Written by Inara Hasanali, M.A.  | 
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Sunil Shroff, MBBS, MS, FRCS (UK), D. Urol (Lond) on Aug 16, 2014

Ethyl Alcohol

Alcohol is a compound of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. It is an organic compound with a hydroxyl (OH) group bound to a carbon atom of an alkyl or substituted alkyl group. It is formed when glucose is fermented by yeast. Generically, ethyl alcohol is called alcohol.

Ethyl alcohol is also known as ethanol, drinking alcohol or grain alcohol. It is the pivotal ingredient in alcoholic drinks. It is an inflammable, colorless slightly toxic compound with a distinct odour. It is the also the alcohol that is present in all alcoholic beverages.

Ethanol, in alcoholic beverages, is produced by fermentation. It has been made since ancient times by the fermentation of carbohydrates such as grains or fruits using yeast along with sweetening substances like ‘sugar’. An oxygen-free environment is required to produce ethanol.

C6H12O6

wine
2CH3CH2OH + 2 CO2
(carbohydrate) (ethanol)

The fermented grains or fruits are broken down to produce ethyl alcohol and carbon di oxide. This process of fermentation produces beverage alcohol. Ethanol has an energy value of seven kilocalories or twenty-nine joules per gram.

Ethanol is also produced for industrial purposes and finds use as a clean burning bio-fuel. Ethyl alcohol is sometimes adulterated with methyl alcohol or methanol. This is a more potent alcohol and is dangerous to consume as it gets broken down in the liver to form toxic compounds like formic acids and formaldehyde - the compounds can destroy the optic nerve leading to blindness. Other dangerous symptoms include - acidosis that may progress to death by respiratory failure.

References:

  1. Thomas DB, Alcohol as a cause of cancer.The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, USA. Environ Health Perspect. 1995 November; 103(Suppl 8): 153–160.
  2. This History of Alcohol - (http://www.drug-rehabs.org/alcoholhistory.php)

Comments

rosanna Wednesday, December 23, 2009

useful site!

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