Is there a methanol per liter ratio?

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

spafmagic

Active Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2020
Messages
40
Reaction score
6
I'm looking into distilling some of my wine and Mead, and I'm curious as far as wine goes, if there is a "rule of thumb" ratio of how much methanol there is per liter of wine?
 

hawkwing

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 26, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
87
Location
Saskatoon
Not sure but methanol can’t really be removed via regular distillation anyway. Most of what you can find to read is wrong. However the amount of methanol produced is likely dependent on how healthy your fermentation is.
 

doug293cz

BIABer, Beer Math Nerd, ePanel Designer, Pilot
Staff member
Mod
HBT Supporter
Joined
May 14, 2014
Messages
13,647
Reaction score
10,667
Location
Renton
Not sure but methanol can’t really be removed via regular distillation anyway. Most of what you can find to read is wrong. However the amount of methanol produced is likely dependent on how healthy your fermentation is.
Where do you get your information? Methanol boils at a temperature significantly lower than ethanol, so most of the methanol comes off first in a distillation run. This is why the first few fl oz (the "foreshots") of distillate are discarded when distilling. The amount of methanol produced depends on the composition of the wort/must/wash that goes into fermentation prior to distilling. Fermentables containing pectin produce more methanol than barley wort.

Brew on :mug:
 

hawkwing

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 26, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
87
Location
Saskatoon
Where do you get your information? Methanol boils at a temperature significantly lower than ethanol, so most of the methanol comes off first in a distillation run. This is why the first few fl oz (the "foreshots") of distillate are discarded when distilling. The amount of methanol produced depends on the composition of the wort/must/wash that goes into fermentation prior to distilling. Fermentables containing pectin produce more methanol than barley wort.

Brew on :mug:
If that were the case, which it isn’t, the temperature would not rise based on the amount of alcohol left in the mixture and you’d be able to get near 100% alcohol with a simple pot still. Read up on azeotropes. The mix of two or more substances boil at a different point than the individual components. During distillation the lower boiling point component will smear throughout the run.
 

doug293cz

BIABer, Beer Math Nerd, ePanel Designer, Pilot
Staff member
Mod
HBT Supporter
Joined
May 14, 2014
Messages
13,647
Reaction score
10,667
Location
Renton
If that were the case, which it isn’t, the temperature would not rise based on the amount of alcohol left in the mixture and you’d be able to get near 100% alcohol with a simple pot still. Read up on azeotropes. The mix of two or more substances boil at a different point than the individual components. During distillation the lower boiling point component will smear throughout the run.
The important azeotrope in distilling is the ethanol/water azeotrope. I have not been able to find anything that says there is an azeoptrope between methanol/ethanol, or methanol/water, nor have I found anything on an azeotrope involving methanol in the methanol/ethanol/water ternary system. Do you have information that says otherwise?

Yes, composition changes ("smearing") during distilling, with the concentration of the lower boiling component in the distillate decreasing as the concentration of that component decreases in the feed. But, that does not negate the fact that concentration of the lowest boiling component in the feed is highest in the distillate at the start of distillation. This allows a significant reduction in the concentration of the low boiling components in the total collected distillate, if the early runnings are discarded.

So, while you cannot really eliminate any volatile component (like methanol) from the distillate, you can significantly reduce the ratio of methanol to ethanol in distilled spirits by discarding the early run-off from a still run. Since the concentration of methanol in wine or cider is not enough that you can get a damaging dose with an amount you can reasonably consume, you would get even less methanol by consuming an equal amount of ethanol from a spirit distilled from that wine or cider, if the first still runnings were discarded.

Brew on :mug:
 
OP
OP
spafmagic

spafmagic

Active Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2020
Messages
40
Reaction score
6
SO... all that being said... I know methanol evaporates at 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and ethanol at 175ish. Ideally if I wanted to evaporate out as much methanol as possible, I would need to maintain roughly 145ish degrees for X amount of time, yeah?

So, my original question still remains. But mayhaps if I provide an example?

Say, a brew of grape wine (grape must with added sugar) that finishes off at 14% ABV, is distilled 2 liters at a time (my boiler is a modified tea kettle) into a 1 pint mason jar... what would be a safe assumption as to how much off that is methanol to be tossed out?
 

hawkwing

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 26, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
87
Location
Saskatoon
Honestly don't worry about it. You need to learn to make cuts and your going to throw out a lot more heads than the amount you think is methanol in the beginning. Also going to throw out some tails too. You might keep 30-50% if you want it to taste good. There will be other things in there besides methanol and ethanol that are undesirable and smell like paint thinner. There will be a little left and that's ok. You drink it diluted in beer and wine anyway.

To be honest if you to learn to distill there are better forums than this site. They explain all this.
 

doug293cz

BIABer, Beer Math Nerd, ePanel Designer, Pilot
Staff member
Mod
HBT Supporter
Joined
May 14, 2014
Messages
13,647
Reaction score
10,667
Location
Renton
SO... all that being said... I know methanol evaporates at 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and ethanol at 175ish. Ideally if I wanted to evaporate out as much methanol as possible, I would need to maintain roughly 145ish degrees for X amount of time, yeah?

So, my original question still remains. But mayhaps if I provide an example?

Say, a brew of grape wine (grape must with added sugar) that finishes off at 14% ABV, is distilled 2 liters at a time (my boiler is a modified tea kettle) into a 1 pint mason jar... what would be a safe assumption as to how much off that is methanol to be tossed out?
There appears to be a lot of information on methanol content available on the web. "methanol content of fermented beverages" in a search engine will turn up lots of good leads. Never dug into it myself, so don't know typical values for various fermented liquids, only that it is highly variable.

Brew on :mug:
 

bernardsmith

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2012
Messages
5,614
Reaction score
2,040
Location
Saratoga Springs
I assume that a) red wine contains more pectin that white wine and b) the more pectin, the more methanol, If red wine contains about 250 mg/L of methanol, then if I were to distill 1 gallon of wine, and I toss the first 50 ml of the distillate as including just about 100 % of the methanol, assuming that red wine contains 250 mg of methanol and 250 mg = 1 ml ). Those 50 ml include fore-shots and heads. If you are distilling 5 gallons, then toss the first 250 ml.
 

hawkwing

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 26, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
87
Location
Saskatoon
I assume that a) red wine contains more pectin that white wine and b) the more pectin, the more methanol, If red wine contains about 250 mg/L of methanol, then if I were to distill 1 gallon of wine, and I toss the first 50 ml of the distillate as including just about 100 % of the methanol, assuming that red wine contains 250 mg of methanol and 250 mg = 1 ml ). Those 50 ml include fore-shots and heads. If you are distilling 5 gallons, then toss the first 250 ml.
If you are distilling 5 gallons (18.9 L) of 14% wine you theoretically have 2.6 L of pure alcohol. Heads would make up about 20-30% of that or about 750 ml.
 

hawkwing

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 26, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
87
Location
Saskatoon
Your best bet is to do a stripping run where you keep everything then a spirit run you collect in small jars kept in order. Then you can smell and taste and learn to keep what you want and don’t. If it won’t kill you when drinking the wine it won’t kill you when drinking mixed together after distillation. It just won’t taste good if too much of the heads and/or tails is left in. Unfortunately a lot of commercial spirits have too much heads left in. Also the amount of heads and tails you keep can be dependent on how and how long it’s being aged.
 
Last edited:

bernardsmith

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2012
Messages
5,614
Reaction score
2,040
Location
Saratoga Springs
If you are distilling 5 gallons (18.9 L) of 14% wine you theoretically have 2.6 L of pure alcohol. Heads would make up about 20-30% of that or about 750 ml.
aha.. Good point. I distill whey wine that I make at about 12% so I expect to be able to collect about 400 ml of spirit from each gallon. (12% = 1 pint and 1 pint is about 470 ml)
 
OP
OP
spafmagic

spafmagic

Active Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2020
Messages
40
Reaction score
6
I shall think on all this information. Thanks for the responses so far.

On the other hand, since honey is pretty much liquid sugar, distilling traditional mead (honey/water/yeast) shouldn't have much methanol, if at all, if I'm not mistaken.
 

doug293cz

BIABer, Beer Math Nerd, ePanel Designer, Pilot
Staff member
Mod
HBT Supporter
Joined
May 14, 2014
Messages
13,647
Reaction score
10,667
Location
Renton
Watched this today and found it interesting. George recommends using a power controller to hold the still head temperature (at the entrance to the condenser) at 168°F (75.5°C) until the output stops, and then discarding whatever you collected up to that point. This will minimize (but not completely eliminate) the low boiling contaminants from your product. If you feed stock has a significant amount of methanol, this will eliminate a lot of it.



Brew on :mug:
 

hawkwing

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 26, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
87
Location
Saskatoon
Watched this today and found it interesting. George recommends using a power controller to hold the still head temperature (at the entrance to the condenser) at 168°F (75.5°C) until the output stops, and then discarding whatever you collected up to that point. This will minimize (but not completely eliminate) the low boiling contaminants from your product. If you feed stock has a significant amount of methanol, this will eliminate a lot of it.



Brew on :mug:

Distilling doesn’t work that way.

On a distilling forum he’s not well respected because he posts incorrect information or dangerous information. Probably one of the reasons he stopped posting videos. That said he helped get me interested. And those guys are pretty easy to upset.

You can’t actually set a temperature when distilling. You can only vary the input power. The temperature will change as the alcohol boils off but you can’t change the temperature that happens at with a controller.

Only temperature you can control is cooling water.

Lots of nasty stuff will come off after that temperature is passed anyway. Things like nail polish remover and paint thinner smelling stuff.
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
spafmagic

spafmagic

Active Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2020
Messages
40
Reaction score
6
I went ahead and sacrificed two 750 ml bottles of my Mead, periodically doing a burn test with a spoon and lighter until it was hard to light per each bottle. I got approximately 300 ml of burnable liquid. =^_^=
 
Last edited:

doug293cz

BIABer, Beer Math Nerd, ePanel Designer, Pilot
Staff member
Mod
HBT Supporter
Joined
May 14, 2014
Messages
13,647
Reaction score
10,667
Location
Renton
Distilling doesn’t work that way.

On a distilling forum he’s not well respected because he posts incorrect information or dangerous information. Probably one of the reasons he stopped posting videos. That said he helped get me interested. And those guys are pretty easy to upset.

You can’t actually set a temperature when distilling. You can only vary the input power. The temperature will change as the alcohol boils off but you can’t change the temperature that happens at with a controller.

Only temperature you can control is cooling water.

Lots of nasty stuff will come off after that temperature is passed anyway. Things like nail polish remover and paint thinner smelling stuff.
It's true, you cannot control the boiling temperature of a liquid. The boil temp is determined by the composition of the liquid and the local atmospheric pressure. However, vapor pressures of liquids increase monotonically with increasing temperature, and even below boiling, there is significant vaporization taking place.

At a fixed cooling water flow, you can modulate the boiler power input to maintain a relatively constant temp at the input to the condenser. (In a system with energy input separated from an energy sink, there will be a temperature gradient between the input and the sink. The temps at any point in between can be controlled by adjusting the energy input and/or the energy removal.)

So, using the temp at the condenser input as a control input, you can affect the composition of the vapors at the condenser input, and thus the composition of the distillate. With the condenser input at ~168°F, most of the ethanol, and higher boilers, will condense before making it into the condenser. Thus when the low boilers are mostly gone, the condenser output will stop.

Brew on :mug:
 

doug293cz

BIABer, Beer Math Nerd, ePanel Designer, Pilot
Staff member
Mod
HBT Supporter
Joined
May 14, 2014
Messages
13,647
Reaction score
10,667
Location
Renton
I went ahead and sacrificed two 750 ml bottles of my Mead, periodically doing a burn test with a spoon and lighter until it was hard to light per each bottle. I got approximately 300 ml of burnable liquid.
Whether or not the distillate burns is a function of the alcohol to water ratio. Much of what you determined was burnable was ethanol. Methanol burns with a yellow flame, while ethanol burns with a blue or invisible flame. There is no way you got 300ml of high methanol distillate from 2x750ml of mead.

Brew on :mug:
 

hawkwing

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 26, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
87
Location
Saskatoon
Whether or not the distillate burns is a function of the alcohol to water ratio. Much of what you determined was burnable was ethanol. Methanol burns with a yellow flame, while ethanol burns with a blue or invisible flame. There is no way you got 300ml of high methanol distillate from 2x750ml of mead.

Brew on :mug:
I tried the burn test. Can’t see any difference in color.
 

hawkwing

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 26, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
87
Location
Saskatoon
It's true, you cannot control the boiling temperature of a liquid. The boil temp is determined by the composition of the liquid and the local atmospheric pressure. However, vapor pressures of liquids increase monotonically with increasing temperature, and even below boiling, there is significant vaporization taking place.

At a fixed cooling water flow, you can modulate the boiler power input to maintain a relatively constant temp at the input to the condenser. (In a system with energy input separated from an energy sink, there will be a temperature gradient between the input and the sink. The temps at any point in between can be controlled by adjusting the energy input and/or the energy removal.)

So, using the temp at the condenser input as a control input, you can affect the composition of the vapors at the condenser input, and thus the composition of the distillate. With the condenser input at ~168°F, most of the ethanol, and higher boilers, will condense before making it into the condenser. Thus when the low boilers are mostly gone, the condenser output will stop.

Brew on :mug:
Not very practical and I doubt it gets used by many. Not anyone who’s been doing it for a while anyway.
 

doug293cz

BIABer, Beer Math Nerd, ePanel Designer, Pilot
Staff member
Mod
HBT Supporter
Joined
May 14, 2014
Messages
13,647
Reaction score
10,667
Location
Renton
Not very practical and I doubt it gets used by many. Not anyone who’s been doing it for a while anyway.
I find it believable that most distillers' systems are not set up to allow them to modulate power input based on condenser input temperature, but it is practical.

Brew on :mug:
 

hawkwing

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 26, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
87
Location
Saskatoon
Perhaps you don't have enough methanol in your feed stock to collect a significant amount that will burn yellow.

Brew on :mug:
Who knows if it was something else but it smelled bad and tasted hot. I tried burning various parts of the output and didn’t find any conclusive results. Maybe mixed lab grade chemicals might.
 
OP
OP
spafmagic

spafmagic

Active Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2020
Messages
40
Reaction score
6
Granted, there had to be some water that got into the mixture. Clearly however, the ratio of alcohol to water is significantly high.
 

hawkwing

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 26, 2022
Messages
172
Reaction score
87
Location
Saskatoon
In the end it’s all academic and not practical when making whiskey. You always throw way more out so separating just methanol doesn’t matter.
 
Top