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Alcohol, class of compounds containing a hydroxyl group bonded by a carbon atom. Alcohols occur widely in nature and are used as solvents and antifreezes and in chemical manufacture. They are obtained by fermentation, by oxidation or hydration of alkenes from petroleum and natural gas, and by reduction of fats and oils. The simplest alcohols are methanol and ethyl alcohol, or ethanol (the intoxicating constituent of alcoholic beverages); others include benzyl alcohol, ethylene glycol, and glycerol.

See also: Solvent.

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