Isopropyl Alcohol: What is An IPA Cleaner?

Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) is a compound with the chemical formula C3H8O or C3H7OH or CH3CHOHCH3. Chemical elements that form the compound make it colorless — a desirable quality for cleaning minutely porous materials that could absorb color from cleaners — and highly evaporable, which makes it an optimal solution for cleaning soils from electronics.

Consequently, care must taken when using an IPA in an environment that has ignition sources. Fire hazard must also be considered when storing the popular cleaner. And workers who use IPA regularly can benefit from wearing respirators — and potentially other protective gear, depending on whether IPA is combined with other elements to create an IPA cleaner.

Classes of IPA

There are several classes of IPA based on intended use: industrial, cosmetic, pharmaceutical (USP), reagent, and electronic. At Ecolink, we specialize in IPA for general industrial use and cleaning electronics. Industrial grade IPA is primarily used as a solvent and cleaner. Electronic IPA is used in the same capacity, cleaning printed circuit boards (PCB) and flat panel displays (FPD), along with a many other electrical parts and apparatuses.

IPA Vs. IPA Cleaner

IPA from IPA cleaner is splitting hairs. IPA itself is a formidable cleaner; albeit, one with various purity levels that impact how and where it is used. The term ”IPA cleaner” commonly refers to cleaners containing the compound along with other active ingredients.

An IPA cleaner — as distinguished from pure IPA — commonly refers to cleaners using IPA to create industrial cleaner, such as IPA-based acetone, 2-bromopropane, and propene. However, because IPA with high a purity level is an excellent cleaner, organizations often use IPA alone, both as a general cleaner and a solvent for cleaning electronic components.

IPA Purity Levels

The efficacy and range of application for IPA depends on its purity. For example, pharmacy-grade rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizers, and disinfecting wipes commonly use a 60%–70% IPA solution in water. But industrial grade IPA frequently contains over 99% pure IPA.

The high purity enhances the compound’s natural qualities. Beneficial for cleaning electronics, evaporation rate increases. Another benefit is that high-purity IPA cleaner is affordable and more efficacious compared to other solutions (e.g., ethanol, n-butanol, and methanol). for some of the same applications.

IPA’s primary downsides are high flammability and high evaporation rate. As mentioned previously, the high evaporation is excellent for cleaning electronics; however, depending on the amount used, a special air filtration system and personal protective equipment (PPE) may be needed in the application environment.

Need an IPA Cleaner?

If you’re in the market for an IPA cleaner, check out our lineup of IPA solutions before you buy. We offer high-purity IPA, with the option to acquire it in bulk supply, standard shipments, or as needed. We also offer free samples of all cleaners, so you can try before your buy.

To explore IPA cleaner opportunities at Ecolink, call us today at (800) 563-1305, or send us an email through our contact form. We look forward to supplying high-purity IPA for your general and electronics-based cleaning needs!