Showing posts with label methanol. Show all posts
Showing posts with label methanol. Show all posts

Can I get methanol poisoning from home brew beer?

Monday, October 23, 2023

Methanol in Home Brewed Beer: Is it a Concern?

Recent headlines have been abuzz with a tragic story from South Africa in 2020, where a couple lost their lives after consuming homemade beer. Though the exact details surrounding this incident remain unclear, it has led many to question the potential dangers of home brewing, particularly regarding methanol production. While we await a thorough examination from reliable sources like Snopes, one thing is clear: methanol poisoning from homebrewed beer is highly unlikely.

Understanding Methanol and its Dangers

Methanol, often referred to as 'wood alcohol,' is recognized for its toxic properties. Consumption of even small amounts can lead to severe health implications, including blindness and, in extreme cases, death. Tales of sailors or individuals consuming bootleg spirits and suffering these consequences have long been part of folklore.

However, standard home brewing primarily produces ethanol, a different type of alcohol, with a distinct chemical structure. While tiny traces of methanol can form, especially in fruit beers containing pectin, the levels are so minimal that they pose no health threat. Simply put, there's no risk of producing a beer batch laced with methanol.

Distillation, however, is a different ball game.

can i get methonal poisoning from beer

Distillation: A Risky Endeavor

Although home brewing beer is relatively safe from methanol concerns, distillation can be dangerous. Improper distillation can lead to harmful methanol concentrations, and there have been instances where methanol is intentionally added to bootleg spirits.

This is why many countries prohibit personal distillation. Nevertheless, equipment is still accessible online. New Zealand permits distillation but strictly for personal use.

The science behind distillation is intricate, and some myths about methanol production persist. The bottom line is: if you're brewing beer at home, there's no threat of producing a lethal brew. But if you're considering distillation, approach with caution and seek expertise.

Methanol Poisoning: Symptoms and Treatment

Methanol toxicity manifests after its ingestion. Early symptoms include reduced consciousness, impaired coordination, nausea, abdominal discomfort, and a distinctive breath odor. Vision impairment, even blindness, can occur within hours, resulting from methanol metabolizing into formic acid, which damages the optic nerve.

methanol poisoning from home brew beer

Is There a Remedy for Methanol Poisoning?

Yes, there is! The antidote, fomepizole, can counteract the effects if administered promptly. Other treatments include dialysis and intaking sodium bicarbonate, folate, and thiamine. If you suspect methanol poisoning, seeking immediate medical intervention is crucial.

In some curious instances, like a gentleman who drank wine left open for two months and experienced adverse symptoms, the cause is likely not methanol. Instead, the wine probably oxidized, turning it into an unpleasant vinegar-like substance.

In summary, while home brewing is a rewarding hobby, it's vital to be informed and exercise caution, especially when delving into distillation. With the right knowledge and practices, you can enjoy your brews safely.

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