Methylated Spirit is also known as Denatured Alcohol and comprises Ethanol with additives, chosen to make it undrinkable. Methylated Spirit is often deliberately coloured blue or mauve to alert individuals to its potential danger. Methylated Spirit is commonly referred to in the plural, i.e. Methylated Spirits. All these names refer to the same product.
The main household use of Methylated Spirit is for camping stoves and burners. It has a number of benefits in that it is inexpensive and can be transported without the need for special containers. It is also inexpensive. Some types of Methylated Spirit are produced in a jelly form and are dyed. These are intended to be ignited in the container itself and proprietary brands include 'Canned Heat'.
Other domestic uses of Methylated Spirits are as a cleaning product, to remove ink stains from clothes or fabric furniture, as a treatment for coldsores, to clean windows, as a scratch remover and for cleaning electronic equipment.
Industrial uses of Methylated Spirits are varied and include as a sanding aid, to exterminate mealybugs, as a solvent, and in the production of biodiesel fuel. Small amounts of Methylated Spirit are used in many products such as toothpaste and mouthwash. Carpenters, cabinet makers and joiners use Methylated Spirit to make shellac, which is a natural glaze for furniture
Medical uses of Methylated Spirit are based around it ability to disinfect skin and to remove fungal infections from the skin. Skin can be wiped with Methylated Spirit before an injection is given or prior to minor surgery. Sometimes skin wipes are already impregnated with Methylated Spirit and these are often available in sealed sachet form. Methylated Spirit is also used to preserve biological specimens.
In spite of measures taken to deter people from drinking the substance, Denatured Alcohol is sometimes consumed as an alternative to alcohol. This is an extremely dangerous practice which can result in blindness or death. Manufacturers often add Denatonium to Denatured Alcohol in order to give it an extremely bitter and unpleasant taste and to deter people from drinking it. Pyridine can also be added to Denatured Alcohol to give it an unpleasant odour.
Although Denatured Alcohol is relatively safe to use, Methylated Spirit is highly volatile and should not be poured into hot tanks or on hot surfaces such as stoves or griddles. Always wash your hands after handling Methylated Spirit. Store in properly vented containers and do not use plastic containers as Methylated Spirit can melt certain plastics. Keep away from children and animals and never store in washed out drinks containers. Always label containers properly.