Meths, Metho, Methylated Spirit or Denatured Alcohol, it’s all the same stuff and you may well have a bottle of it hiding in the shed at home (which is a good place for it because it’s flammable). Methylated Spirit is 90% Ethanol and 10% Methanol.
But what’s so special about it? Ethanol, made by fermenting sugar, is completely biodegradable and when burned produces only carbon dioxide and water, and is drinkable. Methanol, on the other hand is a toxic alcohol derived from wood products and is added to the Ethanol to make Metho. That of course makes it undrinkable, forcing drinkers to buy their alcohol via the normal route and thereby pay their taxes. Hmmn.
Throughout the years of Prohibition in the United States, tens of thousands suffered blindness, paralysis or death because of the Methanol added to Meths. Good enough reason not to drink the stuff? Apparently not; it’s proven necessary to add other substances to make it really unpalatable such as Spirit of Ipecac which causes vomiting (nice).
All very interesting, but none of it explains exactly why I spend my money on it. Ok, so what do you clean your toilet surfaces with? Does it have a colour to it? How about a perfume? No doubt it contains an antibacterial agent? How much do you spend on toilet cleaners every year? Did you know that the perfume and colour added to cleaning products can leave a residue that, once the anti-bacterial effect has worn off actually provides a great breeding ground for bacteria? In contrast, methylated spirit kills bacteria and evaporates very quickly leaving no residue. See where I’m getting to?
I dilute methylated spirit with 30% water to make a spray that thoroughly cleans and sterilizes the toilet, door handles, light switches etc, particularly when there’s sickness about. It’s also brilliant at cleaning glass, removing ink stains (apparently, haven’t tried it), making your mouth feel like it’s about to explode (mouthwash), cleaning computer screens and keyboards (yes, honestly), disinfecting the skin before an injection or operation (!), cleaning timber floors (yep), preserving biological specimens, treating cold sores and assisting in the production of biodiesel fuel.
But I only like it because it cleans my toilet thoroughly, saves me money (once diluted by 30% it’s about half the price of commercial cleaners) and leaves my windows looking good (but keep it away from heat and naked flames). Now, time for a nice glass of wine…