Trivia

Hard

Among The Many Types Of Alcohol, The Type We Drink Is?

Ethanol
Pentanol
Isopropyl
Methanol
A large collection of alcoholic drink bottles.
Scott Feldstein/Flickr

Answer: Ethanol

Although the first alcohol most people think of when the word crosses their mind is the kind you find in alcoholic drinks, chemically speaking, the world of alcohol is a very diverse place. An alcohol is any organic compound with a hydroxyl functional group (–OH) bound to a saturated carbon atom (C). What else is bound to that chemical arrangement gives you the type of alcohol and, as you’d quickly discover, very few of them are fit for human consumption.

The type humans enjoy consuming by the collective millions-of-gallons every year is ethanol alcohol (C2H5OH). Throw a few extra atoms on there though, and you’ve got rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol (C3H7OH). Throw on a few more atoms and you’ve got butanol (C4H9OH). In fact, out of the more than a dozen commonly produced and used alcohols, the majority of them would kill us and are much better suited for tasks like cleaning wounds, burning as fuel, or using as industrial solvents.

Despite the fact that ethanol is the alcohol humanity enjoys the most, however, that doesn’t mean it’s the only alcohol safe for human consumption. There’s a entire class of sugar alcohols, like xylitol (C5H7(OH)5) for example, that makes life easier for diabetics and dieters alike, as well as complex alcohols used in food production.

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