Is Ethanol (C2H5OH) an Electrolyte? (And Why?)

No, ethanol (C2H5OH) is not an electrolyte. 1 Electrolytes are substances that dissociate into ions when dissolved in water, allowing them to conduct electricity. Ethanol does not dissociate into ions in water, so it does not conduct electricity and is not classified as an electrolyte.

Well, this was just a simple answer. But there are few more things to know about this topic which will make your concept super clear.

So let’s dive right into it.

Why is ethanol (C2H5OH) a non-electrolyte?

Ethanol (C2H5OH) is considered a non-electrolyte because it does not dissociate into ions when dissolved in water or any other solvent. 

Electrolytes are substances that, when dissolved in a solvent, break apart into ions, which are charged particles. These ions are capable of conducting electricity in the solution. 2

In the case of ethanol, it exists as a covalent molecule with a molecular structure held together by covalent bonds. 3 When it is dissolved in water or other solvents, the ethanol molecules remain intact and do not break apart into ions. 

As a result, there are no free ions available to conduct electricity in the solution, making ethanol a non-electrolyte.

On the other hand, ionic compounds like sodium chloride (NaCl) readily dissociate into positive sodium ions (Na+) and negative chloride ions (Cl-) when dissolved in water, and thus, they are considered strong electrolytes. 4

Strong acids and bases also dissociate almost entirely into ions in solution, making them strong electrolytes as well.

It’s important to note that there are weak electrolytes as well, which partially dissociate into ions when dissolved. Ethanol falls into the category of non-electrolytes, where no dissociation into ions occurs.

Further reading

Is Volume a Physical or Chemical Property?
Is Malleability a Physical or Chemical Property?
Is Hardness a Physical or Chemical Property?
Is Conductivity a Physical or Chemical Property?
Is Reactivity a Physical or Chemical Property?

About author

Jay is an educator and has helped more than 100,000 students in their studies by providing simple and easy explanations on different science-related topics. He is a founder of Pediabay and is passionate about helping students through his easily digestible explanations.

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  1. Is C2H5OH (Ethanol) an Electrolyte or Non-Electrolyte? (2020, October 17). YouTube.
  2. 11.2: Electrolytes. (2015, September 28). Chemistry LibreTexts.
  3. P. (n.d.). Ethanol. Ethanol | CH3CH2OH | CID 702 – PubChem.
  4. Water molecules and their interaction with salt | U.S. Geological Survey. (n.d.). Water Molecules and Their Interaction With Salt | U.S. Geological Survey.

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