Category: 

What is Wood Alcohol?

Article Details
  • Written By: Debra Durkee
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
The mongoose was introduced to Hawaii in order to kill rats, but mongooses hunt in the day, while rats are nocturnal.  more...

December 7 ,  1941 :  Japanese bombers attack Pearl Harbor.  more...

Wood alcohol is also known as meythl alcohol or methanol. It gets its name from the fact that it is produced by natural, organic materials including wood products like sawdust and also coal, grasses, and seaweeds. This product is used as an alternative and renewable fuel source as well as in manufacturing. Wood alcohol has been around for decades, but with the shortages of many commodities that came with World War II, new ways were developed to use this abundant fuel.

At one time, car manufacturers built some vehicles to run solely on wood alcohol. With the discontinuation of these cars, there has still been research on the viability of using wood alcohol as a renewable, environmentally friendly fuel. In fact, many professional racing organizations across the world use this fuel mixed with unleaded gasoline.

It is also an important component in manufacturing. Wood alcohol is used as an ingredient in chemicals ranging from formaldehyde to cleaning materials such as windshield washer fluid. Many types of paints contain some form of the chemical, and it is also a major component in dyes and fabrics such as polyester. Acetic acid is also created by a chemical process that involves wood alcohol, and this acid is then in turn used in the manufacture of plastics and glues. When the fuel undergoes a chemical process, it can also be used to create hydrogen.

Ad

As it is produced from renewable sources, wood alcohol has been examined as a valuable resource in the alternative fuel industry. Generally cleaner burning than other types of fuels, it can be easily produced from a number of sources. It is relatively low cost, and easier to work with than many types of natural gas due in large part to its lower flammability.

Methanol is still a dangerous compound, and should be labeled properly with the appropriate safety information. If an individual is exposed to it without protection, it can result in loss of consciousness, blurry vision, and difficulty breathing. Prolonged exposure can cause neurological damage, poisoning, permanent damage to vision, and lesions on the brain. Some individuals may suffer from convulsions or seizures if they breathe the fumes. While it is less flammable than many types of natural gas, there is still a danger of explosion should it be exposed to a flame.

Ad

You might also Like

Recommended

Discuss this Article

AnswerMan
Post 1

I remember hearing stories about people drinking what they thought was pure grain alcohol and it turned out to be wood alcohol. A lot of them went completely blind, and a few actually died.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email