Is Alcohol an Acid or a Base?

alcohol-acid-base Credit: Anton Fomkin/CC-BY-2.0

Alcohol can act as both an acid and a base, similar to water. Alcohols are slightly weaker acids than water but still react with strong bases such as sodium hydride and metals such as sodium. However, the oxygen atom makes alcohol a weaker base in the presence of strong acid-like sulfuric acid.

At the -OH group, alcohol can act as either a base or an acid, reacting either way with strong acids or bases. This reaction often results in the salt called alkoxide. Alcohol is an organic compound with a wide variety of uses worldwide. It has also been found in low densities in the star- and planetary-system-founding portions of space. Alcohol is most commonly known in its ethanol form, which is the most common form of alcoholic beverages. The word "alcohol" refers to the chemical class of all alcohols as a drug family.

Alcohols have a bitter smell. Compared to other alcohols, ethanol has a sweet smell. Alcohol can be used as a solvent thanks to its ability to create hydrogen bonds with other compounds. However, these bonds also result in a higher boiling point. Alcohol is used in medical, industrial and scientific fields as well as in alcoholic beverages.