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Butyl Alcohol

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 28, 2022.

Excipient (pharmacologically inactive substance)

What is it?

Butyl alcohol (C4H9OH), also known as butanol, is a clear, colorless and flammable liquid used as an organic solvent. It has four isomers, n-butyl, isobutyl, secondary butyl, and tertiary butyl alcohol. Common cosmetic and pharmaceutical uses for butanol include: cosmetics, such eye makeup, foundations, lipsticks, nail care products, personal hygiene products and shaving products; and use in drug manufacturing for antibiotics, hormones, and vitamins.

Butanol is toxic and should not be consumed orally. Inhaling fumes can be toxic. Prolonged, excessive exposure to vapors over 24 hours may cause serious adverse effects, and may lead to death. It may be irritating to the eyes or skin. In animal studies, birth defects have been noted when exposed to high concentrations of butyl alcohol which also caused serious adverse effects to the mother. There is no data to suggest butyl alcohol leads to damage of the DNA or causes cancer.[1]

List of medications using Butyl Alcohol


  1. [1]Dow. Product Safety Assessment; n-butanol. Accessed April 9, 2012.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.