Alcohol is a very famous ingredient used in beers, spirits, and wine that is consumed by many of us. Technically, it is an organic compound that contains a hydroxyl group (-OH) bonded to a carbon atom. It causes drunkenness and exhibits unique properties.
Electrical conductivity is one such property exhibited by many chemical compounds. Therefore, Most of the people wonder whether alcohol conducts electricity or not.
In this article, I will answer this question in detail and cover the surrounding topics too.
So, does alcohol conduct electricity? No, alcohol does not conduct electricity because it is a covalent compound. Therefore, it does not have free electrons to flow across it. Being, a stable compound, it does not ionize in water because bonding within the alcohol molecule is strong enough to avoid the breaking of bonds by the water molecules. So, alcohol does not conduct electricity.
Basically, alcohol is ethanol or ethyl alcohol having chemical formulae C2H5OH. Consumption of alcohol is legal in major parts of the world. Consumption of alcohol in lesser quantity reduces anxiety.
Whereas consuming higher doses of alcohol has a bad effect on health. It can cause unconsciousness, drunkenness and even death.
The alcohol content of a drink depends upon how long It is left under fermentation. The process of fermentation is discussed below.
If we talk about the chemical structure of an alcohol molecule. It has chemical formulae written as C2H5OH or CH3CH2OH. It contains one Methyl group (CH3) and one Methylene group (CH2) and one Hydroxyl group (OH).
The molecule of alcohol is made up of 2 carbon, 6 hydrogen, and 1 oxygen atoms. The molecular mass of ethanol is calculated at around 46.07 g/mol.
The molecular mass of C2H5OH = 6 mol of hydrogen atoms (6 × 1.0079 g), 2 mol of carbon atoms (2 × 12.011 g), and 1 mol of oxygen atoms (1 × 15.9994 g) = 46.07 g/mol.
Why aqueous solution of alcohol does not conduct electricity?
The bonding in ethanol is of two types (Polar and nonpolar). One is the nonpolar bond that exists between carbon and hydrogen atom (C-H) and another is a polar bond that can be seen between Carbon and Oxygen atoms (C-O) and Oxygen and Hydrogen atoms (O-H).
The polarity of a bond is determined by factors like dipole moment, electronegativity and symmetry. The concept of polar and nonpolar molecules is explained in detail in my other articles.
There exist covalent bonding in the molecule of ethanol. There is a strong covalent bond between the atoms. The strength of the covalent bond in alcohol is enough to resist the ionization in the presence of water.
Therefore, alcohol does not ionize in the aqueous solution. The covalent bond inside the C2H5OH molecule is strong enough that atoms do not ionize.
Therefore, ethanol does not have any free or delocalized electron present to flow across it and conduct electricity. This is one of the main reasons that alcohol does not conduct electricity.
It should also be understood that if alcohol is mixed with an electrolytic solution, it reduces the electrical conductivity of the solution as it decreases the relative permittivity of ethanol-water solvent added.
Water and alcohol have many similarities. Both of them have -OH group present in their molecules. Like water, alcohol molecules also form hydrogen bonding among each other and with water molecules present in aqueous solution. Therefore, alcohol readily gets completely soluble in water.
The hydroxyl group (-OH) is a hydrophilic part (water-loving) because it forms hydrogen bonding with water and increases the solubility of alcohol with water.
Does Isopropanol Conduct Electricity?
Isopropanol alcohol contains three carbon in its carbon chain and its chemical formula is C3H7OH. It is a highly flammable and colorless liquid.
Pure Isopropanol does not conduct electricity because it contains covalent bonds and does not ionize to lose free electrons to conduct electricity. However, a solution of 70% alcohol/water can be electrically conductive as water portion. So, pure alcohol does not conduct electricity.
The overall result is that alcohol itself does not conduct electricity unless there are some free ions present to conduct electricity.
Physical and Chemical Properties Of Alcohols
- Most of the common alcohols are colorless at room temperature.
- The alcohols containing 2 to 3 carbon like ethanol, methanol and isopropyl alcohol give fruity odor and are free-flowing fluids.
- Pure ethanol is completely flammable in nature.
- Ethanol is used in antifreeze products because of its low melting point of -114.5 degrees Celcius.
- The boiling point of ethanol is 78.5 degrees Celcius.
- The density of ethanol is 20% less than that of water. Its density is 789 g/l.
- Alcoholic beverages are ineffective against bacterial spores therefore it can be stored for a long time.
- Ethanol is a very weak acid, even weaken than water.
- Alcohol is a combustible compound and carbon dioxide and water are its combustible products.
- The alcohol that contains more than 4 carbon in its carbon chain is comparatively viscous in nature.
- And some of the alcohols that contain 1 carbon in its chain exists in the solid-state at room temperature.
- Technically, alcohol itself has no taste but as it is added with flavors and it undergoes with different fermentations, it tastes bitter.
- Isopropyl alcohol evaporates very quickly and leaves no traces as residue.
Uses of Alcohols
- Alcohol is widely used as a good solvent, it dissolves a wide range of nonpolar compounds.
- The alcohol solution containing 70 to 80 percent of its content is used as a disinfectant.
- It is used in perfumes, tinctures, and paints.
- It is also widely used in hand-sanitizers.
The overall conclusion to keep in mind that alcohol molecules have covalent bonds within them and do not ionize in water to produce free ions to pass electricity. As we know that the responsible carriers for passing electric current are free electrons.
Therefore, without free ions/electrons electricity cannot be passed through alcohol.
If you have any queries, you can freely ask in the comment section. We will get back to your valuable questions as soon as possible.