Alcohol's are important solvents in finishing. If you see a chemical compound with the "ol" as a suffix its an alcohol. You can have a low molecular weight alcohol like methanol (CH3OH) or a high molecular weight alcohol like glycerol (CH2OH.CHOH.CH2OH). What they all have in common is what chemists call a functional group - in this case it's the OH group - called a hydroxyl group. The number of hydroxyl groups determine whether it's an alcohol or a polyol (containing more than one hydroxyl groups) The most common ones are what chemists call the lower alcohols. In order of increasing molecular weight they are:
The differences in toxicity and other physical properties between an alcohol and its isomer can be dramatic. Isopropanol is less toxic than propanol - which is why you find it in rubbing alcohol. The boiling point difference between n-butanol and isobutanol is 10 degrees.