Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol and drinking alcohol, is the main type of alcohol found in many popular adult beverages. In its preprocessed form, ethyl alcohol is a colorless liquid that exhibits a slight odor and is also highly volatile and flammable. The production of ethyl alcohol involves the fermentation of sugars, with yeast serving as the catalyst facilitating a chemical reaction. It is also possible to produce ethyl alcohol via various petrochemical methods.
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Ethyl Alcohol uses and applications
The use of ethyl alcohol is not limited to the production of drinking alcohol — it also serves a wide range of medical and sanitary purposes. Its ability to kill germs makes it a popular ingredient in antiseptic products such as the hand sanitizers and wipes many people purchase at the grocery store.
Higher concentrations of the material can dissolve many water-insoluble medications. Crystallized, evaporated ethyl alcohol forms a compound called sodium sulfate, which is the active ingredient in many household cleaning products.
Another common ethyl alcohol application is in the production of engine fuel. You can find it in various concentrations in gasoline used to power vehicles in countries around the globe, including the United States. Ethyl alcohol has also been used as rocket fuel and in other types of lighter rocket-powered aircraft.
Ethyl alcohol’s miscibility in water makes it highly amenable to use as a solvent. As such, it serves as a main ingredient in paints and coatings as well as personal care products such as deodorants, perfumes, and mouthwash. Its combination of a low melting point and minimal toxicity allows ethyl alcohol to be used as a cooling bath and as the fluid in alcohol thermometers.
Some homes have ethanol fireplaces to provide heat or for ornamentation purposes.
Ethyl alcohol properties and characteristics
Ethyl alcohol is a colorful liquid with the chemical formula C2H6O. It features a molar mass of 46.07 g·mol−1, a density of 0.7893 g/cm3 (at 20° C), a melting point of −114.14 ± 0.03° C (−173.45 ± 0.05° F) and a boiling point of 78.24 ± 0.09° C (172.83 ± 0.16° F).
Ethyl alcohol is classified as a central nervous system depressant that is typically administered orally or topically or, in some instances, by inhalation, or suppository.
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