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The alcohol found in all alcohol drinks, such as beer, wine and spirits, is called ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol). It is naturally produced from agricultural products like grains, fruits and vegetables. 

Even though the processes to make these drinks differ, the alcohol is always the same – it’s the additional ingredients that make them taste different.

Made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, the chemical formula of ethanol is CH3CH2OH. 

However, even if it has the same molecular structure, the quality of the alcohol can vary. Commercial alcohol that you buy in shops and bars has to meet strict health standards. But unrecorded alcohol, such as homemade alcohol (sometimes called moonshine) and illegal, counterfeit or smuggled drinks, are not tested and can be contaminated or toxic.

The World Health Organisation estimates that up to 25% of the alcohol consumed around the world wouldn’t meet minimum health standards, which represents a serious public health concern.

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What you can do next

See what effect alcohol has
See what effect alcohol has

Now you know about the laws, why not find out how it gets processed by the body? Learn about the changes that alcohol can have on your metabolism, diet, and sleep. More importantly, know the recommended limits you should follow, to help you make the best of every drinking occasion.

How alcohol affects us