Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

What happens when you drink rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol, which is about 70% isopropanol, is not a drinking alcohol.

A yearlong investigation by the name of "Operation Swill" resulted in 29 New Jersey businesses being raided for allegedly selling cheaper alcohol as premium brands. In some cases, dirty water, food coloring and even rubbing alcohol were found in drink samples obtained and tested by the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Rubbing alcohol, which is about 70% isopropanol, is not a drinking alcohol. It can be found in many household cleaning supplies, perfumes, hair products, nail polish remover, paint thinners, and other common consumer products.

According to the International Programme on Chemical Safety, ingesting approximately 8 ounces of isopropyl alcohol can have lethal effects on adults (about 3 ounces for children). Drinking rubbing alcohol can cause symptoms typically associated with drunkenness such as euphoria, slurred speech, loss of coordination, and dizziness, as well as the more serious symptoms of alcohol poisoning: vomiting, seizures, unconciousness, slow breathing, and low body temperature.

Rubbing alcohol is considered poisonous and should not be consumed orally under any circumstances.  Drinking it over an extended period of time and/or in large amounts could eventually lead to coma and death.

If you've intentionally or accidentally ingested rubbing alcohol and suspect an overdose, seek immediate medical help by calling 911 or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. The National Institute of Health advises NOT vomiting unless told to do so by poison control or a medical professional. Drinking milk or water is okay unless you are instructed not to after calling for help or if you are having symptoms that make it difficult to swallow.