How to Separate Alcohol From Water

Fractional distillation removes alcohol from water.
••• Images

To separate a mixture of alcohol (ethanol) and water, you can use a process known as fractional distillation. This technique relies on the fact that the compounds in the mixture have different boiling points. Since ethanol boils at a lower temperature (78.5 degrees Celsius, or 173.3 degrees Fahrenheit) than water, the alcohol vaporizes while most of the water remains a liquid. A good distillation column will produce a mixture of 95 percent alcohol and 5 percent water. This ratio represents the most pure form of ethanol possible with distillation and is widely accepted as an industry standard.

    Pour the ethanol/water mixture into the round-bottom flask.

    Assemble the fractional distillation apparatus by attaching the fractioning column to the round-bottom flask. Attach the condenser to the fractioning column and place the distillate-capturing flask under it to capture the distillate.

    Place the Bunsen burner below the round-bottom flask and heat the mixture to above the boiling point of ethanol (about 80 degrees C).

    Maintain the mixture at a constant temperature until the boiling has ceased. At this point, you have completed distillation.

    Things You'll Need

    • Bunsen burner
    • Round-bottom flask
    • Distillate-capturing flask
    • Fractionating column
    • Condenser (such as Liebig condenser)
    • Thermometer


    • Use protective glasses during the procedure. Have a fire extinguisher nearby as a safety precaution.

Related Articles

How to Separate a Mixture of Sugar & Water
What is the Difference Between Reflux & Distillation?
How to Make MSM Crystals
How to Separate Ink From Water
How to Separate Blue Food Coloring From Water
How to Make a 1% Sucrose Solution
Which Burns Hotter: Ethanol or Methanol?
What Is the Purpose of Simple Distillation?
How to: Improper Fractions Into Proper Fractions
Steam Distillation vs. Simple Distillation
Is Methanol & Isopropyl Alcohol the Same Thing?
How to Separate a Mixture of Sand & Salt
How to Concentrate a Solution
How to Find a Z Score
How to Turn Carbon Into Graphite
How to Make Your Own Agar for Petri Dishes
How to Test for Acidity With Litmus Paper
Characteristics of Aquatic Plants
What Is Anhydrous Methanol?
How to Use a Protractor

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!