While the term alcohol technically refers to any organic compound containing a hydroxyl functional group, the use of the term without a modifier is generally understood to mean only the ethanol types of alcohol.

Historical Background

The use of alcohol predates recorded history in all cultures of New Eden, and is one of the oldest recreational drugs in existence. The fermentation process required to make alcohol is also one of the earliest organic reactions discovered by humans, and as such, played a founding role in the study of chemistry.


Ethanol types of alcohol are the most common in use today, and are generally intended for human consumption, either as an intoxicant, or as a solvent to add flavour, color, or scent to medicine and food products.

This alcohol type traditionally was also used as fuel for both heat and light, as well as early forms of internal combustion engines, though other compounds and methods have since replaced its use for most of these purposes.


Alcoholic beverages can be fermented from a wide variety of foodstuffs, from grains like corn and wheat, to fruit juices and other food byproducts. These beverages are sometimes distilled, concentrating the ethanol content even further.

These beverages are also used in cooking, as the alcohol is capable of dissolving hydrophobic flavor compounds.


Alcohol of the ethanol variety has long been used in the medical field as an anti-bacterial agent. It can also be used to treat poisoning from other types of alcohols. In the past, it has been used to treat depression, and as a type of anesthetic.


One of the first industrial uses of alcohol was as a fuel source, particularly in internal combustion engines. This type of fuel played a vital role in early space exploration, though was quickly replaced with other types of fuel. Today, it serves an important function as a solvent in many industrial applications, as well as in personal care and hygiene products. It is also an important base chemical for many other types of organic compounds.

See Also