Most people don't realize this, but alcohol can be categorized in several ways. This is why we have ethanol grades for these substances. They are mainly used to show us the concentration of a product, which can be crucial depending on how you're using alcohol.
For example, there is a major difference between alcohols used in labs, for cleaning, or for burning. Some of these products, when processed and altered, can be very dangerous. This is why everyone needs to learn more about different types of alcohol before using them at scale.
By purchasing products from the Simple Solvents store, you can rest assured that they're of the highest quality and properly labeled. We take good care of our alcohol during transport, making sure that it's safely delivered to your address.
In this article, we will explain different ethanol grades and how they are used. Check it out!
3 Different types of grades for ethanol
In molecular biology, ethanol can be categorized based on its grade. The substance has numerous uses for both scientists and commercial companies.
Commonly this substance is used for the precipitation and purification of molecules. It is also utilized for staining and restaining various specimens in histology, disinfection, as well as dehydrating tissues.
When we talk about ethanol used in labs, we can categorize them based on 3 grades:
1) 95% Ethanol (95.6%, to be precise)
This particular substance is azeotrope. That means that both it's liquid and vapor states are the same in terms of their ratio of water and ethanol. 95% Ethanol is a chemical with the highest concentration of ethanol that you can get through the distillation process.
2) Absolute ethanol (concentration between 99% and 100%)
As you can tell, this is the most concentrated type of alcohol. It is common used in labs when you need to avoid water, for whichever reason. This type of product is made by relying on additives that would disrupt the composition of the azeotrope. As such, the chemical can be further distilled to a higher concentration.
Because of the use of additives, absolute ethanol might have trace amounts of other chemicals. The substance is hygroscopic, which means that it attracts water. Ethanol will not retain its properties for a long period of time if it is uncapped.
3) Denatured alcohol
Denatured alcohols have a wide application. As the name implies, this is alcohol that has changed its natural state (which is why de-natured). They are created in such a way so that humans cannot use them for consumption or for food processing.
The main advantage of denatured alcohols is their price. Because they are repurposed, their tax base also changes. Otherwise, alcohol products are taxed heavily by the US government. The substance is often used for cleaning and other menial jobs.
How is ethanol used in molecular biology?
Depending on the alcohol that you’re using, you can get completely different results.
For example, denatured alcohol is not good for precipitating nucleic acids. The substance has various chemicals that can interrupt downstream applications. Given that these added chemicals vary from producer to producer, it is very hard to predict the final results. As such, you shouldn’t even try to use it for this particular process.
On the other hand, other types of alcohol (absolute ethanol or 95% alcohol) are great for this purpose. Keep in mind that if you're working on fluorescently labeled acids, you probably should rely on absolute ethanol as it might lead to background fluorescence due to benzene concentration.
Using ethanol for disinfection
There aren’t many things better for disinfection than ethanol.
In this particular case, it doesn't really matter which type of product you're using. So, most labs and medical facilities will use the cheapest one, which is denatured alcohol. However, you should pay attention to the concentration of ethanol. The substance will only be effective if it is within 70 to 90 percent concentration range.
Based on everything that we know, the lower concentration alcohol will actually do a much better job in this case. So, you should probably go with a liquid that has 70% concentration. If alcohol has a concentration of 90% or higher, ethanol will coagulate the protein, which in turn will render the cells dormant.
Keep in mind that lower concentration alcohols take more time to evaporate. Among others, this is one of the reasons why it is so effective for disinfection, as it will have more time to penetrate the cells. Water also plays a part in this particular case as it helps denature proteins.
Lastly, this version of alcohol is cheaper and less likely to catch on fire. But, it can still catch it, so be very careful not to use it near an open flame.
Things to consider when diluting ethanol
Diluting ethanol can be quite troublesome. Here are a few things you need to pay attention to during the process:
Buying ethanol products of various grades
Regardless of a product, there are some rules that you need to apply when looking for the best substances. Ideally, you should always buy alcohol from specialized solvent stores such as Simple Solvents.
This way, you know that your alcohol is protected during transport. Furthermore, you can rest assured that you're getting the same substance as disclosed on the label.
If you need any additional information regarding our products, make sure to contact us today!