Difference Between Ethyl Alcohol and Ethanol

Main Difference – Ethyl Alcohol vs Ethanol

Alcohols are organic compounds that are composed of one or more hydroxyl groups attached to an alkyl group. These alcoholic compounds have characteristic properties that are useful in identifying them. Ethyl alcohol or ethanol is a common alcoholic compound. It is also known as drinking alcohol since it is included in many types of beverages. The terms ethyl alcohol and ethanol describe the same chemical compound. The main difference between the terms ethyl alcohol and ethanol is that ethyl alcohol is the common name whereas ethanol is the IUPAC name given for the same compound.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Ethyl Alcohol or Ethanol
      – Definition, Chemical and Physical Properties
2. What is the Difference Between Ethyl Alcohol and Ethanol

Key Terms: Alcohol, Ethanal, Ethanoic Acid, Ethanol, Ethyl Alcohol, Fermentation, Hydroxyl Group, Viscosity

Difference Between Ethyl Alcohol and Ethanol - Comparison Summary

What is Ethyl Alcohol or Ethanol

Ethyl alcohol is the common name given for ethanol that has the chemical formula C2H5OH. Here, a hydroxyl group (-OH) is attached to an ethyl group. This compound is highly volatile and flammable. At room temperature and pressure, it can exist as a colorless liquid with a characteristic odor.

Main Difference - Ethyl Alcohol vs Ethanol

Figure 1: Chemical Structure of Ethyl Alcohol

The chemical formula of ethyl alcohol is C2H6O. The molar mass of this compound is about 46 g/mol. Ethyl alcohol molecules are capable of forming strong hydrogen bonds due to the presence of –OH groups. Therefore, ethyl alcohol solutions have a high viscosity and are less volatile. Ethyl alcohol is a good solvent for polar compounds.

Ethyl alcohol can be produced by chemical methods as well as by biological methods. For industrial needs, ethylene hydration is the most common method of ethyl alcohol production. Biological method of ethyl alcohol production is fermentation.

Difference Between Ethyl Alcohol and Ethanol

Figure 2: Ethanol Fermentation

Ethyl alcohol can undergo many reactions. For the production of some compounds, ethyl alcohol is an essential reactant; for example, ester formation, polymer production, etc. requires ethyl alcohol as a reactant. The most common chemical reactions of ethyl alcohol include dehydration, halogenation, combustion and oxidation.

There are many applications of ethyl alcohol. It is used as a major component in manufacturing alcoholic beverages. Ethyl alcohol is a widely used solvent for substances like paints. Apart from that, ethyl alcohol is a fuel. It is known as the biofuel obtained from fermentation processes. Ethyl alcohol is also useful in the production of other chemical compounds such as ethanol and ethanoic acid.

Difference Between Ethyl Alcohol and Ethanol

Ethyl Alcohol: Ethyl alcohol is the common name given for ethanol that has the chemical formula C2H5OH.

Ethanol: Ethanol is the IUPAC name given for ethyl alcohol.


Ethyl alcohol and ethanol are two terms used to name the same chemical compound. The only difference between ethyl alcohol and ethanol is that ethyl alcohol is the common name given for the compound C2H5OH whereas ethanol is the IUPAC name given for the ethyl alcohol. Ethanol has a number of applications in the industrial scale and in the laboratory scale.


1. “Ethanol.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database, U.S. National Library of Medicine, .
2. “Ethanol.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 6 Oct. 2017, .
3. “Ethyl alcohol.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 10 June 2015, .

Image Courtesy:

1. “Ethanol-structure” By Lukáš Mižoch – Own work (Public Domain) via
2. “Ethanol fermentation-1″ By Davidcarmack – Own work via

About the Author: Madhusha

Madhusha is a BSc (Hons) graduate in the field of Biological Sciences and is currently pursuing for her Masters in Industrial and Environmental Chemistry. Her interest areas for writing and research include Biochemistry and Environmental Chemistry.

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