ALCOHOL – WHAT IS IT?

ALCOHOL

THE ORIGIN OF ALCOHOL

Exposed to the open air a fruit or vegetable juice ferments and turns naturally into alcohol or more exactly into ethanol after a few days. It was quite by chance that man discovered this process.

Six thousand years ago a woman in Mesopotamia (now Iraq in a farming village where barley was grown) would have forgotten cereal porridge near the river. A few days later she found her porridge which had fermented. By diluting it in water beer was made for the first time. As for wine the tombs of the pharaohs and the Bible tell us that this drink was already consumed in those remote times.

Where does the word “alcohol” come from?

According to a study by HeadLandSats It was the Arabs who gave alcohol its name. Until they began to distill wine in the early Middle Ages they used the still to produce kohl the harem women’s eyeshadow from a black powder. Since alcohol comes from the same process it inherited the same name.

The word alcohol did not really become widespread until the 16th century in parallel with the expansion of its consumption. Today the development as well as the reasonable and convivial consumption of alcoholic beverages are an integral part of USA culture our country traditionally being a producer and consumer of alcoholic beverages.

There are two main categories of alcoholic beverages: distilled alcohols and fermented alcohols.

THE PROPERTIES OF ALCOHOL

Physical properties :

Liquid – colorless – burning flavor – miscible in water – flammable – volatile – evaporation at 78 ° C – density lower than water (0.80). Alcohol is lighter than water 1 liter of water = 1 kg — 1 liter of pure alcohol = 800 gr.

Toxic properties:

 Cellular toxicant – exposes the body to damage to all systems including: hepatic nervous and cardiovascular.

– Disrupts fundamental metabolisms.

– Important risk factor in the appearance of cancers. Associated with tobacco: aggravated risks.

– Absorbed quickly in large quantities: risk of ethyl coma even death.

Psychotropic properties:

Modification of mental state action on the psyche. Alcohol can act as:

– Disinhibitor: removes inhibitions controls. Euphoric

– Exciting

– Depressant or antidepressant

– Anesthetic

The effect (s) felt will be different

– According to consumers.

– Depending on the circumstances the socio-relational context.

– Depending on the doses absorbed and the degree of the drinks.

– Depending on the expected effects etc …

Addictive properties

Likely to generate dependence:

Alcohol is a drug that is to say a substance capable of modifying the state of consciousness – (Larousse Dictionary). It is a common accessible low-cost legal drug whose consumption is encouraged and socially valued.

Like any drug its regular consumption can lead to:

– Tolerance: need after a variable period to increase the doses to find the psychotropic effect (s).

– Dependence: inability to abstain from consuming. The suppression of consumption leads to discomfort psychological suffering and / or physical disorders (withdrawal syndrome).

Other properties

– The caloric intake of alcohol: on average 1 gram of alcohol = 7 Kcal. Variable according to the consumption habit these are so-called empty calories that is to say which do not serve muscle activity.

– Diuretic – makes you urinate more causes water imbalance and therefore thirst.

– Vasodilator: dilates blood vessels

THE DIFFERENT ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES

Distilled alcohols

How do you get distilled alcohol?

By means of a still. The first “official” still appears in Alexandria Egypt in the 3rd century. By heating a low level alcohol (cider or wine) the alcohol level increases very sharply. The alcohol rises in the still then it is cooled in a coil.

From fruits vegetables or plants we obtain all kinds of alcohols: barley gives whiskey potatoes or beets give vodka. With cider we make Calvados. Turn wine into steam you will get cognac or armagnac. Rum is made from a double distillation of crushed sugar cane or molasses.

Distilled alcohols are never marketed at the alcohol content reached at the exit of the still generally 68 to 70 °. They are all lowered either by natural aging or by the addition of distilled water. A distilled alcoholic drink cannot exceed 45 °. Among the best known: cognac armagnac and whiskeys.

Fermented alcohols

How from a simple product (fruits plants or cereals) can we obtain wine beer champagne or cider?

Fermentation precedes human control of its processes in fact the fruits ferment without any human intervention.

Pasteur discovers that it is the yeasts that transform the sugar into alcohol. Let’s do a little biology: yeast needs energy to survive. It is in the sugar that she will draw this energy. The yeast breaks down the sugar until it transforms it into alcohol which it then rejects …

In fact alcoholic fermentation turns sweet fruit juices into alcoholic beverages.

Grapes can give wine or champagne. With apple juice we get cider. Take malted barley (barley juice exactly) you can make beer. A fermented alcoholic drink cannot exceed 16 °.

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