Brewing (beer, wine) is alowed, but distilling spirits is illegal (in Belgium) for two reasons. The government should miss revenues from taxes. You can distill (toxic) methanol. Drinking it can cause blindness or even may result in death.

Alcohol (or ethyl alcohol or ethanol) is made by fermenting sugary liquids and then distilling them. It is a good solvent. Therefore, use insoluble glass, stainless steel or copper in the production.

Methyl alcohol

wijnstokenMethanol (CH3OH, meths or denatured alcohol) is produced during the fermentation of inter alia fruit (especially peels, stems, wood) because of the pectin in it. So in all wine and beer is a small and harmless amount of methanol! By distilling the fermented fruits, the concentration of methanol becoms higher. Because the boiling point of methanol is lower than that of ethanol, all of the methanol will evaporate first. After that, the ethanol and the water will. You distill methanol at 65°C, alcohol at 78°C and water at 100°C.

Fermentation occurs beside methanol other chemical compounds: esters, aldehydes, acetic- and other acids and fusel.

Esters are compounds that arise from acid and alcohol. They are important in the fragrance and flavor formation. They are very common in fruits and essential oil.
Aldehydes are related to alcohol organic compounds on which hydrogen is extracted.
Fusel is a collective name for a group of lower and higher alcohols and their esters.

Poisoning by own distilled alcohol can lead to death. The methanol is converted by the liver into the toxins formaldehyde and formic acid.
The Vietnamese doctors in the Quang Tri hospital, in the province of the same name, bypassed (January 2019) a poisoning: ordinary alcohol or ethanol is first converted by the liver. Every hour the poisonous got a can of beer, so the liver continued to work with the ethanol. The toxic methanol was therefore worked out of the body through the respiration and urine. In the end, the man only left a firm hangover about it.

Prevent methanol

  • If you are using fruits with a lot of pectin (apples and pears) you better can bruise them and presses immediately, without pulp fermentation. Do not use wood (container, spoon, (cutting) board, press..)
  • You can destroy the own enzymes of the fruit by heating (30 minutes at 80⁰C), and after cooling add pectinase (an enzyme powder). In this way, 40 to 90% less methanol is formed.
  • Consider in the second boil the first 1.5 to 2% as the forerun, and discard it.
  • Very slow distillation with a high column.
  • Rather radical: only sugar fermenting to mash, without using fruit.

Alcohol: a liquid good for preserving everything except secrets and brains.