Alcohol is a depressant drug that reduces the body reactions and the
working of the brain. The word ?lcohol’ is sometimes mistakenly refers
to drinks, such as beers, wine and spirits etc. But there many types of
alcohol compounds, and each has different type of uses. Alcohol belongs
to a class of organic compounds, all which consist of chemically bonded
atoms of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen. All alcohol molecules contain at
least one Hydroxyl group. This is when OH is attached to a carbon atom
or the compound. Alcohol that has 1, 2 or 3 hydroxyl group attached to
their molecule is classified as Monohydric, Dihydric or Trihydric respectively.
They are then further classified as primary, secondary or tertiary.
Short chained compounds of alcohol can mix with water (soluble), long
chains can not. The more CH2 in its compounds, the less polar. Alcohol
do not ionise (gain or lose electrons) in water and they are as acidic
as water. When they burn or react, they give off Carbon Dioxide and water.
Properties Of Alcohol
As molecules increase in size, their physical properties change.
The next member going down is always a CH2 group longer than the last.
As the compounds increase in length, it gradually changes to a solid, thus
boiling point is increased.
Name Of Compound
State At 25?C
Methanol, Methyl alcohol or Wood alcohol is the simplest of all the
alcohols. It has 1 hydroxyl group with the formula CH3OH. Methanol
is a highly toxic, colourless liquid. It is extremely poisonous when taken
internally by drinking it or inhaling the vapour. Methanol has a melting
point of -98?C and a boiling point of 65?C. At 20?C it has a specific gravity
Methanol was originally made from distillation of wood. But today, almost
all of the methanol is produced synthetically, from hydrogen and Carbon
Monoxide under high pressure and also Methane (natural gas). The synthetic
methanol is then converted into Formaldehyde, which is a chemical used
in making plastics. And because methanol is a solvent (something that dissolves
other substances), it is important in the manufacture of gums, lacquers,
paints, varnishes and many organic compounds. Methanol is also used as
antifreeze solutions in motor vehicles and special motor fuels, but this
is more expensive than other fuels.
Ethanol, Ethyl Alcohol or Grain alcohol, has the chemical formula of CH3CH2OH
or C2H5OH. It is a clear, colourless liquid that
has sweet smelling odour, taste and characteristics. Therefore, ethanol
is the substance which produces beverages, such as beer, wine and brandy.
Ethanol is soluble in water and burns with a colourless flame. It can be
produced by reacting Ethene with steam or by Fermentation.
/ Methyl Alcohol / Wood Alcohol
H - C - O - H
Fermentation is a process used to produce ethanol from raw materials,
such as starch from potatoes, corn, cereal, fruits or grain. Glucose and
sugars from these raw materials are converted into ethanol by enzymes (catalysts).
Yeast is used in this process, because they contain enzymes called Zymase
to change glucose into ethanol and carbon dioxide.
This reaction, is represented by the equation…
In fact, this reaction is very complex, because the impure yeast will
also produce other substances during the reaction, such as fusel oil, Glycerin
and other organic acids. The fermented liquid is about 7 - 12 % ethanol,
but can be further concentrated to 95% by distillation. Distillation will
remove the water and other impurities by heating it under pressure.
Ethanol has a boiling point of 78?C and a melting point of -114?C. Because
of it? withstand over low temperatures, it can be used in thermometers
for temperatures below -40?C, the freezing point of Mercury.
Not only for drinking, but ethanol can also be useful as solvents in
chemical reactions, lacquers, varnishes, detergents, toiletries, perfume
and explosives. They can also make synthetic rubber and a special motor
fuel called Gasohol. (10% ethanol, 90% petrol)
The higher alcohols that have a greater weight than ethanol, also
have many specific and general uses. Plasticiser alcohol is used in the
manufacture of plastics, which give them more flexibility. Detergent alcohol
is used to make detergents, soaps and shampoos, and when they are combined
with other chemicals, it has the ability to dissolve dirt and grease in
water (Emulsification). Other types of alcohol include Propanol, Butanol,
Isopropanol, Ethanediol and many more.
Ethanol / Ethanol Alcohol
/ Grain Alcohol
H - C - C - O - H
Alcoholism is a chronic or a long term illness which a person is taking
excessive amounts of alcohol or alcoholic beverages in their body. This
person is known as an alcoholic. An alcoholic is someone who feels that
they are forced to drink. A person may get drunk occasionally, but that
does not make them an alcoholic. Alcoholism is in fact the 3rd major health
hazard! Many people drink because they want to escape from anxiety, frustration
and tension. They are also due to physiological, psychological, social
and genetic factors. Alcoholics can sometimes lead to brain damage and
death, and many more effects.
Alcohol is a drug that slows and controls the reactions of the brain.
It is absorbed very quickly into the blood stream from the stomach in a
short time of 5 -10 minutes. The effects can last for a couple of hours
depending on the amount and how quick it was consumed, how much food in
the stomach, body weight and their behaviour. As a result of drinking,
these people will lose their self control and behave very differently.
They may also experience mental confusion, poor co-ordination, unable to
walk steadily, talk clearly and large amounts can result in vomiting, short
time amnesia, double vision and loss of consciousness.
Long term drinking is even more serious. Sustained drinking can increase
the chance of damaging their health. This will lead to liver disease (Cirrhosis),
ulcers, extreme tremors, heart and digestive system disorders and permanent
brain damage of the central nervous system. Recent evidence shown that
moderate drinking during pregnancy can cause serious damage to the unborn
child, such as physical and mental retardation and malformed organs. (the
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome)
The probable most reliable treatment for alcoholics is caring for their
emotional and physical needs. When they begin to stop drinking, they go
through a condition called the withdrawal. At this point they may suffer
from convulsions and hallucinations. Withdrawal symptoms may last for several
days. Future treatments may include the use of chemicals to decrease the
need of alcohol. Prevention of alcoholism in children is possible through
the use of psychological testing and examination of the body fluid chemistry
and brain wave patterns.
1 measure of spirit
Glass of wine Regular beer
Drink Drive, You?l Be Sorry - In Australia, drink driving is illegal. The
alcohol limit is .05. (50mg Alcohol per 100ml of blood)
Each year, over 1000 died each year because of drink driving. But Australia
has a higher chance of being breathalysed than in the rest of the world.
Liver Disease - This woman's yellow skin colour is due to liver disease.
This condition is called Jaundice, an unrepairable damage.
Cirrhosis - Frequent drinking of 2 standard drinks a day will damage the
liver, thus causing liver disease called Cirrhosis. This picture shows
the typically scarred and knobbly appearance of 2 human livers is damaged
by Cirrhosis. The healthy tissue has disappeared.
It is recommended that the safe limit is 21 units of Alcohol each week
for men and 14 units a week for women.