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Ethyl Alcohol: Are ethyl alcohol and ethanol the same?

Ethyl Alcohol : It is the second member of the alcohol category. It is an important member of this category. It is also known as alcohol only. Its name is methyl carbinol in the carbinol method.

In nature, it is found in the aromatic oils and fruits as an ester. It is used as a spirit in many processes in industries and laboratories.

The main ingredient of spirit is ethyl alcohol. The rectified spirit contains about 95% ethyl alcohol and 5% water. Methyl alcohol or any other toxic substance is added to the rectified spirit to make denatured spirit.

Ethyl alcohol is often made from starch-containing grains, so in trade it is also called grain alcohol.

Preparation of Ethyl Alcohol

From Alkyl Halide: Mono hydric alcohols can be obtained by water decomposition of alkhyl hylides by aqueous alkali or liquid oxide silver.

RX + KOH(Liquid) R-OH + KX

RX + AgOH R-OH + AgX

C2H5Br + KOH(liquid) C2H5OH + KBr

By the action of nitrous acid on primary amino: Alcohol is obtained by the action of nitrous acid on primary amines.

R – NH2 + HNO2 R – OH + N2 + H2O

C2H5NH2 + HNO2 C2H5OH + N2 + H2O

Nitrous acid is a temporary acid. It is made by the action of sodium nitrite and hydrocloric acid. In order to react with a compound of nitrous acid, this additive is reacted with NaNO2 and HCl.

Industrial Preparation of Ethyl Alcohol

The following are the major methods of industrial manufacture of ethyl alcohol.


The ethylene obtained from the bleaching of petroleum is absorbed in concentrated sulfuric acid at 15 – 30 atmospheric pressure and 75°-80°C temperature. Ethyl hydrogen sulfate is obtained as a result. By boiling it with water, this water decomposes and ethanol is formed.

C2H4 + H2SO4 C2H5HSO4



Acetylene gas is obtained by the reaction of calcium carbide and water. Acetaldehyde is formed by flow of this gas in sulfuric acid solution in the presence of mercuric sulfate at 60°C heat, and the vapors of acetaldehyde combine with hydrogen at Nikhil powder at 100°-140°C temperature. By doing this, it is reduced and alcohol is obtained.

CaC2 + 2H2O Ca(OH)2 + C2H2




In ancient times ethyl alcohol was made only by this method. Even in modern times, the industrial manufacture of ethyl alcohol is mainly done by this method. 

Commercial quantities of ethyl alcohol are produced from fermentation of sugars such as sugarcane juice, glucose molasses, fruit juices etc. or fermentation of starchy substances like barley, rice, corn etc.

The following reactions occur in the fermentation of sugars.


C12H22O11 + H2O C6H12O6 + C6H12O6

C6H12O6 2C2H5OH + 2CO2

The following reactions occur in the fermentation of starchy substances.

2(C6H10O5)n + nH2O nC12H22O11

C12H22O11 + H2O 2H6H12O6

C6H12O6 2C2H5OH + 2CO2

Physical Properties of Ethyl Alcohol

It is a colorless and sweet smelling liquid. Its taste is pungent. Its boiling point is 78°C. It burns with a light blue flame in the air. It is miscible in water and organic solvents.

Chemical Properties of Ethyl Alcohol

Action from alkali metals: Sodium or potassium metal forms alkoxide by introducing hydrogen atom from -OH group of alcohols.

2ROH + 2Na 2RONa + H2

2C2H5OH + 2Na 2C2H5ONa + H2

Carboxylic acid action: Alcohol reacts with carboxylic acid to make ester. This reaction is called esterification. In this reaction, cation of hydrogen (H+) acts as a catalyst and this reaction is reversible. To prevent backward reaction, concentrated anhydrous agents such as H2SO4 or dry HCl are used.

Reaction with Acetyl Chloride or Acetic Anhydride: As a result of the action of alcohols with acetyl chloride, the hydrogen atom of the -OH group of alcohols is displaced by the acetyl group(- COCH3). This reaction is called Acetylation.


Alcohols have a similar action with Acetic Anhydride in the presence of sodium acetate.


Action from ammonia: Alcohol, when heated at high pressure in the presence of zinc chloride, copper chromite or alumina, reacts with ammonia to form primary amine.

C2H5OH + NH3 C2H5NH2 + H2O

If alcohol is taken in excess, then secondary and tertairy amine are also obtained.

C2H5OH + C2H5NH2 (C2H5)2NH + H2O

C2H5OH + (C2H5)2NH (C2H5)3N + H2O

Halogen acids: The alcoholic group is displaced by the halogen atom as a result of the action of alcohols with halogen acids. This reaction with concentrated HCl occurs in the presence of anhydrous zinc chloride.

R – OH + HCl R – Cl + H2O

C2H5OH + HCl C2H5Cl + H2O

This reaction with hydro bromic acid is carried out in the presence of concentrated H2SO4.

R – OH + HBr R – Br + H2O

C2H5OH + HBr C2H5Br + H2O

This reaction takes place with hydroIodic acid and the alcohol is refluxed with hydroIodic acid to conduct the reaction in advance.

C2H5OH + HI C2H5I + H2O

They finally form elkene when heated with concentrated hydroIodic acid and red phosphorus.

C2H5I + HI C2H6 + I2

Phosphorus halides: The alcoholic group is displaced by the helogen atom as a result of the action of the alcohols with phosphorus halides.

C2H5OH + PCl5 C2H5Cl + POCl3 + HCl

3C2H5OH + PCl3 3C2H5Cl + H3PO3

Alcohols have the same action with thionyl chloride(SOCl2). These compounds are formed in the flask itself to react with the phosphorus tri bromide and phosphorus tri iodide of the alcohols. For this, bromine or iodine is added to the mixture of phosphorus and alcohol.

Reaction with sulphuric Acid: Alcohol reacts with concentrated sulfuric acid to produce different products at different temperatures.

Ethyl alcohol and concentrated sulfuric acid react at ordinary temperature and form ethyl hydrogen sulfate. The reaction takes place easily when the temperature increases, that is, the reaction speed increases.

C2H5OH + H2SO4 C2H5HSO4 + H2O

Distillation of ethyl hydrogen sulfate at low pressure makes it ethyl sulfate.

2C2H5HSO4 (C2H5)2SO4 + H2SO4

When ethyl hydrogen sulfate is distilled with water, it decomposes to form ethyl alcohol.

C2H5HSO4 + H2O C2H5OH + H2SO4

A mixture of concentrated sulfuric acid in excess of ethyl alcohol and heating the mixture at 140°C gives diethyl ether. Diethyl ether is also obtained by heating the homogeneous mixture of ethyl alcohol and ethyl hydrogen sulfate at 140°C.

C2H5OH + H2SO4 C2H5HSO4 + H2O

C2H5OH + C2H5HSO4 C2H5-O-C2H5 + H2SO4

By heating ethyl alcohol to 160-170°C with concentrated H2SO4 it forms ethylene.

C2H5OH + H2SO4 C2H5HSO4 + H2O

C2H5HSO4 C2H4 + H2O

Reactions in which the alkyle group participates.

Dehydration: The dehydration of alcohols can also be done by passing their vapor over heated alumina. By passing ethyl alcohol vapors onto heated alumina, diethyl ether at 250 temperature and ethylene at 360° temperature are obtained.

2C2H5OH C2H5 – O – C2H5 + H2O

C2H5OH C2H4 + H2O

Chlorine action: Alcohols are first oxidized as a result of their reaction with chlorine. And aldehyde or ketones are made. This is followed by chlorination of aldehyde or alkyl radical of ketones.

C2H5OH + Cl2 CH3CHO + 2HCl

CH3CHO + 3Cl2 CCl3CHO + 3HCl

Uses of Ethyl Alcohol

1) Ethanol is used as a solvent for many organic materials.

2) 100% pure ethyl alcohol is called absolute alcohol. 95.5% aqueous solution of ethyl alcohol is called rectified spirit. Rectified spirit is used in the manufacture of tincture ether chloroform dyes aromatic substances and many other substances. Absolute alcohol and rectified spirit are also used as surrogates in the laboratory. The fluid obtained by mixing methanol coatchoucine, peridin or any other toxic substance in rectified spirit is called denatured spirit.

3) Since rectified spirit can be used for drinking as a narcotic, denatured spirit is used as much as possible in place of rectified spirit in laboratory and industries to prevent its misuse.

4) Ethanol or rectified spirit is also used to make power alcohol. Power alcohol contains about 20 – 25% ethyl alcohol, 70 – 75% petrol, ether, tetralin etc. It can be used as a fuel in place of patrol in the engine.

5) It is also used in preservation of biological specimens.

6) Ethyl alcohol is also used for drinking as a narcotic. The drugs in which ethyl alcohol is present are of two types – (i) spirit (ii) wine.


7) If the alcoholic beverage is distilled, it is called spirit. If the alcoholic beverage is undispilled, it is called alcohol. Alcoholic beverages mainly contain 3 to 40% ethyl alcohol and the remaining water. Proof spirit contains 49.3% ethyl alcohol by weight. x° proof spirit has x% proof spirit.

Sanjay Bhandari

Hello Friends, My name is Sanjay Bhandari. I am a chemistry Teacher.

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