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In England in 1661, Irish chemist Robert Boyle discovered methanol as a byproduct of the distillation of wood, hence the archaic names, spirit of wood and wood alcohol.
Methanol is a clear, flammable, and toxic liquid that can cause blindness if repeatedly inhaled. Consumption (>2 Tbsp) can be fatal, but the body can metabolize small amounts.
Methanol is prepared by the catalytic combination reaction of carbon monoxide and hydrogen gases under high pressures. It is used in fuel mixtures to stretch the life of gasoline, in addition to its use in windshield washer fluid (50% MeOH) and paint strippers.
Also methanol is used as industrial solvent in manufacture of streptomycin, vitamins, hormones, polymers and plastics.
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