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We will be buying methanol by a about 200 liters at a time, I was wondering what I should consider when storing it.

So far I know that it should be

  • in the shade
  • earthed with a copper stake
  • in a secondary plastic container
  • wash empty containers and drain them

But I am wondering what else should be considered? How far should it be away from a house?

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    $\begingroup$ It is quite toxic, so I would add good ventilation and very clear toxicity labels, as it tastes the same as ethanol. And explain to people working with it, what the concerns are. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Czech_Republic_methanol_poisonings $\endgroup$ – ssavec Mar 25 '15 at 10:49
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    $\begingroup$ Eh, there's something good to read here, if you felt bored anytime! $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Mar 25 '15 at 12:37
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    $\begingroup$ Methanol burns with a colorless flame , so if there is any chance, situation in your storage or handling that it may ignite you might want to consider infrared flame detectors and alarms as a precaution. $\endgroup$ – docscience Mar 25 '15 at 19:41
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One of the first places to look at for advice is the Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS, or just SDS). Make sure these are kept in a handy place and are up to date. These should be provided by the supplier (but are easy enough to get online).

A pertinent and thorough guide is produced by the aptly named Methanol Institute, the document is called Methanol Safe Handling Manual, the chapter Health and Safety, especially the Safety Precautions subchapter outlines the following:

  • Smoking must be prohibited.
  • Vehicle access should be strictly controlled.
  • Ventilation must be sufficient to cope with the maximum expected vapor levels in buildings.
  • Positive pressure may be required for methanol-free areas, such as control, switch, and smoking rooms.
  • Storage tank vents to atmosphere should be sized for fire-heated emergency vapor release.
  • Electrical equipment must be explosion-proof to meet national electrical code requirements.
  • Alcohol-resistant Aqueous Film-forming Foam (AR-AFFF) with 6% foam proportioning (with water) equipment is advised for use on methanol fires.
  • Dry chemical extinguishers should be accessible for small fires. An adequate supply of handheld and wheeled types should be available.
  • Hydrants should be strategically placed with adequate hoses.
  • Small spills should be remediated with sand, earth, or other non-combustible absorbent material, and the area then flushed with water. Larger spills should be diluted with water and diked for later disposal.
  • Lighting should be grounded. Tall vessels and structures should be fitted with lightning conductors that are securely grounded.

These kind of directives should be on signs that are easily read alongside hazard signage.

I would suggest having a readily accessed first aid kit and make a poster with first aid instructions, also included in the handbook - First Aid Measures

In terms of storage, the subchapter Methanol Storage, the handbook states that

In general, fire protection for gasoline tanks is sufficient for methanol tanks, provided extra precaution is made for leak detection, toxic hazard, and availability of alcohol-compatible fire suppression foam.

In terms of proximity to the house, I would consider storing these tanks as far as feasible from the house.

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When I read heading I thought it is general question for which 1 answer is okay. But when I read 200 litres I thought I will dig out a bit and write few more stuff.

I found few related question on Methanol Institute


What kinds of drums are recommended for methanol storage, only steel or are some plastics acceptable?

Well there is no Global Standards, but according to Methanol Institute following care should be taken.

  1. Mild steel is usually selected as the construction material for methanol storage containers.

    • If moisture and trace amounts of inorganic salts are expected to exist within the container from time to time, then one should consider upgrading from carbon steel to 316 L stainless steel, or even a titanium or molybdenum stabilized grade of 316 L stainless steel
  2. plastic storage containers are more susceptible to physical damage than metal ones (e.g., if dropped or hit by a forklift).

  3. Pure anhydrous methanol is mildly corrosive to lead and aluminum alloys, and more so to magnesium, and platinum. Methanol-water solutions can be corrosive to some non-ferrous alloys depending on application and environmental circumstances, including copper alloy, galvanized steel, and aluminum alloy components, and some plastics and composites.

What types of extinguishers should be used to put out small methanol fires?

Large methanol pool fires are best extinguished with Alcohol Resistant Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AR-AFFF) with 6% foam-water proportioning equipment.

accidents involving methanol spills, what is the recommended evacuation distance?

The 2008 edition of the Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG2008) recommends an immediate isolation distance of 150 feet (50 meters) in all directions.

What precautions are needed when welding or torch cutting tanks or containers that were used to store methanol?

It has the potential to catch fire when hot work such as, welding, brazing, soldering, cutting, heat treating, grinding, and using power-actuated tools, is performed near methanol sources. When mixed with air, methanol can burn in the open. Methanol spills may travel short distances (yards or meters) along the ground before reaching a point of ignition and flashing back. The hazards associated with hot work can be reduced by implementing an effective hot work program that includes prior work authorization, safe welding practices, and a fire watch.


I think you should read all the questions I have provided in the beginning of Answer

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    $\begingroup$ Nice answer! I think we've covered it all between our two answers. $\endgroup$ – user15489 May 30 '15 at 13:33

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