Rectified spirit consists of about 95.6% of ethanol and the remaining 4.4% of water. It is formed by the process of rectification (repeated or fractional distillation). When sugar is fermented by yeast, fermented alcohol is formed. This fermented alcohol (ethanol) undergoes repeated cycles of distillation to form the rectified spirit. The main difference between alcoholic beverages and the rectified spirit is the concentration of alcohol present in the fluid.
Rectified spirit vs Absolute alcohol
The concentration of alcohol in the rectified spirit is at least 95.6%. While on the other hand, the concentration of alcohol in absolute alcohol should not be less than 99%. Theoretically, the concentration should be 100%. So, from the above statements, we can conclude that the concentration of alcohol in absolute alcohol is more than that of the rectified spirit.
The absolute alcohol is obtained from the rectified spirit. But the alcohol 95.6% and the remaining amount of 4.4% water will form an azeotropic mixture. Since the azeotropic mixtures are those mixtures that have the same boiling point, the further fractional distillation of the alcohol is of no use. Due to this reason, a small amount of benzene is added to the spirit prior to the fractional distillation.
Since benzene is carcinogenic in nature nowadays a desiccation method is also in use. For this, a small amount of glycerol, starch, or zeolite is used.
Types of Rectified spirit
Here in Nepal, few companies manufacture rectified spirit such as Supreme Chemicals Pvt. Ltd. They provide spirit in two different types of bottles. One of them is a white bottle while the other one is an amber color bottle.
The white color bottle has got a better quality of chemical and packaging in comparison to an amber color bottle. Due to this reason, an amber color bottle is quite cheaper than the other.
Both of them are available in a 500 ml bottle with 400 ml of chemical in it. This is because alcohol is volatile in nature. Thus it shouldn’t be filled up completely.
Rectified spirit uses
- Useful in medical applications such as making hand sanitizer, disinfectants, drugs, etc.
- The anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties of the spirit make it a good disinfectant. Disinfectants are suitable for cleaning purposes in hospitals, houses, hotels, offices, etc.
- For preparing various types of homemade liquors.
- Useful for cosmetic products, dermatology, etc.
- Useful for the production of dyes and synthetic rubber.
- It also acts as a solvent and medium for extraction purposes.
Rectified spirit Vs Isopropyl alcohol
Rectified spirit is the ethanol with the chemical formula of C2H5OH. On the other hand, the chemical formula of the isopropyl alcohol is C3H7OH. Thus, both of them are the alcohols having OH as a functional group.
Alcohols are highly flammable in nature. They act as disinfectants. They can be used for similar kinds of applications such as making hand sanitizer, drugs, etc.
The only differences between rectified spirit and the isopropyl alcohol are the slight variation in the boiling point, toxicity, etc.
- Alcohol is highly flammable. So, you need to store it away from the point of electric failures, and fire. One should not smoke near the spirit.
- Alcohol is highly volatile. So, one should not store it at high temperatures.
- Do not directly use a rectified version of the spirit to clean the machinery items. It will wipe away the color of the machines. I had faced a similar situation while cleaning an ultrasound machine(Company: Sonoscape, Model: P-50). So, you need to dilute the spirit before use or you can use Collins.
- If you are not into a drinking habit (like me), you may experience nausea and headache while working with this highly concentrated alcohol.
Can you use a rectified spirit as a hand sanitizer?
For the hand sanitizer to work effectively, you need to rub it for 15-20 seconds before drying out. Spirit is the input for the hand sanitizer. The microbial activity of the hand sanitizer is due to the alcoholic property of the spirit.
But, the problem is that alcohol being volatile might dry out before 20 seconds of rubbing around the hand. In that case, it may not be as effective as a hand sanitizer. Also, this spirit can cause dryness of your hand, It is more flammable than hand sanitizer. Thus, due to various reasons, hand sanitizer can be a better choice.