Ethanol and cell membranes

  1. I'm told that ethanol crosses a cell membrane very easily and can screw up the inner workings of the cell. But ethanol is very hydrophilic, so shouldn't it have a really tough time crossing a phospholipid membrane? does it hijack a transport protein or something?
  2. jcsd
  3. Remember that small, highly polar (but uncharged) molecules such as water are able to diffuse almost freely through the lipid bilayer. Ethanol is larger than water, but not by a lot. Also, ethanol is significantly less polar than water because it has a two carbon alkyl group on it. Also, it only has two locations where it can hydrogen bond whereas water has three.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thead via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?