Q:

What is the difference between ethanol and methanol?

A:

Ethanol is a substance that is created from the fermentation of food crops in factories, while methanol is a highly poisonous chemical produced synthetically. Both substances are variants of alcohol that can be used as energy sources, but have different methods of production and practical uses.

Ethanol is a colorless liquid usually created from corn or sugarcane, and is a primary ingredient in alcoholic beverages. Once ingested, it causes intoxication and drowsiness. It is also used as an alternative fuel source: Some cars are designed to run on up to 85 percent ethanol. Its use as a fuel source is hotly debated, due to the sheer amount of corn that must be used in its production instead of as a source of food. In addition to alcoholic beverages and alternative fuel, ethanol is found in a multitude of household products, including antibacterial hand gels, rubbing alcohol and paint.

In contrast to ethanol, methanol is highly poisonous to humans, even in small amounts. Less than half a teaspoon of methanol can cause blindness. The primary use of methanol is in the formulation of chemicals like formaldehyde. It is less flammable than gasoline and can be put out with water, making it ideal for use in race cars and stunt cars.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Is ethanol polar or non-polar?

    A:

    Ethanol is a highly polar substance. This is because the hydroxyl, or OH, group at the end of the ethanol molecule contains a polar bond.

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  • Q:

    Why is ethanol dangerous?

    A:

    Ethanol is dangerous because it is a highly flammable liquid that can be poisonous with skin contact or ingestion in its pure forms. Ethanol is also the ingredient in alcoholic beverages, and consumption of it can lead to liver disease, heart problems and alcoholism.

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  • Q:

    Why is ethanol soluble in water?

    A:

    Ethanol is soluble in water because the polarity of its hydroxyl group is stronger than the nonpolarity of its two carbon chain. In alcohols with more than five carbons in their chain, the repulsive forces between the nonpolar chain and polar water do not allow the two to mix, according to Solubility of Things.

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  • Q:

    Who discovered ethanol?

    A:

    According to EthanolHistory.com, evidence from pottery believed to have originated 9,000 years ago suggests that Neolithic people in Northern China discovered ethanol and consumed alcoholic beverages. In the first century A.D., the Greeks and the Arabs discovered distillation, a process to increase the ethanol content of alcoholic drinks.

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