Why does alcohol burn
It is better to know alcohol a little better to understand its properties. Generally, there are two kinds of alcohols — that with one oxygen atom in its chemical structure, and the other with multiple oxygen atoms. The single oxygen category is called the hydroxide group whereas the other one is referred to as the polyol group. Alcohol is much more than a beverage that stimulates the drinker into a state of ecstasy. It is a major raw material in the manufacture of products like perfumes and drugs. Its low toxicity ensures the safety of such products.
Coming on to the more popular uses of alcohol, it is pertinent to mention hat drinking alcohol was a part of human society in times as old as eight thousand years back. Many forms of alcohol find widespread usage across the globe. Wines, beers, whiskeys and champagne are integral parts of parties and celebrations. Not only this, alcohol is regarded as an excellent industrial solvent. Also, alcohol also has application in combustion engines. Like all chemical compositions, alcohols also exhibit certain characteristics. It is observed that application of alcohol on scarred or wounded skin results in seething pain and burning sensation. And it doesn’t always have to be a blistered skin to experience this strange pinching feel. We are all aware of the sudden hot and cold sensation that accompanies the application of a perfume or deodorant. This can be explained as follows. Alcohol has a deleterious effect on the skin cells due to the interaction of the lipids inside the cells with alcohol.
Alcohol soaks up water from the layers of the skin cells, and this water content passes through the layers. This is precisely what is interpreted quite understandably as a ‘burning’ sensation. Chemically speaking, alcohol is a hydroxyl based compound. The hydroxide part of the alcohol is a hydrophilic element. Also, another reason for the burning feeling is the action of our body’s VR1 receptors that disguise the effects of alcohol action on skin as a hot sensation. This is aggravated by the fact that alcohol brings down the level of tolerance of the human body. Thus, the burning property of alcohol is attributed to both its own chemical composition as well as the characteristics of the human skin. This explains the burning sensations caused by alcohol. Always avoid spraying alcohol containing liquids on scarred skin.