Grain Alcohol

ethyl alcohol or ethanol

CH3CH2OH Grain alcohol or ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid. It is a powerful psychoactive drug and one of the oldest recreational drugs. It is best known as the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. In common usage, it is often referred to simply as alcohol or spirits.[1] Grain alcohol has an alcohol content of 95% or 190 proof. It is readily miscible with water.[5] Although the ethanol is distilled from grain, only volatile ethanol can be evaporated with steam distillation so only pure ethanol remains as pure grain alcohol, no gluten or any other macromolecules remain in the final product after distillation.[6] Ethanol is often abbreviated as EtOH. [4] Grain alcohol has no flavor and is the 95% concentrated purified alcohol that has been distilled from fermented grains. The other 5% is distilled water, H20.

The fermentation of sugar into ethanol is one of the earliest organic reactions employed by humanity and its intoxicating effects have been known since ancient times. Before the development of modern medicines, ethanol was used for a variety of medical purposes.[2] It has been known to be used as a truth drug, as medicine for depression, as an anesthetic and antiseptic.[7]

Today, ethanol has widespread use as a solvent of substances intended for human contact or consumption, including alcoholic beverages, scents, flavorings, colorings, and medicines, including herbal tinctures. [3] When preparing herbal tinctures, grain alcohol can be used alone for extracting very fat-soluble compounds, but is often diluted with water to a specifically desired percentage that is optimal for extracting each particular herb. When tincturing herbs together, it is a common practice to dilute the grain alcohol to between 40% – 50% (90-100 proof). The proof of a liquor is always twice its percentage of ethanol.

Distilled beverages are made by distilling fermented beverages. Broad categories of distilled beverages include whiskeys, distilled from fermented cereal grains; brandies, distilled from fermented fruit juices; and rum, distilled from fermented molasses or sugarcane juice. Vodka and similar neutral grain spirits can be distilled from any fermented material (grain or potatoes are most common); these spirits are so thoroughly distilled that no tastes from the particular starting material remain. Numerous other spirits and liqueurs are prepared by infusing flavors from fruits, herbs, and spices into distilled spirits.[2][3] A traditional example is gin, which is created by infusing volatile oil-containing juniper berries into the spirits. All of these distilled beverages contain ethanol, but not to the high concentration of 95% found in grain alcohol.

[1] “Ethanol – Compound Summary”. The PubChem Project. USA: National Center for Biotechnology Information. http://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/summary/summary.cgi?cid=702.

[2] Forbes, Robert James(1948) A short history of the art of distillation, p.89.

[3] Myers, Richard L.; Myers, Rusty L. (2007). The 100 most important chemical compounds: a reference guide. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. p. 122. ISBN 0313337586.

[4] Lide, D. R., ed (2000). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics 81st edition. CRC press. ISBN 0849304814.

[5] Windholz, Martha (1976). The Merck index: an encyclopedia of chemicals and drugs (9th ed.). Rahway, N.J., U.S.A: Merck. ISBN 0-911910-26-3.

[6] Morrison, Robert Thornton; Boyd, Robert Neilson (1972). Organic Chemistry (2nd ed.). Allyn and Bacon, inc.. ISBN 0205084524.

[7] McDonnell G, Russell AD (1999). “Antiseptics and disinfectants: activity, action, and resistance”. Clin. Microbiol. Rev. 12 (1): 147.

Products that contain Grain Alcohol

Elixirs