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Alcohol Versus Ethanol

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All ethanol is alcohol, but not all alcohol is ethanol.

All ethanol is alcohol, but not all alcohol is ethanol.

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  • Do you understand the distinction? It's pretty easy, really. Ethanol or ethyl alcohol is one type of alcohol. It's the only type of alcohol that you can drink without seriously harming yourself, and then only if it has not been denatured or does not contain toxic impurities. Other types of alcohol include methanol (methyl alcohol) and isopropanol (rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol). 'Alcohol' refers to any chemical having an -OH functional group. In some cases, you can substitute one alcohol for another or use a mixture of alcohols. If a specific alcohol is mentioned for a project, don't make substitutions. This is especially important if the alcohol is to be used in foods, drugs, or cosmetics.

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