Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a flammable, colorless, chemical compound. It is best known as the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages and in thermometers. In common usage, it is often referred to simply as alcohol.
Except for the use of fire, the fermentation of sugar into ethanol is very likely the earliest organic reaction known to humanity, and the intoxicating effects of ethanol consumption have been known since ancient times. In modern times, ethanol intended for industrial use is also produced from byproducts of petroleum refining.
Ethanol has widespread use as a solvent of substances intended for human contact or consumption, including scents, flavorings, colorings, and medicines. In chemistry, it is both an essential solvent and a feedstock for the synthesis of other products. It has a long history as a fuel for heat and light and also as a fuel for internal combustion engines.