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  #1  
Old 09-30-2004, 03:24 PM
Cluricaun Cluricaun is offline
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Why no 200 proof booze?

I got to thinking about grain alcohol today (as we all should from time to time), and I realized that the proof showing on a bottle of Everclear is only 198. I'm pretty sure that Everclear is the closest to "pure" alcohol commonly commercially available. Is it possible to distill a liquor to 200 proof or is 198 the limit?
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  #2  
Old 09-30-2004, 03:36 PM
Number Number is offline
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It's possible to get it, but it won't be drinkable.
From here

Quote:
Pure ethanol (200proof) cannot be obtained via conventional distillation of a water-ethanol mixture because a constant boiling mixture forms consisting of 95% ethanol-5% water (190 proof). Such a mixture is referred to as an azeotrope (azeotropic = a liquid mixture that is characterized by a constant concentration and constant minimum or maximum boiling point which is lower or higher than any of the components). Further concentration of the ethanol can be achieved by shifting the azeotropic point via vacuum distillation or addition of another substance to the mixture. Often times the compound added is highly toxic such as benzene, therefore absolute alcohol must never be consumed.
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Old 09-30-2004, 03:44 PM
Cluricaun Cluricaun is offline
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Alright, that makes sense, and I think that I even get the science behind it. How then is it that Everclear is brought 8 proof over what that mentions as the maximum?
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Old 09-30-2004, 03:47 PM
Fuji Kitakyusho Fuji Kitakyusho is offline
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and the point of drinking ethanol would be what, exactly?
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  #5  
Old 09-30-2004, 03:49 PM
jayjay jayjay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuji Kitakyusho
and the point of drinking ethanol would be what, exactly?
That's a question that's been asked for centuries...
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  #6  
Old 09-30-2004, 03:52 PM
yabob yabob is offline
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In addition to producing it in the first place, there's difficulties in keeping it that way. Ethanol is hygroscopic, that is, it absorbs water from the air. You would have to be careful how you handled it during packaging to avoid picking up a bit of water from anywhere in the system, and even if you got it safely sealed in a bottle for sale, it wouldn't stay 100% pure once opened. For the purposes of consumption, products like Everclear can essentially be regarded as pure alcohol.
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  #7  
Old 09-30-2004, 03:58 PM
galt galt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cluricaun
Alright, that makes sense, and I think that I even get the science behind it. How then is it that Everclear is brought 8 proof over what that mentions as the maximum?
It isn't. The manufacturer's web site lists the strongest Everclear sold at 190 proof.
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  #8  
Old 09-30-2004, 04:01 PM
asterion asterion is offline
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The azetropic problems also explains why you get 190 proof lab ethanol by the gallon but 200 proof lab ethanol by the pint. Though I can't think of any time I've ever needed pure ethanol as either a solvent or a reagant.
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Old 09-30-2004, 04:02 PM
alterego alterego is online now
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What if you used the method mentioned below to get 200 proof and then used one of these alcohol vaporizing machines to inhale it?
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  #10  
Old 09-30-2004, 04:23 PM
Roches Roches is offline
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Everclear is 95% alcohol and 5% water, the highest possible alcohol content possible by distilation, as Number explained. This is 190 proof in the US system. It's possible that a different way of measuring the alcohol content results in a '198 proof' designation. Everclear is also available in a 151 proof form (probably to allow its sale in places where 151 proof is the maximum legal alcohol content), but it is not available in a 99% alcohol (198 proof, in the normal US system) form as far as I can tell. 99% alcohol is possible, but would require chemical treatment, and thus would be much more expensive.

asterion: I remember using both 95% ethanol and absolute ethanol quite a few times. You'd need absolute ethanol for a reaction that would fail if water was present, such as a Grignard reaction. I can't remember whether the absolute ethanol was in an ordinary bottle or the type with a rubber septum (where you keep the liquid under nitrogen to avoid contact with air). If the ethanol was to be used as a reagent, a septum bottle would be more appropriate.
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Old 09-30-2004, 04:28 PM
asterion asterion is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roches
asterion: I remember using both 95% ethanol and absolute ethanol quite a few times. You'd need absolute ethanol for a reaction that would fail if water was present, such as a Grignard reaction. I can't remember whether the absolute ethanol was in an ordinary bottle or the type with a rubber septum (where you keep the liquid under nitrogen to avoid contact with air). If the ethanol was to be used as a reagent, a septum bottle would be more appropriate.
Well, yeah, I know there are times when you'd need pure, clean ethanol. But I've never done a Grignard reaction, for example.
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  #12  
Old 09-30-2004, 05:00 PM
KarlGrenze KarlGrenze is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asterion
The azetropic problems also explains why you get 190 proof lab ethanol by the gallon but 200 proof lab ethanol by the pint. Though I can't think of any time I've ever needed pure ethanol as either a solvent or a reagant.
100% ethanol (200 proof) is used to dehydrate (and rehydrate) tissues, as part of many protocols for stainings. Also, I've seen 100% and 95% both in gallons, not pints. Unless you mean the cost (ie, a gallon of 95% is worth the same as a pint of 100%).

Depending on how strict they are following the protocols, some labs may use 95% instead of a 100% in dilutions.
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  #13  
Old 09-30-2004, 05:57 PM
PoorYorick PoorYorick is offline
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I remember in my Organic Chem lab there was a 5 gallon container of absolute ethanol. I remember thinking how cool it would be to have it at a party: "Here, let me fix you a real drink."

But then, I was an idiot when I was 21.
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  #14  
Old 09-30-2004, 06:50 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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We had absolute ethanol at one of my labs. It had state liquor control stamps on it. I bought it for work with crystals. According to persistent rumor, someone once took some of the stuff back to his office to drink and got seriously ill. They found him with a purple face. Why would you waqnt to drink it?

Back n high school we'd fermented a yeast and sugar water mix and disytilled the result. We calculated it was about 180 proof. It tasted awful.
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  #15  
Old 09-30-2004, 06:57 PM
Laughing Lagomorph Laughing Lagomorph is offline
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Many molecular biology protocols call for 200 proof ethanol for precipitating DNA. We used to use it all the time in large scale plasmid preps. As far as I know 190 proof will work just as well in this application, but I think there is a persistent belief that the 200 proof is cleaner and gives you a purer final prep.

A couple of idiots I went to college with stole some of that 200 proof from the chemistry lab and spiked the punch with it at a dorm party. As far as I know no one got sick (well, no sicker than usual, anyway). Presumably it was diluted enough.
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  #16  
Old 09-30-2004, 07:46 PM
minor7flat5 minor7flat5 is offline
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When I spent my formative years in the chemical stockroom at a pharmaceutical company, I enjoyed providing pure 200 proof alcohol to the scientists.
The stuff was labeled "200 proof, punctilious", which this site says is the absolute pure unadulterated article.

Originally, the scientists would belly up to the counter with a pint flask and we would whip out a brown gallon jug of the stuff and a funnel and fill their flask. They had to sign the alcohol log.

A few years later someone probably realized that the alcohol really ceased to be 200 proof the first time we cracked the seal for the first customer, so they started buying it in one-pint flasks -- clear round bottles. Another year or so later, the manufacturer started shipping it in small flat plastic bottles that bore a strong resemblance to hip flasks.

Of course, every scientist had a story to tell about the stuff, and considering that it had no nasties in it, it wouldn't surprise me if at least one of them was telling the truth.

Ours didn't have liquor tax stamps on it, though we did maintain a strict inventory. I suppose the company had a tax exempt license (as described by the link above)
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  #17  
Old 09-30-2004, 07:56 PM
Bruce_Daddy Bruce_Daddy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuji Kitakyusho
and the point of drinking ethanol would be what, exactly?
You're kidding, right?
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  #18  
Old 09-30-2004, 09:55 PM
glilly glilly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roches
99% alcohol is possible, but would require chemical treatment, and thus would be much more expensive.
In ethanol distillations for purposes of gasoline additives, a purity of > 99% is required. Modern distillations use molecular sieves to extract the water from the 95% mixture. So you won't get extra chemicals from a chemically broken azeotrope.

I think the real reason you don't have 99%+ everclear is that there would be a lot of extra expense, and you can only increase the amount of alcohol 5% at most.
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  #19  
Old 09-30-2004, 10:30 PM
Gunslinger Gunslinger is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cluricaun
Alright, that makes sense, and I think that I even get the science behind it. How then is it that Everclear is brought 8 proof over what that mentions as the maximum?
It's only 190, as somebody else said. Next time, look at the label before you start drinking.
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  #20  
Old 09-30-2004, 10:41 PM
SnakeSpirit SnakeSpirit is offline
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Just how much are we supposed to retain, after the fact?

I recall in my younger, stupid, drinking days we used to drink a bottled concoction named, "Wilson's: That's All."

I haven't googled it yet to see what history says, but as I recall it was advertised as 200 proof.

FWIW (hic!) N a S t Y stuff, whoo!
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  #21  
Old 09-30-2004, 10:42 PM
AskNott AskNott is offline
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As yabob said, pure alcohol will aggressively obtain water vapor from the air. I was told, and it may be true, that a full glass of 200 proof grain alcohol will overflow until it reaches 190 proof. Does anybody here know if that's strictly true?
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  #22  
Old 09-30-2004, 10:48 PM
SnakeSpirit SnakeSpirit is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnakeSpirit
I recall in my younger, stupid, drinking days we used to drink a bottled concoction named, "Wilson's: That's All."

I haven't googled it yet to see what history says, but as I recall it was advertised as 200 proof.

FWIW (hic!) N a S t Y stuff, whoo!
Google says it destroyed too many brain cells, and peaked out at 80 proof.

So much for drinking memory!
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  #23  
Old 09-30-2004, 11:02 PM
Cervaise Cervaise is offline
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What would 100% ethanol taste like?
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  #24  
Old 10-01-2004, 06:12 AM
KarlGrenze KarlGrenze is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cervaise
What would 100% ethanol taste like?
From my small contact with it, not good.
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  #25  
Old 10-01-2004, 06:53 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PoorYorick
I remember in my Organic Chem lab there was a 5 gallon container of absolute ethanol. I remember thinking how cool it would be to have it at a party: "Here, let me fix you a real drink."

But then, I was an idiot when I was 21
No more than me. I studied chemistry at university, and in my final year we got hold of a 5-litre bottle of HPLC-grade (that's high-performance liquid chromatography) ethanol. It was stated to be 99.8% minimum ethanol by volume, and free from benzene (thankfully!). It had to be pure as chromatography is used to separate and identify compounds. This is the stuff - Sigma Aldrich, the connoisseur's ethanol Strangely, the price on that site is only about 150, or $275. I remember being told it was much more expensive than that.

We used it to make punch, and to add to lemonade etc, and we never came to any harm. We also, naturally, tried it neat.

.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cervaise
What would 100% ethanol taste like?
The answer to your question is difficult to answer, as the neat ethanol kind of evaporates as it hits your mouth. It's difficult to swallow it without choking. The actual taste is much as you'd expect - think of strong vodka such as Finlandia (60%) and multiply it up a bit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AskNott
As yabob said, pure alcohol will aggressively obtain water vapor from the air. I was told, and it may be true, that a full glass of 200 proof grain alcohol will overflow until it reaches 190 proof. Does anybody here know if that's strictly true?
We never left the stuff out in a glass to test this out, I'm afraid.
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  #26  
Old 10-01-2004, 07:01 AM
norinew norinew is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce_Daddy
You're kidding, right?
Nah, I kinda understand what the point is; but I can't believe that drinking 200 proof anything would get you drunk that much quicker than 190 proof, y'know?
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  #27  
Old 10-01-2004, 10:33 AM
yabob yabob is offline
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Re: leaving the stuff out in a glass.

In addition to being hygroscopic, alcohol evaporates quite rapidly. I don't know, but I suspect you would be more likely to get a glass of alcohol whose level would drop due to evaporation, and which would actually contain a few percent water from absorbing water vapor. Also note that the volume of an alcohol/water mixture is less than the sum of the volumes of the two liquids (a well-known classroom demonstration) - the absorbed water vapor may not expand the volume all that much. The humidity of the air would be a definite factor.
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  #28  
Old 10-01-2004, 11:14 AM
beltbuckle beltbuckle is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cervaise
What would 100% ethanol taste like?
Well, I can tell you what Everclear tastes like. It tastes like shit. Basically like you popped open your botle of rubbing alcohol and took a swig. (Yes I know they are different types of alcohol).

In Idaho, we can't buy it. One time a friend and I drove 30 minutes to cross the Oregon border where it can be found at any liquor store. It is great for blowing fireballs, not so great for drinking.
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  #29  
Old 10-01-2004, 01:15 PM
Dag Otto Dag Otto is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beltbuckle
Well, I can tell you what Everclear tastes like. It tastes like shit.
You are so not getting the advertising contract.
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  #30  
Old 10-01-2004, 01:56 PM
Cervaise Cervaise is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beltbuckle
It tastes like shit.
So... like Zima?
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  #31  
Old 10-01-2004, 04:23 PM
AskNott AskNott is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cervaise
So... like Zima?
No. Zima tastes like flat 7-Up. Everclear tastes more like flat Dr Pepper, with a dash of WD-40.
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