Before you think of beer and whisky, you ought to know that there are generally two kinds of alcohol: the first group is called the hydroxide group (made up of one oxygen atom), and the second is called polyols (with more than one oxygen atom). There are many other subgroups. But basically an alcohol is an organic compound of a hydroxyl group that links to a carbon atom of an alkyl group.

Most of us know, though, that ethanol is used in making cologne and hair sprays. It is also used in making alcoholic drinks.

Why Does Alcohol Burn Why Does Alcohol Burn


Sources of alcohol

Alcohol is found in nature.  Yeast eats sugar in fruit or plant and later releases alcohol. This is the process behind fermentation. This is what’s going on when people make alcoholic drinks such as beer and wine. Fermentation has a role in cheese and bread-making, too.

For thousands of years alcohol has been made and consumed by humans for many reasons. The earliest traces of wine-making, for instance, are found in Turkey. It dates as far back as 8,000 years ago.  Beer and wine were already a part of religious and cultural rites even at that time. Wine came around later by the 12th Century AD.


Uses of alcohol


Alcohols are used in many ways, most of which are widely known. They can be used for making beverage (ethanol-based), fuel, industrial, and medical uses. Ethanol-based alcohol has been drunk by humans for thousands of years.   Ethanol and methanol are considered as alcohol fuel. When alcohol goes into the internal combustion engines, the air is pressurized and cools down. The thin air gets charged and results in power generation.

In manufacturing, alcohol is used as a solvent. This is especially true in making drugs and perfumes. You see, alcohol has a very low toxicity level that keeps these products relatively safe.

Why alcohol burns


Alcohol acts on the lipids of our cell membranes and kills cells in the process. That explains the burning sensation we get when alcohol is applied to a blistered part of the skin. The skin has many layers of dead cells. Alcohol dries up these cells by pushing water molecules to pass through the cell membrane. This causes the alternating “hot” and “cold” sensation on our skin.

Alcohol has an OH (hydroxide) molecule that attracts water. Another possible reason is that our skin has VR1 receptors that interpret alcohol sensation as heat. In truth, alcohol actually lowers our threshold of pain, especially if it’s taken orally.


Effects of alcohol on the human body


When you take it in moderation, an alcoholic drink creates a good feeling. A usually shy person musters enough confidence to initiate conversation. This is a result of increased metabolism in a certain part of the brain that controls body movement. Alcohol stimulates the cortex so you tend to be more cheerful and talkative.

But excessive drinking damages your liver. Alcohol increases your risk of having cancer. Excessive drinking has been known to cause liver cirrhosis, poor memory, heart ailments, and diabetes. You honestly truly should consider detoxifying your body from liquor.

It is said that alcohol inspires writers. Don’t get any ideas. This is written sober.

Further Readings:

Categories: Physics & Chemistry

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