1) Ethanol can be oxidised by complete combustion. With excess oxygen the complete combustion of ethanol (C₂H₅OH) in air produces carbon dioxide and water:

C₂H₅OH (l)         +         3O₂ (g)         →         2CO₂ (g)         +         3H₂O (l)


2) Ethanol can be oxidised in air in the presence of microorganisms (‘microbial oxidation’) to form ethanoic acid (CH₃COOH).


3) Ethanol can be oxidised by heating with the oxidising agent potassium dichromate(VI) (K₂Cr₂O₇) in dilute sulfuric acid (H₂SO₄).

In the equation below, [O] means oxygen from an oxidising agent.

CH₃CH₂OH         +         2[O]         →         CH₃COOH         +         H₂O

This mixture starts orange but when the reaction happens turns green which indicates the presence of Cr³⁺ ions which are formed when the potassium dichromate(VI) is reduced.