What is Alcohol?

Alcohol or, scientifically, ethanol is a colourless liquid with an intense, penetrating aroma. It has distinct properties: it is a volatile flammable liquid that is found in alcoholic beverages like wines (about 13%), beers (5%), spirits (50%) or overproof spirits (70%), etc. Although used as an industrial solvent, antiseptic and as fuel.

Ethanol occurs naturally through fermentation, in which yeast converts fructose (sugar) into alcohol, heat and carbon dioxide. This occurs automatically in ripe fruit as well as in other foodstuffs. For example ripe banana and bread.

It is a neurotoxic, psychoactive drug, and one of the oldest recreational drugs. It can cause alcohol intoxication when consumed in sufficient quantity. Dried residue on 9,000-year-old pottery found in China suggests that Neolithic people consumed alcoholic beverages [John Roach for National Geographic News, July 18, 2005].

Although distillation was well known by the early Greeks and Arabs, the first recorded production of alcohol from distilled wine was by the School of Salerno alchemists in the 12th century [Forbes, Robert James (1948) A short history of the art of distillation].

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