Difference Between Ethanol and Methanol

Main Difference

The main difference between ethanol and methanol is that ethanol stands for ethyl alcohol which means the carbon skeleton is made of two carbon atoms, whereas methanol stands for methyl alcohol means the carbon skeleton is made of one carbon atom only.

Ethanol vs. Methanol

Ethanol is the alcohol with an ethyl group having two carbon atoms in the carbon skeleton, whereas methanol is the alcohol with a methyl group having only one carbon atom in the carbon skeleton. Ethanol is a much weaker acid than water while methanol has acidity level slightly higher than that of water. As ethanol is the alcohol, so found in beverages; on the other hand, methanol is alcoholic but highly toxic and not suitable for consumption. Ethanol is generally produced by the method of fermentation of sugars by yeast; on the contrary, methanol is typically produced synthetically through catalysis from carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen. Ethanol can cause sleepiness and tiredness which get naturally balanced off by the natural body immune system; conversely, methanol can cause blindness even an amount less than half a teaspoon. Ethanol use as a vehicle fuel for internal-combustion engines, whereas methanol, served mainly as a subject of research and used as a motor fuel. Ethanol is a colorless liquid and extremely volatile with a burning, strong odor; on the flip side, methanol is also colorless and extremely volatile with a distinctive odor. Ethanol burns as a bright blue flame while methanol burns as a bright white flame.

Comparison Chart

EthanolMethanol
Ethanol is the alcohol with an ethyl group having two carbon atoms in the carbon skeleton.Methanol is the alcohol with a methyl group having only one carbon atom in the carbon skeleton.
Acidity
Weaker acid than waterAcidity level slightly higher than that of water
Alcoholic Beverages
It is the alcohol found in beveragesAlcoholic but highly toxic and not suitable for consumption
Mode of Production
Produces by the method of fermentation of sugars by yeastProduced synthetically through catalysis from carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen
Toxicity
Can cause sleepiness and tiredness which get naturally balanced off by the natural body immune systemAble to cause blindness even an amount less than half a teaspoon
Uses
As vehicle fuel for internal-combustion enginesServes mainly as a subject of research and used as a motor fuel
Physical Appearance
A colorless liquid and extremely volatile with a burning, strong odorAlso colorless and extremely volatile with a distinctive odor
Flame Color
Bright blue flameBright white flame

What is Ethanol?

Ethanol is the alcohol with an ethyl group having two carbon atoms in the carbon skeleton. Chemically ethanol is made by the linking of an ethyl group to a hydroxide group and therefore, forming a chemical formula CH3CH2OH. Ethanol is highly flammable and volatile. Ethanol completely mixes with water due to the formation of hydrogen bonds. Similarly, ethanol can combine with other alcohols as well. Also, ethanol is colorless liquid with a burning, strong chemical odor. Ethanol also acts as a weak acid apart from are other numerous reactions with other organic solvents. However, ethanol is a much weaker acid than water. In alcohol beverages, ethanol is the principal alcohol found in them produced by fermentation of sugars by yeast. Ethanol is used for mainly industrial purposes such as medicinal solvent, an antiseptic, for household heating, etc. Ethanol can cause sleepiness and tiredness which get naturally balanced off by the natural body immune system.

What is Methanol?

Methanol is the alcohol with a methyl group having only one carbon atom in the carbon skeleton. Chemically methanol is made by the linking of a methyl group to a hydroxide group forming a chemical formula CH3OH. Methanol is also known as ‘wood alcohol’ as it was once produced as a by-product through the distillation of woods. But today methanol is typically produced synthetically through catalysis from carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen. Methanol is highly flammable volatile and is the simplest alcohol found in the chemistry. Comparing with ethanol, it has a high acidity level slightly higher than that of water. Methanol is also colorless and extremely volatile with a distinctive odor. Methanol can form bonds with hydrogen in water and also with other alcohols making it possible to mix well with them. Methanol is highly toxic and able to cause blindness even an amount less than half a teaspoon. Methanol served mainly as a subject of research and used as a motor fuel. It is also the main solvent in a laboratory.

Key Differences

  1. Ethanol is the alcohol with an ethyl group having two carbon atoms in the carbon skeleton, whereas methanol is the alcohol with a methyl group having only one carbon atom in the carbon skeleton.
  2. Ethanol is a much weaker acid than water while methanol has acidity level slightly higher than that of water.
  3. As ethanol is the alcohol, so found in beverages; on the other hand, methanol is alcoholic but highly toxic and not suitable for consumption.
  4. Ethanol is generally produced by the method of fermentation of sugars by yeast; on the contrary, methanol is typically produced synthetically through catalysis from carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen.
  5. Ethanol can cause sleepiness and tiredness which get naturally balanced off by the natural body immune system; conversely, methanol can cause blindness even an amount less than half a teaspoon.
  6. Ethanol use as a vehicle fuel for internal-combustion engines, whereas methanol, served mainly as a subject of research and used as a motor fuel.
  7. Ethanol is a colorless liquid and extremely volatile with a burning, strong odor; on the flip side, methanol is also colorless and extremely volatile with a distinctive odor.
  8. Ethanol burns as a bright blue flame while methanol burns as a bright white flame.

Conclusion

Above discussion concludes that ethanol stands for ethyl alcohol, which means the carbon skeleton is made of two carbon atoms, whereas methanol stands for methyl alcohol means the carbon skeleton is made of one carbon atom only.

Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss

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