UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Toxicology

Title: Rubbing Alcohol - Dangerous?

Keywords: Isopropanol, toxic alcohol, poisoning (PubMed Search)

Posted: 10/4/2007 by Fermin Barrueto, MD (Updated: 7/13/2024)
Click here to contact Fermin Barrueto, MD

Isopropanol (Commonly Rubbing Alcohol)
  • Rubbing alcohol is 70% isopropanol, like drinking Bacardi 151 (151 proof)
  • This is NOT a toxic alcohol in the traditional sense
  • This causes a large ketosis, large osmol gap but NO anion gap and no acidosis
  • This is because isopropanol is metabolized to acetone (a ketone) not an acid
  • Toxicity: inebriation, hemorrhagic gastritis, sedation to the point of death/intubation