Alcohol - Slideshow
What is alcohol?
Chemically, an alcohol is an organic compound in which a hydroxyl functional group is bound to a carbon atom; the total being bound to more hydrogen or carbon atoms.
There are different kinds of alcohols, each varying in properties, usage and toxicity.
Types of alcohol
The most well-known type of alcohol is ethanol, used for alcoholic beverages.
Methanol, the simplest form of alcohol, is used as a solvent fuel.
There are also propanol and butanol used for industrial purposes.
There are, of course, more complex forms of alcohol which have diverse industrial uses. Ethanol
Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, is colourless, volatile and inflammable.
It has been used since time immemorial for recreational purposes. Ethanol is most popular for its use in alcoholic beverages.
Ethanol is also used in thermometers, as antiseptic, as fuel and as a solvent for flavourings, perfumes, medicines and colourings.
Methanol, or methyl alcohol, is the simplest form of alcohol.
Like ethanol, it is colourless, volatile and inflammable.
Methanol is popular as fuel, antifreeze (used especially for internal combustion engines), as solvent and in the production of biodiesel.
As opposed to ethanol, methanol is highly toxic and can cause permanent blindness. In such cases, ethanol can be used as a primary antidote.
Other uses of alcohol
Alcohol has traditionally been used as a preservative.
Some alcohols (mostly ethanol and methanol) are especially used as automotive fuel.
Ethanol (for industrial uses) is often denatured ie mixed with a toxic substance like methanol, to make it undrinkable. It is also sometimes dyed. This is done to meet the strict alcohol regulations in certain countries.
Applications of denatured alcohol
Denatured alcohol is often used as fuel and solvent.It can also be used as a cleaning aid.
Certain consumer products, like toothpaste, hand sanitizer and mouthwashes, contain this in small quantities.
Rubbing alcohol,used primarily for topical application, is also a type of denatured alcohol.
It's a good disinfectant, germicide and antiseptic. Hence, the name 'surgical spirit'.
Drinkable alcohol has also been used since prehistoric ages as an anesthetic.
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