What Is the Lewis Structure of CH3OH?

The Lewis structure of CH3OH, or methanol, is a single-bonded chain of hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and hydrogen, with two additional hydrogen atoms bonded to the carbon atom. These single bonds account for all but four of the available electrons, which are in pairs above and below the oxygen nucleus. Methanol is the simplest of alcohols and builds on methane with the characteristic hydrogen-oxygen substation for one of the hydrogen atoms.

Methanol is wood alcohol and toxic to humans. In the human metabolism, the CH3 end of the molecule replaces two of the hydrogen atoms with one oxygen atom that double bonds to the carbon, creating formic acid. While formic acid is non-toxic in small amounts and an approved food additive, the amount formed from ingesting methanol is enough to affect the optic nerve, causing blindness unless medical professionals render an antidote quickly. Less than 1/3 ounce has the potential to cause blindness. Normally, three ounces is a fatal dose, but some victims die after ingesting just one ounce.

While it is possible to distill wood, peat and other organic substances to produce wood alcohol, manufacturers produce commercial quantities using a reaction of hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide in the presence of a catalyst. The reaction breaks the triple bonds between the carbon and oxygen to allow the addition of the four hydrogen atoms as shown in the Lewis structure.