Alcohol. Ethyl alcohol. Grain Alcohol. Those are all labels for ethanol in the market.
People use and buy solvents for many reasons, such as a preservative in the beauty industry or extracting flavors when baking. Moreover, the antimicrobial properties in ethanol make it an ideal cleaning and sanitizing agent.
But what is this popular ingredient found in beer and spirits? How is it made, and what are its uses? Below you’ll find out all about ethanol.
What is Pure Ethanol?
Alcohol is a clear, colorless liquid found in beer, wine, or brandy. The solvent mixes well with water and any other organic substances. Hence many industries use it, such as; manufacturing beauty products, mixing paint and varnishes, and fuel.
How is Ethanol Made?
Industries make ethanol from the fermentation of starch found in corn grain, beets, or sugarcane. Manufacturers use growing yeast cells to aid the process.
Some companies extract ethanol using the Ethylene hydration process, where they pass ethylene and hot steam over an acidic catalyst. In both methods, manufacturers concentrate the ethanol by a fractional distillation process and package it into food grade, lab grade, and reagent grade.
Fuel companies also use top-notch technology to extract high-octane ethanol from grains, beverage and food waste, cellulose biomass, and other feedstocks.
Some vendors add denaturants to pure ethanol to prevent consumption by the general population without changing its efficiency. These additives include methanol, acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, methyl isobutyl ketone, and isopropyl ethanol. Companies denature alcohol because its consumption in pure form is harmful to personal health.
Uses of Pure Ethanol
Manufacture of Beauty Products
People use pure ethanol as a preservative and astringent in the cosmetic industry, which helps clear the skin. When mixed with lotion, it ensures that the ingredients don’t separate from the mixture. The added alcohol also helps hairspray to stick on the hair.
Used in Making Sanitizers
Pure Ethanol has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. And therefore using 60-95% alcohol is a good alternative where soap and water are challenging to acquire. That can be good in preventing the spread of COVID-19 by inactivating SARS-Cov-2, the infective agent.
Manufacturers use alcohol to make mouthwash because it helps kill microorganisms. In addition, the solvent helps dissolve other ingredients in mouthwash and helps substances in it such as menthol, eucalyptol, and thymol penetrate the dental plaque.
Use in Cleaning and Household Items
You can use pure ethanol in cleaning due to its ability to kill germs on surfaces, thus preventing the spread of pathogens. Moreover, cleaning remains stainless because of the high evaporation rate of the alcohol.
You can also use the solvent to mix paints, lacquers, varnish, and other personal care products. Applying pure ethanol to those items promotes faster drying due to alcohol’s high volatility.
Used in the Food Industry
Pure alcohol helps to distribute food coloring evenly and enhances food extract flavors. For example, in the manufacture of vanilla extract, you can mix vanilla beans in a solution of ethanol and water.
Some industries also use ethanol as a preservative in brandied fruits, candies, plum pudding, or fruit cake.
Other companies use ethyl alcohol to make wine, beer, liquor, and distilled spirits, which they keep at a concentration appropriate for human consumption.
Used as Fuel
Fuel companies use ethanol to manufacture gasoline —for example; an E-10 mixture is made up of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline. That solution helps reduce air pollution and oxygenates the fuel. Furthermore, fossil energy with high-octane provides premium blending properties, has anti-knock properties, and maintains drivability.
Ethanol is a highly flammable solvent, and you shouldn’t use it near open flames. The solvent also induces coughing and headaches upon inhalation. Therefore, handle it carefully.
Also, alcohol consumption affects the body, especially the nervous system. A small amount induces muscle relaxation and acts as a brain stimulant. And high amounts impair judgment and coordination, leading to coma and death. Repeated use may also lead to alcoholism. Therefore, drink responsibly.
Most companies manufacture pure ethanol by fermenting carbohydrates. Others make the alcohol synthetically through ethylene hydration.
Industries can then add additives such as methanol to make the alcohol unsafe for consumption. Because drinking the high alcohol concentration in pure ethanol is a health risk.
Pure alcohol has many uses. For example, manufacturers can utilize pure ethanol for preserving beauty products such as lotions from infectious germs.
Consumers can buy ethanol for their household cleaning. Bakers can also use pure ethanol to extract flavors and as a preservative. Moreover, some companies mix ethanol with gasoline to make clean fuel used by some vehicles.
About the author: Nikolay Stoyanov is the founder of one of the popular CBD blogs Hemptasy.com. There you can find lots of free useful information about all things CBD.