The Many Uses of Food Grade Ethanol

Food grade ethyl alcohol, otherwise referred to in the industry as food grade ethanol, undenatured alcohol, grain alcohol, 190 proof grain, or anhydrous ethanol, is an ethyl alcohol that is deemed safe for consumption, as opposed to denatured alcohol which contains toxic additives that make it unsuitable for human ingestion. Ethanol is a colorless and odorless liquid that can be used in several applications such as extraction of hemp and cannabis, baking, perfumes, tinctures, disinfectants, and cleaning. Because the uses of food grade ethanol are used for human consumption, it is important to choose a high proof, quality grade ethanol that will yield the best results for the end product.

uses of undenatured ethanol, food grade ethyl alcohol

Food Grade Ethanol for Hemp and Cannabis Extraction

Undenatured ethanol has long been used as a means of extracting oil from plant materials. It is also widely used to extract cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis or hemp resin. There are a variety of extraction techniques using ethanol and the best one will depend on several factors.

Extraction methods using warm ethanol begins by boiling ethanol, condensing it, and allowing the condensate to drip through the plant material, stripping the cannabinoids and terpenes. This method is advantageous in that it is time efficient and requires a low ratio of solvent to feed. Conversely, use of warm ethanol also extracts chlorophyll/waxes and decarboxylates the cannabinoids. Because of this, additional dewaxing steps may be required.

Using ethanol at room temperature or cooler conditions as a means of extraction are more commonly used since it does not decarboxylate the cannabinoids, which can then be used to manufacture THCA crystals or THCA-rich formulations.

Regardless of the type of extraction method used, the required amount of ethanol for the extraction process is estimated to be somewhere between 0.5 to 0.6 gallons per pound of feed. To extract the solutes from the plant material, ethanol must fully saturate the plant which requires a significant amount of ethanol to be used. One gallon of ethanol 200 proof will meet the volumetric needs for cannabis extraction.

food grade ethanol for cannabis tinctures, CBD and Hemp

Food Grade Ethanol for Cannabis Tinctures

Tinctures are highly concentrated herbal extracts in liquid form produced by soaking the herbs in ethanol solvent. They serve as an alternative for those who choose to consume cannabis rather than inhaling it. Since they are relatively easy to make and have a long shelf life, it is great for those who want to make it at home. The process begins by grinding the marijuana or hemp plant, decarboxylating the plant by heating it in an oven, and soaking the decarboxylated flower in a food grade ethanol such as the one found here. The soaked flower is then stored in a cool, dark, dry place and filtered out.

Tinctures are used for a variety of reasons such as pain relief, nausea, reduction of anxiety, etc. and can be consumed directly or mixed into foods. For this reason, using high proof and high quality food grade ethanol is vital.

undenatured ethanol uses for disinfecting and cleaning hard surfaces

Food Grade Ethanol for Disinfecting and Cleaning

Food grade sanitizers are used as a natural and safe solvent for multiple food safe applications that people may encounter. Based on the CDC’s recommendations, use of anything greater than 60 percent ethanol will allow for proper disinfection of viruses. Additionally, countertops or high contact surface areas should be disinfected regularly to keep viruses and bacteria from growing.


When determining the flammability of food grade alcohol, the flash point of the substance needs to be examined. The flash point is the temperature at which an organic compound gives off enough vapor to ignite in air. When the material is kept at a temperature below the flash point, no flammable vapors are released. Therefore, it is important to consult the SDS to determine safe handling and storage.

Ethanol is hygroscopic, meaning it readily absorbs water if left uncapped and exposed to the atmosphere over time. It can affect the product efficacy if it becomes contaminated with water.

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