Where do you begin with understanding ethyl alcohol or commonly known as ethanol? There are several different types, so here's a quick breakdown to help you sort through it all:
Pure Undenatured Ethanol: Pure Ethanol is Ethyl Alcohol with no other additives or denaturants. Pure Ethanol is often referred to as pure alcohol even though the term "pure" can refer to any proof. Pure Alcohol is considered "pure" regardless of the "cut" of water (proof). Pure Alcohol (Ethanol) is commonly referred to as Beverage Grade Alcohol. It is always 192 proof and derived from natural sources.
Pure USP Alcohol: Pure Alcohol is also often referred to as USP Alcohol. That is because only pure, undenatured Ethanol can be certified as USP or NF Grade. Not all pure alcohol is USP grade certified, but only 190 and 200 proof pure ethanol which meets or exceeds the stringent standards set forth in the US Pharacopoeia.
Kosher Alcohol: Kosher is a grade certification for pure, undenatured alcohol. It certifies that the alcohol was manufactured and packaged under the supervision and guidelines of a duly recognized Rabbinical Authority.
Natural vs. Synthetic Ethyl Alcohol: All Ethanol products can be made with naturally derived Ethanol (Grain alcohol or grain neutral spirits) or synthetically produced Ethanol. Natural alcohol is commonly referred to as Grain Alcohol. While grain and synthetic alcohol are technically the same, there are differences in the limited amount of contaminants in the product in the parts per million (ppm) range.
190 vs. 200 Proof Alcohol: All Ethanol products have a proof associated with the product description. The proof is the measure of water content of the Ethanol portion of the product and any level of proof can be manufactured based upon the amount of water added. The majority of all Ethanol products are either 190 or 200 proof, the third most common being 192 proof.
Anhydrous Alcohol: Anhydrous Alcohol literally means no-water alcohol, but in reality, it means low-water alcohol. This distinction is synonymous with 200 proof alcohol, but NOT with the term "pure." Pure Alcohol is undenatured alcohol, which could be anhydrous or not.
Grain Neutral Spirits (GNS): High purity grain alcohol, which has a neutral odor.
ACS Reagent Grade Alcohol: Pure alcohol used in industrial settings, hospitals and research facilities. It meets or exceeds specifications set forth in the American Chemical Society's Reagent Handbook.
Organic Certified Alcohol: Specialty pure alcohol derived from organically grown corn. All phases of the production process including fermentation, distillation, packaging and shipping are done under strict organic guidelines.