Science, Tech, Math › Science Boiling Points of Ethanol, Methanol, and Isopropyl Alcohol Share Flipboard Email Print Distillation of alcohol. Lebazele/Getty Images Science Chemistry Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated May 31, 2019 The boiling point of alcohol depends on which type of alcohol you're using, as well as the atmospheric pressure. The boiling point decreases as atmospheric pressure decreases, so it will be slightly lower unless you are at sea level. Here is a look at the boiling point of different types of alcohol. The boiling point of ethanol or grain alcohol (C2H5OH) at atmospheric pressure (14.7 psia, 1 bar absolute) is 173.1 F (78.37 C). Methanol (methyl alcohol, wood alcohol): 66°C or 151°FIsopropyl Alcohol (isopropanol): 80.3°C or 177°F Implications of Different Boiling Points One practical application of the different boiling points of alcohols and of alcohol with respect to water and other liquids is that it can be used to separate them using distillation. In the process of distillation, a liquid is carefully heated so more volatile compounds boil away. They may be collected, as a method of distilling alcohol, or the method may be used to purify the original liquid by removing compounds with a lower boiling point. Different types of alcohol have different boiling points, so this can be used to separate them from each other and from other organic compounds. Distillation may also be used to separate alcohol and water. The boiling point of water is 212 F or 100 C, which is higher than that of alcohol. However, distillation can't be used to fully separate the two chemicals. The Myth About Cooking Alcohol out of Food Many people believe alcohol added during the cooking process boils away, adding flavor without retaining alcohol. While it makes sense cooking food above 173 F or 78 C would drive off the alcohol and leave the water, scientists at the University of Idaho Department of Agriculture have measured the amount of alcohol remaining in foods and found most cooking methods don't actually affect the alcohol content as much as you might think. The highest amount of alcohol remains when alcohol is added to boiling liquid and then removed from heat. About 85 percent of the alcohol remained.Flaming the liquid to burn off the alcohol still allowed for 75 percent retention.Storing food containing alcohol overnight with no heat applied resulted in 70 percent retention. Here, the loss of alcohol occurred because it has a higher vapor pressure than water, so some of it evaporated.Baking a recipe containing alcohol resulted in alcohol retention ranging from 25 percent (1 hour baking time) to 45 percent (25 minutes, no stirring). A recipe had to be baked 2 hours or longer to bring the alcohol content down to 10 percent or lower. Why can't you cook the alcohol out of food? The reason is that alcohol and water bind to each other, forming an azeotrope. The components of the mixture can't be easily separated using heat. This is also why distillation isn't sufficient to get 100 percent or absolute alcohol. The only way to completely remove alcohol from a liquid is to boil it away completely or allow it to evaporate until it's dry.