Industrial food-grade ethanol is also known as food-grade ethyl alcohol. It is safe for human consumption because it is pure, non-toxic, and free from impurities and contaminants.
Industrial food grade alcohol is used across various industries, including food and beverage. In addition, it is made from natural ingredients, including grains, corn, sugar cane, and fruits. It has 5-10% water and does not contain substances like benzene and methanol harmful for human consumption.
Although industrial food-grade ethanol and industrial ethanol are almost similar, they are significantly different in various aspects. Thus, this article aims to explain the difference between industrial and food-grade ethanol and answer any questions you may have regarding the two chemicals;
What Is Industrial Food Grade Ethanol Used For?
Industrial food-grade ethanol is safe for human consumption because it does not contain impurities and residues. Thus, it has many uses, including;
In Cannabis Extraction
Industrial food-grade ethanol forms a basis of cannabis solvent extraction. The plant material is soaked in ethanol to form a cannabis-ethanol mixture. Because ethanol is a polar solvent, it binds with water-soluble cannabinoids, terpenes, chlorophyll, and waxes. The mixture undergoes distillation to remove ethanol and the unwanted substances to yield a full spectrum cannabinoid extract.
In Personal Care Products
Industrial food-grade ethanol is one of the ingredients in cosmetics and beauty products. For example, it is used as a preservative n lotions and hair sprays, and hand sanitizers because it has antibacterial and fungicidal properties.
In Household Products
Ethanol is a polar solvent. Thus, its use in manufacturing household products like paints, lacquers, varnish, and cleaning products.
As A Fuel
Ethanol can be used alone or in combination with other fuels in internal combustion engines. When ethanol is mixed with gasoline, it oxidates it reducing emissions and subsequent air pollution. It has high octane levels than gasoline, and it’s renewable because it’s made by fermentation. In addition, industrial food-grade ethanol provides a non-toxic fuel for camping and boat stoves.
What Is Industrial Ethanol?
Industrial ethanol is a colorless flammable liquid made by fermenting sugars and used for various industrial operations. It differs from industrial food-grade ethanol because it does not contain water. Industrial ethanol is essential because it synthesizes other chemicals and is a solvent in various industrial operations.
What Is Food Grade Ethanol Made From?
Food-grade ethanol is made by fermenting starch through wet milling using yeast. Starch and sugars are separated from carbohydrates resulting in lower impurities than dry milling. The main carbohydrate sources include corn, sugarcane, and beets.
Why Can’t We Drink Industrial Ethanol?
Ethanol is produced by fermentation and subsequent distillation. However, it has almost the same boiling point as water and forms an azeotrope. As a result, you need to add other compounds such as benzene to break the azeotrope. Although the resulting ethanol is pure, it may contain traces of benzene even after distillation. Thus, it is not safe to drink industrial ethanol.
How Is Ethanol Different From Alcohol?
Alcohol is a general term referring to any chemical having a hydroxyl (OH) functional group or whose OH group has been substituted for a hydrogen atom. There are three classes of alcohols, including primary (RCH2OH), secondary (RR'CHOH), and tertiary (RR'R" COH) alcohols. On the other hand, ethanol refers to an organic chemical compound with a wine-like smell, made by fermenting sugars using yeast. Ethanol is a primary alcohol and the only type of alcohol that humans can consume.
How Is Industrial Ethanol Made?
Industrial ethanol is made petrochemically by ethylene hydration or biologically by fermenting sugars with yeast. Ethylene hydration involves acid catalyzation of ether using phosphoric acid. On the other hand, industrial ethanol for alcoholic beverages is made by fermenting sugars using yeast without oxygen. It’s important to prevent oxygen from getting into ethanol to prevent its oxidation into acetic acid.
During fermentation, starch is broken down into sugars by allowing the starch to malt. In the process, the enzymes produced break down starch into sugars. The ethanol produced from both processes undergoes fractional distillation to concentrate it to 95.6%.
After distillation, the ethanol can be purified further by adding benzene to break the azeotrope. Alternatively, a molecular sieve can be used to absorb water from the 95.6% ethanol consisting of synthetic zeolite or plant-based absorbents such as cornmeal, straw, or sawdust.
What Is The Use Of Ethanol In The Food Industry?
Ethanol has various uses in the food industry.
For example, it is used in beverages such and brandy, beer, and wine. In addition, food-grade ethanol from grain and molasses makes a base for many drinks like gin, which infuses neutral grain spirit with spices and botanicals.
Food grade ethanol is also used as a food additive in food colorants and flavors. For example, it extracts vanilla flavors from vanilla beans by soaking them in an ethanol-water mixture.
Industrial food-grade ethanol does not contain impurities or contaminants that are harmful to humans. Thus, it has many applications in the food industry because its safe for human consumption. It is made by fermenting natural sugars and starches using yeast without oxygen, resulting in lower impurities.
Unlike industrial-grade alcohol, it does not undergo further purification processes by adding benzene. Thus, there is no risk of benzene traces in the final product if used for extraction.