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How Can You Test Moonshine For Methanol?

  • The best test is the spoon one. No matter if your moonshine smells or not weird, this test needs to be done: put some moonshine in a spoon and light it on fire. If your alcohol is: a) Red: there is lead in it, so do not drink it. b) Yellow: you risk getting blind, so not drink it.


Is there a way to test for methanol in moonshine?

Finding methanol in beverages Currently, liquid chromatography is used for methanol testing, this is a lab technique that separates and measures different types of chemicals within a mixture.

How do I make sure there is no methanol in moonshine?

Always use a collection pot made of glass, never of plastic and preferably of small mouth. And remember to place this vessel away from any fire or other form of heat. Always dispose of the first bit of moonshine, in order to avoid contamination with methanol (which has a lower boiling point than ethanol).

How do I know if my alcohol has methanol?

You can’t see, smell or taste it. So how would you know if a tainted Bali cocktail or home-distilled spirit contains methanol? You can’t see, smell or taste it, but drink a small amount and it could make you very ill or even kill you.

How do I know if my moonshine is safe to drink?

How to Test for Purity. Folklore tells us one way to test the purity of moonshine is to pour some in a metal spoon and set it on fire. 6 If it burns with a blue flame it is safe, but if it burns with a yellow or red flame, it contains lead, prompting the old saying, “Lead burns red and makes you dead.”

How can I test methanol at home?

To test for the presence of methanol, you can apply sodium dichromate to a sample of the solution. To do so, mix 8 mL of a sodium dichromate solution with 4 mL of sulfuric acid. Swirl gently to mix, then add 10 drops of the mixed solution to a test tube or other small container containing the alcohol.

What color is methanol flame?

Methanol, once known as wood alcohol, burns with a very pale blue flame, one that appears almost invisible in daylight.

Does homemade alcohol contains methanol?

The real danger comes with home distilling, which is illegal in the United States but was popular during Prohibition. Homemade spirits such as moonshine, hooch and white dog can easily be made the wrong way and have added toxic methanol, DeGroff said.

Is there really methanol in moonshine?

Methanol is a common contaminant of moonshine, which is typically made from fermenting a “mash” of corn, sugar, and yeast for a few days and then distilling the mixture. Methanol is not a direct byproduct of fermentation, but instead forms from the breakdown of pectin in corn.

How do you get rid of methanol?

Treatment. Methanol poisoning can be treated with fomepizole, or if unavailable, ethanol. Both drugs act to reduce the action of alcohol dehydrogenase on methanol by means of competitive inhibition.

How can I test the purity of alcohol at home?

Alcohol purity is simple to test. Just let the alcohol come to room temperature and then use a hydrometer to measure the alcohol content. You can buy a hydrometer from a local scientific equipment supply house or from B/R. The hydrometer test is very sensitive to temperature.

Can you accidentally make methanol?

Methanol is found naturally in certain fruits and vegetables. It may also be produced as an unintended byproduct during the fermentation process.

Does whiskey contain methanol?

Methanol is found naturally in fruit juice and distilled spirits such as whiskey, wine, and beer. A typical glass of wine contains a small amount of methanol, from 0.0041 to 0.02 percent by volume. Methanol is much sweeter than ethanol, and even a small amount adds flavor to these beverages.

What proof is moonshine if it burns blue?

At 128 proof, it’s clear, clean and exactly what moonshine should be. Purity and perfection are the name of the game when it comes to Ole Smoky®Blue Flame Moonshine.

Does unopened moonshine go bad?

Although different sources will say different things, the answer for whether moonshine can go bad or not is clear – a bottle of unflavored moonshine, much like other plain spirits, has an indefinite shelf life.

How to Test If Alcohol Has Methanol

A kind of alcohol, methanol is similar in structure to ethanol, which is the active element in alcoholic drinks. Methanol produces the same high as ethanol and is found in naturally occurring low concentrations in fermented beverages. However, it is significantly more dangerous than ethanol, and can result in serious sickness or death if consumed in large quantities. Unlike commercial makers of alcohol, who use sophisticated ways to remove methanol from their products, home and hobby brewers are less likely than commercial producers to have the equipment at their disposal to quickly remove the chemical from their brews.

Fortunately, there are methods for determining whether or not an alcoholic beverage contains methanol.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)

Despite the fact that it is chemically identical to ethanol and can provide the same buzz, methanol is a hazardous drug that should not be eaten. In trace concentrations, such as those found in some fermented beverages, it is not dangerous, but in excessive numbers, it can be fatal, as has been demonstrated. When alcoholic beverages containing methanol are burned, they have a strong odor and emit a yellow flame, indicating that they contain methanol. You can use sodium dichromate to test a sample of the beverage if you want to be extra cautious.

Methanol Risks

Despite the fact that methanol is an alcohol that is comparable to ethanol, it is extremely harmful when used in high doses. While methanol does occur in small amounts during fermentation and is safe to eat in products such as professionally made wine or beer, the quantity found in items such as home brewed gin, rum, and other spirits may be poisonous when consumed in large quantities. Methanol, in contrast to ethanol, is metabolized into formic acid in the human body once it has been eaten. Anthrax venom has the same chemical compound.

Crude Testing

If you have a suspicion that an alcoholic beverage may contain a potentially hazardous level of methanol, you may do a number of simple and basic tests to determine its methanol content. The most straightforward method is to smell the beverage: if it has a strong, unpleasant chemical odor, it is likely that the beverage is not safe to ingest. However, because not all methanol-tainted beverages emit this odor, it is also possible to conduct a flame test on the beverage in question. Drinks that are not safe to ingest include those that have been started on fire and turn yellow rather than blue when the fire is extinguished.

Safe Testing

A variety of simple and basic tests may be carried out if you believe that an alcoholic beverage contains a potentially hazardous level of methanol. The most straightforward method is to smell the beverage: if it has a strong, unpleasant chemical odor, it is likely that the beverage is not safe to drink.

However, because this fragrance is not present in all methanol-tainted drinks, it is also possible to conduct a flame test. A sample of the beverage is set on fire and the flames become yellow rather than blue, indicating that the beverage is not safe to ingest at this time.

How to Test Moonshine?

The process of making moonshine alcohol is a pleasant hobby that can involve the entire family (or simply a “father and son” or “father, son and grandchild” activity), or it might involve a small group of friends. The process of making your own moonshine alcohol may expose you to an entire community of individuals who share your love for the same thing. It is a rewarding experience that does not cause harm, is entertaining, and does not involve a large financial commitment. Nonetheless, if you want to get the most enjoyment out of your homemade moonshine, you must pay close attention to the way it is prepared and tested to see whether or not it is any good.

Copper is not only a traditional method of making moonshine, but it also has numerous advantages, such as the ability to absorb sulfur-containing syntheses, the ability to reduce bacterial contamination, the ability to transfer heat efficiently, and the ability to improve the overall quality of the product.

  1. Lead may create health problems, and once it enters your body, it is extremely difficult to get rid of.
  2. Natural substances should always be used (water, sugar, yeast).
  3. Clean it well with water before using it, as this will help you to see if there are any leaks in it that might allow the alcohol vapor to escape, resulting in a waste of your time and money and time and money.
  4. If you are unable to do so, assume that the leak is still not completely sealed or that you have discovered further leaks, and then stop everything and do not restart until the leak has been repaired (s).
  5. Also, keep in mind to keep this vessel away from any open flames or other sources of heat.
  6. As a result of the terrible smell and taste of your moonshine, you may have contracted methanol contamination, which should be avoided because it is dangerous.
  7. You should not drink it if you notice a strange, chemical odor.
  8. 2.The spoon test is the most accurate.
  9. You should not consume your alcohol if it is:a)Red, which indicates that lead has been added to it.
  10. c)Blue: This is the greatest color to obtain since it indicates that you have achieved your goal of producing nice, safe moonshine alcohol.

Once again, do not consume it. There are no better ways to make quality moonshine alcohol than to adhere to the guidelines outlined above and to always rely on the spoon test, which will never fail to yield suitable results. Posted byJason Stone on the internet

Methanol – Will Moonshine Make You Blind?

When a commercial distiller manufactures moonshine (such as Ole’ Smokey or Sugarlands), a very serious safety risk is the possibility of manufacturing a deadly substance. In contrast to popular belief, professionally produced moonshine will not cause blindness or death or even a nasty hangover if some simple safety steps are observed and followed. What may cause someone to become blind from drinking moonshine will be discussed in greater detail in the following article, which will also show how a professional distiller can be absolutely, certainly, 100 percent certain that this will not happen.

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Our distillation apparatus is intended solely for legal reasons, and the information contained in this paper is intended solely for educational purposes.

Methanol Toxicity

When it comes to moonshine, the dangerous stuff to look out for is methyl alcohol (methanol) (or any distilled spirit for that matter). Purified methanol is extremely hazardous, and it has been proven to cause blindness and even death in some cases. Pure methanol at concentrations as low as 10 mL can cause blindness, and as high as 30 mL can cause death in severe cases. A shot glass holds 30 milliliters of liquid, which is the same quantity of liquid as 30 milliliters.

How is Methanol Produced?

Methanol can be found in naturally occurring quantities in various fruits and vegetables. It is also possible that it will be created as an accidental consequence of the fermentation process. methanol is more likely to be found in spirits distilled from fruits such as apples, oranges, and grapes than in others. Methanol may be found in small amounts in both beer and wine. According to studies, wine may contain as much as 329 mg/L of alcohol, whereas lager may have as little as 16 mg/L of alcohol.

Why is Methanol A Concern for Distillers?

So why is wine possibly unsafe to consume after it has been distilled, even if it contains methanol and does not represent a risk of methanol poisoning? The distinction is that the methanol concentration in a given amount of wine (say, 5 gallons) is uniformly distributed across the whole volume of wine. More than 5 gallons, or 28 bottles, would be required for someone to drink a quantity that may be considered potentially harmful. Because methanol has a lower boiling point than ethanol and water, it is concentrated at the beginning of the distillation process.

Methyl alcohol has a boiling point of around 148 degrees Fahrenheit, which is much lower than that of ethanol (the good stuff).

This is why professional distillers always discard the very first drop of shine that they make from each manufacturing run they undertake (more on this below). Here are a few instances of the hazards associated with methanol use:

  • There could be as much as 8 milliliters of methyl alcohol in the first jar after distilling 5 gallons of wine with the abovementioned methanol concentration (329 mg/L), which could be potentially hazardous in high concentrations
  • If the wine contained the abovementioned methanol concentration (329 mg/L) and was distilled, there could be as much as 5 gallon of methyl alcohol in the first jar after distilling
  • If you scale this up to a 100-gallon batch that is distilled all at the same time in a large still, a commercial distiller may possibly be in for a very huge problem if the methanol is not dumped during the process. The distillation of 100 gallons of wine with 329 mg/L of methanol might result in a concentration of 40ml of methanol, which could be lethal if consumed in its whole
  • Nevertheless, it is not recommended.

How to Remove Methanol from Moonshine

The temperature of the still is one manner in which a professional distiller may assess whether or not methanol is present. methanol is created by the still if anything is produced by the still before the wash temperature reaches 174 degrees. It will be discarded by a commercial distiller. Again, methanol boils at a lower temperature than ethanol and will concentrate at the start of the distillation process, just as it did previously. Commercial distillers have also discovered that just dumping a set quantity of product every batch, dependent on the batch size, is sufficient to keep things safe.

How much of the first product should be discarded:

  • 1 gallon batch – discard the first 2/3 of a shot glass from the beginning of the batch
  • 5 gallon batch – discard the first 1/3 of a pint jar from the beginning of the batch
  • In a ten gallon batch, discard the first 3/4 of a pint jar of the mixture.

2/3 of a shot glass should be discarded from the first gallon batch. 1 pint jar is discarded after the first 1/3 of it is used in a 5-gallon batch In a ten gallon batch, discard the first 3/4 of a pint jar of the mixture;

Researchers develop device to measure methanol in alcohol

Researchers have invented a gadget that can detect tiny quantities of methanol in alcoholic beverages, which they call the Methanol Detector. Swiss researchers have developed and tested a portable gadget that can be used in conjunction with a smartphone app to assess methanol levels. After being put over an open container, the gadget makes use of a sensor that detects the presence of methanol in the vapor or gas sample and issues an alert if the quantity is potentially dangerous. In addition, because the methanol and alcohol are processed at different rates, the compounds can be recognized one after the other.

  1. Scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich spiked 89 alcoholic beverages with methanol to determine their methanol concentrations.
  2. Methanol poisoning outbreaks were reported in 306 cities between 2017 and 2019, affecting 7,104 people and resulting in 1,888 deaths.
  3. However, although the chemical can be created naturally during fermentation, beverages are frequently intentionally contaminated with low-cost methanol at levels of up to 50% by volume in order to boost profit and potency.
  4. When it is digested by the human body, it becomes very poisonous.
  5. In addition, Costa Rican health officials claimed that 76 persons were hospitalized and 29 died as a result of methanol poisoning in the country in 2019.
  6. Approximately 40 instances have been reported in Colombia in the second half of 2019, while 33 cases have been registered so far this year, which might be related with quarantine measures imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the National University of Colombia (UNCOL).
  7. The deaths were attributed to the use of allegedly contaminated alcoholic drinks.
  8. According to the State Council Against Addictions (CECA), there have been around 190 deaths in recent years in various states as a result of contaminated drinks.

In June, officials in the Dominican Republic disclosed that more than 200 people had died and almost 350 people had been intoxicated as a result of methanol-laced cocktails known as “Clerén.” Iran is reported to have lost 500 patients to methanol poisoning, and 60 people have lost their sight completely as a result of the poisoning.

  1. The manufacture, distribution, and use of alcoholic drinks are all forbidden in the nation.
  2. All of these circumstances have contributed to a large number of methanol poisoning deaths,” according to authorities.
  3. In order to detect methanol, chemical techniques have been developed, however they are costly, sluggish, and only appropriate for use in the laboratory.
  4. Methanol testing is now carried out using liquid chromatography, which is a laboratory method that separates and analyses distinct types of chemicals included within a combination.
  5. Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of System Zurich (ETH Zurich) demonstrated a novel technology in September 2019 that can detect methanol and ethanol fumes in less than two minutes.
  6. Andreas Güntner, the significant breakthrough is that the basic concept has been transformed into a fully integrated, portable detector that sniffs out even the tiniest levels of methanol in beverages from all continents and wirelessly shows the findings on a smartphone.
  7. Through the use of Wifi, results are delivered to a smartphone and shown instantaneously.
  8. The software is available for both Android and iOS smartphones, and it should be compatible with older devices as well.
  9. The concept might be used to identify additional dietary pollutants, such as ammonia in ruined seafood, and could be modified in the future.
  10. Using a tiny pump, the two types of alcohol are separated in a connected tube filled with a porous polymer through which the sample air is drawn in by the separator.

A patent application has been submitted that covers the notion of selective methanol detection, and it is now in the process of being reviewed. (To join up for a free membership to Food Safety News, go to this link: Food Safety News).

How can I simply measure methanol in aqueous solutions?

A very easy analytical method (colorimetric analysis, for example) for determining the concentration of methanol in aqueous solutions at around 100 M is required. Get assistance with your research. Join ResearchGate to ask questions, receive feedback, and make progress on your project.

Most recent answer

The Iodoform test is used to distinguish between methanol and ethanol. In the presence of sodium hydroxide, when ethanol is heated with iodine, a yellow colored precipitate is formed; however, methanol does not respond to the Iodoform test.

Popular Answers (1)

Centro de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (Human Evolution Research Center) “A unique, quick, and reliable approach for the measurement of methanol has been developed, which makes use of sodium nitroprusside as a spectroscopic probe to detect the presence of the compound. This approach demonstrates that the sodium nitroprusside may react with the methanol in the presence of a basic solution to generate a colorful product. The absorbance of the product is measured at the wavelength of maximum absorption, which is 481 nm, and the amount of methanol present in the product may be estimated from this absorbance.

  1. The detection limit (3/k) is 0.012 mg mL-1, with a relative standard deviation (RSD) of 1.5 percent and a recovery rate of 97.5-102.5 percent, respectively.
  2. The analytical results achieved through the use of this innovative approach were quite satisfying “…..
  3. Journal of the Chinese Chemical Society (JCCS), volume 57, pages 230-235 (2010).
  4. Purge the N2 out of the boiling solution and collect the CO2 that has produced from your methanol in 100 mL of exactly 100 mM potassium hydroxide.
  5. Calculate the amount of methanol based on the amount of KOH that has been neutralized.
  6. Is it possible to use a UV spectrophotometer with a wavelength of 177nm?
  7. Is it possible to consider the possibility of using alcohol oxidase, which, if present in the solution, will create formaldehyde and H2O2?

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev) Thank you for taking the time to respond, Karl.

However, how can you assure that the oxidation of methanol to formaldehyde does not result in the formation of CO or formic acid?

It is possible that the Hantzsch reaction inhibits the formaldehyde from undergoing further oxidation.

In contrast to carbonyl chemicals, which do not react with ceric nitrate, alcohols induce a color shift (from yellow to red) when exposed to ceric nitrate.

As a result, the presence of an alcohol group is indicated by the production of a magenta hue.” Because of the low concentration, a lengthy optical route cuvette (5cm) would be required if the experiment were to be successful.

Colorimetricalchol detection with ceric nitrate is something I’d love to read about in a paper or patent (I hope that DMSO will not interfere with the analysis.).

For your information, please see the attached.

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev) I’ll have a look at it.

By the way, I discovered a simpler approach that is quite recent and has been published in a Chinese journal.

ScanEm is an abbreviation for ScanEm (registration in progress) If you have access to a GC/MS system with a headspace sampling device, you might want to try the following approach: Centro de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (Human Evolution Research Center) In accordance with your sample size, I could recommend a number of analytical procedures, including distillation, thermogravimetry (differential thermal analysis), GC (with a variety of detectors, not only MS), or indirect UV-VIS valoration, which takes advantage of the reaction between EtOH and Cr2O7- (440nm) and the Cr(III) that results from this reaction (605nm) If you have a GC with FID or MS capability, and you are also familiar with the SPME (solid phase microextraction) technique, you should consider using it.

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is a public research university in New Jersey.

Katz and Srecno Centro de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (Human Evolution Research Center) “A unique, quick, and reliable approach for the measurement of methanol has been developed, which makes use of sodium nitroprusside as a spectroscopic probe to detect the presence of the compound.

  1. When the absorbance of the product is measured at the maximum absorption wavelength of 481 nm, it is possible to compute the quantity of methanol present based on this absorbance.
  2. The detection limit (3/k) is 0.012 mg mL-1, with a relative standard deviation (RSD) of 1.5 percent and a recovery rate of 97.5-102.5 percent, respectively.
  3. The analytical results achieved through the use of this innovative approach were quite satisfying “…..
  4. Journal of the Chinese Chemical Society (JCCS), volume 57, pages 230-235 (2010).
  5. Hi, Gas chromatography using a Flame Ionized Detector can be used to measure the concentration of methanol in a sample.
  6. I’m having trouble downloading the article.
  7. Tq.
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I tried that, but I didn’t see any difference in the color.

Ben-Gurion The Negev University is located in the Negev Desert.

As far as I recall, I tried the Niroprusside approach a long time ago and got the same outcome as you did, so I have my doubts that it would work.

It works great.


GC, on the other hand, does.

When determining the concentration of methanol in aqueous solution, it may be feasible to utilize physical parameters such as density, refractive index, freezing point, and so on.

One approach is based on the enzyme alcohol oxidase, which is then followed by the enzyme formaldehyde dehydrogenase.

The Babol Noshirvani University of Technology is located in Babol, Iran.

For this, combine 8 mL of a sodium dichromate solution with 4 mL of sulfuric acid in a mixing container.

Gentle swirl this container a few times, and then fan the air from the mouth of the container into your nose by waving your palm in front of your face, with the container set around 8-12 inches away from your face.

If the aroma is dominant and fruity, the only substance present is ethanol.

Is there a way to visually test for the presence of methanol in alcoholic beverages that contain both ethanol and water that has been proposed? I would appreciate it if you could send it to my e-mail address: [email protected]

Similar questions and discussions

This course provides an introduction to the use of EEMS in environmental analysis. In this section, we provided a quick overview of our most recent study, which was conducted in partnership with national and international partners (In Spanish). This Journal of Chemical Education paper is well written and generously referenced, and it will serve as an excellent reference for anyone interested in adapting and implementing this problem-based approach to an upper-level environmental analysis laboratory that places an emphasis on quality control and assurance (QC/QA) and performance-based analytical methods in their work.

For a high-volume testing laboratory, the natural tendency is to place the blame on the sample matrix when matrix spike recoveries are outside of acceptable limits and move on to the next sample when this occurs.

Do you have a technical question?

Moonshine’s Gone Legit But It Still Is Dangerous

Photograph by Scott Olson / Getty Images Home-distilled moonshine, formerly a closely guarded secret of Appalachian backwoods, is still in existence to this day. In fact, it is now officially legal. “White lightning,” as it is referred as, was originally considered an illegal and dangerous chemical by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, but it is now approved for sale and controlled by the federal government in select states in the United States. Several other states, including Alabama, Georgia, and Kentucky, have followed suit.

Many believe that over a million illegal moonshine stills are currently operating throughout the United States, making the manufacture of clear, high-potency drink more ubiquitous and pervasive than at any other time in history.

What Is Moonshine?

When you make moonshine, you’re fermenting a sugar source to generate ethanol, which is also called as “hooch” or “homebrew.” The traditional method of making moonshine is to boil maize and sugar together. A distillation procedure is used to remove the alcohol from the mash after it has been fermented. One significant distinction between moonshine and other alcoholic beverages such as whiskey or bourbon is that moonshine is not matured. It is the end product of this process that creates an alcoholic beverage with a high proportion of alcohol, often several times larger than 100 proof (50 percent), such as white whiskey.

That is, the ability to purchase commercially made, all-copper moonshine stills on the internet has removed a significant amount of the danger associated with the moonshine distillation process.

Despite these advancements, this does not imply that all moonshine is safe to consume in large quantities. Plenty of moonshine is still being produced in stills constructed from vehicle radiator components and other potentially hazardous items.

Impact of Moonshine

Once upon a time, moonshine was a significant financial component of the Appalachian economy, serving as a source of money during difficult economic times and in places where poverty was prevalent. Moonshine, like every other product manufactured in the United States, underwent peaks and troughs in the supply and demand cycle. When the price of sugar increased in the United States beginning in the 1950s, the moonshine industry suffered a severe downturn. The spirit appeared to be slipping away as the United States witnessed a surge in the use of marijuana and prescription medications, which reached epidemic levels in the region.

With the current trend toward increasing costs at the liquor shop, particularly for foreign spirits, moonshining has re-entered the public consciousness.

Tennessee legalized the sale of alcoholic beverages at large box retailers such as Walmart and Sam’s Club the following year.

They are available for purchase for anything from $150 to $11,000, and everything in between.

Potential Dangers

Because illegal moonshine is manufactured in improvised stills, it remains a potentially lethal substance. It has the potential to be hazardous on two levels: during the distillation process and when it is consumed.

Distilling Process

The distillation process itself generates flammable alcohol vapors, which are released during the operation. The presence of flammable vapors is one of the primary reasons that moonshine stills are nearly always situated outside, despite the fact that this makes them more visible to law authorities. The danger of vaporous explosions is too large to be contained within the building. When it comes to eating the liquid, if the end result has a proof more than 100, the moonshine itself is incredibly flammable and may be quite hazardous.


However, while the flammability of the distilling process and the product itself is a concern, more people have died from drinking moonshine than have perished in still explosions owing to the poisons in the brew, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Despite the fact that the majority of stills in use today are of the all-copper form, there are still a significant number of old-fashioned handcrafted stills extant. Traditionally, antique stills have used automobile radiators in the distillation process, and they are more likely to contain lead soldering, which can contaminate the moonshine.

Methanol tainting may develop in bigger quantities of distilled moonshine, and it is especially common in older batches.

The greater the batch size, the greater the amount of methanol.

Methanol is extremely dangerous and can result in blindness or even death if inhaled.

Dr. Christopher Holstege, a physician affiliated with the University of Virginia Health System, conducted a research in 2004 in which he examined 48 samples of moonshine acquired by law enforcement from various stills. The doctor discovered lead contamination in 43 out of the 50 samples he tested.

How to Test for Purity

However, while the flammability of the distilling process and the product itself is a concern, more people have died from drinking moonshine than from explosions of stills caused by the poisons in the brew, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Despite the fact that the majority of stills in use today are of the all-copper form, there are still a significant number of old-fashioned handcrafted stills in use. During the distillation process, antique stills make use of automobile radiators, which are prone to include lead soldering, which might contaminate the moonshine.

  1. There has been some evidence of methanol contamination in bigger quantities of distilled moonshine.
  2. There will be more methanol produced in a larger batch.
  3. Due to its toxic nature, methanol has the potential to inflict permanent blindness and even death.
  4. Christopher Holstege, a physician affiliated with the University of Virginia Health System, conducted a research in 2004 in which he examined 48 samples of moonshine seized by law enforcement from various stills.

History of Moonshine

As far as historians can tell, the practice of manufacturing alcohol has been present since the dawn of civilization. Moonshine, in particular, is said to have been brought into the United States by Scotch-Irish immigrants in the late 1700s, notably in the southern Appalachian region. According to Appalachian anthropologists, the Scotch-Irish immigrants who relocated to the region in the late 1700s and early 1800s carried with them their practice of home brewing as well as their formula for high-potency hooch, which was popular during the time period.

As a result, it may be kept concealed from prying eyes such as the police or hungry neighbors “Jason Sumich, Department of Anthropology, Appalachian State University, believes this is correct.

The side of the antique clay jars was frequently marked with the letters “XXX.” Supposedly, each “X” reflected the number of times the drink had gone through the distillation process before it was bottled.

A test to distinguish between ethanol and methanol

When exposed to iodine and sodium hydroxide solutions, this class practical will demonstrate how methanol and ethanol respond quite differently. The iodoform reaction may be used to chemically separate these two essential alcohols from one another. This experiment will take around 20 minutes. It is especially well suited for students that have the iodoform response as part of their course requirements. Another benefit is that it serves as an useful observational activity as well as an extension for more able pupils.

The most challenging part for pupils is that if they press the pipettes too hard, the alcohols will come out in a stream instead of a stream of liquid (because of their low surface tension).

Students will need to be extremely cautious while handling the pipettes, and some experience will be necessary before starting with this experiment.


  • A pair of goggles for each group of students
  • Test tubes x2 for each group of students


  • In plastic dropping pipettes (one of each kind), drop liquids or solutions into the following containers:
  • Methanol (which is very flammable and toxic)
  • Ethanol (which is highly flammable and toxic)
  • Or industrial denatured alcohol, IDA (which is highly flammable and toxic)
  • Toxic and very flammable methanol
  • Ethanol (highly flammable and toxic)
  • And Industrial denatured alcohol, IDA (extremely flammable and toxic).

Health, safety and technical notes

  • Please go through our basic health and safety guidelines. Keep your goggles on at all times. (HIGHLY FLAMMABLE, TOXIC) Methanol, CH 3 OH(l), (CLEAPSS Hazcard HC040b)
  • Ethanol, CH 3 CH 2 OH(l), (HIGHLY FLAMMABLE, TOXIC) and IDA are further examples of flammable chemicals (HIGHLY FLAMMABLE, HARMFUL) Please check CLEAPSS Hazcard HC040a for more information. See CLEAPSS Hazcard HC091a and CLEAPSS Recipe Book RB085 for more information on sodium hydroxide (aq), iodine solution, I 2 (aq), and potassium iodide solution, KI(aq)
  • Product: tri-iodo-methane, CHI 3 (s), (HARMFUL at the concentration used) – see CLEAPSS Hazcard HC104 for more information on this compound. See


  1. Producing single drops of ethanol from the pipette over a sink is a good practice exercise. 10 drops of methanol should be added to one test tube. 10 drops of ethanol should be added to the other test tube. To each alcoholic beverage, add 25 drops of iodine solution. To each alcoholic beverage, add 10 drops of sodium hydroxide solution. Gently spin the test tubes a few times to ensure even mixing. The iodine’s black color should begin to diminish after a few hours. After two minutes, take a close look at the two test tubes again. What are the distinctions that you have noticed

Teaching notes

It is necessary to wait for the solution in the ethanol test tube to get murky before observing a yellow precipitate of tri-iodo-methane (iodoform). A unique “antiseptic” fragrance emanates from this. The methanol test tube should remain clear throughout the procedure. Compounds with a methyl group adjacent to a carbonyl group are capable of undergoing the iodoform reaction. This test is also positive for secondary alcohols with a CH 3 on the carbon transporting the OH (for example, propan-2-ol), which can be oxidized to carbonyl compounds of this sort.

The following is an explanation for the reaction: The three electronegative iodine atoms in the I 3 C –ion help to stabilize the negative charge on the carbon atom in the iodine ion.

Additional information

Developed by the Nuffield Foundation and the Royal Society of Chemistry, this resource is part of the Practical Chemistry project, which is available online. Over 200 practical tasks are included in this collection, which covers a wide spectrum of chemical principles and processes. Detailed information for instructors and technicians is provided for each activity, including complete technical notes and step-by-step methods. Practical Chemistry activities are integrated with Practical Physics and Practical Biology activities.

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Health and safety inspection performed in July 2016.

Make sure your moonshine is safe with this $5 chip

It is possible to die from the effects of alcoholic drinks contaminated with deadly methanol, which is used to boost the potency of spirits such as moonshine. Methanol can induce blindness and metabolic acidosis, which can be fatal. It’s particularly pernicious because the addition of methanol has no effect on the flavor, color, or smell of the beverage. Until now, there hasn’t been a simple method to detect whether or not anything you’re going to consume is poisonous. In reality, methanol poses a threat to public health.

The following is an explanation from ScienceNOW: These harmful beverages can be made from failed batches of home-distilled liquor, but they are generally the result of a more diabolical scheme in which criminal gangs cut regular alcoholic beverages with methanol and then sell the resultant mixtures to unsuspecting customers for exaggerated profits.

Consequently, a team of researchers from theUniversity of the Andes in Colombia created a reusable, wireless microsensor that can evaluate the proportion of methanol to ethanol (the good sort of alcohol) in a drink and alert customers if there is a risk of poisoning.

Last week, the study was presented at the American Physical Society’s annual conference in Baltimore. Image courtesy of Christopher Herbert on Flickr. Original version of this post published on Thanks for reading!

Is It Safe to Drink Moonshine?

During a raid on a bootlegging operation in Tennessee in 1929, officials posed next to a partially demolished distillery, which was producing a mediocre white moonshine at the time. (Photo courtesy of Bettmann/Getty Images.) Despite the fact that a glass of clear moonshine looks just like a glass of water, this unlawful alcoholic beverage is famed for its power — as well as the dangers involved with consuming it. What exactly is moonshine? According to experts, moonshine is any sort of distilled whiskey that is produced without the involvement of the government.

  • Moonshine is produced and consumed by people all over the world, particularly in countries where alcohol is outlawed or where legal alcohol is unreasonably costly or difficult to procure.
  • As a result, what causes this to happen, and how can you know if a glass of moonshine is safe, is discussed.
  • The ingredients used to make moonshine vary greatly based on what is readily accessible.
  • However, according to Kevin Kosar, author of “Moonshine: A Global History,” moonshine may also be manufactured from grapes, plums, or apricots (in Armenia), barley (in Egypt), palm tree sap (in Myanmar), bananas (in Uganda), and cashew fruit (in India) (Reaktion Books, 2017).
  • In the event that you can coax sugar from something, you’re well on your approach to producing a drink “According to Kosar, a spokesperson for Live Science.

Potent potables

Fermentation creates two types of alcohol: ethanol and methanol, which is also known as wood alcohol. Ethanol is the most often produced form of alcohol. According to studies published by the American Chemical Society, methanol is liberated from pectin and is consequently more plentiful in fermented fruits. Despite the fact that ethanol is widely regarded to be safe for use, both ethanol and methanol depress the central nervous system and impair brain function. ethanol Alcohol poisoning, even from “safe” alcohol, can result from excessive consumption, impacting heart rate and respiration and potentially resulting in coma and death, according to the Mayo Clinic’s Alcohol Poisoning page.

  1. methanol is metabolized in the human body to formaldehyde, which is the same molecule found in embalming fluid, and then to formic acid, which is very poisonous to cells, according to Andrews, who spoke with Live Science.
  2. Candy is nice, but whiskey is more expedient.
  3. The image is courtesy of Scott Olson/Getty Images.
  4. ethanol, on the other hand, boils at 173.1 degrees Fahrenheit (78.37 degrees Celsius), whereas methanol boils at 148.5 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius) (64.7 degrees C).
  5. The manufacturing of regulated alcoholic beverages, including commercial moonshine, is closely supervised.
  6. However, there are no uniform criteria or safety inspections that can be enforced in the case of unlicensed moonshine producers.
  7. Unsterilized fermentation vats can encourage the development of bacteria that pump out methanol, resulting in a greater concentration of methanol than planned, according to Andrews, who detailed how this might happen.
  8. Several years might have passed before the liquor was contaminated, according to Andrews.

“But then something happens in the environment that has an effect on the bacteria that are conducting the fermentation in the first place. There is now a larger concentration of methanol present, and the individual who made it would never be aware of it.”

Poison for profit

In certain circumstances, the toxicity of moonshine is due to avarice on the part of the distiller. If makers want to boost the amount of their moonshine, they either don’t remove the methanol or add a cheap, hazardous alcohol such as isopropyl, which is present in rubbing alcohol, according to Kosar. Despite the fact that this strategy may increase earnings, it considerably increases the likelihood that the drink will be deadly. According to Kosar, “alarmingly frequently, there are stories — often originating in parts of Asia — about people going out and purchasing illicit alcoholic beverages and then throwing a party, and then hours into the party, people just start dropping and having convulsions.” Drinking alcohol with high concentrations of methanol can also cause blindness: According to a 1922 story in The New York Times, methanol was responsible for 130 deaths and 22 incidents of blindness in just six months during Prohibition, according to a report by the United States National Committee for the Prevention of Blindness (NCPB).

In spite of the fact that moonshine does not contain dangerous quantities of methanol, it is impossible for a casual drinker to determine how powerful a batch may be without testing it – an ambiguity that may result in an unintentional alcohol poisoning.

Do not consume moonshine unless you are a close friend of the person who is generating it and have complete confidence in their ability to create it, he said.

It has also been updated to reflect that, while chemical tests for methanol in moonshine are available, most casual drinkers do not have these tests on hand while consuming these beverages.

  • Exactly why does alcohol make you feel sleepy at first, and then alert? Is it true that drinking alcohol warms your body? Which is worse for your brain: alcohol or marijuana
  • Which is worse for your brain: alcohol or marijuana

Exactly why does alcohol make you feel sleepy at first, and then awake? Is it true that drinking alcohol makes your body warmer? Whether alcohol or marijuana is more harmful to your brain is a matter of debate.

A drink to die for? Avoiding methanol poisoning

It is not visible, nor can it be smelled or tasted. So, how would you know whether a poisoned Bali cocktail or a home-distilled spirit includes methanol? What are the signs of contamination? Published on September 10, 2013 Although you cannot see, smell, or taste it, even a tiny bit of it can make you very unwell or even kill you if you consume it. The molecule in question is called methanol, and it has lately been connected to a number of deaths in Australia and other parts of the world. But what precisely is methanol, how is it manufactured, and, more crucially, how would you know if you’ve consumed it are all questions that need to be answered.

What is methanol?

Methanol is the simplest type of alcohol and is also known as acetic acid. It is chemically linked to ethanol, the sort of alcohol that is typically found in beer, wine, and spirits – but it is far more poisonous than ethanol. The possibility of it being present in cocktails created from home-distilled spirits poses a major health risk to those who consume them. Methanol is manufactured in extremely tiny amounts during fermentation, which is the process by which alcohol is produced from plant products such as grape juice or cereal grains.

Although there are trace levels in wine and beer, Leigh Schmidtke, a senior professor in wine microbiology and production at Charles Sturt University, argues that these amounts are insignificant and will not cause difficulties when the products are prepared at home.

Commercially produced spirits are quite safe to consume since manufacturers employ methods that are particularly intended to ensure that methanol is removed from the ethanol during production.

However, because homebrew systems are often not as technologically proficient as commercial systems, separation is more challenging. In Schmidtke’s opinion, “there are no genuinely safe techniques to distinguish between methanol and ethanol at home.”

Who is at risk?

A type of alcohol that is the most basic is methanol (also known as ethanol). It is chemically linked to ethanol, the sort of alcohol that is commonly found in beer, wine, and spirits — but it is far more poisonous than that substance. When it comes to home-distilled spirits, the possibility of it being present in the beverages is a severe health concern. Methanol is manufactured in minute amounts during fermentation, which is the process by which alcohol is produced from plant products such as grape juice or cereal grains.

According to Leigh Schmidtke, a senior lecturer in wine microbiology and production at Charles Sturt University, there are trace levels in wine and beer, but not enough to cause difficulties when the products are manufactured at home.

Since producers utilize processes particularly developed to ensure that methanol is isolated from the ethanol, commercially produced spirits are quite safe to consume.

In Schmidtke’s opinion, “there are no truly safe methods of distinguishing methanol from ethanol at home.”

How is methanol harmful?

Methanol is transformed in the body to formic acid, which is the same toxin found in the venom of ants, when it is consumed. According to Professor Paul Haber, the head of Drug and Alcohol Services at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, the accumulation of this substance in the blood is what creates the disastrous consequences of addiction. These are some examples:

  • Symptoms of kidney failure include: heart and circulation difficulties, liver damage, visual abnormalities such as blurred vision, tunnel vision, changes in color perception, and temporary or permanent blindness, as well as nerve and brain damage.

Symptoms of kidney failure include: heart and circulation difficulties, liver damage, visual abnormalities such as blurred vision, tunnel vision, changes in color perception, and temporary or permanent blindness, as well as nerve and brain damage

What are the signs of methanol poisoning?

When it comes to the early indicators of methanol poisoning, they might be difficult to distinguish from the effects of alcohol in general. Within an hour, you may have minor symptoms that are comparable to those of alcohol intoxication, such as nausea, vomiting, and stomach discomfort. After 12 to 24 hours, more severe symptoms such as headache, dizziness, vertigo, and blurred vision may manifest themselves, such as nausea and vomiting. “The terrible part is that it takes 12 to 24 hours, and a lot of the time, individuals have been drinking heavily and sleeping,” Gordian Fulde explains.

In the event that eye problems such as impaired vision or difficulties seeing at bright lights arise, “they are in serious peril,” according to Fulde.

How is methanol poisoning treated?

First and foremost, all experts advise seeking medical attention as soon as possible if you suspect you have been poisoned by methanol or other chemicals. “People are aware of what it feels like to be intoxicated by alcohol, and if they see something that does not feel like regular alcohol intoxication, they should seek medical attention,” explains Paul Haber. Hospitalized patients who suffer from methanol poisoning are treated with ethanol, which reduces the amount of toxicity they suffer since it limits the creation of formic acid.

This medication, like ethanol, works by preventing the conversion of methanol into harmful chemicals in the human body. It is also possible that hospitals may utilize hemodialysis to remove the methanol from the patient’s blood.

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