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Basic Information

In pure chemical terms an alcohol is any organic compound in which a hydroxyl group1 is bonded to a fully saturated carbon atom2.

In general usage, however, the word refers solely to ethyl alcohol3 - generally in the form of a drink or medicinal preparation and therefore used (in most cases) as a drugrecreational or otherwise.

Historically, alcoholic drinks have been an important part of most human cultures and a significant trade good - in many cases they have also served to provide some measure of protection against water borne disease and provide storage tolerant beverages for use with iron rations.

Food grade alcohol is produced by yeast fermentation of sugars and/or starches, other microbial fermentations not providing such a chemically pure product4.

An indicative list of alcoholic drinks would include:

Non-beverage uses include skin toughening (as rubbing alcohol) and microbiological hygiene (as various sterilising sprays and gels) and ethyl alcohol is a common solvent for organic compounds in medicines and the like. Herbalists can also prepare their wares by steeping the macerated herbs in alcohol, either as a tonic wine or a tincture (depending whether the base is wine or spirits). Most tinctures are prepared from potable spirits, but those designed for topical use can be made with lower grade material. Alcohols also make a perfectly good fuel - either as a liquid or solidified into a gel, where they can serve as an alternative to solid fuel tablets.


1. full source reference

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