What is Methanol?
Methanol is alcohol and an organic compound usually made by oxidizing methane. Methanol is colorless and has a noticeable alcoholic smell to it, similar to ethanol. Sometimes methanol is called “wood alcohol” or “methyl alcohol”. It is also the simplest alcohol within the paraffin series. As alcohol methanol is both flammable and volatile. However, unlike ethanol, methanol is considered poisonous for human consumption. Despite this, incredibly small amounts of methanol naturally occur in fruits and vegetables that contain pectin, including tomatoes and spinach. It does no harm to humans in these small quantities because the methanol is bound to the pectin present in the product and as a result, it cannot be absorbed into the body.
What is Methanol Used For?
Methanol has many uses. Sometimes methanol is used to create other chemicals like acetic acid. It is also used in the production of antifreeze and can be found in windshield washer fluid and natural gas pipelines. It’s beneficial because it lowers the freezing point of water and increases its boiling point. Methanol is also used as a fuel.
It also has uses as a solvent. Its uses are mostly industrial and it is often applied to the creation of adhesives, dyes, and inks. However, it is also used in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products like vitamins and hormones.
Why is Methanol a Good Solvent for Extraction?
Methanol is a good solvent for extraction primarily because of its boiling point. Methanol’s boiling point is around 148.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to its boiling point, which is lower than ethanol’s at 165.9, less heat is needed to produce an extract when the methanol is evaporated. The resulting extract is, therefore, less likely to be damaged by excessive heat.
Methanol is also an organic solvent and can be used in the removal of flavonoids from plant matter. One study happened to find that methanol was the best solvent for extracting the bioactive compounds from the branches of the box-orange tree.
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