What is Ethyl Alcohol and Its Little Brother Methyl Alcohol?

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Increasing alcohol prices in recent days have forced people to produce and consume moonshine. After the deaths at the end of these consumptions, people began to seek answers to questions such as what ethyl alcohol is, how it is produced and why it kills.
Ethanol (C2H5OH), known as ethyl alcohol, is actually used in the production of alcoholic beverages. Deaths occur as a result of illegal drinks produced using methyl alcohol. This distinction must be carefully observed.

What is Ethyl Alcohol (Ethanol)?


Ethyl alcohol is a colorless, fragrant and flammable liquid. It is the only type of alcohol that can and should be used in alcoholic beverages. Ethyl alcohol is also used as a solvent. Ethanol can also be used as a fuel, and because of its low freezing point, it is preferred in thermometers and as an antifreeze. It is a simple molecule. It is ethyl (two-carbon CH3-CH2-) attached to the hydroxyl (OH) group. Its formula is CH3-CH2-OH (C2H5OH).

Ethyl alcohol is used as an antiseptic in the production of hand disinfectants and disinfectant gels, which are widely consumed during the Covid-19 epidemic, which shows its effect all over the world.

Ethyl alcohol is a neurotoxic and psychoactive drug. When consumed in excess, it can cause alcohol poisoning. After getting the answers to the questions of what is ethyl alcohol and how it is produced, let’s take a look at its usage areas.

Some Uses of Ethyl Alcohol:

Usage as Antiseptic:

Ethanol is the most widely used antiseptic in wet wipes and hand sanitizers. Ethanol kills organisms by dissolving lipids. It acts against most bacteria, fungi and viruses. But it is ineffective against bacterial spores.

Use as an Antidote:

It is used as an antidote to ethanol, methanol (3 carbon alcohol) and ethylene glycol (antifreeze) poisonings. In this case, ethanol can be administered orally or IV. IV ethanol is more preferred.

Use as a Medical Solvent:

Highly concentrated ethanol is also used to dissolve many water-insoluble drugs and compounds. Cough and cold medicines, pain relievers and mouthwashes can be dissolved with ethanol at a concentration of 1% to 25%.

Pleasure Use:

Alcohol is normally a central nervous system depressant. As such, alcohol is considered one of the most widely consumed psychoactive drugs.
The amount of ethanol in the body is expressed as the weight of ethanol per unit blood volume (blood alcohol content, BAC). Small amounts of ethanol often cause relaxation and relaxation. In this process, people are talkative and act with their feelings and thoughts that they do not suppress. Judiciary and decision-making mechanisms are disrupted.
At high doses (BAC> 1 g/L and more), ethanol can turn into a central nervous system bankruptcy producing loss or impairment of sensory and motor function, cognitive dysfunction, drowsiness, loss of consciousness and the possibility of death.

What is Methyl Alcohol (Methanol)?

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Methyl alcohol (methanol), which is used in the production of substances such as paint thinner, machine fluid, antifreeze, and glass cleaner in the industrial industry, is also used in the production of fake drinks. The chemical formula of methanol is CH3OH .

Methanol is known as the simplest type of alcohol. It is also called wood alcohol because it was obtained by distillation of wood in the past. As we mentioned above, alcoholic beverages are prepared with ethanol, that is, ethyl alcohol. However, methyl alcohol, which is very harmful to human health, is added to the drinks in order to reduce the costs of making moonshine. When we look at the official records, we see that 271 deaths occurred between 1993-2001 and 383 deaths due to methyl alcohol poisoning between 2002-2010. Even today, cases of poisoning and death due to methyl alcohol are still frequently experienced.

Even a very small amount of methanol, which is a colorless, volatile and poisonous liquid, is poisonous and can cause permanent wounds and various deformations. Drinking it causes blindness.

When methyl alcohol (methanol) enters the body, it turns into formaldehyde and formic acid. Methyl alcohol poisoning, on the other hand, develops due to acidosis, which develops as a result of the pH value of the blood becoming acid due to formic acid accumulation. Acidosis leads to nerve damage in the retina of the eye and, as a result, blindness and death in more advanced cases.
Methyl alcohol at the level of 20 mg/dL in the blood is considered toxic. At doses of 40 mg/dL and above, it has very serious consequences. A level of 80 mg/dL is generally known as the lethal limit. To put it simply, consumption of 1-3 teaspoons (4-15 ml) of methyl alcohol causes blindness, and a dose of 15-100 ml causes death.

Symptoms of poisoning first begin to appear 10-24 hours after consumption of methyl alcohol. After 30 hours, the severe metabolic acidosis we mentioned above occurs.
The poisoning that occurs as a result of the consumption of counterfeit alcohol depends on the degree of acidosis, which also depends on the amount of methyl alcohol, and the symptoms are as follows:

• Blurring of consciousness, disturbance in balance and movement
• Nausea and vomiting
• Headache
• Very severe abdominal pain
• Visual impairment and later blindness
• Pain in the arm, leg and back
• Unless treatment is started immediately, metabolic acidosis and subsequent death due to respiratory arrest

It is absolutely impossible to distinguish between methanol and ethanol by color, smell or taste. This distinction is only possible if it is made with various analysis methods under laboratory conditions. For this reason, before consuming alcohol, it is necessary to make sure that the source of the alcohol is reliable and to avoid the use of fake alcohol.


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