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Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid. It is a psychoactive drug, best known as the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. While it was a common primary fuel in early liquid-fuel rocket motors, it is widely used as a fuel additive, and is extensively used as a solvent.

Ethanol is a straight-chain alcohol, and its chemical formula is C2H5OH (or CH3-CH2-OH). It has a molecular mass of 46.07 and a normal boiling point of 78.32 °C.

Health effects


Heavy drinking can lead to alcoholic hepatitis and may also cause alcohol withdrawal when drinking is stopped.

Drinking can impair performance while intociated[1] and possibly after intoxication[2].


Moderate drinking is associated with reduced cardiac morbidity. Starting moderate drinking during middle age is also associated with cardiovascular benefits and reduced total mortality.[3].[4]


  1. Dorafshar AH, O'Boyle DJ, McCloy RF (December 2002). "Effects of a moderate dose of alcohol on simulated laparoscopic surgical performance". Surg Endosc 16 (12): 1753–8. DOI:10.1007/s00464-001-9052-3. PMID 12140623. Research Blogging.
  2. Kocher H, Warwick J, Al-Ghnaniem R, Patel A (March 2006). "Surgical dexterity after a 'night out on the town'". ANZ J Surg 76 (3): 110–2. DOI:10.1111/j.1445-2197.2006.03664.x. PMID 16626342. Research Blogging.
  3. Augusto Di Castelnuovo, Simona Costanzo, Vincenzo Bagnardi, Maria B. Donati, Licia Iacoviello L and Gionanni de Gaetano (2006). "Alcohol dosing and total mortality in men and women: an updated meta-analysis of 34 prospective studies". Arch. Intern. Med. 166 (22): 2437–45. DOI:10.1001/archinte.166.22.2437. PMID 17159008. Research Blogging.
  4. D.E. King DE, A.G. Mainous and M.E. Geesey (March 2008). "Adopting moderate alcohol consumption in middle age: subsequent cardiovascular events". Am. J. Med. 121 (3): 201–6. DOI:10.1016/j.amjmed.2007.12.004. PMID 18328303. Research Blogging.