A Few Information Regarding Methylated Spirits

Eleanor Hanson

If there is one fact that should be known about mythylated spirits, it is that they are an undrinkable substance. The substance is called as such because alcohol, specifically ethyl alcohol or ethanol, is mixed with some amount of methanol, thus making it undrinkable.

The difference between ethanol and methanol is that ethanol is drinkable, hence, one of its uses include consumption in alcoholic beverages. Methanol, on the other hand, is toxic, and its consumption may cause blindness, and even death.

What are their uses?

A highly flammable liquid with a characteristic odour and burning taste, methylated spirits are used in many different ways. They are commonly used as fuel for marine and ultra-light camping or backpacking stoves. The advantages of using the substance are that it is relatively cheaper and it can be transported without special containers. Another practical use of this kind of alcohol is as a convenient solvent for cleaning applications such as removing water-based paint as well as removing ink stains from upholstery or clothes. Moreover, it can be used as a sanding aid as it helps to easily remove the excess dust that has resulted from sanding wood. It is for the reason that it does not open the wood grain the way that water would. It can also be used to kill mealybug.

The substance also has an industrial use. For example, in the painting industry, it is used as a solvent for shellac in knotting, spirit varnishes, and French polish.

What are the risks of using methylated spirits?

The thing about this kind of alcohol is that its flame is almost invisible in normal daylight conditions. Thus, there is a tendency for an inexperienced person to assume that a stove is empty and needs filling which ultimately may result to explosion. Another thing is that it is highly flammable and its improper storage and use may cause fire. Moreover, as the substance contains methanol, its consumption may result to blindness as well as death.

What are the safety precautions that can be taken?

Because of the possible accidents that may arise in using and storing this kind of chemical product, certain safety precautions must be taken into consideration. These include:

o keeping its container tightly closed;
o putting a label to the container;
o keeping it away from sources of ignition such as matches and lighted cigarettes;
o not storing it in the kitchen;
o wearing suitable protective clothing and gloves;
o avoiding skin and eye contact;
o avoiding inhalation of vapour;
o ensuring adequate ventilation;
o not refilling a methylated spirits burner until it is cool enough to touch;
o not storing the substance in a container that you later intend to contain drinking water; and
o washing your hands thoroughly when you get the substance on your hands, especially before handling food.

In case of accidents, what are the first aid measures that can be taken?

In case of inhalation,

o immediately go to a spot with fresh air, and rest; and
o if recovery is not fast, seek medical attention.

In case of eye contact,

o irrigate the contaminated eye with water for at least 15 minutes; and
o be sure not to wash chemical from one eye to another.

In case of ingestion,

o take note not to induce vomiting;
o give the person plenty of water to drink;
o beware of aspiration if vomiting takes place; and
o do not forget to immediately seek medical attention.

You see, methylated spirits have different uses. Yet, it is important for us to be aware of its implications, especially when they are not used properly. We do not want for accidents to take place, do we? Thus, responsible use of the substance must be observed.

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