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Is there a danger with methanol?

Discussion in 'Science' started by TracyLC, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. I'm the only chemistry NQT at a school that didn't have a chemistry teacher for several years before me. One of my alevel practicals calls for methanol and the hod has said that we cannot have it following the accident that happened with it at that school last year.
    As far as I can tell it is no more dangerous that enthanol (which we do have) but is there anyone more experienced who could advise me?
    Thanks
     
  2. I'm the only chemistry NQT at a school that didn't have a chemistry teacher for several years before me. One of my alevel practicals calls for methanol and the hod has said that we cannot have it following the accident that happened with it at that school last year.
    As far as I can tell it is no more dangerous that enthanol (which we do have) but is there anyone more experienced who could advise me?
    Thanks
     
  3. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    We use IMS (industrial methylated spirits) as it's much cheaper than ethanol. If in doubt phone the CLEAPSS helpline and they'll advise you.
     
  4. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Methanol is much more toxic than ethanol. Skull and crossbones job!
    In terms of flammability, explosiveness I would agree that it's not significantly different to ethanol (and most hydrocarbons).
    I would consider a ban just becausethere was a mishap somewhere else as an over reaction. Do that for all chemicals that have caused accidents and your practical work would be a bit limited!
    I would advise a discussion with your hod, where you convince him / her that you have fully taken on board the risks of methanol and have a clear safe handling strategy in place backed by CLEAPSS. part of A level chemistry is learning how to use dangerous chemicals safely.
    Best wishes
    P


     
  5. I beleive that methanol has been responsible for explosion accidents when used in spirit burners. It is significantly different to ethanol (IMS). If burning in lab I would really use a fume cupboard because of toxicity. Although it can be used, my chem head won't use it, even for A level student practicals.
    Look at your Hazcards or call CLEAPSS if your school is a member and make sure you have a risk assessment in place.
     
  6. What is the practical?

    Depending on the practical you might only need a few cm3 - in which case your HoD should see sense.

    Does it really need to me methanol? Could another alcohol substitute?

    Let us know what the practical you need it for is and you might get more specific advice

    I'm Head of Chemistry - we hold a stock of methanol but use it very infrequently - probably most common use is in making esters (small scale).
     
  7. it was just making esters for alevel students - there's only 5 of them.
     
  8. sci

    sci New commenter

    methanol can get through skin - they will need gloves. It does livers a power of no good and potentially causes blindness. Use CLEAPSEguidelines. Ultimately it is not banned by CLEAPSE. Hope this helps. Sci
     

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