Absolute alcohol

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Pure ethanol that contains less than one percent of water. Ethyl alcohol is miscible in water at all proportion and distills as an azeotrope (constant boiling mixture) containing 5% water. For complete dehydration, ethanol is mixed with Mineral spirits, turpentine, or Quicklime and redistilled. Absolute alcohol is often preferred as a solvent for lacquers since they dry clearer and harder in the absence of moisture. Absolute alcohol is strongly Hygroscopic and will reabsorb water from the air in an open container.

Synonyms and Related Terms

pure ethyl alcohol; anhydrous alcohol; anhydrous ethanol


  • Flammable. Flash point = 13 C (55 F)
  • Fisher Scientific: MSDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

Composition C2H5OH
CAS 64-17-5
Melting Point -114 C
Density 0.789 g/ml
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 46.07
Refractive Index 1.361
Boiling Point 78.5 C

Resources and Citations

  • The Merck Index, Susan Budavari (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Whitehouse Station, NJ, 12th Edition, 1996 Comment: flash point = 55 F (13 C)
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 310
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)