When was the last time you came across a myth and you could not help yourself laughing because the story was really absurd? Well, if it has
been long enough, then here is another myth; really absurd. It goes like this; some people believe that drinking improperly distilled ethanol processed by homemade stills have caused people to be poisoned or go blind. Funny, isn’t it?
The mechanism on which distillation works is insanely simple. So simple, that the educationalists deems it appropriate to be taught at school level, perhaps in 7th or 8th grade. Distillation is a process to purify any liquid. It is an attempt to purify the liquid of those impurities which cannot be sieved or decanted off. The process involves two state-of-change steps. The first one being evaporation and the second one being condensation. Let’s take the example of salt water. The salt being dissolved in our solvent cannot be sieved off. So what we do is we simply heat the water so that the water changes into vapor and evaporates, while the salt is left behind. Since the steam rises up, which is actually free of salt, we condense it to return it to the desired state i.e. liquid. Another thing to note here is that distillation CANNOT initiate the production of any harmful or toxic substance and in this case, it cannot poison the ethanol. So using the phrase ‘improperly distilled ethanol’ in this sense is a bit too funny. For more information, you can also check out: http://scribol.com/lifestyle/moonshine-making-debunking-the-urban-myth.
Now let’s bust the myth and come to the actual story! Denatured ethanol is ethanol which is poisoned and rendered unfit to drink and since it is cheap, many injuries which our story tellers attribute to ‘improperly distilled ethanol’ have really been caused by drinking the denatured one. Now the question is, why would somebody poison ethanol? The credit goes to the US government! The government decreed that all the ethanol
produced which is not meant for drinking should be deliberately poisoned and should be declared unfit to drink. The government does not tax denatured ethanol which explains why it is cheap. The government, however, keeps a strict check on the production of denatured ethanol. If only it took up the responsibility to keep a check on how the denatured ethanol is used, sold in the market, and undergoes distillation for purification, many injuries would have been averted today. To attain further information on this topic, you can also visit: www.stilltutorial.com.
Note: Remember, the distillation of ethyl-alcohols is illegal without a permit per federal moonshine laws and is inherently dangerous because of ethanol’s flammability (never operate a homemade still indoors). For more moonshine laws and other moonshine still permit information, visit: http://www.ttb.gov/spirits/faq.shtml. Sorry, ya even need a license for personal use due to TTB federal distillation moonshine laws.
For more info on your own homemade copper still plans for home, see http://stilltutorial.com