The making of homemade booze in the United States is called making moonshine, hootch or white dog liquor and I would imagine the process is much the same as the Libyans make in the North African country where alcohol is illegal for making too. There were seventy-nine Libyans who died from drinking their homemade spirits during the week of March 18, 2013.
According to http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/libyan-poisoned-alcohol-death-toll-rises-79-18713247 Libyan officials suspect that the homemade liquor had contained methanol and that those that didn’t die from the liquor ended up being blinded, according to the Associated Press.
According to the article people in the United States have died too from methanol poisoning but it is infrequent. If a person seeks professional help when they believe they’re poisoned it can be treated, according to the executive director of the Tennessee Poison Center and a professor at Vanderbilt University, Dr. Donna Seger.
Seger also said, "She only sees methanol poisoning a few times a year, and that they’re often not poisoned from drinking the
homemade liquor but from children who have gotten into the windshield wiper fluid, antifreeze and paint thinner."
Seger also said, "It’s not something frequently."
According to Seger the methanol metabolizes in the retinas and in the liver and this is the cause for people going blind.
The article also mentions that methanol poisoning has two antidotes that can be used for treating the poisoning and they’re fomepizole and ethanol. The fomepizole was approved within the past 15-years by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and ethanol a kind of alcohol found in safe-to-drink liquors, Seger said.
Interavenous ethanol drips was used to treat methanol poisoning prior to the availability of fomepizole. The intravenous ethanol drips would get the people drunk when they received it.
Seger said, "There’s nothing worse than a 2-year-old drunk," as she recalled a toddler being treated for the poisoning before the availability of fomepizole.
I remember years ago when I was a young child people hid their moonshine, hooch or white dog in a Ball jar in a cupboard. I had "no" idea what the "clear stuff" was they would take a swig of but I knew it would make them slur their words and get tispsy. Dad use to tell me it was a "toddy" to help him feel better and I never knew until years later it was liquor.
I could never understand why they hid it like it was money or something valuable; I knew another thing I had better not touch it or get into it or I would be in serious trouble.
The article indicates that Dale DeGroff, a legendary bartender from New York, gave people some important advice about the real dangers of home distilling, which is illegal in the United States but it became very popular during the Prohibition. If homemade spirits such as moonshine, hooch and white dog is not made right and it is made wrong, it may have added toxic methanol.
The article mentions that two dozen people died last September in the Czech Republic from drinking bootleg alcohol that also contained methanol, according to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443995604578000421
I’m sure many people living in the United States remembers when Illegal moonshine was a problem in Rocky Mountain, Virginia, and it resulted in at least 30 arrests. The "godfather" of moonshine, William Gray "Dee" Stanley, was sentenced to 41 months in prison.
During this time frame, I was living in the Troutville, Virginia area, and moonshining was the talk of the entire area. I remembered thinking, "This must have been going on for many years in the hills of Virginia and West Virginia because this was what was in those "Ball jars" that my kinfold had been drinking all those years.
In this article DeGroff also gives people who are not familiar with making liquor a breakdown of what takes place during the process; and by telling people that distilling is a process of boiling liquids, containing alcohol to create vapor, cooling it and collecting the condensed, concentrated alcohol. It has to be done in the proper manner and using the correct ingredients to ensure safety.
DeGroff states that, "The first "still," or batch of steam coming off the first boil, is often not safe to drink; it is to be thrown out. The second "still" is the purest, and the third "still" is included for flavor, but most of it is cut, too."
DeGroff also indicated the liquor should sit for a while in order for the higher alcohols remaining, such as leftover methanol, will evaoporate naturally.
A food safety expert who directs culinary technology at the International Culinary Center in New York, Mr. Dave Arnold, stated, "Since the occasional home distiller uses a car radiator as a condensing apparatus, lead poison is also a risk associated with bad hooch."
Arnold also indicated home distilling when done right is safe to drink; and he stated, its illegality is actually "one of the dumber laws we have."
Barbara Kasey Smith is the writer of this article based on an article on ABC News.Com.
As Listed Throughout the article