Alcohols

The alcohols are a homologous series of organic compounds. They all contain the functional group –OH, which is responsible for the properties of alcohols.

The names of alcohols end with ‘ol’, eg ethanol.

The first three alcohols in the homologous series are methanol, ethanol and propanol. They are highly flammable, making them useful as fuels. They are also used as solvents in marker pens, medicines, and cosmetics (such as deodorants and perfumes).

Ethanol is the alcohol found in alcoholic drinks such as wine and beer. Ethanol is mixed with petrol for use as a fuel.

Woman filling her car from a biofuel pump

Here are the names and structures of the simplest alcohols:

Table showing the number of carbon atoms, the structural formula and displayed formula of methanol, ethanol and propanol.