Is Ethanol polar or non-polar?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Is Ethanol polar or non-polar?” and provide information on what exactly is polarity, factors that can influence them, characteristics of ethanol, its uses, its presence in alcohol as well as factors to keep in mind while handling them.

Is Ethanol polar or non-polar?

Ethanol is polar. This is because it contains a hydroxyl group. As there are different charges between hydrogen and oxygen atoms, Ethanol is polar.

What exactly is a polar molecule?

Polar molecules are ones that have opposite charges. There is an unequal distribution of charges between two different atoms. 

As the distribution of charges is not uniform, one of the atoms develops a partially positive charge whereas another atom develops a highly negative charge.

In the case of Ethanol, the oxygen atom would carry a partially negative charge whereas the hydrogen atom would carry a partially positive charge.

Molecules that are non-polar will have an equal distribution of charges. As a result, one of the atoms would carry a fully positive charge whereas another atom would carry a fully negative charge. 

What factors can influence polarity?

  • The electronegativity of an atom can influence polarity. Electronegativity is the strength of an atom to pull electrons toward them. This can result in polarity. The difference in electronegativity can influence polarity between atoms.
  • Dipole moment between atoms can influence polarity too. If the dipole value is higher, polarity can also be high. The dipole moment refers to the separation of two opposite charges (positive and negative charge) in a system.
  • The geometric figure of a molecule can help in determining its polarity as well. If the molecules are asymmetric, they are likely to be more polar. Symmetric molecules are non-polar.

What are some characteristics of Ethanol?

Ethanol is a colorless liquid with a proper temperature and color. It is highly flammable. As a result, care must be taken while dealing with them.

As Ethanol is polar, it can easily dissolve in water. It is not a good conductor of electricity as there are no free ions present in the molecule.

What are some uses of Ethanol?

Ethanol is particularly used as alcohol. When it is consumed in excess, it can cause intoxication. As Ethanol contains alcohol, it is widely used as a sanitizer to kill the microbes in your hand. Ethanol gas is used as a fuel in cars.

Ethanol has been a primary ingredient in cosmetics too. It is added to certain creams, perfumes, and lotions.

Sometimes, Ethanol can be mixed with paints. These paints can mix properly with water as Ethanol dissolves in water. Ethanol can be used in combustion engines of certain machines. Sometimes, it can be a part of certain medications as well.

What is the content of Ethanol in alcohol?

The content of Ethanol in alcoholic beverages can vary. This is expressed as ABV or Alcohol Blood Value.

Spirits have Ethanol up to 40 percent. However, the percentage can differ. For instance, some vodkas can have 30 percent of Ethanol whereas Bourbon can have 60 percent Ethanol.

Liqueurs can have Ethanol present below 20 percent. Wine does not contain much Ethanol. The concentration of Ethanol in wine is between 11 to 15 percent.

What are some factors to keep in mind with regard to ethanol use?

  • Ethanol is highly flammable but this would not be a problem if you are working with Ethanol in a place containing good ventilation. Make sure to keep the windows and doors of the lab or room open.
  • If the levels of Ethanol exceed 5000 ppm (parts per million), Ethanol can start to irritate your nose, throat, eyes, and other parts of the respiratory tract. Coughing and tear formation in the eyes can be experienced.

However, inhaling Ethanol is not going to cause much harm apart from irritation. Drinking excess Ethanol (through alcoholic drinks) can cause Etanol poisoning.

  • The absorption of Ethanol through oral consumption can be affected by the rate of absorption. Factors that can increase or decrease gastric emptying can influence Ethanol absorption.

Some of the factors that influence gastric emptying are given below:

  • Factors that delay gastric emptying can include stress, anxiety, chronic or acute diseases, trauma, or surgery. The presence of fiber, protein, and fat can delay it. 

Certain drugs like anticholinergic drugs or narcotic analgesics can influence them too.

  • Factors that elevate gastric emptying are liquid foods, certain kinds of ulcers, pancreatitis, and certain drugs (cholinergic agents, Reserpine, etc).

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have answered the question, “Is Ethanol polar or non-polar?” and provided information on what exactly is polarity, factors that can influence them, characteristics of ethanol, its uses, its presence in alcohol as well as factors to keep in mind while handling them.

Reference

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/512606/

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