Record Information
Creation date2015-10-09 22:29:00 UTC
Update date2017-01-19 02:36:15 UTC
FoodComEx IDPC000167
FoodDB RecordFDB000753
Chemical Information
DescriptionEthanol, also known as ethyl alcohol or alcohol, belongs to the class of organic compounds known as primary alcohols. Primary alcohols are compounds having a primary alcohol functional group, with the general structure RCOH (R=alkyl, aryl). Ethanol is a clear, colorless liquid rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and distributed throughout the body. It has bactericidal activity and is used often as a topical disinfectant. It is widely used as a solvent and preservative in pharmaceutical preparations as well as serving as the primary ingredient in alcoholic beverages. Indeed, ethanol has widespread use as a solvent of substances intended for human contact or consumption, including scents, flavorings, colorings, and medicines. Ethanol has a depressive effect on the central nervous system and because of its psychoactive effects, it is considered a drug. Ethanol has a complex mode of action and affects multiple systems in the brain, most notably it acts as an agonist to the GABA receptors. Death from ethanol consumption is possible when blood alcohol level reaches 0.4%. A blood level of 0.5% or more is commonly fatal. Levels of even less than 0.1% can cause intoxication, with unconsciousness often occurring at 0.3-0.4 %. Ethanol is metabolized by the body as an energy-providing carbohydrate nutrient, as it metabolizes into acetyl CoA, an intermediate common with glucose metabolism, that can be used for energy in the citric acid cycle or for biosynthesis. Ethanol within the human body is converted into acetaldehyde by alcohol dehydrogenase and then into acetic acid by acetaldehyde dehydrogenase. The product of the first step of this breakdown, acetaldehyde, is more toxic than ethanol. Acetaldehyde is linked to most of the adverse clinical effects of alcohol. Ethanol has been shown to increase the risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver, multiple forms of cancer, and alcoholism. Industrially, ethanol is produced both as a petrochemical, through the hydration of ethylene, and biologically, by fermenting sugars with yeast. Small amounts of ethanol are endogenously produced by gut microflora through anaerobic fermentation. However, most ethanol detected in biofluids and tissues likely comes from consumption of alcoholic beverages. Absolute ethanol or anhydrous alcohol generally refers to purified ethanol, containing no more than one percent water. Absolute alcohol is not intended for human consumption. It often contains trace amounts of toxic benzene (used to remove water by azeotropic distillation). Consumption of this form of ethanol can be fatal over a short time period. Generally absolute or pure ethanol is used as a solvent for lab and industrial settings where water will disrupt a desired reaction. Pure ethanol is classed as 200 proof in the USA and Canada, equivalent to 175 degrees proof in the UK system. Ethanol is a general biomarker for the consumption of alcohol. Ethanol is also a metabolite of Hansenula and Saccharomyces (PMID: 14613880).
CAS Number64-17-5
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Anhydrous alcoholHMDB
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Dehydrated ethanolChEBI
Denatured ethanolHMDB
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Ethanol 200 proofHMDB
Ethanol solutionHMDB
Ethyl alcHMDB
Ethyl alcoholdb_source
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Ethyl alcohol uspHMDB
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FEMA 2419db_source
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Undenatured ethanolHMDB
Chemical FormulaC2H6O
IUPAC nameethanol
InChI IdentifierInChI=1S/C2H6O/c1-2-3/h3H,2H2,1H3
Average Molecular Weight46.0684
Monoisotopic Molecular Weight46.041864814
Chemical Taxonomy
Description belongs to the class of organic compounds known as primary alcohols. Primary alcohols are compounds comprising the primary alcohol functional group, with the general structure RCOH (R=alkyl, aryl).
KingdomOrganic compounds
Super ClassOrganic oxygen compounds
ClassOrganooxygen compounds
Sub ClassAlcohols and polyols
Direct ParentPrimary alcohols
Alternative Parents
  • Hydrocarbon derivative
  • Primary alcohol
  • Aliphatic acyclic compound
Molecular FrameworkAliphatic acyclic compounds
External Descriptors
Physico-Chemical Properties - Experimental
Experimental logP-0.31HANSCH,C ET AL. (1995)
Experimental Water Solubility1000 mg/mL at 25 oCRIDDICK,JA et al. (1986)
Melting PointFp -117.3° (-112.3°)DFC
Foods of Origin
FoodContent Range AverageReference
Production Data
Production Methodcommercial
Production Method ReferenceNot Available
Production Method Reference FileNot Available
Quantity AvailableProduction upon request, up to 100 mg
Delivery TimeNot Available
Storage Formliquid
Storage Conditions-80°C
StabilityNot Available
PurityNot Available
Spectral Data Upon RequestNot Available
Provider Information
Contact NameContact InstitutionContact Email
Rosa Vazquez
Commercial Vendors
Toronto Research Chemicals KIT1410