A Comprehensive Guide to Methanol: Its Chemistry & Applications

Posted on: April 12, 2024

Methyl Alcohol, known by its chemical formula CH3OH, is a versatile compound belonging to the alcohol family. It’s widely used across industries worldwide, thanks to its diverse applications. In nomenclature perspective, it’s named “methanol” due to the methyl group (CH3) taking precedence over the hydroxyl group (-OH group).

Industrially, methanol is widely used for producing formaldehyde, acetic acid, plastics, paints, adhesives, and pharmaceuticals. It’s also utilized as a fuel and a feedstock for biodiesel production.

Various techniques are used to produce methanol, such as synthesizing hydrogen and carbon monoxide to create “synthesis gas” or “syngas.” Steam reforming of natural gas or methane is another common method, followed by methanol synthesis from the resulting syngas. Read this blog learn more interesting facts about Methanol and the reason for its industrial prominence.

Overview of the Chemical Properties of Methyl Alcohol

Intrinsic Properties


Melting Point


Boiling Point



37.5 kJ/mol

Solubility Coefficient

~1.31 mol/L at room temperature


Flash Point: 11.7°C


Flammable Range: 6% to 36% in air


Sweet odor


Extrinsic Properties



~40.6 mL per mole at STP


32.04 g/mol

Molecular Weight

32.04 g

Reactivity Of Methyl Alcohol with other compounds

Methanol possesses high flammability and has the potential to react vigorously with numerous substances. However, it’s precisely this property that makes methyl alcohol valuable in various applications.

Notably, methanol is renowned for its role as an alternative fuel, effectively replacing fossil fuels:

1. Esterification Reaction:

Methanol reacts with carboxylic acids in the presence of an acid catalyst to form esters and water.

Application: Widely used in biodiesel production, this reaction converts vegetable oils or animal fats into fatty acid methyl esters (FAME). These FAMEs are essential components of biodiesel fuel, contributing to renewable energy sources and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

2. Oxidation Reaction: 

Methanol undergoes oxidation to produce formaldehyde (CH2O), which can further oxidize to formic acid (HCOOH) and eventually carbon dioxide (CO2) under more severe conditions.

Application: Formaldehyde serves as a key raw material in the manufacturing of resins, plastics, and various chemical intermediates. Formic acid finds use as a preservative, antibacterial agent, and in leather tanning processes.

3. Dehydration Reaction:

Methanol dehydrates in the presence of a dehydrating agent like concentrated sulfuric acid to form dimethyl ether (CH3OCH3) and water.

Application: Dimethyl ether is utilized as an alternative fuel for diesel engines due to its cleaner combustion properties. It’s also used in aerosol products as a propellant and in refrigeration systems as a refrigerant, contributing to reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved air quality.

4. Hydrolysis Reaction: 

Methanol undergoes hydrolysis in the presence of an acid or base catalyst to produce methane (CH4) and water.

Application: This reaction serves as the cornerstone for methane gas production. Methane is a versatile fuel utilized for heating, electricity generation, and industrial processes. Its utilization, including in methanol steam reforming for hydrogen production, aids in energy diversification and sustainability endeavours.


Methanol’s versatility stems from its unique physical and chemical properties. In modern science, It is now labelled as a promising solution for a sustainable future. Vinati Organics shares this vision, aiming to manifest the ideal of energy efficiency and eco-friendly practices in industries.

As a leading methanol alcohol manufacturer in India, we’re dedicated to using methanol’s versatility to drive positive change across various sectors. Feel free to contact us for details on methyl alcohol and our production methods.