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What Causes Moonshine To Contain Methanol? (Perfect answer)

Because methanol has a lower boiling point and it evaporates earlier, it can become concentrated in the distillate — the vapor that is condensed and collected during distillation, Andrews said.

  • Also asked, what causes methanol in moonshine? Because methanol vaporizes at a lower temperature than alcohol, the first liquid produced by the distillation process can contain methanol. The larger the batch, the more methanol. Methanol is highly poisonous and can cause blindness and even death.


How does methanol get 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 stop methanol when making 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).

What causes methanol in fermentation?

Methanol is produced during fermentation by the hydrolysis of naturally occurring pectin in the wort (Nakagawa et al. 2000; Mendonca et al. 2011). The volume of ethanol produced during fermentation is dependent on the strains of yeast used.

Why would methanol be in alcohol?

Why would people add methanol to alcoholic beverages? Methanol is often deliberately and illegally added to alcoholic beverages as a cheaper alternative to ethanol (normal alcohol that can be consumed) in countries where taxes on legitimate alcohol or the cost of legitimate alcohol might be perceived as too high.

Can moonshine turn into methanol?

Methanol. If the moonshine is not distilled properly, you could end up with high levels of methanol (methyl alcohol), which is indeed quite toxic. Our liver breaks down the methyl alcohol into formaldehyde and formic acid. And it’s the formic acid that can affect our eyes.

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 you tell if methanol is present?

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.

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.

How can you tell the difference between methanol and ethanol?

Ethanol has a heavy, burning smell and emits bright blue flame. Methanol is unpredictable and has a characteristic odour. When burning it gives off light white flame. Ethanol is typically prepared by the fermentation of food crops from factories.

How can you tell if moonshine is safe?

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 do you test homemade alcohol for methanol?

Add 25 drops of iodine solution to each alcohol. Add 10 drops of sodium hydroxide solution to each alcohol. Gently swirl the test tubes a few times. The dark colour of the iodine should start to fade.

Does fermenting sugar produce methanol?

Methanol is produced during fermentation by the hydrolysis of naturally occurring pectin in the wort. The volume of ethanol produced during fermentation is dependent on the strains of yeast used.

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.

What is the antidote for methanol?

Although both ethanol and fomepizole are effective, fomepizole is the preferred antidote for methanol poisoning.

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.

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 illustrations:

  • 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.

It’s a good idea to always follow this rule of thumb, regardless of the current temperature. Even though the first batch does not include methanol, the first batch that comes out of the still tastes and smells like rubbing alcohol. Nobody will be impressed by this, as it is by far the weakest material produced over the whole course of the show. It is impossible for a professional distiller to consume or sell the first product generated by a still. For more detail on this subject, please see our article ” Making Moonshine – The Dummies’ Guide “.

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Check out the 10 most critical safety recommendations for distillers for much more information about safety.

Throw Away the First Cut: Popcorn Sutton & the Chemistry of Moonshine

This is a delight if you’re in the mood for some Americana, as well as a chemical lesson that could or might not be relevant. Nobody embodies Americana quite like Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, who became famous both for his prowess in the production of moonshine and for his contempt for the federal government during his lifetime. The combination of these factors put Sutton in constant conflict with the police, particularly when it came to moonshining and bootlegging(1), but he managed to avoid prison until 2009, when he was found guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm and a large amount of untaxed alcohol.

Popcorn Sutton and his still, courtesy of Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton.

You’re familiar with the phrase.

Distillation is a method of producing alcohol.

Quick Answer: What Causes Methanol In Moonshine?

Look for a harsh and unpleasant aroma in the alcohol; this indicates that methanol is present in the alcohol. A dominant and fruity aroma indicates that just ethanol is present, and the beverage is safe to consume.

What color is methanol flame?

BlueMethanol is utilized as a control agent, and it emits a blue flame when burned.

Does sugar wash produce methanol?

Sugar wash produces very little to no methanol.

What proof is moonshine if it burns blue?

When it comes to proof, it’s clear, pure, and everything you want in a moonshine.

It’s all about purity and perfection when it comes to Ole Smoky®Blue Flame Moonshine, and this is no exception. The color of the flame is the best indicator of the quality and strength of our high proof moonshine — if it burns blue, it’s authentic.

Why can we drink ethanol and not methanol?

Similar to ethanol, which is a form of alcohol often found in spirits, methanol is poisonous to the body, and on a molecular level, it varies from drinking alcohol only by one carbon and two hydrogen atoms. This is due to the fact that the same enzyme that breaks down ethanol also breaks down methanol, resulting in the formation of formaldehyde.

How can you tell if methanol is present?

Applying sodium dichromate to a sample of the solution will allow you to determine whether or not methanol is present. For this, combine 8 mL of a sodium dichromate solution with 4 mL of sulfuric acid in a mixing container. To combine the two solutions, gently swirl them together, then transfer 10 drops of the combined solution to a test tube or other small container holding the alcohol.

Do alcoholic drinks contain methanol?

Methanol, a very poisonous substance in humans, exists naturally in low concentrations in most alcoholic beverages and does not pose a threat to health. However, illicit beverages manufactured from “industrial methylated spirits” can result in serious and even deadly sickness if consumed in large quantities.

Is methanol a liquid or gas?

Methanol is a colorless liquid that boils at 64.96 degrees Celsius (148.93 degrees Fahrenheit) and solidifies at 93.9 degrees Celsius (137 degrees Fahrenheit). It reacts with air to generate explosive combinations, and it burns with a nonluminous flame.

How does methanol get into alcohol?

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. Methanol is formed in very small amounts during fermentation.

Can you drink the heads of moonshine?

The heads aren’t worth retaining for drinking purposes and should be discarded immediately. Heads make up around 20-30 percent of the liquid recovered during a distillation cycle, on average.

Is home distilling dangerous?

The most significant concern associated with distilling spirits is that the result can be extremely combustible at times. It is possible for distillate to have more than 90 percent pure ethanol when it is released from the still. This product has the ability to ignite extremely easily, posing a fire danger.

Why is my moonshine blue?

Copper Stills and Blue Moonshine are two types of moonshine. Copper is the material of choice for nearly every skilled moonshiner when building their pot stills. Essentially, this is caused by the alcohol vapor reacting with the copper metal and corroding it. As the copper is actually eaten away, bits of copper are transferred into the moonshine batch, resulting in a bluish tinge to the finished product.

How do you remove methanol from moonshine?

It is possible that methanol will be produced as a byproduct of the fermentation process, and its presence in a wash poses a serious threat. The good news is that, in the event that a batch of shine contains any methanol, the methanol should boil off before the ethanol because methanol has a lower boiling point.

Can you get methanol poisoning from pineapple beer?

In other words, is it possible to develop methanol poisoning by drinking home-brewed beer? No way, not at all!

… Fermentation in beer results in the production of ethanol, which is likewise an alcoholic beverage but is not the exceedingly hazardous methanol. The production of small amounts of methanol is possible, but the amounts created will never be sufficient to cause harm to your body.

Can you taste methanol?

In other words, is it possible to develop methanol poisoning by consuming homebrewed beer? In no way, shape, or form is this true. … Ethanol is produced by beer fermentation; this alcohol has the same properties as wine and beer, but it is not as toxic as methanol. Methanol may be created in trace levels, but the concentrations will never be high enough to cause harm to your body.

Does vodka have methanol?

The maximum permissible concentration of methanol in pure vodka is 100 mg/l of vodka, whereas the maximum permissible concentration of methanol in flavoured vodkas is 2 g/l of vodka.

What causes methanol in fermentation?

In fermentation, methanol is created by the hydrolysis of naturally occurring pectin in the wort (Nakagawa et al…. PME de-esterify pectin to low—methoxyl pectins, which results in the generation of methanol (Chaiyasut et al. 2013; Micheli 2001).

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

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 was established the same year.

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. Most moonshine producers nowadays are aware of the need of pouring out the initial drippings from the condenser, commonly known as the mash tun.

How to Test for Purity

According to folklore, one method of determining the purity of moonshine is to pour some onto a metal spoon and light it on fire. Although lead is not harmful when burned with a blue flame, it is harmful when burned with a yellow or red flame, leading the ancient adage, “Lead burns red and makes you dead.” The spoon burning approach, on the other hand, is not fully dependable. Other poisons that may be present in the brew, such as methanol, which burns with a bright blue flame that is difficult to notice, are not detected by this method.

Public health experts are afraid that moonshine poisoning in unwell people may go unnoticed since most healthcare practitioners regard it to be an outmoded practice from years ago.

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.” According to legend, each “X” denoted the number of times the drink had been poured.

The Dangers Of Moonshine

Because of the drinking culture that has grown in this century, liquor stores and bars have stocked their shelves with a broad selection of speciality liquors, beers, and wines to satisfy the needs of its customers. One of the newest crazes is the return of moonshine production and consumption. The government previously prohibited the booze of the Prohibition era due to a lack of controls and the fact that its brewers were evading taxes. So, what has changed in the last several years?

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How Moonshine Got Its Name

A valid argument might be made to support the claim that the “Moonshine” that you see on the shelves of a liquor store is not in fact moonshine. The distillers gave the whiskey its name during the period of prohibition, when alcoholic beverages were prohibited. People could only make it if they worked in the middle of the night under the light of the moon. This helped to conceal the smoke that would be emitted by the boiling liquor and made it more difficult for local law police to locate them.

The fact is that legitimate moonshiners continue to operate in order to avoid taxes and generate a profit while operating outside of the regulatory framework of the federal government.

Methanol: The Toxic Side Of Moonshine

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably heard horror stories about the hazards of illegally brewed booze like moonshine. Methanol, on the other hand, is the genuine perpetrator of these true stories. Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol, is produced as a byproduct of the distillation procedure. In addition to serving as a primary element in gasoline, insecticides, paint thinners, and other products, the use of methanol should not be taken lightly.

The Explosive Power Of Moonshine

During the fermentation process of any alcoholic beverage, methanol and ethanol, which are both considered to be safe for consumption, are released. Both are very combustible and have the potential to explode if not properly sealed and ventilated throughout the distillation process. In the event of an ethanol gas leak in the still, which is used to manufacture moonshine, a single spark might ignite the ethanol gas, resulting in an explosion. A tank that is boiling off the hazardous alcohol might quickly collapse if there is no ventilation.” Derek Grout was inspecting a collecting tank of his state-of-the-art copper-pot still, which was housed in an aluminum shed surrounded by postcard orchards in Columbia County, New York.

Then, with a chuckle, he said, “I’m just relieved that we didn’t kill ourselves.” ” However, don’t refer to it as moonshine.

Consuming Methanol In Moonshine

When any alcoholic beverage is fermented, methanol and ethanol are released, which are both considered to be safe to ingest. Insufficient sealing and venting can result in an explosion during the distillation process for both of these chemicals. If there is a breach allowing ethanol gas to escape from the still, which is the apparatus used to manufacture moonshine, a single spark might result in a devastating explosion. A tank that is boiling off the poisonous alcohol might quickly collapse if it does not have adequate air.

The tank had buckled as a result of a clog in the drain.

— Toby Cecchini

Drinking Moonshine

Drinking moonshine can be hazardous to one’s health due to the absence of regulation and the lack of a reliable method of testing for methanol. Stay away from novice distillers or folks you don’t feel comfortable around. It has the potential to mean the difference between life and death. Contact a healthcare professional right away if you would like additional information about treatment alternatives.

Cooper Smith
  • Cooper Smith graduated with honors from Full Sail University with a Bachelor’s degree in Writing for Entertainment. Even though he was first drawn to a career in television, he became aware of a problem in his neighborhood and felt motivated to do more. Now, he employs his expertise to reach out to those who may be in need of assistance and to raise public awareness of the difficulties that our society is now grappling with. Cooper enjoys exploring new places when he is not seated in front of a computer.

Can moonshine make you blind? – Truth vs. Myth

Moonshine Blindness is a condition that occurs when there is too much moonlight in the sky. One of the most often asked concerns we receive from those who are new to the distilling industry is, “Is it true that moonshine may cause you to become blind?” While it is true that moonshine will not cause you to become blind, excessive amounts of methanol will. So long as you do not completely botch the batch, you should not wind up with methanol concentrations that are high enough to cause harm (other than give you a bad hangover).

Let’s take a few minutes to disentangle the truth from the fiction around the hazards of moonshine so that you can be 100 percent certain that methanol blindness will not occur in your lifetime.

Methanol Toxicity

Methanol (also known as methyl alcohol) is the noxious substance that has produced a slew of health problems and contributed to the widespread belief that moonshine is responsible for the phenomenon of night blindness. So, what is the mechanism through which methanol causes blindness? Methanol, in its purest form, is extremely hazardous. During the liver’s processing of methanol, enzymes break it down into a variety of distinct chemicals, including formic acid and formaldehyde. It is believed that the formic acid is harmful to the optic nerve and is the major cause of moonshine blindness, whilst the formaldehyde is toxic to the rest of your neurological system and causes a variety of health problems.

How does Methanol end up in my wash?

Methanol is an organic chemical that may be found in naturally occurring quantities in various fruits and vegetables, among other things. This compound can also be created as a by-product by the yeast during the fermentation process, which occurs most frequently in fruit washes with a high pectin concentration (you can use apectic enzymeto try and remove as much of the pectin as possible). Because methanol is a naturally occurring molecule, however, it may be found in both beer and wine, which contributes to the urban legend about moonshine’s hazards.

It is clear from the examples above that if you are distilling a fruit-based wash, it has the potential to contain far more methanol.

If wine/beer have methanol in them also, why do people make such a big deal out of moonshine?

The main difference is that methanol in beer or wine is evenly distributed throughout the batch, whereas distillers are effectively concentrating the majority of the methanol in their batch into the first few milliliters that come out of the still after it has been distilled. Because the boiling point of methanol (148.5° F) is significantly lower than the boiling point of ethanol (173.1° F), it boils off at the beginning of the run and leaves everything behind, in the same way that the boiling point of ethanol boils off in the middle of the run and leaves everything else behind.

The initial few drippings from your still are referred to as “foreshots.” As a result, most distillers just pour the first 50 milliliters of wash per 5 gallons of wash down the sink (or set it aside to clean with).

So, if my wash alone doesn’t have much methanol in it, why should I care so much about it?

Methanol is one of the primary components of alcoholic drinks that contributes to the development of severe hangovers. Consider the following example:-Have you ever noticed how awful red wine hangovers can be? Now look up at the methanol concentrations that I stated before……………….. – Notice how the hangovers from high-quality vodka aren’t nearly as awful as they could be? Because they are obsessed with quality, it is likely that they are doing an excellent job of eliminating all of the undesirable elements.

A word of caution: There was once a batch of gin that was really excellent and resulted in virtually no hangover the next day. But believe me when I say that you may absolutely drink too much of it….

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.

Who is at risk?

Travellers, particularly those who visit to countries where home-brewed spirits are readily accessible, such as Indonesia or Thailand, are believed to be the group of Australians most at risk of methanol poisoning. Even while travelers are not always aware of the source of alcohol in drinks they are provided, the safest strategy is to refrain from consuming any locally made alcoholic beverages. He believed he was drinking imported vodka and lime, according to the family of Perth carpenter Liam Davies, who died in Lombok after drinking what was assumed to be a harmless cocktail that contained methanol.) Because commercially distilled spirits are expensive, it is suspected that locally produced bootleg liquor is occasionally added to or swapped for professionally distilled spirits in beverages offered in bars to save money.

Additionally, complaints have surfaced of tainted home-made spirits that were kept and served in commercial spirit bottles.

Following the death of New Zealand rugby player Michael Denton in 2012, the New Zealand Government issued a travel warning to travelers, stating that “labelling on bottles may not be accurate.”

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.

“As time goes on, you begin to lose your vision, you begin to lose the integrity of your thought processes, and it is possible that other organs are impacted. A really uncomfortable procedure, to put it mildly “Professor Chris Winder is a toxicologist who works in the United Kingdom.

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.

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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.

FYI: Can Drinking Moonshine Really Make Me Go Blind?

The simple answer is that it is possible to go blind as a result of consuming moonshine. However, looking at the sun has the potential to cause blindness. The most essential thing to remember while consuming alcoholic beverages of the home-brewed sort is to use your best judgement. The notion that moonshine or other home-distilled liquors might induce blindness is based in fact, but it’s vital to distinguish between the causes of that blindness and the alcohol distillation process itself in order to avoid confusion.

Methanol is a byproduct of alcohol distillation, but it only occurs in minute, non-toxic levels during ordinary distillation, and it is easy to separate and discard from the initial few ounces of alcohol that drip from the condenser during the first few minutes of distillation.

These initial few ounces include additional chemicals known as “foreshots”–low-boiling-point compounds that are released when the liquid is heated.

6 Common Distilling Myths and the Facts Behind Them

When it comes to distilling and distilled spirits, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions. Many are completely innocuous, while others might cost businesses millions of dollars or even cause illness and death. Here are six commonly held beliefs, as well as the actual facts that support them.


Another popular distillation myth revolves around the use of whiskey stones in the process. It is theoretically possible to place the stones in your freezer, then add them to your drink, where they will serve to cold the beverage without diluting it. It turns out, however, that they are not particularly good at their jobs. Ice cools by converting from a solid to a liquid state, a process that draws heat from the beverage it is placed in. Moreover, it is a process that your whiskey stones will not be able to duplicate (until your whiskey reaches 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit or higher!) Plus, according to scientists, adding water can improve the taste of the drink as well!


There has been a great deal of talk regarding how each dent and knock on a still will affect the quality of the spirit. While this may pose a concern, it does not appear to have a significant impact on the situation. When it comes to the distillation process, there are several variables to consider, and a little change in surface area caused by a couple of dent should have little effect on the final product’s quality.


Isn’t it true that older whiskey is usually better and so deserves higher prices? So, in order to address this topic, let’s take a small step back and consider how whiskey obtains its flavor. Technically speaking, whiskey distillation takes only a few days and may be served immediately after distillation. Although it would be entirely transparent, it would have a mild flavor that reminded me of malted barley combined with rubbing alcohol. This isn’t exactly what we consider to be whiskey. This sort of environment, together with the whiskey’s traditional smoky taste and golden-brown color, contribute to the whiskey’s classic smokey flavor and golden-brown hue.

At the same time, the wood begins to contribute to the overall taste of the dish.

Just because a whiskey has been matured for a longer period of time does not always imply that it tastes better.

According to Dave Pickerell, the


According to popular belief, older whiskey is usually better and so justifies higher costs. Let’s take a small step back and consider how whiskey obtains its flavor in order to address this question. On a technical level, whiskey is distilled in a matter of days and is ready to be drank straight immediately. Although it would be perfectly transparent, it would have a mild flavor that reminded some people of malted barley and rubbing alcohol. What we consider to be whiskey is actually a blend of several spirits.

The less palatable components of young whiskey are attracted to the inner barrel walls as the whiskey ages.

However, like with most things in life, more does not automatically equate to superior performance.

A whiskey’s flavor does not generally improve with age, nor does the length of time it has spent maturing in barrels. Indeed, it may develop an excessive taste that renders it unpalatable for consumption. Dave Pickerell, the author of the book


m ethanol (methyl alcohol) is extremely hazardous and can be found in large concentrations in moonshine if the distillation process is not done properly (see below). The methyl alcohol is broken down by our liver producing formaldehyde and formaldehyde esters. And it is the formic acid that has the potential to harm our eyes. As a result, when moonshine with high quantities of methanol is distilled incorrectly, it might result in blindness.

Lead Poisoning

The third method in which moonshine might potentially cause blindness is if it is made using lead-based ingredients or equipment. Lead pipes and other devices (such as radiators) can induce lead poisoning if they are used. Although we are aware of the risks of lead, this remains a significant concern…………………………………………………. According to a recent Washington Post story, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that “moonshine continues to be a source of high-dose lead exposure among adults.” Individuals who make moonshine in their houses run the danger of developing serious health problems as a result of using inappropriate practices.


Is it necessary to seek long and low for your favorite gluten-free vodka if you have a gluten intolerance or allergy? Does it make sense for you to check with the bartender before ordering that cocktail? Is it necessary to go over the ingredient list with a fine-toothed comb before purchasing something? No, not in the traditional sense. Intuitively, it makes sense for gluten-free individuals to be wary of anything that contains wheat. While the fundamental materials (wheat, potatoes, etc.) are heated with water until they’re broken down and drained into a fermented liquid, the vodka distillation process involves passing the liquid through a still to extract the alcohol.


It is true that better-tasting vodka is more likely to have been distilled more than once. Is it true that distilling vodka more and more produces better and better-tasting vodka as time goes on? No, not at all. Every time vodka is distilled, there are fewer and fewer contaminants in the finished product. As a result, you might claim that it becomes “cleaner” and “smoother” with each distillation. However, over-distilling vodka can have the same effect as maturing whiskey for an excessive amount of time.

If a vodka manufacturer boasts that their vodka has been distilled hundreds of times, it may also be attempting to conceal the low-quality raw materials from which it is obtained.

As an illustration, consider the case of steaming hot coffee, which may be used to disguise a bad flavor. Both are attempts to overcompensate for a poor quality product and conceal it. As a result, a high-quality vodka should be distilled many times to get the desired flavor.

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About Paul Hughes, OSU Fermentation Science Instructor

Paul Hughes, Ph.D., has joined the faculty of Oregon State University in order to start a distilled spirits department. Paul possesses a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration on innovation, and he travels the world teaching, training, and consulting on various topics. Two textbooks (one on beer, one on whiskey) as well as more than 60 peer-reviewed and conference articles have been published by him, and he has been granted four patents. At the five-day Distillery Startup Workshop, Paul teaches real tools and practices that students may use to effectively start and operate their own artisan distillery business.

Distillation – The science of distillation

In contrast to fermentation, distillation does not create alcohol; rather, it concentrates it. To make distilled spirits, you must start with an alcoholic liquid (called a “wash”) that will be used to distill your spirit. Pouring a wash through a distiller yields the vast majority of vodkas and all whiskies, which is essentially beer prepared by fermenting cereal grains. Potable alcohol (which is a fancy phrase for ‘drinkable alcohol’) is a liquid that goes by the name of ethanol. In addition, because ethanol alcohol boils at a lower temperature than water, the two liquids can be separated by evaporation from one another.

Apart from the presence of ethanol, this procedure is complicated by the presence of many kinds of alcohol and other chemical compounds, all of which have distinct boiling points.

The Heads

Also referred to as ‘foreshots,’ these are volatile (low boiling point) alcohols that are released at the commencement of the distillation process and contain the following chemical compounds: Acetaldehyde (CH3CHO) is an aldehyde that is formed by plants as a byproduct of their regular metabolic processes. It can also be produced from the oxidation of ethanol. Aetaldehyde, which has a boiling point of 20.8 degrees Celsius, is thought to be a significant influence to the severity of hangovers.

It has a boiling point of 56.2 degrees Celsius and is a colorless, flammable liquid.

It is the simplest form of a class of chemicals known as ketones, which is comprised of a number of other compounds.

In addition to being a popular cleaning solvent, acetone is also the active component in nail polish remover and paint thinner, among other things.

The heart (or spirit)

The heart of a distillate is the portion of the distillate generated during distillation that is isolated and retained for use in the production of alcoholic drinks. Simply said, the safest part of the distillation is the one that has a pleasant taste and is not harmful to the digestive system. In addition to having a foul odor or taste, the compounds that make up the other phases of the distillation process are frequently detrimental to human health. In a distillation, Ethanol is the primary chemical found in the “heart,” although trace amounts of other compounds in the heads or tails of the distillation may also be present, depending on the purity gained during the distillation process.

The fact that it has such significant effects on the human central nervous system, resulting in changes in mood and behavior, makes it one of the oldest recreational substances still in use today. In alcoholic beverages, ethanol is the most common kind of alcohol to be discovered.

The Tails

These alcohols and other compounds, which are sometimes known as ‘faints,’ have low boiling temperatures and are released at the conclusion of the distillation process. 1-Propanol (CH3CH2CH2OH) is a naturally occurring compound that forms in tiny amounts during the fermentation process. It has a boiling point of 97.0 degrees Celsius. It is utilized as a solvent in the pharmaceutical sector, and it is one among the alcohols distillers refer to as ‘Fusel Oils,’ which is a derogatory word for those who use them.

Butanol alcohol is often found in beer and wine.

Amber-colored liquid with a boiling point of 131.6 degrees Celsius, Amyl (Isobutyl Carbinol)alcohol is a colorless compound.

Fusel alcohols, sometimes referred to as

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