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Nitromethane vs. Methyl Nitrite: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 5, 2024
Nitromethane is a chemical compound used as a fuel additive and solvent. Methyl Nitrite: A chemical compound used as an intermediate in organic synthesis.

Key Differences

Nitromethane is a chemical compound with the formula CH3NO2, characterized by its use as a high-energy fuel component in racing and as a solvent in industrial applications. Methyl nitrite, on the other hand, is a compound with the formula CH3ONO, used mainly as an intermediate in organic synthesis and is known for its volatile nature.
Chemically, nitromethane acts as a polar solvent and has a relatively high boiling point. In contrast, methyl nitrite is a gas at room temperature and is used for its properties as a methylating agent in various chemical reactions.
In terms of production, nitromethane is manufactured through the nitration of methane, making it available for commercial and industrial use. Methyl nitrite is typically produced through the reaction of methanol with nitrous acid, and its production is geared more towards specific chemical processes.
Nitromethane is known for its high energy output when burned, making it a popular choice for racing fuels, especially in drag racing. Methyl nitrite, while not used as a fuel, is important in organic chemistry for synthesis and research purposes.
Safety measures for handling nitromethane include proper storage and handling due to its flammable nature. Methyl nitrite requires careful handling as well due to its toxicity and potential for causing respiratory issues if inhaled.

Comparison Chart

Chemical Formula


Primary Use

Fuel additive, solvent
Intermediate in organic synthesis

Physical State

Liquid at room temperature
Gas at room temperature

Boiling Point

Relatively high
Low, easily vaporizes

Safety Measures

Flammable, handle with care
Toxic, avoid inhalation

Nitromethane and Methyl Nitrite Definitions


A high-energy fuel component used in racing.
Nitromethane is often added to fuel in drag racing for higher performance.

Methyl Nitrite

Used as an intermediate in organic synthesis.
Methyl nitrite is utilized in the synthesis of various pharmaceuticals.


Manufactured through the nitration of methane.
Commercial nitromethane production involves methane and nitric acid.

Methyl Nitrite

A gas at room temperature, used as a methylating agent.
In the lab, methyl nitrite is used for methylation reactions.


Known for its high energy output when burned.
The use of nitromethane allows for greater acceleration in race cars.

Methyl Nitrite

Produced through the reaction of methanol with nitrous acid.
The production of methyl nitrite involves careful control of reaction conditions.


Requires careful storage due to flammability.
Stored nitromethane must be kept away from heat sources.

Methyl Nitrite

Important in organic chemistry for research purposes.
Researchers use methyl nitrite to study reaction mechanisms.


A polar solvent with a high boiling point.
Nitromethane's solvent properties make it useful in industrial cleaning.

Methyl Nitrite

Toxic and requires careful handling.
Safety protocols are crucial when handling methyl nitrite due to its toxicity.


A colorless, oily liquid, CH3NO2, used in making dyes and resins, in organic synthesis, as a fuel in racecar engines, and as a rocket propellant.


(organic compound) The simplest nitroparaffin, CH3NO2; a colourless oily liquid used in organic synthesis, and as a fuel for rockets, racing cars and model aircraft.


A nitro derivative of methane (CH3.NO2), obtained as a mobile liquid; - called also nitrocarbol. It has been used as a rocket fuel and as a gasoline additive to add power to the fuel, especially in racing cars.


What is methyl nitrite?

A chemical used as an intermediate in organic synthesis.

Can nitromethane be used as a solvent?

Yes, it’s used as a polar solvent in industrial applications.

What is methyl nitrite used for in organic chemistry?

As a methylating agent in synthesis and research.

How is nitromethane used in racing?

As a high-energy fuel component for increased performance.

Is methyl nitrite a gas or liquid?

It's a gas at room temperature.

What is the boiling point of nitromethane?

It has a relatively high boiling point.

Is methyl nitrite used in fuel applications?

No, it’s primarily used in chemical synthesis.

What are the safety concerns with methyl nitrite?

It is toxic and can cause respiratory issues if inhaled.

How is methyl nitrite produced?

By reacting methanol with nitrous acid.

What is nitromethane?

A chemical compound used as a racing fuel and solvent.

How is nitromethane produced?

Through the nitration of methane.

What industries use nitromethane?

Mainly in racing and industrial cleaning.

Is methyl nitrite safe to inhale?

No, it’s toxic and can cause respiratory issues.

How does nitromethane enhance racing performance?

By providing a greater acceleration and energy release.

Is nitromethane flammable?

Yes, it's highly flammable.

Can nitromethane be used in regular cars?

No, it's specifically formulated for high-performance racing engines.

What makes nitromethane a high-energy fuel?

Its chemical structure allows for a high energy output when burned.

Can methyl nitrite be stored at room temperature?

It needs to be stored under controlled conditions to prevent vaporization.

Can methyl nitrite be used as a solvent?

It’s not typically used as a solvent due to its gaseous state and toxicity.

What precautions are needed when handling nitromethane?

Proper storage and handling due to its flammable nature.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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