Difference Between Ethanol and Methanol

Ethanol and methanol are just two kinds of alcohols. Ethanol, that is also known as ethyl alcohol falls with the chemical structure with two carbon atoms. While methanol, also known as methyl alcohol is composed of only one carbon atom. Ethanol is usually produced by combining an ethyl group

CH3CH2 to a hydroxyl group (-OH).

Its formula is given as CH3CH2OH

Methanol is prepared by combining a methyl group

CH3 to a hydroxyl group (-OH). It is represented as CH3OH

While the carbon number is the main difference between ethanol and methanol, these two feature some similarities. They both sound similar and are colorless liquids. So, they can be confused easily. However, methanol and ethanol are different types of alcohol or chemicals. They do have other different properties as well as uses.

Differences between Ethanol and Methanol

Now that we know a bit about the two alcohols, let’s dive into the differences between ethanol and methanol.

Difference between Ethanol and Methanol
Ethanol is a type of alcohol with its carbon skeleton consisting of an ethyl group. Methanol consists of in its carbon bond methyl group.
Ethanol is a poor acid compared with water, in terms of acidity. Methanol is higher acidic than water
Ethanol has a heavy, burning smell and emits bright blue flame. Methanol is unpredictable and has a characteristic odour. When burning it gives off light white flame.
Ethanol is typically prepared by the fermentation of food crops from factories. Methanol is manufactured mainly by synthetic processes.
Ethanol is the primary ingredient of alcoholic beverages. Since methanol is highly poisonous it is not appropriate for use at all. Generally used in the manufacturing of products such as formaldehyde etc.

These are some of the differences between ethanol and methanol. To know more about alcohols or important differences between similar products and other chemistry topics, you can keep visiting BYJU’S or download our app for interesting content and learning experience.

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Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs


Name a test that can be used to distinguish ethanol from methanol?

Iodoform test is used to distinguish ethanol from methanol.


Is methanol toxic?

Yes, methanol is toxic. It can cause permanent blindness, central nervous system poisoning, coma, and even death if ingested more than 10g in quantity.


Is ethanol toxic?

Yes, ethanol is toxic. It can cause liver damage, central nervous system breakage, coma and even death if ingested in large quantity. However, ethanol is commonly used in alcohols.


What is denatured alcohol?

Denatured alcohol is ethanol with additives to make it poisonous, bad-tasting, foul-smelling, or nauseating to discourage its recreational consumption. Pyridine and methanol are added to ethanol to denature it.


What are the similarities between ethanol and methanol?

Ethanol and methanol are just two kinds of alcohol. Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol, falls within the chemical structure of two carbon atoms. While methanol, also known as methyl alcohol, is composed of only one carbon atom.

Related Links:

Identification and Conversion of Alcohols Physical and Chemical Properties of Alcohols
Alcohol Hydroxyl group Uses of Methanol and Ethanol in Everyday Life


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