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Ethanol Uses And Benefits For Mankind

Ethanol is an alcohol produced from corn

Ethanol also known under the name of grain alcohol, ethyl alcohol or simply alcohol is an organic chemical compound with the chemical formula C₂H₆O.

Being produced mainly from corn in the United States, ethanol has been a component of the human culture for thousands of years, from its prehistoric inception to its many uses in modern times.

This biofuel produced today mainly through the fermentation process of sugars found in corn, wheat or other agricultural feedstocks. Let’s see the ethanol uses and benefits for mankind.

Ethanol Uses

This alcohol obtained from agricultural products can be found in a wide variety of sectors:

  • In several alcoholic beverages.
  • As ingredient in several beauty products and cosmetics.
  • As a common ingredient in hand sanitizers based on alcohol.
  • As a solvent in lacquers, paints and varnishes, and also in house cleaning products.
  • As a food additive.
  • As an alternative fuel for racing vehicles or as additive to gasoline.

1. In Alcoholic Beverages

The alcohol found in beverages such as beer, wine and spirits, is called ethyl alcohol, or simply ethanol.

Being produced through a fermentation process, microorganisms such as bacteria or a fungus called yeast are used to decompose the sugars and other organic materials into ethanol and carbon dioxide.

Ethanol is the ingredient that makes alcoholic beverages intoxicating. The intoxicating effect of the alcohol is due to its role on the human central nervous system.

Moderate amounts of alcohol, trigger the release of neural chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine and endorphins in the brain. This increases happiness, decreases anxiety and depresses the brains inhibitory activities.

Through moderate consumption, alcohol (ethanol) may continue to contribute to several other aspects of the human culture.

2. In Several Beauty Products And Cosmetics

Ethanol is used in skin care products because it acts like a preservative. It preserves the product, and prevents the skin care formulation from growing fungus, bacteria and other microbial organisms.

It can also lighten up the skin care formulation in terms of the weight and how it feels on the skin. This way, we find ethanol in gel moisturizers, serums, hair sprays, etc.

These beauty products containing ethanol (alcohol) can give you that lightweight feel, so as soon as you apply them on your skin, you will feel like everything is quickly melting and absorbing into the skin, leaving less grease on top of your skin. This alcohol can also be found in wipes and soaps.

Ethanol in skin care products

Ethanol is used in different skin care products, image source:

Ethanol has a penetrating effect in beauty products and cosmetics because is helps the absorption and penetration process of the active ingredients under the skin.

3. In Hand Sanitizers

Ethanol is used in hand sanitizers as disinfectant because is very effective in fighting against bacteria, fungi and viruses (including Covid-19).

Due to the current situation create by the Covid-19 pandemic, (CDC) the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of hand sanitizers in case that there is no soap or water available.

4. In Lacquers, Paints, Varnishes and House Cleaning Products

Mixed with water and other organic compounds, ethanol produces an excellent solvent for paints, lacquers and varnish.

Due to its cleaning properties, ethanol is used as preservative in household cleaning and personal cleaning products because it can effectively remove dangerous bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc.

5. As Food Additive

Ethanol is only used as an additive in different foods. This way, the alcohol distributes food coloring evenly, and can increase the flavor of different food extracts.

Being used as an additive to food, ethanol can be found today in a variety of processed culinary products.

6. As Alternative Fuel For Racing Vehicles Or As Additive To Gasoline

Ethanol is a common, first generation biofuel produced from plant biomass (corn, sugarcane, etc.). The biomass is fermented, distilled and dehydrated to obtain an alcohol that is cleaner than gasoline and can be used as fuel for racing vehicles or flex-fuel vehicles.

The mixture used by racing vehicles is called E85, which means 85 percent ethanol and only 15 percent gasoline.

This alcohol made from corn is present in almost all the gasoline sold in the United States today
E10 is the name of the mixture containing 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline.

E10 can be used as fuel in every gasoline vehicle. Using the mixture of ethanol and gasoline as fuel, we can lower the emissions, and we can keep the engine clean because ethanol performs a more complete combustion of the fuel.

Ethanol Benefits

When used as fuel or as additive to gasoline, ethanol has several benefits for the environment and for the engine of the vehicles.

1. Is A Renewable Fuel

Ethanol is produced from a renewable resource such as corn, sugarcane, or other agricultural feedstocks containing sugars.

When oil will run out, mankind will still be able to produce ethanol, maybe using other forms of biomass that do not compete with food crops.

Vehicles running on ethanol blends are friendlier with the environment

Vehicles running on ethanol blends are friendlier with the environment, image source:

2. Burns More Completely Than Fossil Fuels

Using an ethanol-gasoline blend means more complete combustion. This biofuel burns more efficiently and completely than gasoline. This way less carbon is deposited in the engine, so the spark plugs don’t need to be replaced so often.

3. Is Cleaner Than Gasoline

Ethanol produced from plants is carbon neutral.

When we burn ethanol as fuel, the carbon dioxide released will not increase the level of greenhouse gas emissions produced because that CO₂ was absorbed from the air by the plants (through photosynthesis) during their life here on the planet.

When used in skin care products, ethanol helps the absorption of the active ingredients into the skin.

When used in household products, ethanol is an effective solvent for lacquers, paints and varnish, and when used in cleaning products for home, this alcohol is a good preservative that cleans the area and removes dangerous organisms for our health.

When put in hand sanitizers, ethanol is very effective in killing bacteria, fungi and viruses including THE COVID-19 virus and all its variants.


Ethanol is an alcohol produced mainly from corn and is used on a massive scale in many products that we use daily.

Being produced from a renewable resource such as corn (maize), sugarcane or other plants containing sugars, ethanol burns cleaner than gasoline and will be here on the planet long after oil will be depleted.

Article written by:

I write about the renewable energy sector, electric cars and climate change issues. I love nature and good food, so I travel all over the world to see new places and meet new people. Magda Savin

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