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How is ethanol used?

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Quick Answer

Ethanol is used in a wide range of household products including mouthwash and hairspray. It is most popularly known as the alcohol in alcoholic beverages. Ethanol is also increasingly being used as a fuel for transportation.

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Ethanol's earliest known use is as the active ingredient in alcoholic beverages, and it remains popular in this role. Otherwise known as drinking alcohol, ethanol is a popular intoxicant in use throughout the world, and it is made using a variety of techniques. It also has religious and cultural significance for many groups.

Ethanol is also popular in consumer products. Its antibacterial properties make it a popular choice for use in mouthwashes, hand sanitizers and a wide range of cleaning products. It also evaporates quickly, and it takes water with it as it evaporates. Hairspray and other hair products use it for its ability to dry damp hair quickly.

Because ethanol can be created from plants without much refinement, it is becoming a popular choice for fueling vehicles. Brazil, in particular, uses ethanol derived from sugarcane for this purpose. While it is not as energy-dense as petroleum and diesel, ethanol is a viable option for powering vehicles and airplanes, and petroleum and diesel engines can even handle a bit of ethanol mixed with their normal fuels.

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