How to Make Methanol

Make homemade fuel with canola oil, methanol, and lye.
••• Saving fuel image by Katja Sucker from

Methanol, or wood alcohol, is a clean burning fuel additive, as well as an effective solvent. It is extremely flammable, so great care should be taken in making this substance.

    A distillery unit, or still, will be needed to hold the wood that you will be using to extract the methanol from. It should resemble the stills used to make liquor. It should be a closed system, with a place to insert wood and then be completely closed, with a pipe to catch the condensed vapor and transport it to a separate container.

    Put the wood in the unit. The wood can be chunked or shaved, but the smaller the pieces of wood, the easier the methanol will be extracted from it. You will need to heat the unit, usually by open flame. This will superheat the wood inside, keeping it shielded from the actual flame, and so reducing the possibility of combustion.

    The methanol will vaporize and rise up to the top of the still, where the cooler air will begin the condensation process. The condensed, liquid, methanol will run down the pipe and into the separate containment unit.

    Things You'll Need

    • A still (a completely close-able metal unit that can be heated, and vapor distilled)
    • Wood


    • Methanol can be used to make bio diesel, as well as be an additive to regular gasoline.


    • This is extremely dangerous stuff. Any opening in this system anywhere near the flame used to heat the still, may result in an explosion. This experiment is not recommended for non-professionals.

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