Difference Wiki

Wood Alcohol vs. Grain Alcohol: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 26, 2023
Wood alcohol, also known as methanol, is toxic and used industrially, while grain alcohol, or ethanol, is safe for consumption and found in beverages.

Key Differences

Wood alcohol, derived from distilling wood, is primarily methanol, a toxic substance. Grain alcohol, produced by fermenting grains, is ethanol, which is safe for consumption in moderation.
Wood alcohol is used in industrial and automotive applications, such as antifreeze and fuel. In contrast, grain alcohol is used in alcoholic beverages, culinary extracts, and as a disinfectant.
Wood alcohol is highly toxic, causing blindness and even death if ingested. Grain alcohol, while intoxicating, is not toxic in small amounts and is a common component in alcoholic drinks.
The chemical structure of wood alcohol (CH3OH) differs from that of grain alcohol (C2H5OH), leading to different physical and chemical properties.
Wood alcohol is regulated as a hazardous substance, with strict handling and exposure guidelines. Grain alcohol is regulated as a food product, subject to food safety and labeling laws.

Comparison Chart

Primary Component



Industrial, automotive
Beverages, culinary, medical


Highly toxic (blindness, death)
Intoxicating but not toxic

Chemical Formula



Wood distillation
Grain fermentation

Regulatory Classification

Hazardous substance
Food product

Wood Alcohol and Grain Alcohol Definitions

Wood Alcohol

Wood alcohol is a simple form of alcohol used in industrial settings.
The chemical industry often utilizes wood alcohol for its solvent properties.

Grain Alcohol

Grain alcohol is safe for consumption and used in culinary applications.
Vanilla extract is made using grain alcohol.

Wood Alcohol

Wood alcohol is characterized by its high toxicity to humans and animals.
Accidental ingestion of wood alcohol can lead to severe poisoning.

Grain Alcohol

Grain alcohol can be used as a disinfectant and cleaner.
She used grain alcohol to sanitize her kitchen surfaces.

Wood Alcohol

Wood alcohol, also known as methanol, is used in automotive applications.
Wood alcohol is a common ingredient in windshield washer fluid.

Grain Alcohol

Grain alcohol, or ethanol, is found in alcoholic beverages.
Many cocktails are made with grain alcohol as the primary ingredient.

Wood Alcohol

Wood alcohol is not suitable for consumption due to its poisonous nature.
The label warned against the consumption of products containing wood alcohol.

Grain Alcohol

Grain alcohol is regulated as a consumable alcohol.
The distillery produces grain alcohol for use in various spirits.

Wood Alcohol

Wood alcohol is a toxic, industrial chemical derived from wood.
The factory used wood alcohol as a solvent in its manufacturing process.

Grain Alcohol

Grain alcohol is a potable alcohol made by fermenting grains.
Grain alcohol is often used in making homemade liqueurs.

Wood Alcohol

Alternative spelling of wood alcohol


What are the uses of wood alcohol?

It's used in solvents, antifreeze, and fuel.

How is wood alcohol produced?

By distilling wood.

What is the chemical formula of wood alcohol?


What is grain alcohol?

An edible form of alcohol made from fermenting grains.

Can grain alcohol be used in beverages?

Yes, it's common in alcoholic drinks.

What is wood alcohol?

A toxic chemical derived from wood, mainly used industrially.

Is wood alcohol safe to drink?

No, it's highly toxic and can cause serious harm if ingested.

How is grain alcohol made?

By fermenting grains like corn, barley, or wheat.

What distinguishes wood alcohol from grain alcohol?

Their source, use, and toxicity.

What is the chemical formula of grain alcohol?


What happens if you ingest wood alcohol?

It can cause blindness and is potentially fatal.

Is grain alcohol used in cleaning products?

Yes, it's used as a disinfectant and cleaner.

Are there any safe uses for wood alcohol?

Only in industrial applications under strict safety guidelines.

Can grain alcohol be used medically?

Yes, as a disinfectant and in some medicinal tinctures.

Can grain alcohol be made at home?

Technically yes, but it requires proper equipment and knowledge.

Is wood alcohol regulated?

Yes, as a hazardous substance.

Is grain alcohol the same as vodka?

Vodka is a type of grain alcohol, but not all grain alcohol is vodka.

Is wood alcohol found in any consumer products?

Yes, but only in non-consumable products like solvents and antifreeze.

Can wood alcohol be used in food production?

No, due to its toxicity.

What is the alcohol content in grain alcohol?

It varies, but it can be very high, up to 95% in some forms.
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.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons