Several additives keep the windshield washer fluid from freezing. Still, the main ingredient is methanol that combines with water, colored ink, and occasionally some form of detergent to make the windshield washer fluid.
Pure methanol is a hydrocarbon derived from natural gas that is easy to combine with water and into a homogenous mixture. Methanol won’t freeze until the temperature drops to -143.7 degrees Fahrenheit, that is, -97.6 degrees Celcius. Therefore, methanol has become the most preferred de-icing additive for the windshield wiper fluid.
The concentration of methanol in windshield washer fluid
The concentration of methanol can be lesser in warmer winters. For example, to manage warmer winters 7% methanol is added to keep the fluid in liquid form. Generally, it is approximately 20-25% of methanol added to keep the fluid from freezing at the temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit, that is, -18 degrees Celcius. Several other concentrations can help keep up with the harsh weather in the county.
Such a simple concentration value and a low price of methanol, people are making their wiper fluid at home. But the catch is that methanol is a dangerous substance, and one should handle it very carefully. It auto ignites and is highly flammable.
Pro Tip – If you happen to start a methanol fire, to put it out, use alcohol-resistant foam and dry chemical extinguishing.
Methanol is also highly toxic to humans, and that is an add on to the explosive properties of the substance. If you happen to consume as little as 10 ml of pure methanol, you can get permanently blind, and 30 ml of the substance can result in death.
If methanol comes into contact with the skin, remove any contaminated clothing, and then wash the affected skin with any soap and water for 15 minutes. If methanol comes into contact with the eyes, flush with lukewarm water for 15 minutes and then seek qualified medical help. If ingested, seek immediate medical attention and don’t induce vomiting.
Inhaling or swallowing methanol have various symptoms:
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision
If you happen to have a long term or repeated exposure to methanol, it can damage the nervous system and liver also interfere with reproduction. Methanol has a quick effect on the body, as soon as you consume methanol, it changes into formaldehyde and formic acid. Formic acid can be removed from your system, but the process is slow. Therefore, formic acid builds up in your body and can have a severe effect on the nervous system. Further, the chemical depresses the central waves causing various symptoms like confusion, breathing difficulties, sleeping, seizures, and coma.
Methanol storing advice
It should always be kept within an environmentally-approved container or a system; never leave methanol open to the atmosphere, when storing methanol—label containers following local regulations and site requirements. Thorough product handling procedures and systems need to be in place at transport points and all storage. Methanol is mostly non-corrosive when stored at ambient temperatures with metals but are corrosive with magnesium lead or platinum.