What Is the Chemical Formula of Ethanol?

Ethanol or Grain Alcohol Chemical Structure

This is the chemical formula of ethanol or ethyl alcohol.
This is the chemical formula of ethanol or ethyl alcohol. benjaminec / Getty Images

Question: What Is the Chemical Formula of Ethanol?

Answer: There is more than one way to represent the chemical formula of ethanol. The molecular formula is CH3CH2OH. The empirical formula of ethanol is C2H6O. The chemical formula also may be written as CH3–CH2–OH. You may see ethanol written as EtOH, where the Et represents the ethyl group (C2H5).

Learn how to distill ethanol.

Ethanol Properties

Ethanol, like other alcohols, is flammable, volatile, and colorless. It has a characteristic odor. Ethanol has psychoactive properties. Other forms of alcohol also have such properties, but ethyl alcohol is considerably less toxic to humans than methanol or isopropanol.

Ethanol Uses

In addition to its recreational use, ethanol has many other applications. It is an important disinfectant and antiseptic. It is a common solvent, of particular use because it is miscible in both water and organic solvents. Ethanol is used for the synthesis of other organic compounds. Ethanol is a clean-burning fuel.