Methanol is not highly toxic,
a mere 30 to 100 cc. can be lethal if ingested. It is less dangerous
than gasoline if inhaled,** and far less toxic than the two
popular household cleaning fluids, trichloroethylene and carbon
tetrachloride. If it came into general use, its chief hazards
would be controlled by label warnings (not mentioning the word
alcohol) and not siphoning fuel by mouth, as is sometimes done
in emergencies with gasoline.
** It is not known exactly how much, or at what concentrations, methanol
can be inhaled without harm. In any case, methanol should only
be handled by an Adult and only in well ventilated areas.
Another unsuspected hazard is that of carrying a leaking can in
an automobile. Being odorless, the leaking vapor might not be
detected in time to avoid considerable inhalation and to avert
tragedy. Methanol fuel for RC cars is usually pink in color.
There are several advantages to using methanol.
A car operated with unleaded gasoline sometimes knocks badly on acceleration.
But when a gallon of methanol is added to nine gallons of gasoline in the tank,
the knocking disappears. That means increased power, which usually translates
into increased mileage. Whether mileage increases 2 percent or 5 percent is
not so significant as the 10 percent reduction in petroleum consumption. (
e85.Whipnet.net does not suggest you add Methanol to any fuel tank, at any
with Volkswagens indicate that methanol-gasoline blends lowered exhaust emissions
significantly. With 100 percent methanol, gradual additions of water brought
reductions in nitrogen oxides and up to 40 percent fewer aldehydes, another
One possible complaint against methanol as
a blender that arose in the 1930's, was that methanol was corrosive
to certain materials in a car's fuel system. At the same time,
carburetor floats made of cork, and gaskets sealed with shellac,
were easy game for alcohol. Present metal floats and synthetic
cements resist the solvent action of alcohol. Carburetor parts
are made of zinc die castings, sometimes aluminum. The impurities
in those early day metals were conducive to "inter-granular
crystallization" as a result of aging. This crumbing destruction could
be accelerated by the presence of alcohol and water, but the problem
no longer exists in todays version of those metals. Lead, tin
and magnesium are attacked by methanol, but there should be no
opportunity of exposure to these metals in the combustion zones
of an engine. Iron and steel are quite immune, as are brass and bronze.
Users of pure methanol found an
unsuspected cause of trouble in the gasoline tank, which traditionally
has been made of "terne plate," a favorite roofing material of
Victorian architects. It is steel sheet coated with lead, making
it ideal for resisting rust from water in gas tanks. Methanol
reacts with lead, slowly but surely, forming a flaky sludge that
plugs filters in the fuel system. The easiest solution is to inspect
and clean the filters every few days while using methanol fuel.
The lead should all be eliminated within a couple of weeks of