newbie question

Talk about methods, equipment and recipes for making brewed and distilled spirits at home.

newbie question

Postby geezer » Tuesday Dec 03, 2013 1:28 pm

Hi All,

This is my first post and I am looking forward to participating more in the future.

I am wondering about the idea of the distillation process having 'heads', not good, 'body' good, and 'tails' good/not good?. It seems to me that if I ferment a wash of 15-20 % abv that the ratio of good and not so good alcohol should be the same whether I distill or not. One doesn't get headaches, blindness, etc. from drinking this alcohol, so, and forgive my ignorance here, why should it become toxic when I distill? All I am removing is the water from the alcohol, aren't I. Is it that the concentrations are the issue?

Looking forward to clarification from those more wise than myself.

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Re: newbie question

Postby barls » Tuesday Dec 03, 2013 11:05 pm

It's the methanol concentration in the heads and tails that's the worrying part. It's higher as it boils off first and is the toxic part.
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Re: newbie question

Postby Guru » Wednesday Dec 04, 2013 6:53 am

Plenty of talk about methanol in the news at the moment, not good stuff.
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Re: newbie question

Postby Tipsy » Wednesday Dec 04, 2013 8:37 am

barls wrote:It's the methanol concentration in the heads

What Barls said.
In beer we drink all the methanol but it is diluted into 21lts or so of beer. It needs to be concentrated to give the harmful affects.
Luckily when distilling it is easy to remove the bulk of it.

some good reading
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Re: newbie question

Postby Lil'Possum » Wednesday Aug 12, 2015 12:05 pm

The methanol is only in the head. this can be collected as the first 300-500 ml. I then add that back in the next brew and re distill it. that can be done several times but gradually increasing the initial catch volume. Its very difficult to differentiate between the methanol and the ethanol, the only way really is by well controlled distillation as the re is a fair differential in the boiling points as methanol is 64.7∘ C and ethanol is 78.37∘ C. The only way after distillation is using the density and that is difficult as they are very close, methanol 0.792 g/L ,ethanol 789 g/L. This requires equipment which is not available tooth average brewer.
Commercial distillers collect a 30% head and a 30% tail and only use the middle 40%. the other 60% is then fed back in the next brew.
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