Ethanol and methanol may look similar but actually they are quite different. If we put methanol and ethanol in two different glasses, they will look the same. Methanol is a colorless volatile liquid with special odor and it burns to give a white (bright) flame. On the other hand, ethanol is also a colorless volatile liquid with strong and burning odor and also gives a white (bright) flame when burnt. This article deals with the uses of methanol and ethanol.
Uses of Methanol:
- Methanol can be used as a fuel. Methanol burns in air to give carbon dioxide and water.
2CH3OH + 3O2 \(\rightarrow\) 2CO2 + 4H2O
- Methanol is used as a useful fuel for stunt and racing cars as it is less inflammable and can be mixed with water.
- It is also used as a solvent.
- 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.
Uses of Ethanol:
- The alcohol that we drink is simply ethanol.
- It is also used as a fuel. It burns in air to give carbon dioxide and water and can be used in combination with gasoline (petrol).
CH3CH2OH + 3O2 \(\rightarrow\) 2CO2 + 3H2O
- Mixture of petrol and ethanol is defined as gasohol with 10-20% ethanol.
Reaction of methanol and ethanol with water: Methanol is soluble in water whereas ethanol is miscible in water. Methanol breaks down in the presence of water while ethanol forms a uniform mixture with water. This describes that the two substances can easily mix to make a homogeneous solution.
Disadvantages of ethanol and methanol in terms of physical effects: Methanol is very harmful for skin. It should never be inhaled or undigested as it can cause blindness whereas ethanol is an important ingredient in alcoholic drinks, resulting in intoxication.
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