# What is ethyl alcohol used for?

Jul 2, 2018

Cleaning, rinsing, sterilization, and also party, party, party....

#### Explanation:

Clearly, humanity has been fermenting fruits and grains since antiquity...you ferment grains to get beer, apples for cider, and grapes for wine. Distil the wines and beers and you get brandies, whiskies, and grappas. When these are properly stored, and aged, these become VERY high value commodities, and at one time these were the only medicine available. A shot of whiskey or brandy would not cure a cold or a sore throat, but it would certainly make you feel better.

In the laboratory, GENERALLY, we used so-called $\text{IMS}$, $\text{industrial methylated spirit}$...and this is ethyl alcohol to which a little methanol (and other denaturants) have been added (hence $\text{methylated spirit}$)… and this makes it UNFIT for consumption (substance abusers sometimes drink metho, and the results, which I am sure you have seen, are very distressing).

$\text{IMS}$ is a very useful laboratory solvent … it will clean and dissolve most stains and solvents, and as a bonus it smells nice and is not hard on your hands. The methanol is added so that you cannot drink the spirit...and thus it escapes liquor licensing laws and the associated taxes....

PS years ago...I remember organizing a chemistry party in which reagent grade absolute ethanol was used for the festivities... I remember determining the (negligible) concentrations of benzene/methanol/toluene by UV/vis...and then later we mixed it with water, and lemon cordial in a 2:1 ratio. There were quite a few sore heads and seedy feelings the next morning...but at least no blindness...

PPS Brewing technology used to be taught to chemistry students. It is relatively easy to make home-brewed beer given enuff containers and carboys and bottles... The beer you make from kits is usually VERY good given a bit of bottle age (ideally about a month)...and it is instructive to make given that you ferment sugar to give alcohol and carbon dioxide...

${\text{C"_6"H"_12"O"_6(aq) stackrel"yeast"rarr"2H"_3"CCH"_2"OH"(aq) + "2CO}}_{2} \left(g\right) \uparrow$

When you seal the FLAT beer in a bottle you add a little sugar, and the sugar ferments with the residue of yeast, and the carbon dioxide carbonates the beer.