METH'YL is an organic radical homologous with ethyl (q.v.), being the lowest term in the series C.H. n in this case being equal to.2. Its formula is C2Hs ; but in its free state, two atoms unite to form a single molecule, so that free methyl is mom accu rately represented by (Calls), It is a colorless gas, of specific gravity 1.036; it burns with a very feeble bluish flame, and is not liquefied at a temperature of 0°. It is obtained hy acting upon iodide of methyl with zinc, in the same manner as in the preparation of ethyl.
Like ethyl, it forms a very numerous class of compounds, of which the following are the most important: Hydride of methyl (C,IL,H), known as light carbureted hydrogen (q.v.), marsh-gas, and fire-damp, may be obtained either naturally or artificially. As a natural product, it sometimes issues from fissures in coal-seams, rushing forth as if un der high pressure. These discharges of this gas are termed "Blowers " by the miners, and it is by the combustion of this bre-damp that the terrific explosions which occasionally take place in coal-pits are caused. For its combustion, twice its voltune of oxygen (and consequently ten times its volume of air) is required: the resulting compounds being one volume of carbonic acid and two of steam. The vitiated air thus produced, which is ut terly unfit for respiration, is known as the after-damp or choke-damp, and is as much dreadee as the explosion itself. Hydride of methyl is also one of the gaseous exhalations from marshes and stagnant pools; and the bubbles that rise to the surface when the mud at the bottom of a pond is stirred up, consist chiefly of this gas. It may be prepared ar tificially by strongly heating a mixture of crystallized acetate of soda, hydrate of potash, and powdered quicklime. It is a colorless, inodorous, tasteless gas, which may be breathed without apparent injury if well diluted with air. Hydrated oxide of methyl (C2H30,110), known also as methylk alcohol, wood spirit, and proxylic spirit (under which title its properties are described), is the strict homologue of vinous or ethylic alcohol (C411b0,H0). Oxide of methyl (021330), or methylic ether, corresponds to the ordinary, or, correctly speaking, the ethylic ether, and, like the latter, is produced by the distilla tion of a, mixture of methylic alcohol and sulphuric acid. Oxide of methyl, like oxide
of ethyl, combines with acids to form a class of ethereal salts, or compound ethers, as they are termed by some chemists—as, for example: Acetate of methyl (or methyl-acetic ether), C,1130,0,11,;03; butyiitte of methyl (or methyl-butyric ether)) C.1130;CJI,O,;.
nitrate of methyl (or methyl-nitric ether), C21130,NO; salicylate of methyl (or methyl salicylic ether), C21130,Ci4HSO5. The last-named compound nifty not only be obtained by distillinff a mixture of pyroxylic spirit with salicylic and sulphuric acids, but occurs reaey formed in the vegetable kingdom, constituting the essential oil procured from the betula lenta, a species of birch, and from the gaultheria procumbens, or winter green.
Methyl may be made to enter into combination with bromine, iodine, chlorine, and flu orine, the bromide and iodide of methyl being colorless fluids, and the chloride and fluoride colorless gases. Amongst the most interesting of the numerous methyl compounds must be mentioned the artificial bases or alkalies, which can be obtained from ammonia by the substitution of one, two, or three equivalents of methyl for one, two, or three of the equivalents of hydrogen contained in the ammonia.
If only one equivalent of hydrogen is replaced by methyl, the resulting compound is N112(C21-13) or C21LN, an extremely alkaline gas known as methylamine, or methylia, which is more soluble in water than any other known gas; water at 55° dissolving 1150 times its bulk. It is a frequent product of the destructive distillation of nitrogenous substances; and it is present when many natural alkaloids, such as narcotine and mor phia, are distilled with caustic potash. The product resulting from the substitution of two equivalents of methyl for two of hydrogen, and known as dimethylamine, closely resembles methylamine. When the three equivalents of hydrogen are replaced by three of methyl, the resulting compound is N(C2113), or C6II2N, a colorless gas, which is known as trimethylamine, or trimethylia, and has a disagreeable fishy odor. It occurs in large quantity in herring-brine, and has been detected in the spirit in which anatomical preparations have been long kept. It is also found in chenopodium vulvaria (stinking goose-foot), in the flowers of cratcegus oxyaxantka (common hawthorn), and in ergot of rYe.