What is Alcohol?

Alcohol is an organic compound that is characterized by the presence of one, two, or more hydroxyl groups (−OH) that are attached to the carbon atom in an alkyl group or hydrocarbon chain. An alcoholic drink is a drink that contains ethanol, commonly known as alcohol. Alcoholic drinks are divided into three general classes: beers, wines, and distilled beverages.

Some Alcohols and their Formulas

  • Methanol or methyl alcohol – C H3 OH
  • Ethanol or Ethyl alcohol – C H3 C H2 OH
  • 1 Propanol – C H3 C H2 C H2 OH
  • 2 Propanol – (CH3)2 C H OH
  • 1 Butanol – C H3 (CH2)3 OH
  • 2 Butanol – (CH3) C H (OH) C H2 C H3
  • 2 Methyl 1 Propanol – (CH3)2 C H C H2 OH
  • 1 Pentanol – C H3 (CH2)4 OH
  • Cyclopentanol – cyclo – C5 H9 OH
  • Cyclohexanol – cyclo – C6 H11 OH

Alcohol is a depressant, which in low doses causes euphoria, reduces anxiety, and increases sociability. In higher doses, it causes drunkenness, stupor, unconsciousness, or death. Long-term use can lead to alcohol abuse, cancer, physical dependence, and alcoholism.


Uses of Alcohols

Alcohols are among the most common organic compounds. They are used as sweeteners and in making perfumes, are valuable intermediates in the synthesis of other compounds, and are among the most abundantly produced organic chemicals in industry. Perhaps the two best-known alcohols are ethanol and methanol (or methyl alcohol). Ethanol is used in toiletries, pharmaceuticals, and fuels, and it is used to sterilize hospital instruments. It is, moreover, the alcohol in alcoholic beverages. The anesthetic ether is also made from ethanol. Methanol is used as a solvent, as a raw material for the manufacture of formaldehyde and special resins, in special fuels, in antifreeze, and for cleaning metals.

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