Making moonshine has a long history which makes many wary from consuming. Check out how to avoid moonshine blindness.
While making moonshine is often a fun habit that allows people to feel connected to their ancesterial roots, it is not without its dangers.
Alcohol consumption is something you have to do with great caution. The making, and enjoying of these fine tasting beverages do have quite a few hazards in store for you.
What are the Dangers of Drinking Moonshine?
Some of the most common hazards associated with alcohol are the behaviors that can happen as a result of a lapse of judgement.
An example of this can be driving under the influence. When you get intoxicated, your judgment is affected, it becomes hard for many to stay awake and alert and your response or reflex slows down a great deal. These effects of drinking too much alcohol often have catastrophic consequences.
Another common hazard associated with alcoholic beverages is alcoholism. You can become addicted to alcohol surprisingly fast and these addictions can have a huge impact on your personal, social, and financial life, not to mention the lives of those living with you.
Alcohol and drinking moonshine also have a few other negative effects that you need to be aware of. In this article, we are going to take a look at moonshine blindness and the best way to avoid it.
What is Moonshine Blindness?
Moonshine blindness has two ugly sides. First of all, there is the propaganda that was spread around the 1920s when governments attempted to stop people from producing their own moonshine. A lot of effort went into prohibiting the production of moonshine.
Many cases of poisoning and blindness were spread to discourage moonshine brewers despite that many of these cases were not related or were false.
And then there is the real cause of moonshine blindness. Moonshine blindness can occur when someone consumes too much methanol.
When methanol is consumed, it is changed into formaldehyde and is known as methanol poisoning. Methanol poisoning can cause damage to your eyes and can even result in blindness in severe cases.
Can you really go blind from moonshine?
Moonshine blindness used to be a huge risk back in the early days. Back when moonshiners were still perfecting their skills, they did not know to discard the first few ounces of liquid that came out of the distiller.
These first bits of liquid are known as heads and contain methanol and need to be discarded!
It is so important for both your safety and the quality and the rest of the alcohol that follows will be perfectly safe for consumption.
It also happened that some DIY enthusiasts used products such as antifreeze to cut their alcohol and to make more profits. As you can imagine, this method does have catastrophic results in store for anyone that tastes these brews.
Cases of methanol poisoning also occurred when some DIY enthusiasts used car radiators as a condenser for alcohol distillation. These radiators were lined with lead and resulted in lead contamination.
Modern moonshine kettles and brewing methods are however quite advanced. As long as you stick to proper – and common sense – brewing recipes, there is hardly any risk of getting methanol poisoning.
Is Making Moonshine Dangerous?
Making your own moonshine can be dangerous if you do not use the correct equipment and methods.
The best brewing kettles mostly consist of copper or stainless steel. These metals do not cause negative reactions while your products are distilling and copper absorbs some of the negative toxins which results in much cleaner and healthier moonshine.
If you do attempt to make your own kettle or thump keg then you should be very careful not to use the wrong materials (car radiators, for example).
It is also important to fractionate your moonshine to avoid getting methanol poisoning. For more information on fractionating your moonshine check out our how to make moonshine guide.
Is Drinking Moonshine Dangerous?
All alcohol can be dangerous to your health because all alcohol contains certain amounts of ethanol.
Human bodies are simply very good at detoxifying and removing ethanol from our bloodstream which is why we can enjoy these tasty beverages without getting poisoned.
You do always run a risk of getting alcohol poisoning no matter what alcohol you consume. This is because your liver might have trouble breaking down ethanol and might convert it into acetaldehyde. This corrosive can be poisonous and can cause damage to your liver.
To avoid alcohol poisoning or permanent liver damage, you should drink moderately. It is also best not to push your limits too far when you are sampling high-proof moonshine from expert moonshiners.
If your liver isn’t very good at breaking down the ethanol, you could suffer from alcohol poisoning.
Why does methanol make you blind?
Methanol is extremely toxic to humans. When you consume a lot of methanol, your body converts this liquid into formic acid.
Formic acid can alter the function of various cells and can stop them from working. 10 ml of pure methanol is very likely to cause severe damage to your optical nerves which results in blindness. Consuming 15ml of methanol can be fatal.
Can Rubbing Alcohol Blind you?
Yes, rubbing alcohol can also make you blind. There are different types of rubbing alcohol.
Ethanol is a type of rubbing alcohol that can be consumed but most manufacturers make it undrinkable by adding toxic chemicals such as methyl alcohol or gasoline.
Methyl alcohol, found in rubbing alcohol, can convert into formaldehyde and can cause damage to your optical nerve which results in blindness.
Isopropanol is another type of rubbing alcohol. This alcohol can also convert into a toxic element that causes damage to your liver.
So How do you Avoid Moonshine Blindness?
There are quite a few things you can do to stay safe while making your own moonshine or while sampling moonshine made by others. Here are a few of the best tips;
Tips for beginner moonshiners
If you are a beginner moonshiner then it is best to invest in a quality moonshine kit. These kits are made of quality lead-free materials that won’t result in any toxins in your produce.
You should also discard the first bit of moonshine produced from every batch. This differs based on the amount of moonshine you produce. If you are new to moonshining, you can fractionate based on temperature. Once you are more seasoned, you will be better able to tell the fractions by smell and taste.
Tips for tasters
To ensure that the moonshine you taste from friends does not contain methanol, it is best to stick to trusted moonshiners that already know what they are doing. If a moonshiners’ kit looks a bit conspicuous with lots of DIY modifications then it is probably best to avoid drinking too much of that concoction.
You are also best not to drink rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol usually have lots of additional ingredients that make this liquid unhealthy for consumption.
As long as you drink moderately, buy your moonshine from a reliable source or invest in quality moonshine kits, the chances of going blind from consuming moonshine are very low.