Ethylene glycol (EG) is the organic compound commonly used in antifreeze. With the ability to lower the freezing point of water, it can prevent your engine from freezing over – but it can also be very dangerous.
Ethylene glycol was first prepared in 1859 when French chemist, Charles-Adolphe Wurtz, treated ethylene iodide with silver acetate. This produced what Wurtz called ethylene diacetate, which he then hydrolysed with potassium hydroxide.
Like many of its relatives, such as polyethylene glycol, EG is a colourless and relatively odourless liquid. With the chemical formula (CH2OH) 2, it has a variety of properties. It is:
Although characterised by a sweet smell, this compound is anything but. If ingested, ethylene glycol can be very toxic. Unfortunately, it is the sweet smell that can lead pets or children to accidentally consume it.
What Makes Ethylene Glycol Toxic?
Consuming any amount of this substance can lead to ethylene glycol poisoning. Intoxication, vomiting, headaches and abdominal pain are all symptoms of this poisoning which, if not quickly seen to, could result in:
- Loss of consciousness
- Kidney failure
- Brain damage
Ethylene glycol is toxic because of how it metabolises in the body. In fact, ethylene glycol itself isn’t very toxic – its metabolites are what cause the damage:
- It is first metabolised into glycolic acid during a two-step process
- Glycolic acid is then converted into oxalic acid, which combines with calcium to form calcium oxalate crystals
Calcium oxalate crystals accumulate in the kidneys, lungs and even heart. This build-up can cause severe renal failure, and are one of the tell-tale signs that ethylene glycol has been consumed.
Another reason why ethylene glycol can be very dangerous in the body is the fact that it is rapidly absorbed from the intestinal tract after consumption. Therefore, if anyone ingests this substance it is important that they get it treated immediately.
Here at ReAgent, our online shop stocks ethylene glycol in a variety of sizes and even has the option of bulk orders. We also have top grade antifreeze, and non-toxic antifreeze for sale. All of our products come with a 100% quality guarantee. Order online today, or speak with a member of our team for more information.
Ethylene Glycol (General Use)