When we hear the word alcohol, there may be a lot of meanings that come to our mind and different things that can be associated with it. The reason behind it is that alcohol actually has several uses. We can say alcohol when we are referring to fuel, or when we are talking about a common medical item and household staple that we use to clean and disinfect. However, probably the most common thing that comes to our minds when we hear alcohol is that it is a type of beverage. The type of alcohol that is found in alcoholic beverages is ethyl alcohol, which is also called ethanol.
Characteristics of Ethyl Alcohol or Ethanol
Before we start discussing the different uses of alcohol, specifically ethyl alcohol, let us look at the basics and characteristics of ethanol. We may drink alcoholic beverages from time to time, but do we know what is in it? What is ethyl alcohol and what is ethanol? They are actually one and the same. Ethanol is the systematic chemical name for ethyl alcohol, which is what most of us are familiar with. It is a very common compound that is present in a lot of things that we use on a daily basis.
As mentioned earlier, ethanol is commonly known as ethyl alcohol, but it also goes by the names pure alcohol, grain alcohol, and drinking alcohol. It can be described as a colorless liquid which can be soluble in water. It also has a slight odor and somewhat sweet when diluted. However, when undiluted or concentrated, it has a very strong taste and leaves a burning after taste. The melting point of ethanol is -114.1°C and it boils at 78.5°C. The density of ethanol is .789 g/mL at 20°C.
Ethanol alcohol is the alcohol found in alcoholic drinks such as beer, brandy, or whiskey. It is made from the fermentation or chemical breakdown of sugars by yeasts. It is made from plants and grains such as corn, wheat, barley, and the likes. Ethanol can be produced by milling the grains and then fermenting them with yeast. During the fermentation process, the starches of the grains are turned into alcohol. Then, there is also a distillation process that happens afterwards.
If you try to leave a container or a bottle of alcohol open, it will evaporate easily because it is flammable and volatile. Also, you might have seen an alcoholic beverage being served with a little bit of theater in a bar or at a party. If you see a flaming beverage, that is because of its flammability.
Alcohol Used as Fuel
Another use of ethanol alcohol is as a transportation fuel. Most of the time, ethanol is blended into gasoline at concentrations of 5 to 110 percent. Although ethanol has a lower energy content compared to gasoline, it has a high octane rating, which often results in increased engine efficiency as well as better performance.
Economically speaking, the production of ethanol costs significantly higher than the production of fuels from petroleum. However, because of the advantages that fuels made from ethanol bring to the environment, it is highly preferred. What are these advantages? Since ethanol is produced from agricultural crops such as grains, it is a great way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Hence, making it more friendly to the environment.
Alcohol in the Medical Field
There are a lot of ethyl alcohol uses in the field of medicine. In fact, it is one of the most extensively used drug worldwide. The most common uses of ethyl alcohol are as an antiseptic or as a disinfectant. Medical wipes and antibacterial hand sanitizers have alcohol to help prevent the spreading of bacteria in hospitals and related facilities.
Denatured ethyl alcohol is also used to sterilize the skin before injections. Although those who administer injections and the likes wear sterile gloves, it is better to be safe by also cleaning the surrounding area on the skin. Also, ethyl alcohol is used to sterilize various medical equipment before and after use.
There was also a time when some doctors prescribed ethyl alcohol because they looked at it as an antidepressant. The alcohol caused a feeling of euphoria to those who took it, but the feeling was just short lived. Doctors later on understood that it was not a good idea to prescribe alcohol as an antidepressant because it acts otherwise. They found it as a depressant which are not useful in treating depressed patients. If used extensively, they can even lead to a depressive state and alcohol dependency.
Alcohol as a Solvent
Since ethanol is very soluble in water, it is the ideal solvent for different products such as perfumes, deodorants, hair sprays, and industrial items such as lacquers, varnishes and paints. Using it as a solvent is very popular because it is relatively safe, especially for products that we use everyday.
In cosmetics, ethyl alcohol is used as a solvent so that active ingredients which do not dissolve in water can be softened and liquified. The alcohol also prevents oily and watery layers from separating by creating an emulsion.
Ethyl alcohol or ethanol definitely plays a vital role in our daily lives. From the simplest products to the more important ones, the use of ethanol is undeniably vital. We just have to make sure that we use it properly and without abusing its properties, especially when there is alcohol intake involved.
Why is using food grade ethyl alcohol important?
When you use alcohol as a disinfectant, you’re probably using isopropyl alcohol. Now this can be used for herbal extraction, but it isn’t really recommended at all. That’s because isopropyl alcohol comes from propane, which usually comes from fossil fuels like petroleum and coal. On the other hand, ethyl alcohol is usually made from corn.
What this means is that the ethyl alcohol can be safely consumed, while the isopropyl alcohol isn’t as safe. After all, it is ethyl alcohol that’s the type of alcohol you find in “alcoholic” beverages. When you’re preparing an extract that you need to dry out completely, you have to make sure that the alcohol completely evaporates when you use isopropyl alcohol. But it’s alright when there’s just a minuscule amount left over when you use ethyl alcohol.
Of course, you need high grade ethyl alcohol, because the impurities can contaminate your extracts and tinctures. The impurities may cause them to be less effective or even turn them dangerous. That’s why you need high grade alcohol. That’s what you get when you buy the 200-Proof Pure Food Grade Ethyl Alcohol from Extractohol. Since 100-proof is 50% alcohol, 200-proof means it is 100% alcohol with no contaminants whatsoever.
Notice : Must be age 21 or over to order products, will confirm before processing orders. Must adhere to local, State, and Federal Laws.