We’ve all wondered it at one time or another: If rubbing alcohol is alcohol, just like beer and wine is, what happens if I drink it? The short answer: You’ll indeed get drunk, but you have a far greater chance of dying from it.
The type of alcohol that rubbing alcohol is made with (isopropyl alcohol) is metabolized differently by your body than the type of alcohol in beer, wine, and liquor (ethyl alcohol), so, according to the Betty Ford Center, drinking even a small amount of rubbing alcohol can have potentially fatal consequences. All alcohols are potentially deadly if you drink enough over a short period of time, but rubbing alcohol is generally 70 percent pure alcohol, or 140 proof. As little as 8 ounces can be lethal.
That’s not to say that if you dilute rubbing alcohol with water to a reasonable percentage you can just mix up your favorite cocktail with it; that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Rubbing alcohol is made with what’s called denatured alcohol, meaning that chemicals have been added to it in order to make it incredibly bad-tasting, nauseating and downright poisonous, with the express purpose of discouraging recreational consumption.
So yes, you’ll likely get drunk if you decide to drink rubbing alcohol, but it will also taste awful and burn your throat for days afterward. You’ll also be throwing up due to the fact that it’s been denatured, you’ll most likely need to go to the emergency room, and, oh yeah, the chances of it killing you are pretty good.