What Is Ethanol?

Ethanol is a colorless, water-soluble, and potentially flammable liquid made from fermented corn or other grains. It has a characteristic alcohol odor.

Additionally, it has numerous applications, including as a fuel, solvent, and feedstock. It is also used in medicine and recreation. Producing ethanol involves fermentation or cellulosic production.

Ethanol Production Process

Ethanol production begins with the fermentation of sugar or starch to alcohol by yeast. The most common method of producing ethanol involves fermentation or cellulosic production.

Fermentation Production

The most common way to produce ethanol is through the fermentation process. This process converts glucose from corn or other grain into ethanol by yeast.

The yeast consumes the sugar and releases carbon dioxide and ethanol. Ethanol can also be produced from other carbohydrates, such as cellulose.

Cellulosic Production

Cellulosic production is a more recent method of producing ethanol. This process breaks the cellulose in the plant down into glucose, which is then converted into ethanol by yeast or bacteria.

Cellulosic ethanol is made from non-food plants, such as switchgrass, wood chips, or corn stalks. Ethanol can also be produced from cellulose in municipal solid waste (MSW).

Uses and Benefits of Ethanol



Ethanol is used as an antiseptic and disinfectant. It can also clean wounds and treat skin infections.

Hospitals, clinics, and labs use this liquid as a disinfectant to kill germs. Moreover, it is used in medications, such as mouthwash, cough syrup, and liquid antibiotics.


Ethanol can be used as a recreational drug that acts as a depressant to slow down the body's functions. It is often consumed as a beverage or used to make alcoholic drinks. Moreover, it can also be used to produce ethanol fuel.


Ethanol serves as an additive to gasoline to help reduce emissions from vehicles. It is a renewable energy source that produces fewer types of greenhouse gas than gasoline.

Additionally, this liquid can be used in heating and cooking appliances and to fuel boats, motorcycles, and cars.


Ethanol is utilized as a feedstock to produce other chemicals. It can be used to produce plastics, solvents, and other chemicals.


Ethanol is a solvent and can dissolve substances such as waxes, resins, and oils. It is often used to clean carpets, floors, and windows. Ethanol can also be an ingredient in cosmetics and personal care products.

Low-Temperature Liquid

Ethanol can be used in refrigeration and air conditioning systems.

Safety Information

Listed below are the different precautionary measures that one should observe when handling ethanol.

  1. It is a flammable liquid and can cause burns.
  2. It is a low-temperature liquid and can cause frostbite if it contacts the skin.
  3. It is poisonous and can be fatal if ingested.
  4. It can be harmful if inhaled.
  5. It can react with other chemicals to form explosive mixtures.
  6. It is a skin and eye irritant.
  7. It requires storage in a cool, dry place away from heat and flames.

Key Takeaways

Ethanol is a versatile chemical that has many uses. It can be used as an additive in gasoline, as fuel for boats, motorcycles, and cars, or as a feedstock to produce other chemicals.

It is also a solvent and can be used to dissolve other substances. Additionally, it is a low-temperature liquid employable in refrigeration and air conditioning systems.

It is flammable and requires careful handling. It is poisonous and potentially fatal if ingested. 

Always observe the precautionary measures when handling ethanol.


1. What is Ethanol?

Ethanol is a colorless, flammable liquid made by fermenting sugar or starch.

2. What Are the Uses and Benefits of Ethanol?

It is used as a solvent, antiseptic, disinfectant, additive to gasoline, and fuel for boats, motorcycles, and cars. Ethanol also has numerous benefits, including reducing emissions from vehicles and being a renewable resource.

3. What Is the Distinction Between Ethanol and Isopropyl Alcohol?

Ethanol is the alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. Isopropyl alcohol is a disinfectant and unsafe to drink.

4. How Can Ethanol Be Harmful?

Ethanol can be harmful if swallowed, is a skin and eye irritant, and is flammable.

5. What Should I Do if Ethanol Comes in Contact With My Skin?

Wash the area with water and seek medical attention if it is in contact with your skin.

Attend Our Next Webinar

Attend Our Next Webinar

Join our next Sustainable Investing 101 webinar, get our favorite DIY options, and walk through how we build our portfolios.

Watch Now
Get Our Newsletter

Get Our Newsletter

Go a level deeper with us and investigate the potential impacts of climate change on investments like your retirement account.

Talk To A Human

Talk To A Human

Joining a new investment service can be intimidating. We’re here for you. Click below to email us a question or book a quick call.

Ask a Question


Sustainable Investing Topics

View our list of some topics below.