An amyl alcohol is any of eight alcohols with the formula C5H12O. A mixture of amyl alcohols (also called amyl alcohol) can be obtained from fusel alcohol. Amyl alcohol is used as a solvent and in esterification, by which is produced amyl acetate and other important products. The name amyl alcohol without further specification applies to the normal (straight-chain) form, 1-pentanol.
These are the 8 alcohols that are structural isomers with molecular formula C5H12O:
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or normal amyl alcohol
or active amyl alcohol
or isoamyl alcohol
or isopentyl alcohol
or neopentyl alcohol
or sec-amyl alcohol
or methyl (n) propyl carbinol
or sec-isoamyl alcohol
or methyl isopropyl carbinol
or tert-amyl alcohol
Three of these alcohols, 2-methyl-1-butanol, 2-pentanol, and 3-methyl-2-butanol (methyl isopropyl carbinol), are therefore optically active.
The most important amyl alcohol is isoamyl alcohol, the chief one generated by fermentation in the production of alcoholic beverages and a constituent of fusel oil. The other amyl alcohols may be obtained synthetically.