What Are the Properties of Ethanol?

Some automobiles can operate efficiently on a fuel blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline.
A type of alcohol, ethanol is used to produce beer and other alcoholic beverages.
Ethanol, also called grain alcohol, is commonly used to make different types of liquor.
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  • Written By: Helen Akers
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2015
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The two main chemical properties of ethanol are alcohol and water. Ethanol is considered to be 95 percent alcohol. The chemical contains about 5 percent water. Properties of ethanol vary slightly according to its intended use.

When ethanol is created for commercial use, it is not made by fermentation. The chemical properties of ethanol include a substance called ethene. As an element, it is officially known as C2H4. Ethanol that is used in gasoline and other commercial substances involves mixing ethene with steam (H2O).

As the evaporated water mixes with ethene, it forms a chemical property that is called C2H5OH. This substance is one of the types of manufactured ethanol. The other type of ethanol is used in food products.

Chemical properties of ethanol that are used in food differ from those in commercial forms since they are created through fermentation. Sugars and yeast are mixed together to form the substance. Sucrose gets converted into glucose and fructose by yeast's naturally occurring enzymes. The yeast and sucrose mixture is heated in order to accomplish this, with final properties consisting of ethanol and carbon dioxide.

Ethanol has a boiling point of 1436 ° Fahrenheit (780 ° Celsius). Its melting point is -2038 ° Fahrenheit (-1150 ° Celsius). The chemical compound is considered to a clear liquid. In terms of other physical properties of ethanol, its aroma or smell is slight and appealing.


If ethanol is heated, it changes its chemical makeup. The substance is transformed into two separate properties. Those properties include carbon dioxide or 2CO2 and steam, which is expressed as 3H2O.

When ethanol is oxidized, it can change into two different chemical compounds. The first is ethanal or acetaldehyde. Ethanoic acid is a second possible compound if ethanal is oxidized further. This compound is also known as acetic acid.

A third type of ethanol compound that is formed is ethylene. It is created through a dehydration process. Sulphuric acid is combined with the ethanol and put in temperatures that exceed 284 ° Fahrenheit (140 ° Celsius).

As a substance, ethanol can be chemically converted into several forms of chloride and esters. It has the ability to form oxygen and hydrogen atoms when it reacts with high temperatures. When mixed with sodium at room temperature, it forms sodium ethoxide.

Ethanol is often used to make acetaldehyde and acetic acid. It is commonly used to make alcoholic beverages, especially those that are almost pure alcohol. Commercially the substance is used to make alternative vehicle fuel and as an additive in regular gasoline. Ethanol is used in many substances, including paint, varnish and thermometer fluid.


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