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Ethanol vs. Ethanoic Acids: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on February 29, 2024
Ethanol is a simple alcohol (C2H5OH) used as a fuel and solvent, while ethanoic acid (CH3COOH) is a carboxylic acid used in vinegar and as an industrial chemical.
Ethanol vs. Ethanoic Acids

Key Differences

Ethanol, commonly known as alcohol, is a clear, colorless liquid with a characteristic odor and is the principal type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. It is used as a solvent, in the manufacture of other chemicals, and as a fuel additive. Ethanoic acid, also known as acetic acid, is a colorless liquid with a distinctive sour taste and pungent smell, primarily known for its use in vinegar.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024
As a chemical compound, ethanol is less complex than ethanoic acid. It is a two-carbon alcohol with a molecular formula of C2H5OH. Its structure consists of a hydroxyl group (-OH) attached to an ethyl group. On the other hand, ethanoic acid is a carboxylic acid with the formula CH3COOH. It contains a carboxyl group (COOH) attached to a methyl group, making it a more reactive molecule compared to ethanol.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024
In terms of physical properties, ethanol is a volatile, flammable liquid with a boiling point of around 78 degrees Celsius. It mixes well with water and other organic solvents. Ethanoic acid, while also a liquid at room temperature, has a boiling point of 118 degrees Celsius and has a strong acidic nature due to the presence of the carboxyl group.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024
Ethanol is widely used in the beverage industry, medical applications, and as a biofuel. Its ability to burn cleanly makes it a popular choice for environmentally friendly fuel alternatives. Ethanoic acid's primary use is in the food industry as a preservative and flavoring agent, especially in vinegar. It also has significant applications in the production of plastics, pharmaceuticals, and textiles.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024
In biological systems, ethanol acts as a central nervous system depressant and is a psychoactive substance. It is metabolized in the liver and can have harmful effects if consumed in large quantities. Ethanoic acid, in contrast, plays a role in metabolic processes as a part of acetyl-CoA, essential for the synthesis and breakdown of fatty acids.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Chemical Structure

Two-carbon alcohol, C2H5OH
Carboxylic acid, CH3COOH
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Physical State

Colorless, flammable liquid
Colorless liquid with a sour taste and pungent smell
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Feb 29, 2024

Boiling Point

Around 78°C
About 118°C
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Main Uses

Solvent, fuel, in beverages
Vinegar, chemical manufacturing
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Biological Impact

Psychoactive substance, metabolized in the liver
Involved in metabolic processes as part of acetyl-CoA
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Ethanol and Ethanoic Acids Definitions

Ethanol

Ethanol is used as a common laboratory solvent.
Ethanol is often used to clean laboratory glassware due to its effectiveness in dissolving residues.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 19, 2024

Ethanoic Acids

Ethanoic acid is a colorless organic liquid with a pungent odor.
The pungent smell of vinegar is due to ethanoic acid.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 19, 2024

Ethanol

Ethanol is a volatile, flammable, clear liquid alcohol.
Ethanol is used as a fuel additive to increase octane and improve emissions.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 19, 2024

Ethanoic Acids

Ethanoic acid is a carboxylic acid with the formula CH3COOH.
Ethanoic acid reacts with sodium bicarbonate to produce carbon dioxide gas.
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Jan 19, 2024

Ethanol

Ethanol is the principal type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages.
The ethanol content in wine varies depending on the fermentation process.
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Jan 19, 2024
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Ethanoic Acids

Ethanoic acid is used in the production of various chemical compounds.
Ethanoic acid is a key raw material in the manufacture of acetate fibers.
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Jan 19, 2024

Ethanol

Ethanol is used in medical applications as an antiseptic and disinfectant.
Ethanol wipes are commonly used to disinfect skin before injections.
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Jan 19, 2024

Ethanoic Acids

Ethanoic acid plays a role in biological processes as an intermediary in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.
Ethanoic acid is involved in the Krebs cycle, a key part of cellular respiration.
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Jan 19, 2024

Ethanol

Ethanol is a biofuel derived from the fermentation of sugars by yeasts.
Ethanol produced from corn is a popular biofuel in the United States.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 19, 2024

Ethanoic Acids

Ethanoic acid is a common food preservative and flavoring agent.
Ethanoic acid is what gives pickles their characteristic sour taste.
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Jan 19, 2024

Ethanol

See alcohol.
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Jan 18, 2024

Ethanol

(organic compound) A simple aliphatic alcohol formally derived from ethane by replacing one hydrogen atom with a hydroxyl group: CH3-CH2-OH.
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Ethanol

Specifically, this alcohol as a fuel.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Ethanol

The organic compound C2H5.OH, the common alcohol which is the intoxicating agent in beer, wine, and other fermented and distilled liquors; called also ethyl alcohol. It is used pure or denatured as a solvent or in medicines and colognes and cleaning solutions, or mixed in gasoline as a fuel for automobiles, and as a rocket fuel (as in the V-2 rocket).
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 18, 2024

Ethanol

The intoxicating agent in fermented and distilled liquors; used pure or denatured as a solvent or in medicines and colognes and cleaning solutions and rocket fuel; proposed as a renewable clean-burning additive to gasoline
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is ethanol?

Ethanol is a simple alcohol used as a fuel and solvent.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Where is ethanol commonly found?

Ethanol is found in alcoholic beverages and as a biofuel.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

What is ethanoic acid?

Ethanoic acid, also known as acetic acid, is a carboxylic acid used in vinegar.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Can ethanol be used as a disinfectant?

Yes, ethanol is effective as an antiseptic and disinfectant.
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What is the chemical formula for ethanoic acid?

The chemical formula for ethanoic acid is CH3COOH.
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Feb 29, 2024

What is the chemical formula for ethanol?

The chemical formula for ethanol is C2H5OH.
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Feb 29, 2024

Is ethanoic acid harmful?

In concentrated forms, ethanoic acid can be corrosive, but it is generally safe in diluted forms like vinegar.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Can ethanol be made synthetically?

Yes, ethanol can be synthesized chemically, but it is commonly produced through fermentation.
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Feb 29, 2024

How does ethanol affect the human body?

Ethanol acts as a central nervous system depressant and can be intoxicating in high quantities.
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Feb 29, 2024

Is ethanol flammable?

Yes, ethanol is highly flammable.
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Feb 29, 2024

Is ethanoic acid the same as vinegar?

Vinegar contains ethanoic acid, but it also includes water and other compounds.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Can ethanoic acid be used in cleaning?

Yes, ethanoic acid is used in some cleaning products due to its ability to dissolve mineral deposits.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Is ethanoic acid found in the human body?

Yes, in small amounts, as part of metabolic processes.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Is ethanoic acid biodegradable?

Yes, ethanoic acid is readily biodegradable.
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Can ethanoic acid be used in food?

Yes, ethanoic acid is used as a preservative and flavoring agent in food.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

How is ethanoic acid produced?

Ethanoic acid can be produced synthetically or by bacterial fermentation.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

What is the environmental impact of ethanol?

Ethanol is considered a renewable fuel with lower greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels.
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Shumaila Saeed
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How is ethanol produced?

Ethanol is typically produced by fermenting sugars using yeast.
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What are the uses of ethanol in industry?

Ethanol is used as a solvent, in the production of other chemicals, and as a fuel.
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What industries use ethanoic acid?

Ethanoic acid is used in the food, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries.
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Feb 29, 2024

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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