Ethanol is made from corn. Bourbon (which is ethyl alcohol)is made from corn. Just how different are they? Don’t worry, I’m not going to drink ethanol.


Ethanol (CH3CH2OH), the active ingredient in alcoholic drinks Yea, it is the same stuff Ethanol = Ethyl Alcohol. However both products are quite different since neither is really pure and each has a different, but similar mix of hydrocarbons as well a various flavor agents or automotive additives. Interesting fact: the drinking stuff needs to be low in fusil oils (the stuff that gives you the hangover) and cars don’t do well with it either.


the ethanol is mixed with a small amount (3% or so) of gas. makes it unpallatable. and makes it taxable as fuel.

i don’t know when this is done in the transport process, but by the time it is getting shipped up and down the coast it is no longer edible.


Agreed, the terms ethanol and ethyl alcohol are synonyms. They can be used interchangeably. (The same is true for methanol and methyl alcohol.) Whatever its intended purpose, ethyl alcohol is obtained from fermenting sugars from various agricultural products. It is then partially purified by distillation.

If the product is intended for beverage purposes, every attempt is made to retain the other chemicals that impart its flavor. It is also subject to a heavy tax.

If the product is intended for industrial use, the alcohol must be purified further. The flavor chemicals are removed and the alcohol is concentrated. The heavy tax will still be imposed unless the alcohol is denatured, which means that small amounts of other chemicals are added to make the final product unfit to drink. There are many different additives to denature alcohol, and the choice will depend on the final intended purpose.


Ethanol used in gasoline is pure; about 198-proof in Bourbon parlance (~99% alcohol - the rest is water). Bourbon is not that concentrated. It is about 160 proof (80% ethanol). The balance is water and flavorings. You can get grain alcohol at some liquor stores for consumption. Mix it with fruit juices and sliced fresh fruit and you’ve got a party! At least we did in college during the Old Days (sniff, sniff)…

BTW, never drink denatured ethanol. It has about 5% of other inpalatable alcohols (poison) that render it undrinkable.