Is isopropanol polar or nonpolar?


Quick Answer

Isopropanol is a type of alcohol, meaning that it is neither polar or nonpolar. One area, the hydroxyl area, is polar, while the carbon portion is nonpolar and hydrophobic. The carbon portion can become longer which causes the isopropanol to become more nonpolar.

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Full Answer

In most situations, polar substances dissolve in other polar substances. The same goes for nonpolar substances. The longer the hydrocarbon chain of alcohol gets, the less soluble it gets in water. Alcohol has one end that is hydrophobic while the other end is hydrophilic. The hydrophilic end contains an –OH group that can form hydrogen bonds with water molecules. The combination of the hydrophobic and hydrophilic portions does make a standard isopropanol molecule miscible in water.

Isopropanol is also called isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol. It evaporates quickly and while it is not safe to drink, it is fairly nontoxic. It is found in many cleaners and solvents. It is created by combining water and propene through either a direct or indirect hydration method. Indirect hydration can use low quality propene to product the product, which is the process most commonly used in the United States. The direct method requires high purity propene and is the method most commonly used in Europe.

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