Wood alcohol is one of the common names for the chemical methanol. It earned this nickname because it was once commonly produced as a byproduct of wood distillation. However, it is currently produced using modern catalyst process in an industrial setting. It is naturally produced by several types of bacteria.
Methanol is a simple alcohol. It is a light, colorless liquid that is extremely flammable and volatile. It burns when exposed to oxygen, and creates carbon dioxide and water as it breaks down. If ingested, it can cause serious problems, including blindness, coma, and death. For this reason it is often used to denature industrial ethanol.
As it cannot be drunk, it is then exempted from liquor taxes. In addition to industrial uses, it can be used to power certain vehicle engines, as an industrial grade solvent, and in waste water treatment practices as a food source for the bacteria that break down waste.