Common alcohol, grain-alcohol, ethyl alcohol, C2H5(OH), is made by fermenting a sugar solution with yeast in the presence of nitrogenous substances. The sugar may be that of a fruit-juice, or that prepared from starch or wood. Along with the ethyl alcohol other bodies are produced. The alcohol of commerce is obtained by distillation, and contains amyl alcohol and other bodies which constitute its "fusel oil." It mixes freely with water, ether, and chloroform, and is a solvent for alkaloids, many salts, resins, volatile oils, and two of the fixed oils, viz., castor oil and croton oil. It does not dissolve the other fats and fixed oils, or adhesive plaster or collodion.


Pure alcohol is to be had in three strengths, viz.:

(a) Dehydrated alcohol (absolute alcohol), at least 99 per cent. of ethyl alcohol; (b) Alcohol, 95 per cent. (U. S. P., 94.9) by volume. This is not the alcohol of commerce, but is known to the trade as "deodorized alcohol" or "cologne spirit." It is ordinary grain alcohol with the fusel oil removed, and has a specific gravity of 0.816 at 6o° F. (c) Diluted alcohol, 48.9 per cent. by volume, made with equal volumes of water and alcohol, which shrink on mixing.

For internal use, one or other of the alcoholic drinks is regularly employed, rather than pure alcohol; and these contain, in addition to the alcohol, substances which give them their characteristic odor and taste. A large number of pharmaceutic preparations contain alcohol either as solvent or preservative, and certain proprietary remedies with a large content of alcohol are especially popular. Women habitues frequently drink in secret, and may consume large quantities of eau de cologne, Florida water, witch-hazel, or some proprietary remedy. Denatured alcohol, for use tax free, is a mixture of 100 parts of grain alcohol, 10 parts of wood-alcohol, and 0.5 part of benzin.