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Methanol

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Methanol

Postby Harry » Tue Oct 25, 2011 2:57 pm

Touchy subject, full of myths & fables.

I posted this 18 months ago in my own groups, Recently I needed to do so again. So perhaps it's time it found a home here in the "teach us" section. Read it carefully. Much will become clear.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/new_distillers/message/38043
Sat Feb 20, 2010 1:01 pm

Methanol

Ok, let's clear up this methanol thing. Consider the following:

Methanol is a hydrocarbon, comprised of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Its chemical formula is CH3OH.

Methanol is an alcohol and is a colorless, neutral, polar and flammable liquid. It is miscible with water, alcohols, esters and most other organic solvents. It is only slightly soluble in fats and oils.

Methanol can form an azeotrope with some other materials. Ideally, when a mixture of two liquids is distilled the lower boiling material vaporizes first and is collected separately from the second material. However, sometimes the two materials form a constant boiling mixture and are collected together even though they have different boiling points. This is exactly what the Greek word azeotrope means, "constant boiling".

Listed below are some of the binary (two-component) azeotropes of methanol:

Acetone (BP=56.15)
methanol/acetone azeotrope: BP=55.5, ratio of components in yield=12%/88% by wt.

Ethyl acetate (BP=77.1)
methanol/eth.acet. azeotrope: BP=62.25, ratio of components in yield= 44%/56% by wt.

..and some of the notable substances methanol does not form azeotropes with:

Acetaldehyde (BP=20.2C)
Ethanol (BP=78.5C)
Isopropyl alcohol (BP=82.3C)
Water (BP=100C)

So what does all this mean to the hobby distiller? Let's look at the facts.

Colorless means it looks the same as pure water.
Neutral means it has no odor and no taste.
Polar means it is dipole-charged (think magnet), and can bond with other dipole-charged molecules (e.g. water) just like magnets can bond together.
Flammable means it will burn.
Miscible means it can be mixed uniformly with other liquids (or gases if it is a gas), in any concentration without separation of phases.

Those who claim they can smell or taste it are deluded. They are confusing methanol with other substances that may be present (e.g. ethyl acetete or 'nail polish remover').

Some very careful distillers have noted the methanol/eth.acet. azeotrope: BP=62.25 in many previous posts. Now you know what it is.

It can mix with water, and ethanol (beverage alcohol).

It forms azeotropes with many of the esters and substances found in beverage distilling, notably Acetone and Ethyl acetate.

It does NOT form azeotropes with either water of ethanol..

At first glance you would think methanol could be completely removed by fractionation because of the non-azeotrope situation with both water and ethanol.
HOWEVER, because of the fact it DOES form azeotropes with other materials (acetone, some esters & higher alcohols) it will be present in a distillation as an azeotrope with those substances.

This is why careful removal of these materials and also prevention of formation of these substances in the first place, is so important to yielding a good quality ethanol (e.g GNS & Vodka).

It should be obvious however, that beverages that REQUIRE some of these materials for flavour profile (the brown spirits) will never be ENTIRELY free of some small amount of methanol, due to the azeotropic formations with some esters & higher alcohols.

Having said all that, it is a known fact that there's far more methanol in a 30ml shot of ORANGE JUICE, than there is in a 30ml shot of whisk(e)y.

I hope this clears it up for you. Happy distilling folks.

Slainte!
regards Harry
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Re: Methanol

Postby Rebel_Yell » Tue Oct 25, 2011 8:14 pm

Cheers Harry!

I like fresh squeezed.
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Re: Methanol

Postby kenfyoozed » Tue Oct 25, 2011 9:24 pm

Thanks Harry, did not know that about Orange juice. Cool to learn something new.
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Re: Methanol

Postby slowpokedom » Wed Oct 26, 2011 7:18 am

i had 4 ounces of OJ just a minute ago..

Thanks :D for all the information also
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Re: Methanol

Postby Rednose » Wed Oct 26, 2011 7:51 am

Nice written Harry, I should use it (translated to spanish) in the distillery classes we give if you allow.

After the big problem with methanol we had (total 50 deads) it's valued info.
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Re: Methanol

Postby manu de hanoi » Wed Oct 26, 2011 8:05 am

nice, perhaps a similar text about ethanol and it's effects on human health would make a good sticky/warning. Especially considering the amount of alcoholics among us. How come we dont have a link to AA btw ?
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Re: Methanol

Postby Rebel_Yell » Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:19 pm

manu de hanoi wrote:nice, perhaps a similar text about ethanol and it's effects on human health would make a good sticky/warning. Especially considering the amount of alcoholics among us. How come we dont have a link to AA btw ?


Cause I'm a drunk not an alcoholic... :mg:
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Re: Methanol

Postby Harry » Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:49 pm

Rednose wrote:Nice written Harry, I should use it (translated to spanish) in the distillery classes we give if you allow.

After the big problem with methanol we had (total 50 deads) it's valued info.



@Joe. Yes you can use it by all means. The more we educate the hobbyists, start-up micro's and general public, on what's right & what's wrong, the better off we'll all be. I'm sick of the anti-distilling scare tactics and bullshit being peddled by some out there who should know better.

Slainte!
regards Harry
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Re: Methanol

Postby pintoshine » Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:16 pm

we do have the ability to digest small amounts of methanol. The enzyme we have as humans converts it it formaldehyde. we can expel that in small quantities. Ethanol is a cure for methanol poisoning. The enzyme will convert the ethanol in preference to the methanol and allow the methanol to be expelled through the kidneys. Fact. look it up. 94% ethanol with 1% methanol is a drunken binge, but no blindness.
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Re: Methanol

Postby mikejwoodnz » Wed Oct 26, 2011 11:24 pm

pintoshine wrote:we do have the ability to digest small amounts of methanol. The enzyme we have as humans converts it it formaldehyde. we can expel that in small quantities. Ethanol is a cure for methanol poisoning. The enzyme will convert the ethanol in preference to the methanol and allow the methanol to be expelled through the kidneys. Fact. look it up. 94% ethanol with 1% methanol is a drunken binge, but no blindness.


Right this is why I always sanitize my Orange Juice with Vodka it neutralises the methanol in the Orange Juice. :wink:
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Re: Methanol

Postby slowpokedom » Thu Oct 27, 2011 7:42 am

mikejwoodnz wrote:
pintoshine wrote:we do have the ability to digest small amounts of methanol. The enzyme we have as humans converts it it formaldehyde. we can expel that in small quantities. Ethanol is a cure for methanol poisoning. The enzyme will convert the ethanol in preference to the methanol and allow the methanol to be expelled through the kidneys. Fact. look it up. 94% ethanol with 1% methanol is a drunken binge, but no blindness.


Right this is why I always sanitize my Orange Juice with Vodka it neutralises the methanol in the Orange Juice. :wink:



ok ill take your advice. gotta make another sugar wash now :D
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Re: Methanol

Postby ArcticShine » Thu Oct 27, 2011 8:39 am

very good info.
tx.

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Re: Methanol

Postby Duracell » Mon Oct 31, 2011 12:10 am

mikejwoodnz wrote:
Right this is why I always sanitize my Orange Juice with Vodka it neutralises the methanol in the Orange Juice. :wink:



Haha that's hillarious.
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Re: Methanol

Postby 24racefan » Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:46 am

Great write up Harry. Wish there was a way to make it mandatory reading for some. Thanks for takin the time. Ho yea I too will start mixing my oj with sprit to kill off the methanol.
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Re: Methanol

Postby vb » Wed Apr 25, 2012 3:51 pm

slowpokedom wrote:i had 4 ounces of OJ just a minute ago..

just finished a glass of orange juice myself, had far more ethanol than methanol in it as far as I could tell.
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