This section is from the book "Alcohol, Its Production, Properties, Chemistry, And Industrial Applications", by Charles Simmonds. Also available from Amazon: Alcohol: Its Production, Properties, Chemistry, And Industrial Applications.
Methyl alcohol (Methanol), CH3.OH. Molecular Weight 32 03. - The liquid obtained by distilling wood was shown by Boyle in the Sceptical Chymist, as far back as the seventeenth century, to contain both an acid constituent and a neutral, inflammable body. This neutral liquid could be separated from the pyroligneous acid by distillation over burnt corals. From its neutral or "indifferent" character, Boyle termed it "adiaphorous spirit." In the early part of the nineteenth century various chemists investigated this spirit, and showed that it differed from ordinary alcohol, inasmuch as it did not yield "sulphuric" ether (ethyl ether) when heated with sulphuric acid. (Taylor, 1812; Macaire and Marcet, 1824; Gmelin, 1829; Liebig, 1832.) The name "methyl alcohol" was given to the compound by Dumas and Peligot, who in 1834 made the first careful study of it, and pointed out the analogy existing between it and ordinary alcohol.1