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Isopropyl alcohol

n the cannabis world, isopropyl alcohol is used to disinfect and clean tools, pipes, bongs, and rigs; it’s great for getting sticky resin off surfaces. In the illicit market, it has been used to make hash, though it is not recommended to do so because it contains toxic substances. Ethanol alcohols, such as liquors, are recommended instead.

“I used to make iso hash back in the day, but I put that away when I stopped making pipes from soda cans; now I dab high-quality ethanol hash oil.” 

What is isopropyl alcohol?

There are many types of alcohol, each with their own use. Ethanol alcohol, which is found in liquors, is safe for consumption and can be used to make cannabis tinctures or hash. Other alcohols, such as denatured alcohol and isopropyl alcohol, or rubbing alcohol, are generally not safe for human consumption. 

Isopropyl alcohol is commonly sold with 70% or 99% alcohol by volume (ABV), but other ABVs are available. It is not advisable to consume isopropyl alcohol even in small amounts, which is why it’s primarily used as a disinfectant. When it comes to using it as a disinfectant, a higher ABV does not always equate to a stronger effect. 

Isopropyl alcohol is a colorless liquid that is highly flammable. In addition to its use as a disinfectant, it is used to make cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, perfumes, dye solutions, antifreeze, soap, and other chemicals. 

The antibacterial properties of isopropyl alcohol are well documented but the exact mechanism of action is not known; it is speculated that it could “kill cells by denaturing cell proteins and DNA, interfering with cellular metabolism, and dissolving cell lipo-protein membranes.” 

In the cannabis world, while using isopropyl alcohol in hashmaking is not unheard of, it is frowned upon and usually used for disinfecting and cleaning. Isopropyl alcohol depresses the central nervous system (CNS) and poisoning can occur through inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption. Symptoms include dizziness, headache, hypothermia, low blood pressure, nausea, respiratory depression, and coma. It has been reported that isopropyl alcohol overdoses can be identified by a fruity odor on the breath, due to the metabolism of acetone.