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Alcohol (Ethanol) Chemical and Physical Properties

Chemical Properties of Ethanol

Chemical Formula

Ethanol’s chemical formula is C2H5OH.

Ethanol structural formula

Picture 1. Ethanol structural and molecular formula.
Ethanol, like all alcohols, has an OH (hydroxylic) group
attached to a saturated carbon atom.


1 gram of ethanol provides 7 Calories (kilocalories) of the “metabolizable energy” or 6.1 Calories of the “net metabolizable energy [7].”

Physical Properties of Ethanol

Appearance, Odor and Taste

At room temperature, ethanol is a clear, colorless, volatile liquid with a characteristic odor. When diluted, it is somewhat sweet, but concentrated alcohol has a strong, burning taste [1].


Ethanol is highly soluble in water and organic solvents, but poorly soluble in fats and oils [1].


Density of ethanol at 68 °F (20 °C) is 0.789 g/mL [1].


Pure ethanol is neutral (pH ~7) [2]. Most alcoholic beverages are more or less acidic: table wine pH = 3.3-3.7 [3], beer pH ~ 4 [4].

Boiling Point

Boiling point of ethanol is 173.3 °F (78.5 °C) [1]

Melting Point

Melting point of ethanol is -173.4 °F (-114.1 °C) [1].

Freezing Point

  • Wine (10% alcohol  by volume): 25 °F (-4 °C)
  • Vodka (40% alcohol by volume): -10 °F (-23 °C)
  • Pure alcohol (100% alcohol by volume): -175 °F (-115 °C) [5]

Flash Point

Flash point is the temperature at which ethanol is flammable – can catch fire:

  • Beer (5% alcohol by weight) can catch fire, if ignited, at 144 °F (62 °C),
  • Wine (10% alcohol by weight) at 120 °F (49 °C),
  • Vodka (40% alcohol by weight) at 79 °F (26 °C) [5] and
  • Concentrated alcohol (96% alcohol by weight) can catch fire at 63 °F (17 °C) [5].

4 Responses to "Alcohol (Ethanol) Chemical and Physical Properties"

  1. Owuna Friday Junior says:

    Nice piece and am highly impressed.

    Please can I get more information on the procedures for measuring some of the physicochemical properties?

    • Jan Modric says:

      You may want to search for “alcohol measuring equipment” or so. On the Nutrients Review we covered alcohol mainly from the consumption and nutrient viewpoint.

  2. ife says:

    i need more explanation

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