Figure 1. Space filling model of methanol, the white is hydrogen,black is carbon, and the red is oxygen.[1]

Methanol is the simplest alcohol, and is also known as methyl alcohol. It is colourless, highly flammable, and at typical temperatures and pressures is a liquid. [2] Unlike ethanol, methanol cannot be ingested, as consumption may result in blindness, neurological damage, and damage to the nervous system.[3]

Methanol is used in the production of chemicals, as well as in the manufacturing of polyester fibers, acrylic plastics, and various pharmaceuticals. As well as being a major component in windshield washer fluid, methanol is used as an additive in gasoline.[4] When added to gasoline it serves as an antifreeze and octane booster to give the fuel a better, cleaner burn.

Like many hydrocarbon derivatives, methanol undergoes combustion (see simulation at bottom of page) when combined with heat and oxygen. This reaction releases energy, carbon dioxide, and water.


Below is a table of some of the basic properties of methanol.

Chemical formula CH3OH
Molar mass 32.04 grams/mole [5]
Energy density[6] 22.7 MJ/kg
Melting Point -93.9oC[2]
Boiling Point 64.96oC[2]

Combustion Animation

Methanol is used as a combustible fuel. Below is an animation showing the net reaction that occurs during the hydrocarbon combustion of methanol.

For Further Reading


  1. Ben Mills. (2015, Jan. 28). Methanol-3D-vdW [Online]. Available:
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 (2015, Jan. 28). Properties of Methanol [Online]. Available:
  3. (2015, Jan. 28). Methanol Hazard Summary [Online]. Available:
  4. (2015, Jan. 28). Methanol Principle Uses [Online]. Available:
  5. (2015, Jan. 28). Physical Properties of Pure Methanol [Online]. Available: