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Question part 1: In particular of Sugar Alcohols, I ask about Sorbitol.

I am a 100% strict teetotaler. I do not care if a small dose will not intoxicate me, I am absolutely anti-alcoholic.

Recently I ate a few of some treat, first I checked the ingredients at least four times because I was suspicious.. there was no "regular" Alcohol but there was Soribitol. I really wanted to eat the treat even though from my Web searches I was not totally convinced that Sorbitol is clean.. I caved in and I am regretting it. The treat tasted suspicious.

I really am a serious, strict teetotaler 100%. Please advise me.


Question part 2: If you were an absolutely dead-strict teetotaler.. would you feel bad about eating something that contains Sorbitol?

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  • $\begingroup$ Sorbitol is not an alcohol that goes against teetotaling since the main culprit would be ethanol and Sorbitol fortunately doesn't contain ethanol in it. If you have consumed ethanol, you are guilty of drinking. $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2020 at 12:43
  • $\begingroup$ That is interesting @Safdar $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2020 at 12:44
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    $\begingroup$ There is a huge class of compounds designated alcohols because of their chemical structure. Sorbitol is an alcohol by that designation. Ethanol is the only one you should be concerned about $\endgroup$
    – Waylander
    Jul 22, 2020 at 12:47
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    $\begingroup$ Methanol is pretty toxic so no-one should be ingesting it. $\endgroup$
    – Waylander
    Jul 22, 2020 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ Pretty much everything organic contains some form of sugar and - if not cared for well enough - may eventually contain some ethanol. Be aware of everything fermented. $\endgroup$ Jul 23, 2020 at 13:15

2 Answers 2

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Ethanol is the compound that goes against teetotaling. Otherwise, all sugary foods are alcoholic, carbohydrates are alcoholic and what else.

Alcohols are defined as organic hydrocarbons containing the hydroxyl group ( the OH group.). So sugar is an alcohol; it has a hydroxyl group.

Thus, only ethanol is the compound responsible for intoxication and going against teetotalism. No problems with anything else.

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Be aware that alcohol has 2 main meanings:

  • alcohol(1) = ethanol / ethylalcohol / drinking alcohol
  • alcohol(2) = organic compound containing alcoholic group $\ce{-OH}$ bound to non aromatic carbon atom. Such compounds have usually names ending by -ol, unless empirical names take preference.

Similarly as palm oil is just one of many kinds of fat ( esters of glycerol and fatty acids ), alcohol(1) and sorbitol are just two of many kinds of alcohol(2), which includes also ethylenglykol ( anti-freezing agent ), glycerol and sacharides like glucose, fructose, sucrose, starch, cellulose etc.

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