Ethanol is the IUPAC name for a simple alcohol with the CAS number 64-17-5 and the chemical formula C2H6O. This compound consists of the ethyl group with two carbon atoms linked with the hydroxyl group. It is also called ethyl alcohol or alcohol, though the latter refers now to a wider class of substances. The compound is also known as absolute, drinking, ethylic or grain alcohol. Besides, the chemical is often mentioned as cologne spirit, ethyl hydrate, ethyl hydroxide, ethylol, hydroxyethane, and methylcarbinol.

Physical and Chemical Properties

Ethanol is a clear colorless liquid with a slight odor and a pungent taste. It is highly flammable. The flash point of a pure substance is 16.60 °C that is much lower than an average room temperature. This compound burns with a blue flame without smoke. The flame may be slightly visible in the normal light.

The substance is a volatile solvent miscible with water, aliphatic hydrocarbons, aliphatic chlorides, and most of the organic solvents. Ethanol has a low melting point (−114.14 °C) and its boiling point is only 78.24 °C. This chemical is usually made by the hydration of ethylene. The second most popular method is the fermenting of sugar with yeast. Besides, it can be obtained from cellulose, lipids, and CO2.


Among the uses of ethanol, the most popular is its application as a chemical solvent in the synthesis of the organic compounds, scientific chemical testing and a lot of manufacturing processes. Also, the ethyl alcohol is applied:

  • in medicine as an antiseptic, disinfectant or antidote to ethylene glycol and methanol poisoning;
  • as a medical solvent to dissolve the water-insoluble medications, like painkillers, mouth washers, etc.
  • as an engine fuel and fuel additive;
  • as a rocket fuel formerly until more efficient fuels were developed;
  • in the ethanol fireplaces for home heating or decoration;
  • as a solvent in the manufacture of paints, tints, markers, etc.;
  • to fabricate personal care products, like perfumes, lotions and many others;
  • as a cooling bath in laboratories;
  • as an active fluid in thermometers;
  • as a food additive, e.g. in vanilla extract

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