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Re: methanol test

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  • David Eastham
    ... presence of ... I think only a lab equipped with a gas chromatography setup would be able to do this. Dave Eastham
    Message 1 of 15 , Nov 3, 2004
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      --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, dana kanzler <d.kanzler@w...>
      wrote:
      > does anyone know of a method to test beverage alcohol for the
      presence of
      > methanol? I have searched for a "test kit" with no results. Would
      > appreciate any help. Dana Kanzler

      I think only a lab equipped with a gas chromatography setup would be
      able to do this.
      Dave Eastham
    • gjbloom
      Actually, the human sense of smell is easily as sensitive as GC. In fact, folks running GC often sniff the fractions as they come across to identify the
      Message 2 of 15 , Nov 4, 2004
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        Actually, the human sense of smell is easily as sensitive as GC. In
        fact, folks running GC often sniff the fractions as they come across
        to identify the individual component molecules.

        I think your best methanol test is to smell and taste the foreshots /
        heads. If you're worried about toxicity, don't. Methanol formation
        in a turbo yeast sugar wash should total around 2-3 mg/liter. Even
        if you kept the first 50ml of foreshots that captured all 60
        milligrams of methanol produced in a 20-liter wash, you'd have to
        drink around 200 LITERS of these foreshots before you'd hit a 50%
        probability of dying from methanol poisoning. Needless to say, you'd
        have died 400 times from ethanol poisoning before you reached that
        point.

        To further put this in perspective, apple juice can easily contain
        0.3% methanol in it's natural state. That's a higher concentration
        than you get even in the methanol-rich foreshots that you'd normally
        throw away. (And, again, you'd die from something else long before
        you could drink enough apple juice to die from the methanol in it).

        All the common folk-legends about moonshine causing methanol
        poisoning arise from unscrupulous and greedy moonshine manufacturers
        who would intentionally add cheaper 'wood alcohol' to their product.
        If you're distilling your own, your only fear of methanol is that
        it'll ruin the taste.

        Have a look at http://homedistiller.org/methanol.htm



        --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "David Eastham"
        <deastham2000@t...> wrote:
        >
        > --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, dana kanzler <d.kanzler@w...>
        > wrote:
        > > does anyone know of a method to test beverage alcohol for the
        > presence of
        > > methanol? I have searched for a "test kit" with no results.
        Would
        > > appreciate any help. Dana Kanzler
        >
        > I think only a lab equipped with a gas chromatography setup would
        be
        > able to do this.
        > Dave Eastham
      • David Eastham
        ... In ... across ... True. My friend is a perfumer and has at his disposal GC coupled to MS. He still sniffs the fragrance compounds before using MS, and has
        Message 3 of 15 , Nov 4, 2004
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          --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "gjbloom" <gjbloom@y...> wrote:
          >
          > Actually, the human sense of smell is easily as sensitive as GC.
          In
          > fact, folks running GC often sniff the fractions as they come
          across
          > to identify the individual component molecules.
          >

          True. My friend is a perfumer and has at his disposal GC coupled to
          MS. He still sniffs the fragrance compounds before using MS, and has
          done for the past 20 years.
          Dave Eastham
        • Mike Nixon
          Dana Kanzler wrote: Subject: [Distillers] Re: methanol test does anyone know of a method to test beverage alcohol for the presence of methanol? I have
          Message 4 of 15 , Nov 4, 2004
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            Dana Kanzler wrote:
            Subject: [Distillers] Re: methanol test

            does anyone know of a method to test beverage alcohol for the presence of
            methanol? I have searched for a "test kit" with no results. Would
            appreciate any help.

            I think only a lab equipped with a gas chromatography setup would be
            able to do this.
            Dave Eastham
            ========================
            David's right about that. I'm not aware of any simple test for methanol
            either. It would be nice if we did have a simple one like the iodine test
            for starch.

            However, you only need worry about methanol if you are fermenting a fruit or
            grain wash. A sugar wash cannot have any methanol in it as it has no
            pectin. It's the breakdown of pectin that results in methanol, for pectin
            is mainly composed of methyl esters of galactose. Even with a grain wash,
            don't worry too much as most of the methanol is retained inside the grains
            (dunno about cornflakes though!)

            You still have to set aside heads with any fermented wash of course, even if
            there's no methanol present. Higher alcohols than ethanol will be produced,
            together with other volatile compounds such as aldehydes, and this is
            particularly so if you are using a turbo yeast that comes heavily dosed with
            nutrients.

            All the best,
            Mike N
          • Sven Pfitt
            I m not quite sure this is absolutely ture Mike. The article on Brazillian Cachaca indicates that small amounts of methanol are present.
            Message 5 of 15 , Nov 5, 2004
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              I'm not quite sure this is absolutely ture Mike.

              The article on Brazillian Cachaca indicates that small amounts of
              methanol are present.

              http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0103-
              50532000000100015&lng=en&nrm=iso

              In addition, research I have done on yeast for brewing beer indicates
              that small ammounts are present there as well. There are even yeast
              which can live on methanol (yeast produce ethanol as a product they
              can later consume, but other competing bio-organisms can not).

              However, with all this said I believe that the levels of methanol
              production in non-fruit washes is insignificant(including grain
              washes unless one over-sparges or ferments on the grain).

              The link above is to a very good article on the GC analysis of cane
              syrup sugar wash Cachaca from the "Journal of the Brazilian Chemical
              Society".

              If you discard the initial 50ml of a 20L batch taken off very slowly,
              you are probably eliminating the greatest majority of methanol.

              Sven

              --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Nixon" <mike@s...> wrote:
              > Dana Kanzler wrote:
              > Subject: [Distillers] Re: methanol test
              >
              > does anyone know of a method to test beverage alcohol for the
              presence of
              > methanol? I have searched for a "test kit" with no results. Would
              > appreciate any help.
              >
              > I think only a lab equipped with a gas chromatography setup would be
              > able to do this.
              > Dave Eastham
              > ========================
              > David's right about that. I'm not aware of any simple test for
              methanol
              > either. It would be nice if we did have a simple one like the
              iodine test
              > for starch.
              >
              > However, you only need worry about methanol if you are fermenting a
              fruit or
              > grain wash. A sugar wash cannot have any methanol in it as it has
              no
              > pectin. It's the breakdown of pectin that results in methanol, for
              pectin
              > is mainly composed of methyl esters of galactose. Even with a
              grain wash,
              > don't worry too much as most of the methanol is retained inside the
              grains
              > (dunno about cornflakes though!)
              >
              > You still have to set aside heads with any fermented wash of
              course, even if
              > there's no methanol present. Higher alcohols than ethanol will be
              produced,
              > together with other volatile compounds such as aldehydes, and this
              is
              > particularly so if you are using a turbo yeast that comes heavily
              dosed with
              > nutrients.
              >
              > All the best,
              > Mike N
            • Mike Nixon
              Sven Pfitt wrote: Subject: [Distillers] Re: methanol test I m not quite sure this is absolutely ture Mike. The article on Brazillian Cachaca indicates that
              Message 6 of 15 , Nov 5, 2004
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                Sven Pfitt wrote:
                Subject: [Distillers] Re: methanol test

                I'm not quite sure this is absolutely ture Mike.

                The article on Brazillian Cachaca indicates that small amounts of
                methanol are present.

                http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0103-
                50532000000100015&lng=en&nrm=iso

                In addition, research I have done on yeast for brewing beer indicates
                that small ammounts are present there as well. There are even yeast
                which can live on methanol (yeast produce ethanol as a product they
                can later consume, but other competing bio-organisms can not).

                However, with all this said I believe that the levels of methanol
                production in non-fruit washes is insignificant(including grain
                washes unless one over-sparges or ferments on the grain).

                The link above is to a very good article on the GC analysis of cane
                syrup sugar wash Cachaca from the "Journal of the Brazilian Chemical
                Society".

                If you discard the initial 50ml of a 20L batch taken off very slowly,
                you are probably eliminating the greatest majority of methanol.

                Sven
                =================
                Indeed Sven, you will get small quantities of methanol when making Cachaça
                as it is fermented directly from juice that has been pressed from sugar cane
                and subjected to no further purification. This juice contains vegetable
                matter, some of which will have methyl esters of galactose joined by a beta
                linkage (to be pedantic about it), as this is a primary constituent of plant
                cell walls. Commercial sugar does not have this, which is why it is termed
                "refined". Nevertheless, Brazilian Cachaça is one of my favorite tipples,
                and I was presented with a magnificent bottle of genuine bottle of it
                recently, beautifully encased in a woven raffia casing. A very thoughtful
                gift, as I have several lime trees which produce plentiful crops of fruit
                :-)

                However, it's all rather academic anyway for, as you point out, the heads
                are discarded anyway, even if you used "refined" sugar for your wash.

                All the best,
                Mike N
              • rodmacd2000
                I ve always understood that higher alcohols than ethanol (i.e. propyl alcohol and all with three or more carbon atoms) were *less* volatile than ethanol
                Message 7 of 15 , Nov 5, 2004
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                  I've always understood that higher alcohols than ethanol (i.e. propyl
                  alcohol and all with three or more carbon atoms) were *less* volatile
                  than ethanol (higher boiling point) and therefore can not be removed
                  with the heads: in fact any such alcohols present in a wash would be
                  part of the *tails*.

                  Am I wrong (again)?

                  Rod

                  --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Nixon" <mike@s...> wrote:

                  > You still have to set aside heads with any fermented wash of
                  course, even if
                  > there's no methanol present. Higher alcohols than ethanol will be
                  produced,
                  > together with other volatile compounds such as aldehydes, and this
                  is
                  > particularly so if you are using a turbo yeast that comes heavily
                  dosed with
                  > nutrients.
                  >
                  > All the best,
                  > Mike N
                • bkeith1886
                  ... indicates ... I m interested in hearing anything about anyone s attempts at making cachaca. It s one of the first things that I want to try brewing and
                  Message 8 of 15 , Nov 5, 2004
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                    --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Nixon" <mike@s...> wrote:
                    > Sven Pfitt wrote:
                    > Subject: [Distillers] Re: methanol test
                    >
                    > I'm not quite sure this is absolutely ture Mike.
                    >
                    > The article on Brazillian Cachaca indicates that small amounts of
                    > methanol are present.
                    >
                    > http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0103-
                    > 50532000000100015&lng=en&nrm=iso
                    >
                    > In addition, research I have done on yeast for brewing beer
                    indicates
                    > that small ammounts are present there as well. There are even yeast
                    > which can live on methanol (yeast produce ethanol as a product they
                    > can later consume, but other competing bio-organisms can not).
                    >

                    I'm interested in hearing anything about anyone's attempts at making
                    cachaca.

                    It's one of the first things that I want to try brewing and
                    distilling, along with a rum.

                    I'll do a sugar wash at some point to compare, but I'm sure the
                    natural products will be more interesting.

                    Thanks all.
                  • Harry
                    ... ... the heads ... wash. ... This whole methanol thing is paranoia. It s been pointed out before that you just can t drink enough alcohol in one
                    Message 9 of 15 , Nov 5, 2004
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                      --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Nixon" <mike@s...> wrote:
                      > Sven Pfitt wrote:
                      > Subject: [Distillers] Re: methanol test
                      <snip>

                      >
                      > However, it's all rather academic anyway for, as you point out,
                      the heads
                      > are discarded anyway, even if you used "refined" sugar for your
                      wash.
                      >
                      > All the best,
                      > Mike N



                      This whole methanol thing is paranoia. It's been pointed out before
                      that you just can't drink enough alcohol in one sitting for methanol
                      to have any poisoning affect. The alc. would kill you long before
                      that happened. This excerpt from the article Sven linked to
                      illustrates the point...

                      <extract>
                      The methanol level in blood for acute intoxication is about 100 mg
                      100 L-1.13 According to the results in Table 1, an adult weighing 70
                      kg should ingest about 180 L of regular commercial cachaça to
                      undergo methanol intoxication.

                      Recently, some Brazilian newspapers have reported cases of methanol
                      intoxication due to cachaça ingestion. This poisoning is directly
                      related to beverages prepared and sold on "moonshine style", without
                      any type of chemical control. The Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture3
                      has established a limit of 0.25 mL (200 mg) of methanol in 100 mL
                      a.a.

                      The origin of the high methanol content in these products is quite
                      controversial, but surely the regular fermentation and distillation
                      process do not account for that. As far as we know, there are no
                      cases of methanol poisoning reported as a consequence of regular
                      commercial cachaças ingestion.
                      </extract>

                      -----------------------------------------
                      BOSCOLO, Maurício, BEZERRA, Cícero W. B., CARDOSO, Daniel R. et al.
                      Identification and dosage by HRGC of minor alcohols and esters in
                      Brazilian sugar-cane spirit. J. Braz. Chem. Soc. [online]. Jan./Feb.
                      2000, vol.11, no.1 [cited 05 November 2004], p.86-90. Available from
                      World Wide Web: <http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?
                      script=sci_arttext&pid=S0103-50532000000100015&lng=en&nrm=iso>. ISSN
                      0103-5053.
                      -----------------------------------------

                      Slainte!
                      regards Harry
                    • Mike Nixon
                      rodmacd2000 wrote: Subject: [Distillers] Re: methanol test I ve always understood that higher alcohols than ethanol (i.e. propyl alcohol and all with three or
                      Message 10 of 15 , Nov 5, 2004
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                        rodmacd2000 wrote:
                        Subject: [Distillers] Re: methanol test

                        I've always understood that higher alcohols than ethanol (i.e. propyl
                        alcohol and all with three or more carbon atoms) were *less* volatile
                        than ethanol (higher boiling point) and therefore can not be removed
                        with the heads: in fact any such alcohols present in a wash would be
                        part of the *tails*.

                        Am I wrong (again)?

                        Rod
                        ==============
                        No, you're right Rod. Just my loose way of expressing myself. The higher
                        alcohols DO, as you point out, have lower vapor pressures at any given
                        temperature than ethanol and will therefore be associated with the tails.
                        What I was thinking of, but not saying it properly, was that compounds
                        produced during fermentation that have higher vapor pressures (and therefore
                        lower boiling points) than ethanol.will appear in the heads ... and there
                        are a lot of them ... stuff like ethyl acetate, methanal, aldehydes,
                        propanal etc, as well as good old methanol.

                        All the best,
                        Mike N
                      • Mike Nixon
                        Harry wrote: Subject: [Distillers] Re: methanol test This whole methanol thing is paranoia. It s been pointed out before that you just can t drink enough
                        Message 11 of 15 , Nov 5, 2004
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                          Harry wrote:
                          Subject: [Distillers] Re: methanol test

                          This whole methanol thing is paranoia. It's been pointed out before
                          that you just can't drink enough alcohol in one sitting for methanol
                          to have any poisoning affect. The alc. would kill you long before
                          that happened. This excerpt from the article Sven linked to
                          illustrates the point...
                          =======================
                          You can come sleep under my bridge any time you like Harry! Just bring your
                          own cardboard box to keep warm.
                          You are ablotuteshly, absolushly, abbalabbalutely ........... right on Mate!
                          Its nice and cosy if you manage to get a possie near the fire in the old oil
                          drum :-)
                          Hic!!!
                          Mike N
                        • Sven Pfitt
                          If I implied that the methanol was a real issue, I did not express myself clearly enough. I agree that with most washes there will be negligable methanol. I m
                          Message 12 of 15 , Nov 5, 2004
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                            If I implied that the methanol was a real issue, I did not express
                            myself clearly enough.

                            I agree that with most washes there will be negligable methanol. I'm
                            not sure about fruit washes with pits, stems, etc. But, I suspect even
                            they will not have large amounts, and can safely be handled by
                            judicious disposal of the first 50ml/20L or so.

                            I also suspect that in any Cachaca, or any other liquor which has
                            excessive levels of methanol it was introduced on purpose to give it a
                            "Kick" as was done during prohibition in the USA.

                            Just my suspission.

                            Sven

                            --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Harry" <gnikomson2000@y...> wrote:
                            >
                            > --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Nixon" <mike@s...> wrote:
                            > > Sven Pfitt wrote:
                            > > Subject: [Distillers] Re: methanol test
                            > <snip>
                            >
                            > >
                            > > However, it's all rather academic anyway for, as you point out,
                            > the heads
                            > > are discarded anyway, even if you used "refined" sugar for your
                            > wash.
                            > >
                            > > All the best,
                            > > Mike N
                            >

                            ...snip...

                            >
                            > Recently, some Brazilian newspapers have reported cases of methanol
                            > intoxication due to cachaça ingestion. This poisoning is directly
                            > related to beverages prepared and sold on "moonshine style", without
                            > any type of chemical control. The Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture3
                            > has established a limit of 0.25 mL (200 mg) of methanol in 100 mL
                            > a.a.
                            >
                            > The origin of the high methanol content in these products is quite
                            > controversial, but surely the regular fermentation and distillation
                            > process do not account for that. As far as we know, there are no
                            > cases of methanol poisoning reported as a consequence of regular
                            > commercial cachaças ingestion.
                            > </extract>
                            >

                            ...snip...
                          • waljaco
                            My impression is that methanol poisoning only occurs when it is added to normally distilled alcohol to bolster profits (cachaca included). Wine has more
                            Message 13 of 15 , Nov 6, 2004
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                              My impression is that methanol poisoning only occurs when it is added
                              to normally distilled alcohol to bolster profits (cachaca included).
                              Wine has more methanol than distilled spirits - unless you drink
                              spirits in wine glasses!
                              wal
                              --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Sven Pfitt" <the_gimp98@h...>
                              wrote:
                              >
                              > If I implied that the methanol was a real issue, I did not express
                              > myself clearly enough.
                              >
                              > I agree that with most washes there will be negligable methanol. I'm
                              > not sure about fruit washes with pits, stems, etc. But, I suspect
                              even
                              > they will not have large amounts, and can safely be handled by
                              > judicious disposal of the first 50ml/20L or so.
                              >
                              > I also suspect that in any Cachaca, or any other liquor which has
                              > excessive levels of methanol it was introduced on purpose to give
                              it a
                              > "Kick" as was done during prohibition in the USA.
                              >
                              > Just my suspission.
                              >
                              > Sven
                              >
                              > --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Harry" <gnikomson2000@y...>
                              wrote:
                              > >
                              > > --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Nixon" <mike@s...> wrote:
                              > > > Sven Pfitt wrote:
                              > > > Subject: [Distillers] Re: methanol test
                              > > <snip>
                              > >
                              > > >
                              > > > However, it's all rather academic anyway for, as you point out,
                              > > the heads
                              > > > are discarded anyway, even if you used "refined" sugar for your
                              > > wash.
                              > > >
                              > > > All the best,
                              > > > Mike N
                              > >
                              >
                              > ...snip...
                              >
                              > >
                              > > Recently, some Brazilian newspapers have reported cases of
                              methanol
                              > > intoxication due to cachaça ingestion. This poisoning is directly
                              > > related to beverages prepared and sold on "moonshine style",
                              without
                              > > any type of chemical control. The Brazilian Ministry of
                              Agriculture3
                              > > has established a limit of 0.25 mL (200 mg) of methanol in 100 mL
                              > > a.a.
                              > >
                              > > The origin of the high methanol content in these products is
                              quite
                              > > controversial, but surely the regular fermentation and
                              distillation
                              > > process do not account for that. As far as we know, there are no
                              > > cases of methanol poisoning reported as a consequence of regular
                              > > commercial cachaças ingestion.
                              > > </extract>
                              > >
                              >
                              > ...snip...
                            • Ben Scavizza
                              BKeith, I have made Cachaca. Well I can t call it that because I didn t make it in Brazil. Technically what I made was Rhum Agricole. Same thing. Brazil
                              Message 14 of 15 , Nov 9, 2004
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                                BKeith,

                                I have made Cachaca. Well I can't call it that because I didn't make it in Brazil. Technically what I made was Rhum Agricole. Same thing. Brazil has declared that Cachaca can only be made in Brazil.

                                What I did was obtain about 100 stalks of sugar cane. They were about 2 inches thick by 4 feet (usable) long. I squeezed these on a tabletop electric press made specifically for sugar cane. This took about 3 hours and was very messy. (Read: sticky) It yeilded 5 US gallons of pure sugar cane juice. I poured it through a strainer into a glass fermenter to remove chunks of cane stalk. I used "Wyeast Distillers Yeast" with a multivitamin crushed up but I doubt it needed the vitamin. Initial gravity was 1.084. It took off bubbling in 2 hours and turned off like a switch 2 days later. Final gravity was .099.

                                I ran this twice through a compound still. Once with packing removed and once with packing back in. With hindsight I'd have just run it once and payed attention to cuts. Since I'm new to all this I opted for the double distillation and seperated the spirit run into 250 ml jars for later blending.

                                I ended up with 4 x 750 ml bottles @ 40%. 2 I did not put on oak at all. At first these were harsh but either have mellowed with age in the bottle or my pallette has adjusted. Now they are delicious. (Possibly only to me like only a mother can love an ugly child). The other 2 bottles I put on oak chips (from the brew supply place) intended for aging wine. These were much more palatable initially but I think it made them a little too soft, vanilla-y, and sweet. I now prefer the un-"aged" ones. I don't know of an essence for Cachaca and since it was only a little messy it's worth doing. I've made a batch or 2 of rum from both white sugar and brown sugar and molasses. The sugar cane distillate has a vegetal quality that is characteristic of Cachaca and also very yummy to use a technical term.

                                Sorry so long...Email me if you have specific questions.
                                Ben


                                bkeith1886 <bkeith@...> wrote:

                                ...interested in hearing anything about anyone's attempts at making cachaca.

                                It's one of the first things that I want to try brewing and distilling, along with a rum.

                                I'll do a sugar wash at some point to compare, but I'm sure the
                                natural products will be more interesting.

                                Thanks all.
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