Sorry it has been a while, I will be doing more of these, I mean it. The more you show interest the more I will do. Comment if you would like me to cover something.
So I am going past this bar and I see a sign outside that says, “Alcohol” with an arrow pointing into the bar. As a Chemist I think to myself, “Well that seems rather general.” I go in and talk to the bartender and say, “Really, you want people to drink Sterno and wound cleaner?” He asks what I am talking about and I mention the sign outside. It clicked and he snickered, saying in a joking manner, “Yes exactly we are trying to kill our customers.”
For those not picking up on the joke, “alcohol” as a chemistry term is very general. It indicates a hydroxyl group (Oxygen single bound to Hydrogen) singly bound to a chain of carbons. You can have several of them actually, two -OH groups (a “di-” alcohol) or three (tri-) or more. The shortest chain of carbons to which this applies is not a chain at all, but one carbon, forming methanol (the main burning agent in Sterno). Concentrated alcohols are toxic to microorganisms which is why an alcohol, namely propanol that you can pick up in the drug store, is rubbed on your when you are injected with a needle or receiving a cut. Of course if you drink these, it would kill you too.
The alcohol found in beer, wine, and spirits / hard liquor (which requires a special technique) is a two carbon chain long alcohol that can be poisonous in large / concentrated enough amounts, but relaxes you (too much if you consume a lot) in smaller amounts. This is “Ethanol” (note concentrate this is also flammable and is sometimes made for that purpose like in small flammable lighters. Not very pleasant to consume.
So this (ethanol) is something to think about when consuming an “alcoholic beverage.”
Interested in learning how to perform this chemical reaction and make your own beer or wine? Why not get into home brewing!
If not and you like what you have learned I would always appreciate a small tip if you can.