removing glue and other sticky substances that are difficult to remove from surfaces. We do not recommend using it on delicate surfaces such as varnished woods.

Differences between 70-degree and 96-degree alcohol

The main difference between 70-degree and 96-degree alcohol is the volume of alcohol they both contain. The former contains 70 volumes of ethyl alcohol per 100 milliliters, while the latter contains 96 volumes of ethyl alcohol per 100 milliliters.

If you want to know where to buy 96-degree alcohol, you should know that both this and 70-degree alcohol are sold in pharmacies, parapharmacies, drugstores, perfumeries or supermarkets.

What is the best alcohol to disinfect

Although the alcohol found in most homes is 96 degrees, if it is going to be used alone and not in antibacterial gel formula, the 70 degrees exerts a greater bactericidal action, eliminating up to 90% of the bacteria in an application. It is true that its action is slower, but by acting in this way, it manages to reach the microorganisms better without irritating the skin excessively.

For this bactericidal effect to be optimal, it is convenient to take into account a series of tips in its application:

  • It is more effective if it is applied in the area to be disinfected and left exposed for 2-3 minutes than if it is touched with a cotton.
  • It should not be mixed with other disinfectant products to “increase” its effectiveness, as you could lose it.
  • It should not be used in cavities such as mouth or ears.
  • It should never be applied to open or bleeding wounds.

In addition to ethyl alcohol or ethanol, isopropyl alcohol is also a powerful disinfectant and antiseptic widely used in hospitals and health centers.


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