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All you need to know about rectified alcohol

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All you need to know about rectified alcohol

Rectified alcohol, also known as rectified spirit, is a highly concentrated form of ethanol with a maximum alcohol by volume of 97.2%. It has various specific use cases and properties that make it interesting for many industries. In this blog, we take a closer look at how rectified alcohol is created, how it is used, and what makes it the most suitable alcohol to use for some applications.

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Rectified ethanol vs rectified spirit

Rectified alcohol is a term that can refer to different things depending on the context. In general, the term "rectified" means purified or refined, so rectified alcohol typically refers to a type of alcohol that has been purified through a rectification process. Here are two common uses of the term:

Rectified spirit: In some countries, rectified alcohol is used to describe a highly concentrated ethanol product that has been distilled multiple times to achieve a high level of purity. It is often produced through continuous distillation or rectification, which involves repeated distillation and fractionation to remove impurities and increase alcohol concentration. Rectified spirit is usually used for industrial purposes, such as manufacturing.

Rectified ethanol: In the context of alcoholic beverages, rectified ethanol is a term used to describe alcohol that has been purified to a specific level, typically through distillation or other purification methods. It is often used as a neutral or base alcohol for the production of various spirits and liqueurs. Rectified ethanol is typically odorless and tasteless, allowing it to be mixed with other ingredients to create specific flavors and alcoholic beverages.

The process of purifying ethanol

Rectified alcohol is purified through a process called rectification, which involves distillation and fractionation to purify the alcohol and increase its alcohol content. The specific details of the rectification process may vary depending on the equipment, scale, and specific requirements of the industry or application. The following is an overview of a basic rectification:


The alcohol mixture, which may contain impurities such as water and methanol, is heated, and the vapors are collected and condensed. This initial distillation separates the alcohol from other components present in the mixture.

Fractional distillation

To further purify the alcohol, the vapors from the initial distillation are passed through a fractionating column where they encounter cooler temperatures and condensate. The repeated condensation and vaporization within the column allow for the separation of different components based on their boiling points.

Separation of impurities

During fractional distillation, impurities with lower boiling points than alcohol tend to vaporize and rise to the top of the column. These impurities are typically removed, allowing the purified alcohol vapor, which has a higher boiling point, to move toward the bottom of the column.

Collection of rectified alcohol

The rectified alcohol, which has been purified and concentrated through the fractional distillation process, is collected as the final product. The alcohol content in rectified alcohol can be significantly higher than in the original mixture, depending on the desired level of rectification.

Use in various industries

Rectified alcohol is commonly used in the beverage industry to produce spirit drinks such as blended whisky and gin since it has very little impurities that could influence the taste of the spirit negatively. It is also an ingredient in homemade liqueurs like cassis and limoncello. Another popular use is as a solvent in the medical field, in household products, or in perfumes, where rectified alcohol is able to bind molecules and fragrance oils.

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Advantages of rectified alcohol

While the cost of rectified alcohol varies depending on the region, production methods, and supply and demand, it is generally considered to be more cost-effective than other types of ethanol. This is partially due to the distillation process being very efficient and scalable and rectified spirits being widely used in many industries compared to some niche alcohols, meaning more market demand.

The biggest advantage of rectified alcohol is its high purity: Especially in its role as a solvent, rectified spirits are able to extract a wide range of compounds without compromising the quality, smell, or taste of a product due to its small amount of impurities such as methanol and other byproducts.

Rectified alcohol - the solution for your ethanol needs?

Rectified alcohol has, due to its high purity, a wide range of applications and is therefore favoured by many markets and consumers. With new production techniques and development of potential new applications arising, we can expect this ethanol type to stay relevant for many more centuries to come.

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