Category Archives: Spectra of Alcohol

Group 9 Data (Spectroscopic and Light Sensor)

We gathered samples of multiple liquids, including mixtures of a few of them, and analyzed them using two separate instruments; a light sensor, and a portable spectrometer.

To begin with, we shined light through our samples and measured their opacities using the light sensor.  We took the data in a dark room, holding the samples against the light sensor and exposing it to only one source of light at a constant distance and intensity.  We used a cell phone flashlight.  This is a picture of our experimental setup.

setup 1

The light sensor we used had a slight systematic error of about 2.4 lux, that is, it measured 2.4 lux when completely covered.  We have adjusted for that in the table below.

Liquid Adjusted Opacity Values (Lux)
Water 67
Orange Juice 3.6
Extra Virgin Olive Oil 50
Listerine 63.6
Axe Shower Gel 1.3
Hand Sanitizer 66.8
Sprite 69
Coffee 0.4
Coffee plus Unknown Pineapple Juice 8.9
Shower Gel plus Listerine 19.6
Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey 59
Everclear Grain Alcohol 68.6
Orange Juice plus Oil 5.3
Low Fat Soy Milk 1.1
Whiskey plus Low Fat Soy Milk 3.6
Water plus Low Fat Soy Milk 3.4

Our second set of data was attained by analyzing our samples through a portable spectrometer.  It also had a small systematic error, which we have accounted for.  The absorption readings were displaced on the y-axis by about 0.5, giving negative absorption readings.  In our graphs, we have displayed the y-axis from -0.5 to 3, which should be read as 0-3.  3 is the maximum opacity that this spectrometer can measure.  The y-axis records absorbance, while the x-axis displays wavelength.  The picture below is of our setup, showing the spectrometer and all the liquid samples we used.

setup 2

The spectrometer shines light through the samples, and records the absorbance on the wavelengths of the visible spectrum.  Below are our graphs of the data.

axe shower gel graph Axe Shower Gel

coffee and unknown pineapple juice graph  Coffee and Unknown Pineapple Juice

coffee graph  Coffee

everclear grain alcohol graph  Everclear Grain Alcohol

extra virgin olive oil graph Extra Virgin Olive Oil

fireball cinnamon whiskey  Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey

fireball whiskey and soy milk graph Fireball Whiskey and Soy Milk

hand sanitizer graph Hand Sanitizer

listerine and axe shower gel Listerine and Axe Shower Gel

listerine graph Listerine

low fat soy milk graph Low Fat Soy Milk

orange juice  Orange Juice

orange juice and oil graph Orange Juice and Oil

soy milk and water graph Soy Milk and Water

sprite Sprite

watergraph Water


Light and Liquor – the Music Video

Here, we present the results of our spectrophotometric analysis of various liquors in song.


light is a form of electromagnetic radiation
and visible light is many wavelengths in combination
and each wavelength is associated with a specific particle of energy
but do different alcohols absorbs these wavelengths equally?

well we tested five kinds of alcohol some differing in color
and their absorbance spectra were different from each other
each spectrophotometer reading gaves us a few distinct peaks
looking back on our data we noticed many repeats

the three light alcohols
gin, grain alcohol and light tequila
had absorbance peaks very much the same

but whiskey and dark tequila absorbed light in a different way

so this quantitative analysis matches
with the qualitative analysis of the color
the lighter and the darker alcohol’s absorbance peaks
do not agree with one another

so if
light is a form of electromagnetic radiation
visible light is many wavelengths in combination
and each wavelength is associated with a specific particle of energy
different alcohols do not absorb these wavelengths equally
no different alcohols do not absorb these wavelengths

Preliminary absorbance data for various liquors

We were able to analyze the absorbances of five samples of alcohol: gin, whiskey, light tequila, dark tequila, and grain alcohol. Interestingly, absorbance peaks were similar for gin, light tequila, and grain alcohol (samples 1, 4, and 5, respectively); both whiskey (2) and dark tequila (3) had unique absorbance spectra:


Data table of absorbance peaks.

The absorbance data correlates with qualitative observations of color:

From left to right, water, gin, whiskey, dark tequila, light tequila, and grain alcohol in spectrophotometry cuvettes.

We will analyze the data and create a song to present to the class.

Project Plan

All will be present during the experiment and will help with the song.  However, Sean and Peter will play a larger role in interpreting the data into results and Kristen will play a larger role in interpreting the results into song.

Science/Technology Involved
We will be doing a spectrophotometric analysis on a variety of alcoholic beverages.  This analysis will show us the variable wavelength absorbances of the compounds in each solution.  It will display which wavelengths are more efficiently absorbed by the drink.

Activity plan
Within the next week we will meet in the lab and use the spectrophotometer to run our experiment.  Within the week after that we will meet together at least twice to go over results and translate them into song, and also to rehearse the song.

Expected Outcome/Data
We expect the color to have an effect on the data, as well as specific compounds found in the drinks.

Absorbance spectra of varied alcoholic beverages: A spectrophotometric study

Spectrophotometric analysis displays the variable wavelength absorbances of compounds in solution; here, we apply this powerful analytic tool to a variety of alcoholic beverages in order to determine their unique absorptive spectra. These spectra will reveal similarities and differences in the compounds which give each beverage its characteristic color, as well as the wavelengths which are most efficiently absorbed by the beverage. We present, in song, the results of this analysis, as well as the physical principles which are utilized in spectrophotometry.


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