Methylated spirit, or denatured alcohol, is a mixture of ethyl and methyl alcohols. Ethyl alcohol, commonly called ethanol or grain alcohol, is the alcohol found in adult beverages. It is a powerful and potentially addicting intoxicant but serves many other useful purposes. Methyl alcohol, also known as methanol or wood alcohol, is poisonous and renders ethyl alcohol undrinkable. Though not suitable for drinking, methylated spirit retains ethyl alcohol’s ability to perform other useful functions. Methylated spirit can be used to disinfect skin prior to injections and to disinfect medical instruments before minor medical procedures such as removing a splinter with tweezers or opening and draining a blister. Another type of denatured alcohol used for this purpose is rubbing alcohol, which is a mixture of ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol.
Methylated spirit is poisonous and should never be taken internally. Drinking can lead to severe illness, blindness, brain impairment, and death.
When first ingested methanol causes a range of adverse symptoms which include headaches, nausea, lack of coordination, depression, confusion, and unconsciousness. In large doses, methanol can cause death.