Is It Safe to Drink Moonshine? With the drinking culture we have developed in the past few decades, liquor stores and bars alike have acquired a wide variety of specialty wines, beers, and spirits. Among the fastest-growing crazes is the resurgence of moonshine,
This formerly hush-hush, home-distilled drink of backwoods Appalachia is now legit! Its sale is being regulated by the US government in some states. So what exactly is moonshine? How come it is winning the hearts of several craft distillers despite being one of the most illicit drinks in the US? Is it really safe to drink moonshine? What is Moonshine? Moonshine, more popularly known as “hooch” or “homebrew” is made from a mash of corn, sugar, yeast, and water.
Unlike whiskey and bourbon, moonshine is not aged. It has a very high alcohol content, sometimes peaking at 190 proof. Traditionally, it is being produced in a homemade moonshine still and bottled in a mason jar. It was first introduced in the US in the 18 th century by Scottish and Irish immigrants.
It quickly became a mainstay of Southern culture. As its popularity crested, the government became interested in taxation. People started making it in the middle of the night, under the light of the moon, hence its name. This is to hide the smoke that would run off the boiling liquor from local law enforcers.
Today, moonshine is widely available in some states and online for purchase. Why Do People Love Drinking Moonshine? While most people drink it straight from the jar, moonshine is excellent for mixing cocktails! It is basically whiskey, so you can combine it with Coke, ginger ale, lemonade, iced tea, and more! You can also infuse fresh apples, pineapples, peaches, blackberry, blueberry, cinnamon, or tangerine juice to this drink.
The possibilities are endless! Is It Safe To Drink Moonshine? You probably have read stories about the dangers of moonshine and other illegally distilled drinks. Illegal moonshine remains to be dangerous because it is brewed in makeshift stills. The distillation process produces alcohol vapors, which are highly flammable.
The threat of explosion is too high, hence moonshine stills are better outdoors. Although most of the stills in operation today are all-copper variety, plenty of old vehicles are still around. These old handmade stills use lead-based solder to make connections.
- Unfortunately, lead can leach out of the radiators and connections.
- Lead is toxic to the body.
- Lead poisoning can cause memory loss, brain swelling, paralysis, and even death.
- In larger batches of distilled moonshine, tainting with methanol can occur.
- Methanol vaporizes at a lower temperature than ethanol, so it is the first liquid to be produced during the distillation process.
The larger the batch, the more ethanol. Methanol is highly poisonous. When metabolized in the body, it can cause serious side effects. With just a few ml, the dangerous potential of methanol can be undetectable. You will just get a hangover. However, 10 ml or more of methanol, even split up among drinks, can permanently damage your optic nerve and cause partial or complete blindness.
The lethal dose is 30 ml. How Can You Tell Which Moonshine Is Safe To Drink? One way to test the purity of a moonshine liquor is to pour some in a metal spoon and set it on fire. If it burns with a blue flame, it is more likely safe to drink. If it produces a yellow or red flame, it is an indication of the presence of lead.
However, this spoon test does not detect the presence of methanol, which burns a colorless flame. With hundreds and thousands of moonshine being produced on a regular basis, chances are some of it will be tainted. When made properly, moonshine is simply a strong alcohol with a very hard taste or “kick” because it has not been aged.
- 1 How do you test for methanol poisoning?
- 2 How can I test for methanol at home?
- 3 Does moonshine go bad over time?
- 4 How do you know if alcohol is good?
How do you test for methanol poisoning?
Serum methanol – Definitive diagnosis of methanol toxicity requires a confirmed increase in the serum methanol level with gas chromatography. Peak levels are achieved 60-90 minutes after ingestion, but they do not correlate with the level of toxicity and thus are not a good indicator of prognosis.
Why is my homemade moonshine cloudy?
Solution #4 – Let your yeast settle – Once the yeast is done fermenting, it will settle down to the bottom of your fermentation pot. If you do not allow sufficient time for the yeast to naturally settle, some of it may get into the still, causing cloudy shine.
- Yeast Selection for Grain, Fruit and Sugar – A great guide for selecting the correct yeast for your fruit or grain mash or sugar wash.
- How to Correct For Temperature When Measuring Proof of Alcohol – This is especially important when diluting alcohol for consumption.
- Still Plans with Gin Basket – If you want to make gin here’s a free set of plans to build your own gin basket and still,
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How can I test for methanol at home?
How to Test If Alcohol Has Methanol Updated May 23, 2018 By Blake Flournoy Methanol is an alcohol much like ethanol, which is the active ingredient in alcoholic beverages. Methanol provides the same buzz as ethanol, and occurs naturally at low levels in fermented drinks but is far more toxic than ethanol, to the point that it can cause severe illness and death.
Commercial producers of alcohol have specialized methods of removing methanol from their products, but home and hobby brewers tend not to have the technology at their disposal to easily remove the substance from their brews. At the same time, illegal breweries will sometimes use methanol as a cheap substitute for ethanol.
Luckily, there are ways to test for the presence of methanol in an alcoholic beverage. Though similar to ethanol, and capable of providing the same buzz, methanol is a toxic substance and should not be consumed. In trace amounts, as found in certain fermented drinks, it is not harmful, but in larger quantities it can be deadly.
Alcoholic drinks containing methanol will sometimes have a pungent odor and will produce a yellow flame when lit on fire. For a safer test, you can apply sodium dichromate to a sample of the beverage. Though methanol is an alcohol similar to ethanol, it is incredibly dangerous in large quantities. While methanol does form in small amounts during fermentation and is fine to consume in things like commercially produced wine or beer, the concentration you find in things like home brewed gin, rum and other spirits can poison you.
Unlike ethanol, when consumed, methanol in the human body is converted into formic acid. The same substance found in ant venom. A buildup of formic acid resulting from this can cause circulation problems, liver damage and a number of other symptoms up to and including nerve damage, permanent blindness and kidney failure.
- If you suspect that an alcoholic beverage may contain a dangerous amount of methanol, there are a number of quick and crude tests you can perform.
- The easiest is to smell the beverage: If it has a strong, unpleasant chemical odor, the beverage may not be safe to consume.
- However, because not all methanol-tainted beverages produce this smell, it is also possible to test with flame.
If a sample of the beverage is lit on fire, and the fire burns yellow rather than blue, the drink is not safe to consume. Testing alcohol by scent or by flame are neither guaranteed nor safe methods, however, to test for the presence of methanol more effectively, you can apply sodium dichromate to a sample of the beverage.
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. Swirl this container gently a few times, then waft the air from the mouth of the container towards your nose by fanning the air toward you with a hand, with the container placed roughly 8-12 inches from your face.
How to Test Moonshine for Methanol (Smell it, Burn it)
Take note of the scent: If it is pungent and irritating, methanol is present in the alcohol. If the scent is dominating and fruity, only ethanol is present, and the beverage is safe. : How to Test If Alcohol Has Methanol
Why does my moonshine taste like chemicals?
Using Tap Water – You might not even think about it. You use tap water for your mash because it’s easily available, and really, what’s the difference? Tap water can contain impurities and chemicals, both of which can affect the aroma and taste of your moonshine. Serious moonshiners who want to create high-quality hooch know only to use distilled water.
What should good moonshine taste like?
What Does Moonshine Taste Like? – They say it’s delicious and tastes like a breath of fresh air. While some say it has a taste similar to whiskey and rum 151. Typically, its flavor is stronger than other liquors, and a traditionally prepared moonshine may have an earthy taste. Have you tasted rum 151? If so, you can already guess the burning sensation of drinking moonshine.
However, there are several manufacturers today, and each produces its own version of moonshine. As such, this alcoholic beverage can come in flavors like sweet, spicy, and fruity. Similarly, when you drink this alcohol, you can taste a hint of corn and white oak. While some say it has the flavor of vanilla or tastes like grappa and cider.
If you enjoy beverages with fruity flavors, you might enjoy drinking moonshine, but it may not suit your palate if you’re not a fan of such tastes. Besides its taste, moonshine has a mild odor and slightly smells like corn. Also, if you’re dealing with home-brewed moonshine, don’t drink it if the alcohol produces a pungent chemical smell, as it may be contaminated and can be toxic.
- It may even make you feel nauseous.
- Though most people think that moonshine tastes like vodka as they’re both transparent and contain high levels of alcohol, that’s not the case.
- They’re two different drinks with varying tastes and are processed differently.
- Moreover, most people might not enjoy the intense taste of moonshine as it’s very alcoholic and will find an alternative option to make it more palatable.
So let’s find out how to drink it.
Does moonshine go bad over time?
Summary – Moonshine cannot really expire. The flavor and characteristics of your moonshine can be changed if it is exposed to light, warmth, or air but it won’t become undrinkable. Even an open bottle of flavored moonshine will last for many years before it will start to go off.
How do you know if alcohol is good?
You can tell alcohol has gone bad by its color, taste, and/or consistency – For example, vermouth, especially Rosso vermouth, which are pale, dry, and typically bitter, starts to taste like Worcestershire sauce Novak told INSIDER. Sherry, on the other hand, oxidizes when it’s gone bad, cream liquors will curdle, and sugar-based liqueurs change color. Cream liqueur goes bad by curdling. Moussa81/ iStock Unlike how you can get food poisoning or feel ill after eating something that has gone bad, alcohol that’s gone bad doesn’t have the same effect. So even if you can’t tell one way or another if a bottle you’re pouring from has expired, Novak said worst case scenario you’ll experience an intense hangover the next day.