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What is isopropl alchol spray used for?

Posted on 2011-05-13
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11

I saw this in a local IT shop but they didnt know what you can / cant use it on.
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Question by:fcek
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by:Dangle79
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ID: 35754342
my best guess would be to clean thermal paste off of chips and sinks.
was it an aerosol or a pump spray?
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by:fcek
ID: 35754365
It was in a pressurised container like a deodorant cant.  It has a straw attachment.
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by:flubbster
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In addition, it can also be used for (as far as PC's are concerned)

Cleaning Laser Lenses on CD and DVD player/recoreder
Removing flux after a circuit board repair
Cleaning contact pins on expansion slots and edge connectors
Removing stains from LCD screens (caution if used on non-glare screens)

those are just a few. There are many uses for it because it evaporates very quickly.
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by:Dangle79
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ah
would have to be for cleaning. being able to direct solvents like that would be especially handy for printers
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by:fcek
ID: 35754587


So can it be sprayed on a motherboard?  I presume that the power must be off when this is happening.

Cleaning LCDs - I heard that  isopropl had to be mixed 50/50 with distilled water.  I wonder is this done to get more out of the isopropol - to stretch it so to speak.  Distilled water is a fraction of the price.
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by:Dangle79
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ID: 35754618
correct.

also, you can clean a dirty keyboard in the dishwasher, sans detergent of course. just make sure you give it plenty of time to get good and dry before you try to run it again.

used to run IT for a public library, we'd occassionaly run a full load in the washer from our patron internet terminals to return them back to their original color.
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aleghart earned 732 total points
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Isopropyl alcohol, or other solvents like acetone or fluorocarbons, may damage the coatings on an LCD screen.  Some aerosol products also have a bitterant added to deter huffers.  That leaves a residue behind if you use it to clean screens or keyboards.
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by:themmer650
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ID: 35757100
Actually its a fancy name for rubbing alcohol.  Cleans lots of stuff!
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by:BillDL
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Wikipedia is your friend with such queries:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isopropyl_alcohol

Ethanol (Ethyl Alcohol) is the stuff you drink to get drunk.  Methanol (Methyl Alcohol) is the bad "wood alcohol" that you sometimes get when you distill your own spirits in your back yard and it makes you go blind much quicker and with less consumption than Ethanol.  You can use Ethanol and Methanol in internal combustion engines or as a fuel enhancement for performance cars.  Both are commonly produced by fermenting the sugars in vegetable matter and steaming off the alcohol by distillation.

Isopropyl Alcohol (also known as Propanol or IPA) smells kind of similar to the other alcohols, and just kills you or your liver in a slightly different way when breathed in, absorbed by the skin, or drunk.  It is what they call a "secondary alcohol" that is synthetically produced by separating it from other liquids (eg. Propene) and then distilling off the separated layer.

It comes in different concentrations depending on the intended uses.  For example, the disinfecting swabs used to wipe your arm before they take a blood sample, or to wipe a wound, is often about three quarters pure Isopropyl Alcohol and a quarter distilled water (or may be "surgical spirits" - see below).  I don't know what concentration the "de-icer" aerosol cans are, but they generally contain the same alcohol or the much more toxic and sticky Ethylene Glycol that is used as an anti-freeze coolant additive in cars.  If you've ever seen a brain in a jar, then it's either in pure nearly 100% Isopropyl Alcohol or the nastier Formaldehyde.  Ever watched CSI when they do the DNA analysis?  They use Isopropyl Alcohol to separate the DNA from the sample containing it.

If you ever used an old cassette tape player/recorder you will have seen brown stuff eventually getting layered onto the metal spindles and rubber pinch wheels, and your tapes would have played back all wonky.  You had to use a cleaning tape with little pads and a cloth "tape" onto which you put Isopropyl Alcohol and it rubbed the coating off.  With time the alcohol would harden the rubber.  You used to have to use a velvet pad to clean old vinyl records in a circular motion, and the same alcohol was applied to the pad.  The reason it is used is because it evaporates quite quickly before it damages things, but to mitigate the damage they used "denatured" Isopropyl Alcohol.

"Rubbing Alcohol" can be Ethyl, Methyl, or Isopropyl Alcohol, and quite often a mixure of more than one.  It is often known as "Surgical Spirits" and goes cloudy if you mix it with water just as the Greek Ouzo, French Pernod, Turkish Raki, and other similar strong (drinking) spirits. Where people get blisters from new shoes, it is the Methanol content in "rubbing alcohol" that helps to harden the affected areas.

The alcohol you usually get in the form of "record cleaning solution" and "rubbing alcohol" is usually "denatured", which is to say that it has been modified to render it unfit for human consumption and hard to distill off the "drinkable" Ethanol.  If you see purple liquid in a hardware store named "Methylated Spirits", it is Ethanol that is way too concentrated to drink, and has had Napthalene (found in mothballs, fire-lighting bricks, and car gas) added to it along with dye.  It is used for camping stoves, model aeroplane engines (mixed with castor oil), and many other uses.

"Methylated Spirits" will strip varnish and other coatings, and so is much too concentrated to use for cleaning motherboards, etc.  The stuff in the IT shop is likely to have a much lower percentage of alcohol, and you should carefully read the label to see what it is suitable for.  If it's in an aerosol can it's most likely intended for (as mentioned above) cleaning thermal paste off processors and heatsinks rather than just spray-cleaning your motherboard which has a lacquered finish that is very susceptible to damage.  If it's in a plastic bottle, then it is likely to be intended for mixing down heavily with distilled water (or already has been) for cleaning flat screens - or used at full (or higher) concentration for cleaning heatsink paste or blocked printer heads/jets.

Search Amazon for "Isopropanol IPA Isopropyl Alcohol Pure" and then look at what other items customers bought when they bought that.
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by:fcek
ID: 35773256
: aleghart
Isopropyl alcohol, or other solvents like acetone or fluorocarbons, may damage the coatings on an LCD screen.

> Are you sure? I heard a 50/50 mix of Isopropyl and distilled water was the perfect mix to clean ALL screens.
Is this false?
 


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by:aleghart
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On straight glass or plastic, should be OK.  It's the anti-glare coatings they spray on top of the plastic that is eaten away by the solvents.

I use a spray mix (Klear Screen) that's probably just fancy water.  Takes a few seconds longer to dry than alcohol, but no complaints about smell, and I know it's not going to catch fire while sitting in my desk drawer.

We have alcohol & acetone in industrial strengths here...people tend to stop cleaning once the paint comes off.  So, we discourage self-cleaning with anything except water.
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by:fcek
ID: 35785006


I think I will run with distilled water
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by:fcek
ID: 35785082
Thanks everyone.  Good to know.
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by:BillDL
ID: 35791533
Thank you fcek
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by:fcek
ID: 35792968


Everywhere ive read says it ok to use 50/50 water/iso mix.
http://www.dslreports.com/faq/12711
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by:BillDL
ID: 35793160
I suppose it all depends on the alcohol concentration (% alcohol by volume of liquid) of the concentrate you use to dilute down with water.  As a general rule, Whisky, Vodka, etc that are freely available off the shelf are 40% alcohol by volume, but you can get "overproof" spirits like Absinthe and some Tequilas that are much stronger.  So, if your isopropyl alcohol was up about 95% alcohol by vol, then diluting it 50/50 is going to give you something like the strength of Vodka or Gin.  If it was already only about 50% alcohol by vol, then you would end up with fortified wine or liqueur strength liquid - without the stickiness of course.

Best advice would be to try it out on an LCD screen that no longer works.  When it's black you will not only see any streaks left, but it will give a good indication if you have just stripped off the coating.
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