Ethanol, grain alcohol, or ethyl alcohol is a clear, colorless liquid. It has the property of easily mixing with water and other organic compounds. This is not only a natural by-product of plant fermentation but it produces through the hydration of ethylene as well.
Ethyl alcohol is also an important ingredient in a range of products with a wide range of applications. It is ranging right from personal care and beauty products to varnishes and fuels. It also has medical applications as it forms an important part of antiseptics and disinfectants.
|Molar mass||46.069 g·mol−1|
|Density||0.7893 g/cm3 (at 20 °C)|
|Melting point||−114.14 ± 0.03°C (−173.45 ± 0.05 °F; 159.01 ± 0.03 K)|
|Boiling point||78.24 ± 0.09°C (172.83 ± 0.16 °F; 351.39 ± 0.09 K)|
|Solubility in water||miscible|
|Vapour pressure||5.95 kPa (at 20 °C)|
|Acidity (pKa)||15.9 (H2O), 29.8 (DMSO)|
|Magnetic susceptibility (χ)||−33.60·10−6 cm3/mol|
|Refractive index (nD)||1.3611|
|Viscosity||1.2 mPa·s (at 20 °C), 1.074 mPa·s (at 25 °C)|
|Dipole moment||1.69 D|
Physical properties of Ethyl alcohol
- Pure ethanol is a colorless liquid
- It has a specific smell and burning taste
- Ethyl Alcohol has a boiling point of 351K which is higher than corresponding alkanes.
- Ethanol burns with a smokeless blue flame that is not visible in normal light.
- It is more viscous and less volatile (the reason is the presence of Hydrogen bonding) as compared to less polar organic compounds of similar molecular weight.
Chemical properties of Ethyl alcohol
- Weakly acidic, can react with strongly basic substances.
- Dehydration – Ethanol has the ability to lose water when heated with concentrated H2SO4,
- Esterification – Ester (another important organic chemical, used in cosmetics and perfumes) forms when ethanol reacts with ethanoic acid in the presence of concentrated. sulphuric acid.
- Highly inflammable – It catches fire very easily.
Denatured Ethyl alcohol
Denatured alcohol is ethanol which is unfit for human consumption by the addition of one or more denaturants to it. So, denatured alcohol is not a whole lot different from ordinary alcohol. The difference being the eradication of a property (being able to be consumed) from the latter to obtain the former.
The ethyl alcohol is found in reagent alcohol in school labs, hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, and other personal care products.
Why is ethyl alcohol denatured?
Uses of pure alcohol are mostly in household applications. It offers a much less expensive and readily available source of ethanol for drinking. This is the very reason it becomes important to denature alcohol.
Chemical composition of denatured ethanol
Denatured ethanol does not necessarily have a fixed composition, there are hundreds of ways in which ethanol can denature.
For instance, denatured ethanol which intends as fuel or solvent generally contains about 5% of methanol.
There are such substances that add as a chemical additive into pure alcohol for its denaturing. For example, Isopropanol, methyl ethyl ketone, methyl isobutyl ketone, pyridine, benzene, and diethyl phthalate.
Ethyl Alcohol – Applications
Ethanol is an important ingredient in many therapeutic products, right from hand sanitizers to cold and cough medicines. The list of most important of them are as follows-
Antiseptic & Disinfectants
Ethanol is a handy constituent in medicinal wipes and also forms an integral portion of hand sanitizers. The uses are antiseptic for anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects. Ethanol is a great dehydrating agent; which justifies why it is so effective as disinfectants and antiseptics.
Ethyl Alcohol causes cell dehydration by disrupting osmotic balance across the cell membrane which results in water leaving the cell, eventually leading to cell death.
When the world is facing a global pandemic, sanitizers became one of the necessities in the current time. Denatured alcohol is the most abundant constituent of sanitizers. Sanitizers may contain all the way up to 99.5% alcohol composition which practically makes alcohol equivalent to sanitizers.
The other constituent of sanitizer only makes it a product that is easily usable, like giving it a gel-like composition which makes it more convenient to carry and use. Other constituents include an external fragrant to get rid of a strong alcohol smell.
Sanitizers were a commodity of utter importance at the time not only for medical professionals. Even it was the common nation but in this time of emergency, sanitizers’ uses are now evident among all classes and sects.
It can counter poisoning caused due to the intake of harmful chemical substances like methanol and ethylene glycol.
When used in high concentrations, ethanol can dissolve a number of water-insoluble medicines and related compounds. This is the reason why alcohol forms an important part of liquid preparations of pain medications, cough and cold medicines, and mouthwashes (they contain around 25% alcohol)
Ethanol is widely used as a fuel and fuel additive. Further details are discussed below.
A substantial 97 percent of US gasoline contains ethanol, in a mixture called E10 (in a mixture containing 90 percent gasoline mixed with 10% ethanol). The higher octane number of ethanol ensures that fuel has premium blending properties.
Ethanol was commonly used as fuel in early bipropellant rocket in combination with an oxidizer like liquid oxygen. Eventually, alcohol has now been discontinued as a rocket fuel due to better alternatives.
The alcohol is called a universal solvent, as its molecular structure packs in the ability to dissolve polar, hydrophilic, and also hydrophobic compounds. Add to this the fact that ethanol has a low boiling point which makes it very easy to remove ethanol from a solution that has other compounds dissolved inside it.
This property of ethanol makes it an important part of paints, tinctures, markers, and personal care products like perfumes, deodorants, and mouthwashes.
Due to a low freezing point and low toxicity, ethanol also finds use in laboratories as a cooling bath to keep vessels at temperatures below the freezing point of water.
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