Alcohols are organic compounds with a hydroxyl group (-OH) and where the hydroxyl group is the functional group with the highest priority. Often, the term alcohol is referred to ethanol (ethyl alcohol) that is found in alcoholic beverages. Alcohols may also be used as antifreeze agents or fuels.
In medicine and research, alcohols are used as disinfectants because of their antiseptic properties.
Alcohols are frequently used as reagents or solvents in industry and science as well as preservatives for specimens in science and medicine.
In the laboratory, alcohols are regularly used in cell culture as antiseptics or in the preparation of nucleic acids. Thereby, ethanol is used to precipitate the nucleic acids and to separate them from other unwanted components. When processing plasmids, the terms Minipreparation, Midipreparation, Maxipreparation, Megapreparation or Gigapreparation are used corresponding to the plasmid yield.
The alcohol 2-Mercaptoethanol (also β-Mercaptoethanol, ME or βME) is frequently used in Western blot procedures to reduce disulfide bonds of proteins and peptides. The reduction of disulfide bonds is essential in the linearization of proteins for the use in denaturing SDS-PAGE (sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis).