Rubbing alcohol has always been one of my favorite household items. You can use it for most small sterilization tasks, like sterilizing your tweezers after a rousing session of what some might call ‘a bout of self mutilation’ but I would call ‘me time.’ I never knew just HOW important rubbing alcohol was to me until the COVID-19 pandemic.
These days, I keep track of my rubbing alcohol stock the way a drug addict keeps track of her stash. I know exactly how much I have left, and I’m beginning to get profound anxiety, because I am running low.
Before the shit really hit the fan here in NYC, Ben managed to snag us two Family Sized bottles of 91% Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol. Do you know how much GOOD SHIT that was? The 91% concentration formula is over 20% higher of a concentration than the CDC says your rubbing alcohol has to be (70%) in order to actually kill the novel Coronavirus. We’ve been like pigs in shit here with all our strong rubbing alcohol. After our Clorox wipes were the first thing to run out, I turned to our bottles of rubbing alcohol, and they’ve given me such peace of mind. I cannot overstate the calming feeling I get from knowing that my house is properly de-contaminated after each of Jack’s walks/whenever we get a package or delivery of crucial items at our door, like the Krazy Glue that arrived this morning so I can bedazzle a cell phone case to pass my time. You know…important provisions that must be sterilized upon entry into the Kingdom of Narbib.
I have been watching my supply of rubbing alcohol dwindle, and it’s been stressing me out a lot. After that runs out, my only other option for adequately cleaning my entry foyer floor and countertops and kitchen faucet and doorknobs, etc., will be to mix a little homemade batch of diluted bleach every morning to use for these purposes throughout the day. Who the fuck wants to be mixing up a batch of bleach every morning? What am I, Mischa Barton’s Munchausens-by-Proxy-having mother in “The Sixth Sense?” That’s not an activity I want to do, especially not every day (apparently it loses its potency after 24 hours, so you really do have to mix it up every morning).
So I thought I’d start trolling the internet for more rubbing alcohol. “How hard could it be to find?” I foolishly thought. Turns out: really fucking hard. In fact, impossible. I could not find rubbing alcohol *anywhere,* so I had to turn to Plan B, despite not knowing what Plan B even was.
Then I found this little product on Amazon, and I thought my problems were SOLVED:
A nice little bottle of Ethyl Alcohol, 95% Denatured, Lab Grade. How different could that be from your run-of-the-mill Duane Reade Isopropyl Alcohol, I thought? Probably not too different, if I dilute it enough. So I bought it.
Well, upon further research, it appears that by buying the Ethyl Alcohol, I may have accidentally PURCHASED POISON ON AMAZON. I don’t know what the hell this stuff is (answer: very, very, very strong pure alcohol). You can’t breathe it in, you can’t have it touch human skin, and upon closer inspection, the label says that it is “not for home use.” The freaking description of the product on Amazon even says ‘Not for Use on Body or Skin.’ How could I have missed that? Why is this happening to me? Also, why did I buy the denatured one? That makes it even worse!
I found a website with further information about Ethyl Alcohol, and here were the delightfully illuminating facts I just learned about the very substance that is meant to arrive at my front door (in a bottle inside a flimsy Amazon box that was probably kicked around on the truck) later today:
Hazards Associated with Using Ethanol
Even though ethanol is very commonly used, it is a dangerous chemical. As previously mentioned, it is highly flammable; as such, it has exact flash points which are important to know when using it. While ethanol is consumed when drinking alcoholic beverages, consuming ethanol alone can cause coma and death. Ethanol may also be a carcinogenic; studies are still being done to determine this. However, ethanol is a toxic chemical and should be treated and handled as such, whether at work or in the home.
Safety Practices when Handling Ethanol
Ethanol safety guidelines are similar to those for handling gasoline. Protective gear is important when handling any toxic substance. The following should be worn whenever using ethanol:
- Long rubber gloves
- Industrial aprons
- Chemical safety goggles
- Face shield
Ethanol safety guidelines are similar to those for handling gasoline? I grew up in Manhattan. Do you think I know the protocol for how to handle freakin’ gasoline? Am I really supposed to put on a face shield (don’t have), chemical safety goggles (don’t have), an industrial apron (don’t have) or a respirator (definitely don’t have) to use this stuff?
Most importantly: how do I dispose of it?
I’m so afraid. Please advise.