The Chemistry of Alcohol

:: 10 Works Cited
Length: 1138 words (3.3 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent
Open Document
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓

Continue reading...

Open Document

Alcohol is a class of organic compounds that is characterized by the presence of one or more hydroxyl groups (-OH) attached to a carbon atom. Alcohol was unknowingly produced centuries ago when fermentation occurred to crushed grapes (Pines, 1931). In today’s society alcohol is produced for the use of household products such as varnishes, cleaning products, but is more commercially important in the liquor business. A chemical process called fermentation accomplishes the production of ethanol, the alcohol or liquor. From there, the ethanol goes through distinct processes to become the dark and clear liquors on the store shelves.
The process of alcoholic fermentation begins with the use of enzymes. The enzymes begin to break down the long chains in starch molecules, a polysaccharide that consists of a large quantity of glucose molecules (C6H12O6) joined by glycosidic bonds as seen in figure 1, into single glucose molecules, a monosaccharide with six carbons and five hydroxyl groups. After the starch has become sugar, the enzymes are used once again, this time to convert the sugars into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide, CO2, as seen in figure 2 (World of Scientific Discovery, 2007). The carbon dioxide produced is released into the atmosphere, leaving water and ethanol, the alcohol, behind. Ethanol is a colorless flammable liquid with a molecular formula of C2H6O, giving it a molar mass of 46.07 grams per mole. Ethanol is also characterized by a melting point of -114°C or 159 K.

All types of alcohol go through a fermentation process, when looking sthe production beer, the fermentation process contains a series of distinct stages. Beer includes four main ingredients; some sort of grain (wheat, corn, barley), hops, water, and yeast. The beer process begins with the malting process, the stage where the grain is soaked in water for days to allow adequate germination time. This process is important because allowing the grain to germinate produces enzymes that are need to break down starch in succeeding steps. At times, the conversion of starch to sugar can begin during malting due to enzymes present within the grain, but the majority of the conversions begin in the next step (Michaels, 2010). Following the malting process, the grains go through a process called mashing, defined as the stage where the grain is hydrated causing the enzymes to activate and begin converting the starches into sugars. In the mashing stage enzymes are activated and begin to convert starch into sugars that will eventually go through the fermentation process.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Chemistry of Alcohol." 30 May 2017
Title Length Color Rating  
Surface Chemistry of Silica Essay - In order to gain strong insight into the surface chemistry of silica we have perform a thorough literature search. Our goal is to identify the pioneer research performed on silica and silica supported catalyst. Particular interest lies in silica-water-cobalt and silica-alcohol-cobalt systems. This study is both on macro and micro level so that a complete theoretical base can be established. From this theoretical knowledge, key areas to look upon will be identified and a design of experiments will be established....   [tags: Chemistry] 1273 words
(3.6 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Addiction to Drugs and Alcohol Essay - There are many affects that drugs and alcohol can have on the body, and on the life of a person. Thousands of jobs, homes, and families are lost annually through the addictions of drugs and alcohol. Children grow up without parents, spouses are forced to raise their children as single parents, and grandparents become legal guardians for a second time, due to the effects of substance abuse and dependence. Exactly how addiction is defined and diagnosed is an on-going issue and one that will be discussed in this paper....   [tags: Drugs, Alcohol Essays]
:: 14 Works Cited
2041 words
(5.8 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
Chemistry and Synaptic Transmitters Essay - Chemistry and Synaptic Transmitters The most common psychoactive substances can be divided into depressants (i.e., alcohol, sedatives, hypnotics), stimulants (i.e., cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy), opioids (i.e., morphine and heroine), and hallucinogens (i.e., PCP, LSD, cannabis). The brain has different effects to different psychoactive substances. They bind to different receptor types, and can increase or decrease the activity of neurons through several different mechanisms. Consequently, these psychoactive substances have different behavioral effects, different rates of development of tolerance, different withdrawal symptoms, and different short-term and long-term effec...   [tags: Chemistry Science Scientific Essays]
:: 7 Works Cited
1653 words
(4.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Chemistry Coursework – Fuels Essay - Chemistry coursework – Fuels Planning ======== Aim --- In this investigation I will have to find out which of the alcohol fuels: methanol, ethanol, propanol and butanol, is the best. The ‘best’ one will be the one which creates the most energy whilst burning. Introduction and prediction --------------------------- A fuel is a substance burned for heat or power. The best type of fuel is one that: can be transported safely without the worry of it catching on fire, gives out a lot of heat for a certain mass, does not cost very much, lights quickly, burns slowly, is safe to use and does not give off any form of polluting gases....   [tags: GCSE Chemistry Coursework Investigation] 948 words
(2.7 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
How does the Relative Molecular Mass change in heat combustion of an alcohol? - How does the Relative Molecular Mass change in heat combustion of an alcohol. Planning Introduction ============ As alcohol burns in air it gives out energy as heat and light. I am going to investigate how the energy output of an alcohol in combustion changes, with increased relative molecular mass, or RMM. RMM is the sum of the atomic masses of every atom in the molecule. Using the alcohols: Methanol, Ethanol, Propan-1-ol, Butan-1-ol and Pentan-1-ol, I will plan, and complete an experiment that tests the prediction below....   [tags: GCSE Chemistry Coursework Investigation] 2964 words
(8.5 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Chemistry and Carbohydrates Essay - The Chemistry of Carbohydrates The chemistry of carbohydrates most closely resembles that of alcohol, aldehyde, and ketone functional groups. As a result, the modern definition of a carbohydrate is that the compounds are polyhydroxy aldehydes or ketones. The chemistry of carbohydrates is complicated by the fact that there is a functional group (alcohol) on almost every carbon. In addition, the carbohydrate may exist in either a straight chain or a ring structure. Ring structures incorporate two additional functional groups: the hemiacetal and acetal....   [tags: essays research papers fc]
:: 2 Works Cited
1070 words
(3.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
18 Steps to Make a Chemistry Experiment Essay - STEP 1: Test the conductivity of the glasses with a volt meter. Look for the side which has resistance. To start this experiment off, we needed to determine the conductive side of the glass. The conductive side will have the resistance. This will be the most active in this experiment. It will take a huge part to this experiment because it contains the electrons that this experiment requires. STEP 2: Tape down the conductive sides to the table. Place each side with two pieces of tape except the side closest to you place one piece....   [tags: titania, tio2, chemistry, voltage]
:: 2 Works Cited
1469 words
(4.2 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
The Affects of Different Yeast on the Rate of Fermentation Essay - AIM: To see how different yeast affect and influence the rate of fermentation, how much alcohol is being produced and how this affects the overall quality of wine produced. BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Alcohol, is mostly thought of as ethanol which is the alcohol which is found in alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer. But there are many different varieties of alcohol such as methanol, propanol and butanol. In chemistry terms “alcohol” is a compound of a hydroxyl group which is covalently bonded to a carbon chain which can be seen in figure 1....   [tags: Chemistry ] 1156 words
(3.3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Effects of Alcohol on the Body Essay - Effects of Alcohol on the Body By the time this paper has been read approximately twenty-five people will be seriously injured in an alcohol-related accident. Alcohol is a very harmful in many ways if abused. The following is just a few of the many ways it can be detrimental to one's health. In 1994 a survey was taken among one hundred and forty nationwide college campuses. Of the students surveyed, forty-four percent were binge drinkers (four or five drinks in one setting). Nineteen percent were frequent binge drinkers....   [tags: Papers] 705 words
(2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Notes on Biology, Cells and Chemistry Essay - REVIEW UNIT 1-THE CELL LIFE *There is no def. for life *Life can be characterized by a list of things that we might agree living thing have in common-organized and contain complex chemical substances, Made up of one or more cells, Use Energy, Have a definite form& Limited size, Have a limited life Span, Grow, Respond to changes in the environment, Reproduce, Evolve over time.*Metabolism is all the chemical reaction occuring in the cell of an organism*All Living things must carry out processes to maitain life and homeostasis- Nutrition, Transport, Respiration, Synthesis and Assimilation, Growth, Excretion, Regulation, Reproduction, Metabolism.CHEMISTRY BASICS *Atoms of the elements are t...   [tags: essays research papers] 916 words
(2.6 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]

The mashing stage is also subjected to a series of optimal temperatures at set intervals. By exposing the mash to different levels of temperature, specific enzyme groups are favored allowing the brewer to adjust the mash temperature to favor a certain enzyme’s function and thereby customize the taste and purpose of the wort. For example, majority of the starches in a mash are 90% soluble when the mash reaches 130° F, but they reach maximum solubility at 149° F (Palmer, 1999). After the mashing process, the grain husks are removed, leaving behind a sugar and water mixture called a wort. Due to the sweet flavoring in the wort, hops are added because of their bitter flavor and aroma. Following the addition of hops, the beer is prepared for fermentation by the addition of yeast. Depending on what the beer is brewed for, different yeasts are added. After an initial fermentation process usually lasting three to seven days, the remaining yeast is drained. If the brew is to be a lager, it is placed in cold storage for weeks, otherwise if it is used in a keg it is used within six weeks.
Once the beer or any alcohol is consumed, chemical reactions take place within the body. The alcohol reaches your liver two ways; one way involves it being absorbed through your stomach walls and eventually into your blood stream this, happening about 20% of the time. The second way is through absorption by the small intestine, which accounts for 80% (Bunce, 2010). An important term when dealing with the ingestion of alcohol is blood alcohol level or content (BAC), which is when alcohol is ingested faster than the liver can oxidize it and alcohol builds up in the blood stream. BAC is measured in milligrams per 100 millimeter of blood; For example the legal limit is 0.08, which means 0.08 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood. Alcohol content also affects behavior. At a blood alcohol content, of 0.003, which is the equivalent of 1 ounce of liquor per hour, there is a feeling of euphoria. At 0.30, which is the equivalent of 8 beers an hour, behavior is observed as breathing reflex threatened and a deep anesthesia state (Bunce, 2010).
A common side effect of drinking is the onset of a headache, a common sign that the body is trying to rid itself of a toxic substance; in fact, 75% of those who get intoxicated will experience a hangover (Singh, 2003). One of the causes of hangovers is a congener, which are organic compounds with toxic effects that are responsible for the odor, taste, and color of alcohol. Common examples include acetone, fusel oil and tannins. (Rohsenow et al, 2010). Congeners, produced during alcohol maturation, are more commonly associated with darker liquors such as wine, brandy, and whiskey as research shows that those 33% of those ingesting darker liquors experienced a hangover compared to the 3% of cases that arouse in those drinking clear liquors such as vodka, gin and white rum (Singh, 2003). The reason for more congeners in darker liquors is due to the amount of filtration; Since darks such as brandy and whiskey are looking for the oak flavoring they receive little filtration compared to Vodka which experiences the most filtration. Acetaldehyde, an organic compound, is also tied to hangovers. Because ethanol is toxic to the body, the liver oxidizes ethanol to acetaldehyde by enzymes called alcohol dehydrogenase, but the problem is that acetaldehyde is actually more toxic (Clegg, 2014). Due to acetaldehyde’s toxicity, the body then converts the acetaldehyde to acetic acid by acetaldehyde dehydrogenase as seen in figure 3(Clegg, 2014).

Figure 3

Attributable to the body’s compensation for the intake of alcohol by using enzymes to convert toxic ethanol, the body experiences symptoms associated with hangovers because the enzymes are unavailable to do their original jobs, usually contributing to a drop in glucose levels which is associated with headaches, dizziness, and nausea (Clegg, 2014). Another cause of hangovers is dehydration. Alcohol also contributes to the dehydration effect due to its diuretic properties. During dehydration, the body secretes diuretic hormones, causing the kidneys to preserve water and causing the urine to be a yellow color indicating that the urine is highly concentrated. When alcohol is ingested, it interferes with this safety valve, causing the body to rid itself of more liquid when it should be conserving leading to the headache (Bunce, 2010). Alcohol can also contribute to the nauseating factor because it stimulates the secretion of extra acid in the stomach, irritating the mucous lining of the stomach (Bunce, 2010).
High levels of alcohol in the blood stream can be prevented. Because one of the ways alcohol enters the liver and blood stream is through the small intestine, having protein and carbohydrates in the stomach slow the intake of alcohol within the blood stream allowing the liver to catch up with oxidizing the alcohol (Bunce, 2010). Hangover effects can be lessened the night before by replenishing the body with liquids, such as water but not carbonated beverages because the carbon dioxide in them causes the blood to intake the alcohol at a more rapid pace (Bunce, 2010). The best way to prevent side effects of alcohol is to allow time in-between ingestion so that the liver has time to oxidize the ethanol.

Works Cited

Michaels, Pamela. Fermentation: Alcohol. 2010. Cengage Learning. Web. 17 April 2014
"Fermentation." UXL Encyclopedia of Science. U*X*L, 2007. Science in Context. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.
Singh, Sant. Why Do Hangovers Occur? 2003. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.
Clegg, Brain. Acetaldehyde. 2014. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.
Bunce, Diane. Chemistry of Alcohol and Hangovers. 2010. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.
Pines, Cliffton. The American Journal of Police Science, Vol. 2, No. 6 (Nov. - Dec., 1931), pp. 500-508. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.
"Fermentation." World of Scientific Discovery. Gale, 2007. Science in Context. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.
Rohsenow DJ, Howland J, Arnedt JT, Almeida AB, Greece J, Minsky S, Kempler CS, Sales S (2010) Intoxication with bourbon versus vodka: effects on hangover sleep and next-day neurocognitive performance in young adults. 27 Apr. 2014

Palmer, John. How to Brew. 1999. Web. 4 May 2014

Return to