The boiling point of rectified spirit is ($78.1~\mathrm{^\circ C}$) while that of absolute alcohol is ($78.3~\mathrm{^\circ C}$). I know its too small, but shouldn't the addition of impurities increase the boiling point?

What qualifies as an impurity? Is it that solids like salt only can be called an impurity? — which increase the boiling point of water?

  • $\begingroup$ I'd be surprised you could even measure the difference between those boiling points in normal conditions. Is the difference really significant? $\endgroup$
    – matt_black
    May 28, 2016 at 11:54

1 Answer 1


Ethanol and water have weaker intermolecular interactions than water with water and ethanol with ethanol. For this reason ethanol and water molecules can more easily escape from the liquid mixture, called azeotrope, to the gaseous phase than it is the case for the pure alcohol. Consequently the azeotrope has a lower boiling point.

What is considered as an impurity depends on your use case. E.g. 96% pure ethanol may qualify as extra fine spirit.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! so there is no rule as such on the impurity thing? $\endgroup$
    – Polisetty
    May 27, 2016 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ Added a remark on impurity. $\endgroup$
    – aventurin
    May 27, 2016 at 19:25

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