Methylated spirits, also known as metho, is basically a mixture of 95% ethyl alcohol and 5% methyl alcohol. One primary use of ethyl alcohol or ethanol is consumption in alcoholic beverage. Methyl alcohol or methanol, on the other hand, is considered toxic or poisonous. Thus, the mixture is identified as “methylated” to warn people to the hazards linked with methanol ingestion. The substance is also highly flammable. Another thing to consider is that its flame is clear, almost invisible in normal daylight conditions.
Because of some properties of this alcohol mixture that can be harmful or that can cause accidents, it is important to keep in mind certain safety measures that should be taken when storing or using the substance. Moreover, it is quite bothering to know that even though it has a poisonous characteristic, there are still people that consume metho, which can lead to blindness or even death.
Here are some helpful tips when storing or using metho:
One thing that should be taken into consideration is to keep its container tightly closed to avoid spillage as well as inhalation of the substance. Another thing is to keep it away from sources of ignition. As mentioned, metho is highly flammable. The areas where it is used and stored should be “No Smoking” areas. It is also not advisable to store it in the kitchen as heat and sparks in kitchens, including electrical and heating equipment, are potential sources of ignition.
With regards to refilling a metho burner, wait until the burner is cool enough to touch. This is one way to avoid accidentally igniting the fuel bottle. Also, it is common sense not to store the substance in a container that you later intend to use to hold drinking water as you will not be able to get rid of the foul taste.
When handling metho, make sure it does not make any contact with your eyes and skin; it is strongly advised that you wear suitable protective clothing and glove. Moreover, to avoid taking metho for another substance, make sure that you label the bottle that contains it.
There are cases, though, when accidents just happen. Thus, it would be very helpful if you know some first aid measures that you can take with regards to methylated spirits-related accidents.
If someone or you yourself inhale the alcohol, go to a place with fresh air and rest. If you do not find any improvement, obtain medical attention. In case of eye contact, irrigate the contaminated eye with water for at least 15 minutes. Be careful not to wash the chemical from one eye to another. If irritation does persist, seek medical attention. With regards to ingestion, do not induce vomiting. Give the victim plenty of water to drink. Watch out for aspiration if vomiting occurs. Also, immediately seek medical attention.
It is true that this kind of alcohol has many different uses. It is used as a cooking fuel and it is a handy solvent for cleaning applications such as removing water-based paints as well as stains. It can also be helpful in eradicating mealybug. In the painting industry, it is used as a solvent for shellac in knotting, spirit varnishes, and French polish. But, as much as it can be of use in many different ways, it would not hurt a bit if we know how to use it in a responsible manner. It is not that we are always anticipating accidents to take place, but it would also come in handy if we know the right things we need to do just in case accidents happen.