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Ethanol is an organic compound, a representative of the series of monatomic alcohols with the formula C2H5OH, also known as ethyl alcohol.

Ethanol Formula

Molecular formula of ethanol:


Structural formula of ethanol:


The structural formula of ethanol (ethyl alcohol) shows how carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms are bonded in the molecule.

In the structural formula, two carbon atoms (C) are connected by a single covalent bond. Hydrogen atoms (H) are bonded to carbon and oxygen atoms through covalent bonds. The ethanol molecule contains one oxygen atom (O) and five hydrogen atoms (H).

Ball-and-stick model of ethanol:


Chemical Properties of Ethanol

C2H5OH possesses a range of chemical properties that define its reactivity and applications. Here are some of the key chemical properties of ethanol:

  1. Combustion: C2H5OH is a highly flammable substance, and this property is utilized in alcoholic beverages and as a fuel.
  2. Solubility: Ethanol dissolves well in water and many organic solvents. This property makes it useful as a solvent in pharmaceuticals, chemical reactions, and other processes.
  3. Oxidation: C2H5OH can undergo oxidation, forming acetaldehyde (CH3CHO) or further oxidizing to acetic acid (CH3COOH). This reaction is the basis for fermentation, the process of producing alcoholic beverages.
  4. Esterification: C2H5OH can form ethers, chemical compounds with one or more organic groups replacing hydrogen atoms. This reaction can be significant in the synthesis of organic compounds.
  5. Alcohol reactions: C2H5OH exhibits typical chemical reactions for alcohols, including substitution, esterification, oxidation, and others.
  6. Hydration: Under the influence of acids or catalysts, ethanol can undergo hydration, forming ethanolamine (C2H5OH + NH3).
  7. Nucleophilic reactions: In chemical reactions, ethanol can act as a nucleophile, attacking other compounds and forming new bonds.
  8. Acetic acid: Under specific conditions, C2H5OHcan undergo oxidation to acetic acid with the involvement of acetogenic bacteria.

These chemical properties contribute to the versatility of ethanol in various industrial, scientific, and practical applications.

Physical Properties

  • Boiling Point: Under normal temperature and pressure conditions, the boiling point of ethanol is approximately 78.37°C (173.1°F). This property makes it useful in various processes, including the production of alcoholic beverages and solvent removal.
  • Melting Point: The melting point of ethanol under normal conditions is approximately -114.1°C (-173.4°F).
  • Density: The density of C2H5OH is typically around 0.789 g/cm³ at 20°C. Density can vary with changes in temperature and ethanol concentration in a solution.
  • Solubility in Water: C2H5OH has high solubility in water, making it useful as a solvent for various substances.
  • Color and Odor: Pure ethanol is colorless, but substances are often added for color and aroma in consumption. C2H5OH has a characteristic alcoholic smell.
  • Vapor Pressure: The vapor pressure of ethanol increases with temperature. At room temperature (20°C), it evaporates relatively quickly.
  • Viscosity: The viscosity of C2H5OH is approximately half that of water, making it a relatively thin solvent.
  • Heat Capacity: C2H5OH has a relatively high heat capacity, meaning that a large amount of heat can be absorbed or released with temperature changes.

Production of Ethanol

C2H5OH can be obtained from various sources, typically utilizing chemical or biological processes.

Here are several methods for obtaining ethanol:

  1. Fermentation: This is a biological process in which microorganisms, such as yeast, break down sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Fermentation is used in the production of alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine, and others. Plant products containing sugars, such as barley for beer or grapes for wine, are commonly used.
  2. Distillation: This is a process of purifying and concentrating alcoholic solutions through evaporation and condensation. Distillation is used to obtain a higher concentration of ethanol, for example, in alcoholic beverages. This process can be applied to separate alcohol from other components in the mixture.
  3. Ethylene Hydration: This is a chemical process in which ethylene (a hydrocarbon) reacts with water in the presence of catalysts to form C2H5OH. This method utilizes hydrocarbons as starting materials and is often applied in the industry to produce large volumes of ethanol.
  4. Synthesis from Acetaldehyde: This method involves the reduction of acetaldehyde (a hydrocarbon) in the presence of catalysts and hydrogen to form C2H5OH.
  5. Biomass Conversion: This method involves using microorganisms or enzymes to convert biomass, such as wood, straw, or other organic materials, into ethanol. This can be significant for biofuel production.
  6. Synthetic Methods: There are chemical reactions that allow the production of ethanol from various hydrocarbons or other chemical compounds.

Impact on the Organism

The impact of ethanol on the organism can be quite significant, especially with the consumption of alcohol in large quantities or over an extended period.

Key aspects of ethanol’s impact on the organism:

  1. Central Nervous System: C2H5OH affects the central nervous system, inducing relaxation, a sense of euphoria, and a reduction in inhibition. However, large doses can lead to depression of the nervous system, loss of coordination, disturbances of consciousness, and even coma.
  2. Liver: Ethanol is processed in the liver, where it undergoes oxidation to acetaldehyde and then to acetic acid. Frequent and heavy alcohol consumption can result in liver damage, including cirrhosis and fatty liver disease.
  3. Heart and Cardiovascular System: Moderate alcohol consumption can have a certain impact on the cardiovascular system, helping to dilate blood vessels and increase the level of “good” cholesterol (HDL). However, excessive consumption can lead to heart problems, including arrhythmias and cardiovascular diseases.
  4. Brain: Prolonged alcohol consumption can affect the structure and functions of the brain, leading to issues with memory, attention, coordination, and learning. Chronic use may contribute to problems with cognitive function.
  5. Emotional State and Psyché: C2H5OH can influence our emotional state, either exciting or calming. However, excessive alcohol consumption can result in depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
  6. Digestive System: Ethanol can irritate the mucous membrane of the stomach and intestines, leading to inflammation, ulcers, and other digestive problems.


Ethanol has diverse applications in various industries, reflecting its chemical, physical, and biological properties.

Here are some of the primary applications of ethanol:

  1. Alcoholic Beverages: C2H5OH is a key component in many alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine, and spirits. It imparts aroma, flavor, and psychoactive effects to the drinks.
  2. Medicine: Ethanol is used for medical purposes as an antiseptic for skin disinfection before injections and as a solvent for pharmaceutical substances.
  3. Industry: Ethanol serves as a crucial solvent in the chemical industry for the production of various substances, reactions, and products. It is used for extracting natural compounds, synthesizing chemical compounds, and manufacturing paints, coatings, plastics, and more.
  4. Fuel: Ethanol can be used as a biofuel, especially in blended fuels added to regular gasoline. This can reduce emissions of harmful substances and dependence on petroleum fuels.
  5. Pharmaceuticals: C2H5OH is used in creating various pharmaceutical formulations such as tinctures, extracts, solutions, and more. It can be important for extracting active compounds from plants.
  6. Cosmetics and Personal Care: C2H5OH is utilized in the production of various cosmetic and hygiene products, including deodorants, soaps, lotions, and others.
  7. Energy: Ethanol can be used as a source of energy in certain industrial processes and research.
  8. Scientific Research: C2H5OH is an important reagent in chemical research, analysis, and testing of various materials and compounds.

These applications underscore the significance of ethanol as a chemical substance in various areas of human activity.