Methylated spirit is poisonous. It should not be ingested or come into contact with your skin. It should also be used in a well-ventilated area and you should avoid inhaling the substance's vapors. If methylated spirit is ingested, call poison control immediately.
Methylated spirit is also flammable. It should be used with proper safety precautions and stored in a cool, well-ventilated area.
Methylated spirit, also known as denatured alcohol, is a mixture of ethyl and methyl alcohols. Ethyl alcohol, commonly called ethanol or grain alcohol, is the alcohol found in adult beverages. It is a powerful and potentially addicting intoxicant, but serves other useful purposes. Methyl alcohol, also known as methanol or wood alcohol, is poisonous and renders ethyl alcohol undrinkable. Though not suitable for drinking, methylated spirit retains ethyl alcohol's ability to perform other useful functions.
"Sometimes there are other additives like acetone, colorings, isopropyl alcohol, and bittering agents," Dr. Tobi Schmidt, a personal health advisor and educator, tells Hunker, when discussing what else might be found in methylated spirit. "These additives are intended to prevent people from drinking the alcohol."
What can methylated spirit be used for?
Microbiologist Jason Tetro, author of The Germ Code, tells Hunker, "[Methylated spirit] is used for a variety of tasks, including cooking fuel, solvent, degreaser, and disinfectant. It's an all-purpose chemical that has been used for centuries." Dr. Schmidt adds that methylated spirit can even be used to remove adhesive and to dissolve organic compounds like oil paints.
Here is a list of methylated spirit uses:
- Cooking fuel (for camping and fondue burners)
- Solvent (for oil paints)
- Disinfectant (on hard household surfaces)
- Adhesive and stain remover (test first before using all over fabric)
- Woodworking tool (for removing sawdust and as a shellac)
- Ink ingredient
- CD/DVD cleaner
- Glass cleaner
What shouldn’t methylated spirit be used for?
Dr. Schmidt emphasizes that methylated spirit should never be ingested. "Methanol, found in most methylated spirit preparations, is toxic," she states. "It's also best to avoid contact with your skin. Methylated spirits preparations contain high concentrations of ethanol, usually around 90%, and this coupled with the additives means that you really shouldn't use this type of alcohol on your skin."
Since methylated spirit is also flammable, it should be used with extreme caution and proper safety procedures.
What precautions should you take when using methylated spirit?
"If you are using methanol in the open, you should think about wearing gloves and eyewear, just to be sure you are staying safe," says Tetro. Methylated spirit should also be used in a well-ventilated area, according to Dr. Schmidt, who adds that inhalation of the substance's vapors should be avoided at all costs.
Methylated spirits are also flammable and should be kept away from open flames," states Dr. Schmidt. "A container of methylated spirits should be stored in a cool and well-ventilated place."
Again, methylated spirit should not be ingested or come into contact with your skin. If it is ingested, the poison control center should be contacted immediately.