MSDS - Methanol

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Methanol material data safety sheet. Reproduced with kind permission of the Department of Chemistry, Oxford University.

Last updated January 8, 2004

Common synonyms
  • Methyl alcohol
  • Wood alcohol
  • Meths
Formula CH3OH
  • Form: colourless liquid with a characteristic smell.
  • Stability: Stable, but very flammable.
  • Melting point: -98°C.
  • Boiling point: 64.7°C.
  • Explosion limits 6% - 36%.
  • Water solubility: miscible in all proportions.
  • Specific gravity: 0.79
Principal hazards
  • Methanol is toxic. If ingested or inhaledit can cause a wide range of harmful effects, from sickness, heart and liver damage to reproductive harm, blindess or death.
  • Methanol is often a component in "bootleg" liquor (illegally brewed and distilled alcohol) and there have been numerous cases in the past in which the consumption of such a drink has been fatal.
  • Methanol is very flammable. The pure liquid catches fire easily and aqueous solutions containing a significant amount of methanol can also catch fire.
  • The flame above burning methanol is virtually invisible, so it is not always easy to tell whether a methanol flame is still alight.
  • The explosion limits for methanol (the lower and upper percentage limits of methanol in an air-methanol mixture giving a vapour that can explode) are unusually wide.
Safe handling
  • Always wear safety glasses.
  • Remove any source of ignition from the working area. Don't forget that a hot air gun, a hot plate or even a radiator may be sufficiently hot to ignite the vapour.
  • You should not breathe in the vapour, so use a fume cupboard if available. If this is not possible, ensure that the area in which you work is very well ventilated.
  • Eye contact: Immediately flush the eye with plenty of water. Continue for several minutes and call for medical help.
  • Skin contact: A person whose clothes are soaked in methanol will be at serious risk from fire, so immediately remove any contaminated clothing and store well away from a source of ignition (preferably outside). Wash exposed skin with soap and water. If the skin reddens or appears damaged, or if methanol may have been swallowed, call for medical aid.
  • If swallowed: Call for immediate medical help; if the quantity swallowed is significant urgent medical action is vital.
  • Trace amounts of methanol can be flushed down a sink with a large quantity of water, unless local rules prohibit this.
  • Larger amounts should be collected in a non-chlorinated waste solvent container for disposal.
Protective equipment
  • Safety glasses.
  • If you need gloves, butyl rubber is a suitable material.
Further information More extensive safety data

Bio-rich-time-poor 00:40, 24 June 2011 (BST)