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Methanol (HCHO)
Methanol is prepared by the controlled oxidation of methanol, using Chromic anhydride as an oxidising agent. It is manufactured also by the controlled oxidation of methanol with air at 600oC – 650oC in the presence of silver/molybdenum oxide as catalyst.
Methanol may be further oxidised to Methanoic acid if excess air is used.
Physical Properties
Methanol is a colourless gas. It is highly soluble in water. A 35% - 40% solution of methanol in water is called Formalin.
Chemical Properties
Take silver nitrate in a test tube. Add ammonium hydroxide solution to it. A black precipitate of silver oxide is formed. Again add ammonium hydroxide till the black oxide of silver oxide formed is redissolved in excess of ammonium hydroxide. Add few drops of formaldehyde to it. Warm it in a water bath. A shiny silver mirror is formed in the test tube.
Ammoniacal silver nitrate solution (Tollen’s reagent) is easily reduced to metallic silver by aldehydes. Methanoic acid (HCOOH) is formed by the oxidation of methanol (HCHO).
Map animation from Lab Experiments
Take aqeous copper (II) sulphate in a test tube. Add sodium hydroxide solution to it. Add this solution to methanol. Warm it in a water bath. What happens? A red precipitate is formed.
Methanol is reduced to methanol by treating it with hydrogen in the presence of finely divided palladium as a catalyst.
Addition of HCN
Methanol contains a double bond between carbon and oxygen atoms (C = O). As the compounds containing C = C bond undergo addition reactions, compounds containing C = O group also undergo addition reactions. Hydrogen cyanide (HCN) adds to a molecule of methanol and yields methanol cyanohydrin.
  1. Methanol is a strong disinfectant and hardens tissues. Due to this an aqueous solution of Methanol called formalin is used for preserving biological and anatomical specimens. The pungent smell in a biology laboratory is due to the formalin used for preserving specimens. Formalin is also used as an antiseptic in sterilising surgical instruments. 
  2. Methanol is used with phenol in the manufacture of bakelite plastic (which is used for making electrical switches, etc.) 
  3. Methanol is used with ammonia for producing urotropine (CH2)6N4 which is an important medicine for urinary ailments. 
  4. Methanol is used in the preparation of dyes. 
  5. Methanol is used for the manufacture of sole leather and for water-proofing fabrics.

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