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What is an Alcohol?

Alcohols are organic molecules that form an homologous series
with the general formula CnH2n+1OH.

Alcohols (like hydrocarbons) are named
according to the number of carbon atoms in the molecule.

Methanol, CH3OH, has n=1. Butanol, C4H9OH, has n=4.
Ethanol, C2H5OH, has n=2. Pentanol, C5H11OH, has n=5.
Propanol, C3H7OH, has n=3. Hexanol, C6H13OH, has n=6.

What is an Organic Molecule?

Organic molecules contain carbon. The alkanes and alkenes
are examples of organic molecules.
Just as alkanes are identified as saturated hydrocarbons,
and alkenes are identified by their double bond, so
alcohols are identified by having an OH group in the molecule.

What is a Functional Group?

The group that identifies an organic molecule and gives it
its chemical properties is called its functional group.
The OH group is the functional group for alcohols.

Below are links to the structural formulae of alcohols.
The structural formula is also called the displayed formula.

Methanol        Ethanol

Propanol      Butanol      Pentanol

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a complex steroid which is also an alcohol.
Cholesterol is an essential substance which is
used to make cell membranes.
Essential means that
you can't live without it. However, too much
holesterol is bad for people and can cause heart disease.

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