Methyl alcohol and ethyl alcohol are two types of alcohol that are commonly used in industrial and household settings. While both of them are colorless liquids with an odor, there is a significant difference between methyl alcohol and ethyl alcohol. In this article, we intend to explain the difference between methyl and ethyl alcohol.
What is Methyl Alcohol?
Methyl alcohol has the chemical name methanol and is also known as wood alcohol. Methyl alcohol is derived from the distillation of wood and is a clear, colorless, and flammable liquid at room temperature. The product is produced through the destructive distillation of wood, hence the name wood alcohol. The production process for methyl alcohol includes several stages that require huge amounts of energy.
Methyl alcohol is used as a solvent, fuel, antifreeze, and as a raw material for the production of formaldehyde, acetic acid, and other compounds. Methyl alcohol is commonly used as an industrial solvent for paints, varnishes, and other coatings. It is also used as a fuel in race cars, methanol-burning dragsters, and some powerboats. However, methyl alcohol is toxic and should not be consumed.
Methyl alcohol is also used as a fuel in fuel cells. This is because it can be easily converted to hydrogen and carbon dioxide through a process called steam reforming. This process involves heating the methanol to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide, which can then be used to produce electricity in fuel cells.
What is Ethyl Alcohol?
Ethyl alcohol, also known as ethanol, is the most common type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. Ethyl alcohol has the chemical structure CH3CH2OH and is produced through the fermentation of sugar and other carbohydrates. Ethanol is mostly derived from crops such as corn, sugarcane, and barley.
Ethyl alcohol is commonly used as a solvent, fuel, antiseptic, and as a raw material for the production of other chemicals such as ethylene oxide and acetaldehyde. Ethyl alcohol is used as an antiseptic in the healthcare industry, as a disinfectant in the food industry, and as a fuel in cars and other vehicles. Ethanol is the primary ingredient in alcoholic beverages.
Difference between Methyl Alcohol and Ethyl Alcohol
1. Chemical Structure
Methyl alcohol has the chemical formula CH3OH, while ethyl alcohol has the chemical formula CH3CH2OH. The difference in their chemical structure results in differences in their properties such as boiling point, density, and toxicity.
Methyl alcohol is highly toxic and can cause blindness or death if ingested. The lethal dose for humans is around 30 ml, and even small amounts can cause blindness. Ethyl alcohol, on the other hand, is not as toxic and is safe for human consumption in moderate amounts.
Methyl alcohol is primarily produced through the destructive distillation of wood. The production process requires a lot of energy and is costly. Ethyl alcohol, on the other hand, is produced through the fermentation of carbohydrates, which is a relatively inexpensive process.
Methyl alcohol is commonly used as a solvent, fuel, and industrial raw material. It is also used as an antifreeze and as a denaturant for ethyl alcohol. Ethyl alcohol, on the other hand, is used as a solvent, fuel, antiseptic, disinfectant, and as a primary ingredient in alcoholic beverages.
Methyl alcohol has a density of 0.7918 g/cm³, while ethyl alcohol has a density of 0.7893 g/cm³. This difference in density may not seem significant, but it can have an impact on various applications such as fuel systems.
6. Boiling point
Methyl alcohol has a boiling point of 64.7°C, while ethyl alcohol has a boiling point of 78.4°C. This difference in boiling point has an impact on their use as solvents and fuels.
In conclusion, there is a significant difference between methyl alcohol and ethyl alcohol, both chemically and in their uses. Methyl alcohol is highly toxic and can be deadly if ingested, while ethyl alcohol is safe for human consumption in moderate amounts. While each alcohol has its benefits and drawbacks, it is important to understand the differences when deciding which alcohol to use for a particular application.