Why Does Alcohol Burn?

Before one thinks of beer and whisky, it has to be known that there are generally two kinds of alcohol: hydroxide group (made up of one oxygen atom) is the first group and polyols (made up of more than one oxygen atom) is the second. There are many other subgroups but basically an alcohol is an organic compound of a hydroxyl group that links to a carbon atom of an alkyl group.

It is known to most of us though ethanol is used in making cologne and hair sprays. At the same time, it is also used for making alcoholic drinks.

Alcohol Why Does Alcohol Burn?

Sources of alcohol

Nature has alcohol in it. Yeast releases alcohol after eating sugar in fruit or plant. This is the process behind fermentation. This process is taking place when people make alcoholic drinks like wine and beer. Fermentation also has a role in cheese and bread making.

For many reasons, alcohol has been made and consumed by humans for thousands of years. The earliest traces of wine making were found in Turkey. It dates as long as 8,000 years back. At that time, wine and beer were already a part of religious and cultural rites. Although wine came later by the 12th Century AD.

Uses of alcohol

Alcohols are used for many purposes, most are known widely. They can be used for making beverage, industrial medical uses and fuel. Ethanol-based alcohol has been consumed by humans for as much as thousands of years. Ethanol and methanol are considered as alcohol fuel. The air is pressurized and cooled down when alcohol goes into the internal combustion engines. This charges the thin air and results in power generation.

Alcohol is used as a solvent in manufacturing. This is especially true for making drugs and perfumes. The toxicity level of alcohol is very low that makes these products fairly safe.

Why alcohol burns

Alcohol affects the lipids of the cell membranes and killing cells in the process. This gives a burning sensation when alcohol is applied to a bruised part of the skin. The skin has many layers of dead cells. Alcohol makes these cells dry by pushing water molecules to pass through the cell membrane. This is the cause of alternating hot and cold sensation on the skin.

Alcohol contains OH (hydroxide) molecule that attracts water. One more possible reason is that the skin has VR1 receptors that interpret alcohol sensation like heat. Alcohol actually lowers the verge of pain especially if it is orally taken.

Effects of alcohol on human body

When alcohol is consumed in moderation, the drink creates a good feeling. A usually shy person will gather enough confidence to start conversation. This is a result of increased metabolism in a particular part of the brain that controls body movement. The cortex is stimulated by alcohol so a person tends to be more cheerful and talkative.

Excessive alcohol drinking damages the liver. It increases the risk of having cancer. Extreme drinking has been known to cause liver cirrhosis, diabetes, poor memory and heart ailments. It is also said that alcohol inspires writers but this is not very practical idea.

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