# Methanol/Ethanol (other alcohol) based life-form - aliens?

Purely hypothetical and kind of creative quesiton. My idea is an alien humanoid-like civilization (and basically everything alive on that planet) which uses methanol/ethanol or other alcohol as a solvent (Whichever works best) and could interact and co-exist with humans - like drink our alcohol to serve their biological needs.

How would it work? And how would they look?

Would they drink alcohol just as we drink water?

Is that all even possible? I'm really interested in your ideas.

Thanks.

Linked question about the planet itself: Methanol/Ethanol (other alcohol) based life-form and its planet?

• Welcome to the site, Jotunn. This question covers quite a wide range of topics. Would you mind dividing this into separate questions, each asking for specific details on a particular subject? For example, one about the biology of your aliens, another about their dietary needs, etc. This will help narrow the focus of each question and avoid any one from being flagged as too broad. Also, put some time between questions to allow answers from one to impact the others. – Frostfyre Mar 1 '16 at 23:27
• Hi ! I thought that if someone sees alcohol-based-life he'd get the picture. So should I edit this question or start completely new topic? I'll try to edit for now. And thanks for the tips – Jotunn Mar 1 '16 at 23:31
• Editing this question is a good place to start. As you ask later questions, you can provide a hyperlink back to the previous one to associate them. – Frostfyre Mar 1 '16 at 23:33
• I've edited a bit. Is it better? – Jotunn Mar 1 '16 at 23:53
• Looks much better. Well done. – Frostfyre Mar 1 '16 at 23:55

It might be possible for alcohol-based creatures to exist, but they couldn't drink our alcohol. Or at lesat, they wouldn't be able to drink alcohol in the way that we do.

The biggest difference between alcohol and water as a solvent is that alcohol is significantly less polar than water. This makes nutrient transport more difficult, but also allows for the formation of more complex carbon compounds, which ordinarily break down in the presence of water. Furthermore, liquid water would probably be toxic to alcohol-based organisms, for this same reason. An alcohol-based organism isn't evolved for life in a water-rich environment, and the presence of liquid water would probably start to break down complex hydrocarbons in the creature.

Luckily for our alcohol-based friends, they probably live in a fairly water-dry environment. Titan is a good example of this, with the surface containing large lakes of hydrocarbons, but little to no liquid water. They'd evolve to consume heavy hydrocarbons, but likely wouldn't evolve to handle water toxicity. They'd also be adapted for life in an incredibly cold environment, on the order of −179.5 °C.

If a Titan-adapted alcohol based life form drank a glass of vodka, they would probably be horribly burned, since the freezing point of vodka is far higher than the temperatures they are evolved for. If that wasn't lethal to them, or if they could survive temperatures where vodka is liquid, then the vodka would remain toxic for another reason: water.

Basically all alcohol that people consume has large quantities of water in it, which would be toxic for our alcohol-based friends. If, however, you chose to serve them a glass of incredibly distilled, incredibly cold alcohol, they'd probably thank you and drink it as we do water. But remember, if they offer you a sip, warm it up before you try any.

• I'm pretty sure that ethanol is generally considered as polar – March Ho Mar 2 '16 at 0:03
• @MarchHo Significantly less polar than water, but yes. Fixed it. – ckersch Mar 2 '16 at 0:17
• Note that methane $\neq$ methanol, so it's not a perfect analogy to use Titan. – HDE 226868 Mar 2 '16 at 0:23

I do not know if alcohol based macro-organisms could exist or not, but I am pretty certain that such folks would not be DNA based as we are. You would have to find some very clever method for their cellular functions (if you go in such details) control at micro level. Because DNA is insoluble in alcohol.