Difference between Ethanol vs Methanol

Ethanol and methanol are both types of alcohol, but their chemical structure and uses are different. Here are some of the major differences between ethanol and methanol:

Ethanol vs Methanol

Chemical composition:

  • Ethanol (C2H5OH): This is a two-carbon alcohol and is the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. Ethanol is also known as beverage alcohol or grain alcohol.
  • Methanol (CH3OH): It is a one-carbon alcohol and is commonly known as wood alcohol. Methanol is poisonous to humans if swallowed and can cause blindness or death.


  • Ethanol: It is produced naturally by yeast during the fermentation of sugars. It is found in alcoholic beverages and is also used as a biofuel and industrial solvent.
  • Methane: It can be produced from natural gas, but is often obtained from destructive distillation of wood. It is also synthesized industrially.


  • Ethanol: It is used in alcoholic beverages, as a fuel (bioethanol), in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, and as an industrial solvent.
  • Methanol: It is used as an industrial solvent, antifreeze, fuel, and in the production of formaldehyde and other chemicals. It is not suitable for consumption due to its toxicity.


  • Ethanol: While excessive consumption of ethanol can cause health problems, moderate consumption is generally considered safe for adults.
  • Methanol: Methanol is highly toxic and should not be consumed. Even small amounts can cause serious health problems, including blindness or death.

Physical properties:

  • Ethanol: It is a clear, colorless liquid with a characteristic odor. Its boiling point is approximately 78.37 degrees Celsius.
  • Methanol: This is also a clear, colorless liquid with a slightly sweet odor. Its boiling point is lower than that of ethanol, about 64.7 °C.

Ethanol vs Methanol

It is important to recognize the key differences between ethanol and methanol, especially with regard to their toxicity, as ingestion of methanol can have serious consequences. When it comes to alcoholic beverages, ethanol is a type of alcohol that is safe to consume in moderate amounts.