The many uses of ethanol as a solvent for polar and non-polar substances

Ethanol has both a non-polar alkyl part and a polar OH part, allowing it to dissolve both polar and non-polar substances, following the principle of ‘like dissolves like’.

Ethanol.gif
ethanol

Hence it is widely used as a solvent, and in the home it is a common solvent in cosmetics (perfumes), food colourings/flavourings (vanilla essence), medicinal agents (antiseptics) and some cleaning agents.