The Types of Ethanol

Published on January 24, 2024

Types of Ethanol

There are quite a few chemical compounds that would find their use in so many industries, from industrial to the production of alcoholic drinks and chemical solvents, as ethanol did. Most frequently, you will find this solution under the names of ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol. Ethanol is compatible with many other solutions, which is one of the major reasons why there are so many different types of alcohol.

However, before we start exploring different types of ethanol, let’s first discover what’s ethanol used for and what are its chemical properties.

5 uses of ethanol (except for alcoholic drinks):

  • Antiseptic. 
  • Antidote. 
  • Medicinal solvent. 
  • Pharmacology.
  • Engine fuel.

Chemical properties:

  • Formula: C2H5OH
  • Melting temperature: - 117.3°C
  • Boiling temperature: 78.5°C
  • Reactions: with active metals, with acids, can be oxidized, and dehydrated.

Pure Ethanol

These substances are composed solely of ethyl alcohol and water, along with additional deliberate additives or elements. This group includes both anhydrous alcohols and ethanol that has been diluted with water to achieve a specific concentration or proof level. Such types of ethanol are liable for Federal Excise Tax.

The Federal Excise Tax on these alcohols is levied by the national government based on the alcohol's "Proof gallon." The method for determining the proof gallons is as follows: Multiply the Alcohol Proof by the Volume of Alcohol in Gallons and then divide by 100. The current federal excise tax rate stands at $13.50 for each proof gallon.

It's important to note that the excise tax is a significant factor in the pricing and regulation of these alcohol products. The tax not only impacts the cost structure for producers but also serves as a regulatory measure, influencing the overall market dynamics of alcoholic substances. The proof gallon calculation is a critical component in determining the tax amount, ensuring a standardized approach to taxation based on alcohol strength and volume.

Specially Denatured Alcohols (SDA)

As you can easily guess from the name of the category, these types of ethanol contain a certain amount of denaturants. The major purpose why manufacturers are required to add these components is to make ethanol non-tasty to drink, which is necessary for certain medical products. There are two major purposes why these medications should be unfit for drinking:

  1. To prevent children from consuming them by accident.
  2. To prevent unintentional overdosing during treatment.

Methanol, ethyl acetate, and Isopropyl Alcohol are the solutions used to convert pure ethanol into ethanol denatured

Specially denatured alcohols (also known as SDAs) are strictly classified and all have their unique formula numbers. Not all SDAs suit the same applications that’s why this distinguishing is necessary. 

Completely Denatured Alcohols (CDA)

"Completely denatured alcohols" refer to ethanol products that have been chemically altered to make them unsuitable for human consumption. This process, known as denaturing, involves adding specific substances to ethanol, which effectively render the alcohol toxic, unpleasant, or otherwise undrinkable.

The primary purpose of denaturing alcohol is to exempt it from certain regulations and taxes that apply to beverages intended for consumption. Since completely denatured alcohols are not fit for drinking, they are often used in industrial and commercial applications. These include use as solvents, fuel, antiseptics, and in various manufacturing processes.

The additives used in completely denatured alcohols vary depending on the intended use and regulatory requirements. Common denaturants include methanol, isopropanol, acetone, and bittering agents. These substances are chosen for their effectiveness in making the alcohol undrinkable and for their compatibility with the alcohol's intended use.

Reagent Alcohol

Reagents are special chemical compounds that are used in laboratory experiments in order to trigger certain reactions. Often, their major function is to detect a certain substance in a mixture. Certain grades of ethanol suit this purpose quite effectively. However, the thing here is that they have to be denatured so that one could buy them without permission. This is possible because completely denatured ethanol compounds used for laboratory work aren’t liable for Federal Excise Tax. Reagent types of ethanol are usually made by adding IPA to SDA 3A.

Author: Chemist EU

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