How does methanol lead to blindness?
As little as 10 mL of pure methanol when drunk is metabolized into formic acid, which can cause permanent blindness by destruction of the optic nerve. 15 mL is potentially fatal. Although the median lethal dose is typically 100 mL (3.4 fl oz) (i.e. 1–2 mL/kg body weight of pure methanol).
Today the most common cause of blindness from drinking is methanol. Methanol, otherwise known as methyl alcohol or wood alcohol, can damage the optic nerve and even kill you in high concentrations. During Prohibition, bootleggers were known to sell moonshine that contained methanol, and the practice continues abroad.
- Methanol is the simplest form of alcohol. It is closely related to ethanol, the type of alcohol normally found in beer, wine and spirits – but much more toxic. The potential for its presence in drinks made from home-distilled spirits is a serious health risk.
- Methanol is extremely toxic to humans if ingested or if vapors are inhaled. Direct exposure to methanol should be avoided, as methanol can be harmful if swallowed, absorbed through the skin, or inhaled. Methanol can also degrease the skin, which may cause dermatitis.
- Making homemade wine isn't dangerous in the life-or-death sense, unlike making moonshine, where a mistake can cause blindness. The wine-making process creates an environment inhospitable to bacteria that could cause sickness.
As little as 10 mL of pure methanol can cause permanent blindness by destruction of the optic nerve. Thirty mL is potentially fatal. First, methanol can be fatal due to its CNS depressant properties in the same manner as ethanol poisoning.
- Methanol is used as a useful fuel for stunt and racing cars as it is less inflammable and can be mixed with water. Methanol is also used to make other chemicals such as formaldehyde. Being a polar liquid at room temperature, it is used as antifreeze and a denaturant for ethanol.
- Containing one carbon atom, methanol is the simplest alcohol. It is a colorless, tasteless liquid and is commonly known as “wood alcohol.” Stranded gas can be monetized by producing chemical (or fuel grade) methanol and transporting it to the market.
- Methoxide ( C H X 3 O X − ) is the conjugate base of methanol. Methanol is very weak acid (e.g. its dissociation constant is very small), so its conjugated base is very strong.
Methanol has a quick and profound effect on the body. Once ingested, the body changes methanol into formaldehyde and formic acid. Formic acid begins to build up in your body, and when it does, it does serious damage to your central nervous system.
- Today the most common cause of blindness from drinking is methanol. Methanol, otherwise known as methyl alcohol or wood alcohol, can damage the optic nerve and even kill you in high concentrations. During Prohibition, bootleggers were known to sell moonshine that contained methanol, and the practice continues abroad.
- Drums, totes, and cans are transported, stored, and handled by the vast majority of methanol users. Plastic containers are not recommended for long-time storage or shipment of methanol because the solvent properties of methanol may degrade the plastic, causing the containers to lose structural integrity.
- Methanol is an alternative fuel for internal combustion and other engines, either in combination with gasoline or directly ("neat"). It is used in racing cars in many countries. In the U.S., methanol fuel has received less attention than ethanol fuel as an alternative to petroleum-based fuels.
Updated: 3rd October 2019