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Family name of a group of organic chemical compounds composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Considered hydroxyl-derivatives of hydrocarbons, they are produced by replacing one or more hydrogen atoms by oxygen-hydrogen (OH) pair. Depending on the complexity of their molecules, alcohols are liquids or solids, some of which (called lower alcohols) are water soluble while others (called higher alcohols) are insoluble. Other than for influencing human behavior when imbibed, they are used mainly as solvents and in the manufacture of surfactants. The alcohol produced by natural fermentation process and consumed as alcoholic beverage (brandy, rum, whisky, etc.) is ethyl alcohol, known also as ethanol.

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