Will an Electric Kettle Filled With Alcohol Boil Forever?

Or at least until all the liquid inside it evaporates.
Loukia Papadopoulos

YouTuber Steve Mould always brings us the most entertaining and educational science experiments and explanations and always portrays them in a way that is accessible and easy to understand. For this latest edition of his YouTube show, Mould asks a crucial but often overlooked question: would a kettle filled with alcohol boil forever (or at least until all the liquid inside it evaporates)?

The question stems from the fact that alcohol (ethanol) has a lower boiling point than water. This means that the liquid inside the kettle would actually be boiling but would not reach the temperature required to turn off the device.

To test his theory, Mould fills a kettle with alcohol and even puts a thermometer in the liquid. His prediction is that a kettle full of alcohol will simply boil until it's dry. He tests his theory with vodka which is 40% ethanol and 60% alcohol.

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So what happens to the vodka inside the kettle? Does it rise enough in temperature to close the kettle or does it just evaporate? How about other forms of alcohol? Does the percentage of ethanol play a role in how long the kettle can boil? This video answers all these questions and more.

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