What is methanol and used for

Methane, also known as methyl alcohol, wood alcohol, or CH3OH, is a colorless, volatile liquid with a mild, slightly sweet odor. It is the simplest type of alcohol and consists of a methyl group (-CH3) attached to a hydroxyl group (-OH). Here are some key points about methanol:

What is methanol and used for

Production: Methanol is produced primarily through destructive distillation of wood, hence the name "wood alcohol". However, today it is more commonly produced through a catalytic process using natural gas as a feedstock.


  • Fuel: Methane is used as an alternative fuel in some vehicles, either directly or as a component in the fuel mixture.

  • Solvent: It is a versatile solvent and is used in various industrial applications including the production of resins, plastics and pharmaceuticals.

  • Chemical Feedstock: Methanol is a major chemical feedstock, which serves as a precursor for the synthesis of formaldehyde, acetic acid and various other chemicals.

  • Antifreeze: Methanol is sometimes used as an antifreeze agent in automotive cooling systems.

  • Energy storage: It is explored as a potential energy carrier and storage medium, especially in the context of renewable energy sources.

  • Toxicity: Methanol is poisonous to humans and can cause serious health problems, including blindness or death, if swallowed. Methanol must be handled with care, and exposure should be minimized.

  • Renewable Methanol: There is increasing interest in producing methanol from renewable sources such as biomass or carbon dioxide captured from the atmosphere. This renewable methanol can be used as a sustainable fuel or feedstock for various industries.

It is important to note that while methanol has various industrial applications, its use as a recreational or industrial beverage is extremely dangerous and can have serious health consequences. Methanol is not for consumption and must be handled in accordance with safety guidelines and regulations.