Ethanol is a very versatile substance. Most people use it as a household cleaning chemical or as a disinfectant. The product is also very popular for solvent extraction. You can buy it from chemical stores such as Simple Solvents.
Although we use it on a constant basis, people don't know much about its molecular properties. For example, a lot of users wonder does ethanol expires. And, if the product has gone past its shelf life, will it lose its potency?
There are several things that affect ethanol expiration data as well as effectiveness. We will analyze all these factors, so make sure to stick with us!
Ethanol and rubbing alcohol
Oftentimes, people confuse ethanol and rubbing alcohol. While there is some connection, these are not the same substances.
Rubbing alcohol is isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol) a chemical with a strong smell. It is colorless, like water, and you can see right through it.
The main chemical substance found within this product is isopropyl alcohol. Keep in mind that isopropyl and ethanol are not the same, although they have very similar chemical structures.
Almost every rubbing alcohol on the market will have over 60% isopropyl alcohol content. The rest of it will be water.
It is very important for rubbing alcohol to have a high water percentage in order to be efficient. Without it, the alcohol component would quickly dissipate and would not be able to eliminate microbes on the surface.
Besides disinfecting the skin, rubbing alcohol can be utilized for any other type of surface. In order to yield optimal results, a substance should have between 70 to 90% alcohol. According to data, items with 70% alcohol concentration are the best ones as they represent the perfect ratio of water and isopropyl.
On the other hand, ethanol is a chemical that we can utilize for botanical extraction and some other processes. It comes in various concentrations. It is often used as a replacement to rubbing alcohol as a cleaner, disinfectant and antiseptic.
Having water in the ethanol is beneficial for these uses. For botanical extraction, it is recommended to use 200 proof pure ethanol or CDA 12A (completely denatured ethanol with n heptane).
Pure ethanol is regarded as one of the best solvents on the market. Companies often use it for oils and, in particular, cannabis oil.
What is the ethanol expiration date?
All types of alcohol have expiration dates. Whether we’re talking about rubbing alcohol, some denatured products, or pure ethanol, they will all have a specific shelf life.
You can check their expectancy on the label. It might also be disclosed directly on the bottle.
Depending on who made the product, its expiration date can go from 2 to 3 years. Generally speaking, most companies will be able to utilize their ethanol during this period of time, even if they bought the substance in bulk.
Keep in mind that the chemical compound is commonly used for plant processing or creating chemical products. So, brands will need enormous quantities of it on a weekly basis.
The main reason why the substance expires is that the alcohol component will evaporate when you expose it to the air. Whenever you open a barrel, some alcohol will vanish while the water content will remain the same. As a result, the substance will become more diluted if you were to use it over a prolonged period of time.
In addition, the ethanol reacts to oxygen and as a result, the levels of acetal and acetaldehyde are increased over time. These increased impurities could make the ethanol fall out of purity specifications for food or pharmaceutical grade.
No matter what you do, it will be very hard to prevent ethanol from evaporating.
Can you still utilize ethanol when it expires?
As mentioned, even if a product doesn't expire per se, its alcohol concentration will be reduced over time. This can be a major issue for any product, especially for those with high water concentrations.
For example, pure ethanol will have a negligible percentage of water, and it will not get as diluted as 70% ethanol. Instead, the only thing that will happen is that its overall content will get lower over time.
Depending on why you're using the substance, you may or may not use expired ethanol. Companies and individual consumers might still be able to get good results from the item even if it has evaporated a bit. In most cases, it has to do with the water/alcohol ratio after evaporation.
Let's take 90% ethanol as an example. The substance will be great for disinfecting areas as long as it has somewhere between 70 to 90% alcohol concentration.
Even if a part of the alcohol component has vanished, the product as a whole can still provide results. But, if it goes below 70% concentration, it will no longer be as efficient in destroying microbes.
If you're utilizing pure ethanol for botanical extraction or for certain chemical products, you will probably need the highest concentration possible. The substance doesn't work well when it drops below a certain percentage, so that's something you should be aware of.
You need to be wary of impurities that cause harm to the body. Ethanol that has been stored improperly or that is severely expired should not be used.
How does ethanol’s effectiveness change?
At one point, ethanol alcohol will become almost useless. This is why you need to use it as soon as possible and plan your consumption beforehand.
Here are the main factors that are relevant to its effectiveness and expiration date.
How to store and use ethanol properly?
Here are several other things that will help you utilize the substance properly:
Frequently Asked Questions
Does 70% Ethanol Expire?
Alcohol's expiration depends on the storage method and the temperature. Enclosed solvents last longer and retain their initial alcohol percentage for about 7–360 days. Ethanol in open containers last approximately 3–60 days.
That stability also depends on whether you’ve stored the containers at ambient or room temperature.
How Long Does It Take for Ethanol to Expire?
Alcoholic beverages may lose their pure, original, and savory taste and smell after 6–8 months. This occurrence is because there is a loss of many preservation factors. For example, there’s no wood from casks to maintain the drink’s smooth taste.
You’ll want to improve storage measures to extend your liquor’s shelf life. Storing your drink in dark places and maintaining containers in an upright position works well. Or you might want to cool some beverages in fridges (e.g., cream liqueurs).
Drink your favorite refreshments a few hours after opening. This measure helps stimulate your taste buds and quench your thirst with a well-carbonated, tasty, and cool drink. Enjoy yourself!
Will Your Finishing Solvents Expire Over Time?
No, not if you store them well. That convenience applies to lacquer thinners, acetone, mineral spirits, and denatured alcohol.
Expert woodworkers, therefore, say that you ought to store your solvents in closed containers. This action helps prevent alcohol evaporation. And you get to maintain the product’s effectiveness in thinning and cleaning up finishes.
Can You Pour Expired Isopropyl Alcohol Down the Sink?
Rubbing alcohol has a 3-year shelf life after opening. And you risk many accidents when you leave the IPA bottles open. So, how can you discard the useless products safely?
One popular method is to pour the solvent into the sink, sanitary drain, or toilet. Remember to dilute the rubbing alcohol in your disposal method of choice at the ratio of 1:10 (IPA: Water). And wear eyeglasses and gloves when flushing.
What if you get the solvent on your skin or eyes?
Good question! And don’t worry, clean the affected area with water or normal saline for about 20 minutes. Consult a doctor if the irritation persists.
Recycle bottles that contain expired isopropyl alcohol to protect the environment. How? Clean and rinse the bottle thoroughly with cold water and dispose of it. You also wouldn’t want the garbage handlers to hurt themselves.
What Can You Do With Old Hand Sanitizer?
Discard old sanitizers in permitted landfills. You might also consider a legitimate recycling company to salvage the alcohol or the product materials. All those measures help foster a safe environment.
Can I Use Expired Ethyl Alcohol?
Yes, you can use the solvent for some low-standard cleaning applications. But you won’t benefit much from the product’s effectiveness. Therefore, you wouldn’t want to sanitize, extract or make cosmetics with it.
Why? Because there will be more water than alcohol.
And, in the case of disinfecting, this combination is below standard for killing bacteria, viruses, and other germs. Hence, you might consider using soap and water instead.
What Is the Shelf Life of 190 and 200 Proof Ethanol?
Experts predict you can use this product for about three years after opening it. But it would be best to consider your alcohol concentration and the storage conditions. So, buy your product in manageable batches instead.