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What is EtOH anyway?

Discussion in 'EMS Talk' started by JJR512, Aug 9, 2011.

  1. JJR512

    JJR512 Active Member

    Location:
    Maryland, USA
    EMS Training:
    EMT-Basic
    I'd like to share a bit of info I recently learned.

    I think we all know what EtOH is. It's alcohol. Most, maybe all of us knows that it means ethanol, the specific kind of alcohol in alcoholic beverages (as opposed to, say, isopropyl alcohol, another kind of alcohol found in rubbing alcohol but is not, or at least shouldn't be, consumed as a beverage).

    But what does EtOH actually stand for? All those letters are present in the word "ethanol" but not in the order they are in "EtOH".

    After asking several other EMS providers what exactly does EtOH mean and getting no real answers, I decided to look it up for myself, and here's what I learned.

    The word "ethanol" itself is a shortened form of "ethyl alcohol" (technically it's a bit more complicated than just a shortening). Ethyl is a group of organic chemicals. The base ethyl molecule is C2H5. The molecular formula of ethyl alcohol is C2H5OH, or written another way (emprically) it's C2H6O (there are other ways of writing it as well). However you write it, you can see that ethyl alcohol has one additional oxygen atom and one additional hydrogen atom compared to the base ethyl molecule.

    In organic chemistry, the ethyl group is written simply with the notation of "Et", and then whatever else is part of the molecule is appended onto the end. Since ethanol has an additional oxygen and hydrogen atom, that's where the O and the H comes from. Thus, "EtOH". Note that strictly speaking, it should be written just like that, all capital letters except for the "t".

    So there you have it. You now know exactly what EtOH is in a technical sense that I'd bet not many of your colleagues know. :)
  2. tickle me doe face

    tickle me doe face New Member

    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    EMS Training:
    Student
    Thanks!

    This is great!:D
  3. tickle me doe face

    tickle me doe face New Member

    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    EMS Training:
    Student
    do you know why methanol poisoning is treated with ethanol alchohol?

    thanks
  4. JPINFV

    JPINFV Gadfly

    Location:
    404: No Meme Found
    ...that's because methanol is not directly poisonous.

    ...and "ethanol alcohol" is redundant.
  5. tickle me doe face

    tickle me doe face New Member

    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    EMS Training:
    Student
    ethyl alchohol?
  6. JPINFV

    JPINFV Gadfly

    Location:
    404: No Meme Found

    Someone should just document it as [​IMG]
  7. JJR512

    JJR512 Active Member

    Location:
    Maryland, USA
    EMS Training:
    EMT-Basic
    Ethanol is easier for the body to metabolize than methanol. In the event of methanol poisoning, flooding the body with ethanol essentially washes the methanol out. The body focuses on the ethanol and lets the methanol pass on through. (Naturally, the full explanation is quite a bit more complex, but I think this one is easy to understand for those of us with degrees in organic chemstry and biology or physiology. :))

    My instructor told me specifically to use the cheapest, strongest ethanol available. The stronger the better. Of course, we were also told that as with any other poisoning, we do a simultaneous consult with both our base station hospital and poison control. The instructor said to specifically inform poison control if there is ethyl alcohol available, and let poison control decide if they want to order its use or not.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 9, 2011
  8. JPINFV

    JPINFV Gadfly

    Location:
    404: No Meme Found
    Ethyl alcohol works. Adding a hydroxyl (-OH) functional group to any organic (carbon and hydrogen) compound turns it into an alcohol, as such methanol, ethanol, and butanol are all alcohols, but I'd only want to drink ethanol. So ethane (CH3-CH3) where one of the hydrogens is replaced ("substituted") with a hydroxyl group becomes CH3-CH2-OH and is called ethanol.
  9. JPINFV

    JPINFV Gadfly

    Location:
    404: No Meme Found
    Actually, it's not really much more complicated. Alcohol dehydrogenase breaks down all alcohols, but prefers ethanol (which is broken down into acetaldehyde, which can be used by the body) over methanol (which is broken down into formaldehyde, which is poisonous). By saturating alcohol dehydrogenase with ethanol, methanol isn't broken down into a poison and can be safely excreted in the urine.
  10. tickle me doe face

    tickle me doe face New Member

    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    EMS Training:
    Student
    which would be done by acid catalyzed hydration right?
  11. tickle me doe face

    tickle me doe face New Member

    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    EMS Training:
    Student
    the part that i dont understand is how ADH selects for EtOH over MeOH?
  12. JPINFV

    JPINFV Gadfly

    Location:
    404: No Meme Found

    Think round peg in a round hole vs a slightly oval peg in a round hole. Sure, the round hole fits better, but if you hit it hard enough, the oval peg will fit too.
  13. JPINFV

    JPINFV Gadfly

    Location:
    404: No Meme Found
    ...umm... sure (o-chem was way too long ago)
  14. tickle me doe face

    tickle me doe face New Member

    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    EMS Training:
    Student
    LOL. Thanks!

    I will have to go google it
  15. JPINFV

    JPINFV Gadfly

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    I already did... :glare:
  16. tickle me doe face

    tickle me doe face New Member

    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    EMS Training:
    Student
    Me too!

    I think i understand ^_^
  17. CollegeBoy

    CollegeBoy New Member

    Location:
    North West Indiana
    So as a bio major and biochem minor I understand, but I absolutely suck at explaining things so bear with me here:


    So the way I have always understood it is in an acid you have an excess of H+ ions. The H+ ions floating around (actually in the form of H3O but thats not important) disrupt the pi bond (double bond) by in a sense by distracting (can't think of a better word to describe it) transforming it back into a sigma bond (single). You now have a positively charged carbon while will quickly attract the most abundant molecule which is negatively charged, the oxygen in the water. The water will bind to the carbon. The water molecule is now unstable because the oxygen is bonded to three things, so one of the two hydrogen bonds falls apart producing another H+ ion and leaving behind the formed alcohol.





    In the easiest way to describe it JPINFV is exactly right. ADH is an enzyme that catalyzes the reaction. An enzyme is a protein, and when proteins act they are completely bonded into their action. The shape of the protein is determined by the bonds within itself (especially hydrogen bonds) as well as what it is bonded to. The enzymes shape when empty is what causes it to have preference for ethanol. As JPINFV said a round peg vs a slightly oval peg in a round hole. When the enzyme bonds the enzyme changes shape which is part of what causes the reaction to be catalyzed.

    I hope that wasnt too much science for one day. Ask and I can clarify
  18. tickle me doe face

    tickle me doe face New Member

    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    EMS Training:
    Student
    so basically there is a proton transfer, followed by a nuc attack, and then another proton transfer?

    I see that this reaction often occurse with Pt, Pd, or Ni underneath the arrow?

    What do these metals do?
  19. tickle me doe face

    tickle me doe face New Member

    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    EMS Training:
    Student
    Been reading about this type of chemistry, it is quite interesting!:D
  20. HotelCo

    HotelCo Active Member

    Location:
    Detroit
    EMS Training:
    EMT-Paramedic
    As long as it gets me drunk, I'm fine with however you want to explain it.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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