What is the structural formula for Ethanol?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “What is the structural formula for Ethanol?” and provide information on the physical characteristics of Ethanol, its uses, whether it can be used for recreational purposes as well as the side effects of using them.

What is the structural formula for Ethanol?

The structural formula for Ethanol is C2H6O. It can be written as C2H5OH too. Ethanol can be abbreviated as EtOH. Ethanol can be added to drugs, alcoholic drinks, and even used as fuel. The molecular formula can be CH3CH2OH.

Ethanol contains a methyl group (CH3), a methylene group (CH2), and a hydroxy group (OH) which is its chemical structure.

What are the physical characteristics of Ethanol? 

Ethanol is a very flammable compound. Even though it does not have any color, it has an odor. When it is burnt, Ethanol can appear in form of a bluish color. 

Ethanol has a hydroxyl group which makes it less volatile than other molecules with a similar weight. This hydroxyl group can partake in hydrogen bonding which can reduce its volatility.

Ethanol is soluble in water as it is polar. The presence of hydrogen bonds can also make Ethanol attract water molecules present in the air.

What are some uses of Ethanol?

  • Ethanol is commonly used as a hand sanitizer because of the presence of alcohol in them. Apart from this, Ethanol also has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects. This makes them more beneficial to be used as an antiseptic agent.

Check for sanitizers that contain at least 70 percent of Ethanol. This is because pure Ethanol might not work much as an antiseptic. 

Diluted Ethanol is more effective compared to pure ones. Ethanol can work more effectively as a disinfectant too.

  • Ethanol can be recommended as an antidote by individuals who suffer from ethylene glycol poisoning. Ethylene glycol is a colorless and sweet substance and excess consumption of this substance can cause poisoning. 

This is because both ethanol and ethylene glycol can compete with each other for alcohol dehydrogenase. High levels of Ethanol can negate the effects of ethylene glycol. Apart from this, Ethanol can be recommended for Methanol poisoning too.

  • Ethanol is commonly present in alcoholic drinks. It is formed in the drinks through the process of fermentation by yeast. Certain flaming alcoholic drinks are served at parties. These flaming drinks contain high levels of Ethanol which makes them flammable.
  • Sometimes, Ethanol can be recommended to be taken along with medications that are not soluble in water. Certain medicines might contain Ethanol as one of their ingredients. This can include cough syrups, cold medicines, and pain relievers.
  • Ethanol can be used as fuel for vehicles. Ethanol can be commonly mixed with gasoline and pumped into cars. The addition of Ethanol can make the fuel more environmentally friendly and improve its stability.  

In the US, commonly used forms of Ethanol blended fuels include E10 (10 percent Ethanol blended with gasoline) and E85 (85 percent Ethanol blended with gasoline). 

Certain crops are used for the production of Ethanol. In the US, corn is used for the production of Ethanol. In Brazil, sugarcane is used whereas sweet sorghum is used to prepare them in certain parts of India.

  • Fuel cells can work on Ethanol. Besides, it is less toxic and cheaper compared to hydrogen or methanol which are also used for preparing fuel cells.
  • In homes, Ethanol can be used in fireplaces or as a fuel for cooking.
  • Ethanol can be added commercially to paints, colognes, markers, and mouthwashes.

Is Ethanol used for recreational reasons?

Yes, Ethanol can be used for recreational reasons too. It can reduce the levels of neurotransmission when taken as a recreational drug. It has carcinogenic properties too but there are no laws restricting the sale of such drugs.

What are the side effects of using Ethanol?

When Ethanol comes into contact with eyes or hands, it can cause irritation. Excess oral consumption can cause nausea, vomiting, and intoxication. Liver cirrhosis can be a consequence of excess Ethanol consumption over time.

The presence of Ethanol in drinks can vary. It is denoted by ABV (alcohol Blood Volume). For instance, vodkas can contain around 30 percent of Ethanol whereas certain drinks can contain Ethanol as high as 95 percent.

Wines contain a lesser concentration of Ethanol which can be around 15 to 18 percent. Some beers can contain as less as 4 percent of Ethanol. Knowing the ABV of alcoholic drinks can help you know whether you get drunk quickly.


In this brief article, we have answered the question, “What is the structural formula for Ethanol?” and provided information on the physical characteristics of Ethanol, its uses, whether it can be used for recreational purposes as well as the side effects of using them.