Ethanol is a clear, colorless liquid that is rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and distributed throughout the body. It has bactericidal activity and is often used as a topical disinfectant. It is widely used as a solvent and preservative in pharmaceutical preparations as well as in serving as the primary ingredient in alcoholic beverages. 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. Death from ethanol consumption is possible when blood alcohol level reaches 0.4%. A blood level of 0.5% or more is commonly fatal.
Ethanol is commercially produced using either a wet mill or dry mill process. Wet milling involves separating the grain kernel into its component parts (germ, fiber, protein, and starch) prior to fermentation. In the dry mill process, the entire grain kernel is ground into flour. The starch in the flour is converted to ethanol during the fermentation process.
It is used as an important industrial ingredient and has widespread use as a base chemical for other organic compounds. These include ethyl halides, ethyl esters, diethyl ether, acetic acid, ethyl amines, and, to a lesser extent, butadiene.
It is used as a solvent in professional cosmetic formulations such as hair setting, sprays, and colorants.
Biofuel Ethanol is a renewable alternative source to fossil fuels for motor vehicles and industry. Ethanol can also be used in fuel cells where it can react with the oxygen in the air over a platinum catalyst. This does not produce heat and light but converts the ethanol's chemical energy directly into electrical energy.
It is used in consumer cleaning and detergent preparations, for example spray cleaners used in kitchens and bathrooms, as a solvent in perfume industry, used to treat poisoning by other, more toxic alcohols, in particular methanol and ethylene glycol, etc. In addition, it is used as a solvent, because ethanol is miscible with water and is a good general-purpose solvent.