Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol amongst other names, is a chemical and the simplest alcohol, with the formula CH3OH. A polar solvent, methanol acquired the name wood alcohol because it was once produced chiefly by the destructive distillation of wood. Today, methanol is mainly produced industrially by hydrogenation of carbon monoxide. It is a light, volatile and toxic liquid. It is produced by the distillation of wood and basically synthesized from carbon monoxide and hydrogen. It is used in organic synthesis as fuel, solvent and antifreeze.

Methyl alcohol is a polar liquid at room temperature. It is used as a denaturant for antifreeze, solvent, fue4l and ethyl alcohol. It is also used in the production of biodiesel via transesterification.

Because of its toxic properties, methanol is frequently used as a denaturant additive for ethanol manufactured for industrial uses. Methanol is generally called wood alcohol because it was once produced as a side product in the distillation of wood.

Methyl alcohol is a widely used laboratory solvent. It is very useful for HPLC and UV / VIS spectroscopy due to its low UV threshold value.

Until now, the greatest use of methanol has been in the production of other chemicals. Approximately 40% of methanol is converted into formaldehyde. It is then used to make a variety of products such as plastic, plywood, paint, explosives and permanent press textiles.

Methanol is used as a denaturant for ethanol, the product being known as "methylated spirit".

Methanol is used as a solvent and as an antifreeze in pipelines and windshield washer fluid.

In some wastewater treatment plants, a small amount of methanol is added to wastewater to provide a carbon food source for the denitrifying bacteria, which convert nitrates to nitrogen gas and reduce the nitrification of sensitive aquifers.

During World War II, methanol was used as a fuel in several German military rocket designs, under the name M-Stoff, and in a roughly 50/50 mixture with hydrazine, known as C-Stoff. Methanol is used as a destaining agent in polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis.


CAS number:       67-56-1

Molecular weight     32.04 g mol?1

Physical appearance    Clear liquid

Density               0.791

Flash point (closed container)   12 C

Synonyms Methanol, Carbinol