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Author: Subject: Cheapest way to get methanol?
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[*] posted on 1-6-2020 at 17:50
Cheapest way to get methanol?

I was hoping someone had cheaper methods for an amateur chemist to get methanol?

I am also new to fermenting ethanol. I have been doing sugar washes which are supposed to minimize the methanol content. I have quite a few packets of Saccharomyces Cervesia left.

Would doing a different type of wash yield me both methanol and ethanol? Then I could simply separate the two via distillation.
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Syn the Sizer
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[*] posted on 1-6-2020 at 18:08

I really feel for those south of the boarder. In Canada we get 4L jugs of 99.9% pure for ~$10 at any local hardware store. I have heard Heet is almost pure methanol as long as you get the correct one.

[Edited on 2-6-2020 by Syn the Sizer]
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[*] posted on 1-6-2020 at 20:44

Quote: Originally posted by ThoughtsIControl  

Would doing a different type of wash yield me both methanol and ethanol? Then I could simply separate the two via distillation.

Ethanol is a by-product from the digestion of simple sugars by yeast, methanol is not. Methanol is removed from the pectin molecule by enzymes.
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draculic acid69
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[*] posted on 1-6-2020 at 22:03

So methanol isn't a fermentation product? I thought it was the product of pectin fermentation
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[*] posted on 1-6-2020 at 23:39

Sciencemadness Wiki articles list good, cheap sources for several compounds:

Methanol is a fermentation byproduct, especially that of pectin. But fermentation in the lab might give the contaminated alcohol with variable yields.

Good documentation is key to good chemistry and software alike.
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[*] posted on 2-6-2020 at 00:53

Fermentation produces negligible amounts of methanol, afaik even if the conditions are optimized. Fractioning moonshine with boka results in about 2-3dL of foreshots per 50 liters of wash, and it has stingy, fruity odor and even that contains only minor amounts of methanol.

Fermentation is a feasible method to produce *E*thanol by using high grade turbo yeast strains that can make up to 24% ABV washes. You'll need a good boka to make any good out of it in any reasonable time though, because the wash volumes go up quickly and fractioning EtOH even with 1000 by 50 mm boka at +10:1 reflux ratio to get it up to 95+ takes minimum an hour per L.

A much better way is to buy OTC solvents or car appliance products and distill them with proper additives to yield pure enough alcohols. I just recently purified 4L of EtOH with 40g/L of NaOH added. Since MeOH is not denatured, and if it's sold as pure, it does not need any processing.
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[*] posted on 2-6-2020 at 07:40

In the past when I produced my own ethanol with
reflux distillation of the mash, the methanol and
other nasties, such as acetone, would come over
in the "head" of the run well below the BP of ethanol.
This would not be worth your time and effort because
so little is produced.

Gave my Destilabs still to a friend. Picture of it.

Fortunately there are other options.

HEET gas antifreeze(99% methanol). Here's their MSDS.
Methanol is listed on the last page.

Attachment: HEET Gasline Antifreeze 007512.pdf (66kB)
This file has been downloaded 202 times

You can buy methanol from these people in Decatur, Alabama.

You can distill methanol from winter blend windshield
washing fluid. It's typically 30-35% methanol with
water. Methanol doesn't form an azeotrope with
water so distillation should be easy. BP of methanol is
64.7 C(148 F). Some of the MSDS sheets I've looked
at list only methanol and water as the ingredients.
Look for words POISON or POISONOUS or the classic
skull and crossbones symbol on the bottle.

Some paint thinners have methanol but I honestly
don't know what else is mixed in. May or may not
be worth your effort.

[Edited on 2020/6/2 by MadHatter]

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[*] posted on 2-6-2020 at 08:03

Cheapest? Buying it if it's available.
While you might be able to clone any industrial process on a small "home" scale, methanol production is usually done via syngas (CO, H2), which itself is derived from methane and water. These processes do involve higher temperatures or pressures, and some some specialized catalysts.
They are probably the cheapest route for producing it in large volumes, but the plant cost itself might be prohibitive if you just need some on a lab scale.
While you might be able to replicate this process on a miniature scale for a few hundred dollars or more, unless you already have all the equipment already to make it.
Yet I don't think most people working in a lab (home or otherwise) would need those volumes.

What are the options?
- Buying it.
Can be available pure or mixed with various additives. HEET in the US, and some windshield washers contain it.
Yet, it might be harder to find or acquire in some other locations.
- Hydrolyze some cheap esters.
Methyl esters are common in many compounds, natural and otherwise.
This won't ever be as cheap as buying it as the methyl group is likely to be only a fraction of the total mass of the compound you're hydrtolyzing
- Dry distill wood.
This seems to be the worst option, the methanol content in wood is quite low, it might be worthwhile to do on a very large scale, but mostly if you're interested in other components that would come out during destructive distillation more than just methanol.
- Synthethize it:
a) Industrial synth from syngas. High initial setup cost, cheap otherwise, not worth it for almost any home chemist.
There's a variety of high pressure synths besides the syngas one that start from methane and oxygen, but they were not considered economical, nor are they easier than the syngas approach (autoclave or other high pressure equipment needed)
b) Some clever one pot tricks like: Direct conversion of methane to methanol, chloromethane and dichloromethane at room temperature
Which is a bit similar to chlorinating methane under uv, and hydrolyzing it, but doing so electrochemically.
The actual startup cost is much smaller than the high pressure synths in a, but this still requires an uv lamp and some care.
c) Even more OTC clever tricks like: Preparation of methanol by electrolysis
Simply electrolyzing mixture of NaOH and AcOH, or maybe just sodium acetate (or acetic acid neutralized with NaOH or sodium carbonate or bicarbonate) using carbon electrodes.
One of the two carbons in acetic acid is wasted as CO2, but this really seems like the simplest, most OTC preparation of methanol if buying it is not available or if esters of methanol are too costly.
Pure, but diluted acetic acid is slightly more easily found here than methanol. If it wasn't available, making it from ethanol either by making vinegar and cleaning it after or by oxidizing ethanol in one or two steps to acetic acid using some catalyst and air or some oxidizer.

But does option c work? did anyone try it? The video link is dead, but the procedure seems very simple, so why not try it OP and let us know?
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Syn the Sizer
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[*] posted on 2-6-2020 at 08:07

Has anybody ever tried getting it from Canada? Is there a good reason it cannot be bought everywhere in the US like here? Is it illegal to posses large quantity's of methanol in the US? It truly is dirt cheap here and sold everywhere.

[Edited on 2-6-2020 by Syn the Sizer]
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[*] posted on 2-6-2020 at 10:30

In the US there's "HEET" gas line drier/antifreeze which is >95% methanol. There s a bit of xylene in it if I recall correctly.

Usual $3 for half a liter. Make sure to buy the yellow bottle the red ones are 2propanol.

I now have a YouTube channel. So far just electronics and basic High Voltage experimentation, but I'll hopefully have some chemistry videos soon.
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