Alcohol Methylicum. Methyl Alcohol.


CH4O = 32.032.
Synonym.—Wood Spirit.

Methyl alcohol, CH3OH, may be obtained by the destructive distillation of wood, and subsequent purification of the product. It must not be confounded with methylated spirit. Commercial wood spirit, wood naphtha, or pyroxylic spirit, is a clear yellowish inflammable liquid consisting of methyl alcohol (60 to 90 per cent.), together with acetone, aldehyde, water, and, other substances. Its specific gravity should not be below 0.840. The so-called "Alcohol Methyl. Pur." is colourless, has a faint but peculiar odour, a specific gravity of about 0.810, and boils at 64° to 70°. It is miscible with ethyl alcohol, ether, chloroform, and water, and dissolves fats and volatile oils. It usually contains about 1 per cent. of acetone. "Alcohol Methyl. Puriss." has a specific gravity of 0.796, and boils at 65° to 66°. Even this contains a trace of acetone, and when purified from this trace is known as "acetonefree." The latter is used as a solvent in the preparation of stains for the microscopic examination of blood.

Action and Uses.—Methyl alcohol has been used as a narcotic and sedative, but it is rarely given internally. It is used in so-called "hygienic" lamps designed for slow combustion by means of a cone of platinum black, formic aldehyde being produced. It is largely employed as a solvent in the arts and sciences. Methyl alcohol has been stated to cause optic atrophy when swallowed or inhaled in large quantities. In cases of poisoning by methyl alcohol the stomach pump should be employed, and strong coffee, brandy, or strychnine administered.

Dose.—2 to 4 mils (30 to 60 minims).

The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.