Home >> New International Encyclopedia, Volume 13 >> Meleager to Mexican War >> Methyl Alcohol

Methyl Alcohol

acid, spirit and acetone

METHYL ALCOHOL, Wool) ALCOHOL, or PittoXYLW SPIRIT, A colorless liquid having a peculiar aromatic odor. It boils at a lower temperature than ordinary alcohol, and, like the latter, mixes with water in ali propor tion.. It is largely used in the manufacture of varnishes and for the preparation of 'methylated spirit' (q.v.). _Methyl alcohol is one of the products obtained when wood is heated in retorts, out of contact with the air. It is contained in the aqueous portion of the distillate. mixed with pyroligneous (crude acetic) acid, ammonia, acetone, etc. To separate the acid, the mixture is neutralized with slaked lime and distilled, the acid then remaining fixed as calcium acetate. Ammonia may be eliminated in a similar man ner, by adding sulphuric acid and distilling. Further, to separate the alcohol from acetone (which is especially objectionable if the alcohol is to be used in the manufacture of aniline oxalic acid may be added to the mixture and a gentle heat applied. ...Methyl alcohol acts like a weak base; when brought in contact with oxalic acid it forms the crystalline solid substance called methyl oxalate, while acetone does not react with oxalic acid, and remains in solution.

After separating the solid methyl oxalate from the remaining liquid, methyl alcohol may be re obtained from it by dissolving it in potash and distilling. Finally. the alcohol may he freed from water and any remaining impurity by recti fying it over quieklime. An excellent way to obtain pure methyl alcohol from commercial wood spirit. is to add to the latter about one tenth of its weight of iodine and just enough eaustie soda to deeolorize the . to distill off the lbinid. and dehydrate the distillate by means of quicklime. All the ordinary impurities of wood spirit, including ethyl alcohol. acetone. aldehyde. et e.. are thus converted. by the iodine and caustic soda, into indnform. which remains behind when the mixture is subjeeted to distilla tion. To eliminate the odor of indoform in the distillate. a little silver nitrate may be added, and the solution redistilled.