Navigation Links
Ethyl alcohol



Name Ethanol
Chemical formula C2H5OH
Molecular weight 46.069 amu
CAS number 64-17-5
UN number 1170

Phase behavior

Melting point 158.8 K (-114.3C, -173.83F)
Boiling point 351.5 K (78.4C, 173.03F)
Triple point 159 K (-114C, -173.47F)
Critical point 514 K (241C, 465.53F)

63 bar

ΔfusH 4.9 kJ/mol
ΔfusS 31 J/molK
ΔvapH 38.56 kJ/mol
Solubility Soluble in water

Acid-base properties

pKa 15.9
pH 7.0 (Neutral)

Liquid properties

ΔfH0liquid -277.38 kJ/mol
S0liquid 159.9 J/molK
Cp 112.4 J/molK
Density 789 gram/L

Gas properties

ΔfH0gas -235.3 kJ/mol
S0gas 283 J/molK
Cp 65.21 J/molK


Acute effects Nausea, vomiting, CNS depression. Respiratory failure in severe cases.
Chronic effects Dependency. Liver cirrhosis.
Flash point 17C (62.6F)
Autoignition temperature 425C (797F)
Explosive limits 3.5-15%

More information

Properties NIST WebBook
MSDS Hazardous Chemical Database

Unless otherwise stated, all data was produced under conditions of standard temperature and pressure.

Disclaimer and references

Ethyl alcohol, also known as ethanol or grain alcohol, is a flammable, colorless chemical compound, one of the alcohols that is most often found in alcoholic beverages. In common parlance, it is often referred to simply as alcohol. Its chemical formula is C2H5OH.

This article is mostly about ethanol as a chemical compound. For beverages containing ethanol, see alcoholic beverage. For the use of ethanol as a fuel, see alcohol fuel.



Ethanol has been known to humans since prehistory as the active ingredient of alcoholic beverages. Its isolation as a relatively pure compound was probably achieved first by Islamic alchemists who developed the art of distillation, such as Geber (721-815) and Al-Razi (864-930).


Ethanol for use in alcoholic beverages is produced by fermentation: it is a product of sugar metabolism in certain species of yeast in the absence of oxygen. The process of culturing yeast under conditions to produce alcohol is referred to as brewing. Yeasts can grow in the presence of up to only about 14% alcohol, but the concentration of alcohol in the final product can be increased by distillation.

For a mixture of ethanol and water, there is a maximum boiling azeotrope at 96% ethanol and 4% water. For this reason, fractional distillation of ethanol-water mixtures (of less than 96% ethanol) cannot yield ethanol purer than 96%. Therefore, 95% ethanol in water is a fairly common solvent.

To produce absolute ethanol, a small amount of benzene is added, and the mixture is again fractionally distilled. Benzene forms a tertiary azeotrope with water and ethanol to remove the last of the water, and a binary azeotrope with ethanol removes most of the benzene. The resulting ethanol is water free, for processes that require it. However, several ppm of benzene remains, so consumption by humans leads to distinctive liver damage.

Ethanol for industrial use is often made from petroleum feedstocks, typically by the catalytic hydration of ethylene with sulfuric acid as catalyst. This process is cheaper than the production by fermentation.

Ethanol for industrial use is normally made unfit for human consumption ("denatured") by the inclusion of small amounts of substances that are either toxic (such as methanol) or unpleasant (such as denatonium), thus avoiding the applicable taxes or inventory controls. Denatured ethanol has the UN number UN 1987 and toxic denatured ethanol has UN 1986.


Ethanol is used as a fuel and in a wide variety of industrial processes. Ethanol is also used in antifreeze products for its low melting point.

It is easily soluble in water and is itself a good solvent, used in perfumes, paints and tinctures. Alcoholic drinks have a large variety of tastes because various flavor compounds are dissolved during brewing.

A solution of 70-85% of ethanol is commonly used as a disinfectant. It kills organisms by denaturing their proteins and dissolving their lipids and is effective against most bacteria and fungi, and many viruses, but is ineffective against bacterial spores. Because of this disinfectant property, alcoholic beverages can be stored for a long time.

See also

External links


(Date:7/28/2014)... mechanism in part of the brain that is key to ... type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The findings are published ... National Academies of Sciences . , "We,ve discovered that ... the hypothalamus known as the ventromedial nucleus sets a ... the blood," said lead author Sabrina Diano, professor in the ...
(Date:7/28/2014)... the top 10 U.S. cities that have seen an ... as frequent road closures, overwhelmed storm drains and compromised ... NOAA technical report. , This nuisance flooding, caused by ... coasts, between 300 and 925 percent since the 1960s. ... Frequency Changes around the United States, also finds Annapolis ...
(Date:7/28/2014)... areas of the Earth that are high priorities for ... is particularly vulnerable, as it has the lowest fraction ... any continent in ,refugia, areas of biological diversity ... relatively constant during times of great environmental change. The ... Scandinavia and Scotland. , The biggest refugia are ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):Glucose 'control switch' in the brain key to both types of diabetes 2NOAA: 'Nuisance flooding' an increasing problem as coastal sea levels rise 2NOAA: 'Nuisance flooding' an increasing problem as coastal sea levels rise 3Study finds Europe's habitat and wildlife is vulnerable to climate change 2
... was discovered in large numbers along the west coast of ... the past two winters has been 100%, but researchers at ... can now say that the species copes with cold winters ... proved to be tolerant of low temperatures. Large populations of ...
... Wisconsin-Madison limnologist Stephen Carpenter has been awarded the ... award for water-related activities, it was announced in ... award, which comes with $150,000 and a specially ... work contributes broadly to the conservation and protection ...
... A mother,s iron deficiency early in pregnancy may have ... the child, even if the lack of iron is not ... Rochester Medical Center study published in the scientific journal ... might not notice or treat mild or moderate iron deficiency, ...
Cached Biology News:UW-Madison lake scientist gets world's top water prize 2Pre-conception and early pregnancy iron deficiency harms brain 2Pre-conception and early pregnancy iron deficiency harms brain 3
Other biology definitionOther Tags