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fusel oil(fyo͞o`zəl), oily, colorless liquid with a disagreeable odor and taste. It is a mixture of alcohols (largely amyl alcohols) and fatty acids, formed during the alcoholic fermentation of organic materials. After imperfect distillation of these fermentation products it becomes an impurity in the distilled liquor. Fusel oil is used as a solvent in the manufacture of certain lacquers and enamels (it dissolves nitrocellulose). It has a detrimental effect on the human system.
a by-product of ethyl alcohol fermentation. Ethyl alcohol may yield 0.4–0.6 percent fusel oil, with a density of 0.83–0.84 g/cm3 at 20°C. The fusel oil is in the form of a light yellow to dark reddish brown oily liquid with an unpleasant odor that irritates the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. In chemical composition fusel oil is a mixture of monohydric aliphatic alcohols, including isopentyl and isobutyl alcohols, with impurities of acids, aldehydes, and other compounds. Fusel oil is poisonous.
The mixture of amyl alcohols obtained from fusel oil is used in the production of amyl acetate, and the mixture of hexyl, heptyl, octyl, and nonyl alcohols is used in the preparation of fragrances.