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Old 08-09-2011, 07:09 PM   #1
JJR512
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What is EtOH anyway?


I'd like to share a bit of info I recently learned.

I think we all know what EtOH is. It's alcohol. Most, maybe all of us knows that it means ethanol, the specific kind of alcohol in alcoholic beverages (as opposed to, say, isopropyl alcohol, another kind of alcohol found in rubbing alcohol but is not, or at least shouldn't be, consumed as a beverage).

But what does EtOH actually stand for? All those letters are present in the word "ethanol" but not in the order they are in "EtOH".

After asking several other EMS providers what exactly does EtOH mean and getting no real answers, I decided to look it up for myself, and here's what I learned.

The word "ethanol" itself is a shortened form of "ethyl alcohol" (technically it's a bit more complicated than just a shortening). Ethyl is a group of organic chemicals. The base ethyl molecule is C2H5. The molecular formula of ethyl alcohol is C2H5OH, or written another way (emprically) it's C2H6O (there are other ways of writing it as well). However you write it, you can see that ethyl alcohol has one additional oxygen atom and one additional hydrogen atom compared to the base ethyl molecule.

In organic chemistry, the ethyl group is written simply with the notation of "Et", and then whatever else is part of the molecule is appended onto the end. Since ethanol has an additional oxygen and hydrogen atom, that's where the O and the H comes from. Thus, "EtOH". Note that strictly speaking, it should be written just like that, all capital letters except for the "t".

So there you have it. You now know exactly what EtOH is in a technical sense that I'd bet not many of your colleagues know.


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Old 08-09-2011, 07:18 PM   #2
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Thanks!

This is great!
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Old 08-09-2011, 07:19 PM   #3
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do you know why methanol poisoning is treated with ethanol alchohol?

thanks
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Old 08-09-2011, 07:21 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tickle me doe face View Post
do you know why methanol poisoning is treated with ethanol alchohol?

thanks
...that's because methanol is not directly poisonous.

...and "ethanol alcohol" is redundant.
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Old 08-09-2011, 07:23 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by JPINFV View Post
...that's because methanol is not directly poisonous.

...and "ethanol alcohol" is redundant.
ethyl alchohol?
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Old 08-09-2011, 07:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JJR512 View Post

In organic chemistry, the ethyl group is written simply with the notation of "Et", and then whatever else is part of the molecule is appended onto the end. Since ethanol has an additional oxygen and hydrogen atom, that's where the O and the H comes from. Thus, "EtOH". Note that strictly speaking, it should be written just like that, all capital letters except for the "t".

Someone should just document it as
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Old 08-09-2011, 07:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tickle me doe face View Post
do you know why methanol poisoning is treated with ethanol alchohol?

thanks
Ethanol is easier for the body to metabolize than methanol. In the event of methanol poisoning, flooding the body with ethanol essentially washes the methanol out. The body focuses on the ethanol and lets the methanol pass on through. (Naturally, the full explanation is quite a bit more complex, but I think this one is easy to understand for those of us with degrees in organic chemstry and biology or physiology. )

My instructor told me specifically to use the cheapest, strongest ethanol available. The stronger the better. Of course, we were also told that as with any other poisoning, we do a simultaneous consult with both our base station hospital and poison control. The instructor said to specifically inform poison control if there is ethyl alcohol available, and let poison control decide if they want to order its use or not.
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Last edited by JJR512; 08-09-2011 at 07:28 PM.
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Old 08-09-2011, 07:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tickle me doe face View Post
ethyl alchohol?
Ethyl alcohol works. Adding a hydroxyl (-OH) functional group to any organic (carbon and hydrogen) compound turns it into an alcohol, as such methanol, ethanol, and butanol are all alcohols, but I'd only want to drink ethanol. So ethane (CH3-CH3) where one of the hydrogens is replaced ("substituted") with a hydroxyl group becomes CH3-CH2-OH and is called ethanol.
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Old 08-09-2011, 07:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JJR512 View Post
Ethanol is easier for the body to metabolize than methanol. In the event of methanol poisoning, flooding the body with ethanol essentially washes the methanol out. The body focuses on the ethanol and lets the methanol pass on through. (Naturally, the full explanation is quite a bit more complex, but I think this one is easy to understand for those of us with degrees in organic chemstry and biology or physiology. )
Actually, it's not really much more complicated. Alcohol dehydrogenase breaks down all alcohols, but prefers ethanol (which is broken down into acetaldehyde, which can be used by the body) over methanol (which is broken down into formaldehyde, which is poisonous). By saturating alcohol dehydrogenase with ethanol, methanol isn't broken down into a poison and can be safely excreted in the urine.
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Old 08-09-2011, 07:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JPINFV View Post
So ethane (CH3-CH3) where one of the hydrogens is replaced ("substituted") with a hydroxyl group becomes CH3-CH2-OH and is called ethanol.
which would be done by acid catalyzed hydration right?
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