Methanol Toxicity of Hard Cider

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Well-Known Member
Jan 22, 2009
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NS, Canada
Hey guys,

It's my understanding that the massively unpleasant hangovers hard cider drinkers suffer from is the result of the high methanol content in their drink of choice. I'm sure there are other factors (dehydration) and I understand the methanol content is realistically very small but it must have some effect. Apples are high in pectin, not as high as fruit like Quinces, but they're up there. The pectin is converted into methanol and hangovers are a sure thing.

So my question is, short of distilling the final product, is there any way to remove the methanol from the cider? I've heard mention of freezing it solid to "clean" it up with regards to methanol, but I'm not sure how that would work.
I make alot of apple wine, not so much in the way of cider. Hangovers come from overconsumption, not the methanol content. Of course, methanol is present, but in insignificant quantities. Did you ever get a "wine headache"? That's a nasty headache, but not from methanol.

Distillation is illegal here in the US, and most other places, so I can't comment on that.
Methanol is just a fact of fermentation (aside from straight sugar i suppose) of grains and fruits. There isn't really anything you can do, let alone something that won't completely change the flavor of a beverage, to escape it. The freezing of cider wont do anything other than let you remove some of the water (a form of distillation). A distinction can be made during traditional distillation due to the difference in their boiling points, but again, it will change the overall nature of the beverage to something completely different ie... freshly fermented perry vs pear brandy watered down to the same ABV.

Though home distillation is illegal pretty much everywhere, I highly recommend going and visiting a commercial operation.. very informative.
I'm a university student so I'll admit that over consuming happens fairly regularly haha and wine hangovers are the worst!

Distilling could work as the boiling point of methanol is significantly lower than ethanol, 65*C and 79*C respectively. Although it's illegal here in Canada as well, so I'll deal with a bit of a headache after enjoying my cider. Until I move to New Zealand that is ;-)

Thanks guys!
I'm still working towards my graduate degree here in Canada, it's the only affordable way to do it ha ha. I'm dead set on the Coromandel peninsula, a friend of mine went there during a work term and his pictures really caught my attention. New Zealand is so geographically diverse that it's hard to say why I find the area so captivating, I just do.
If you start drinking Cider while well hydrated, and when you are done drinking lots of cider you save room for a few glasses of water - you won't get a hangover - I've been known to pound 3 pints of apfelwein at a sitting and get SLOPPY drunk - but no hangover if I just stay hydrated.
Another bluenoser, fantastic! I'm an urban planning student at Dal, but I frequent Acadia for the fantastic "atmosphere". Last time I was down I tried some beer from Sea Level Brewery, it was good stuff. Not quite Propeller but it beats Keith's any day ;)
The methanol doesn't do much in hangovers, since its in very minute amounts and a treatment for methanol poisoning is to take ethanol, so when you drink alcoholic beverages that contain some methanol you're counteracting the effects of the methanol, since they have ethanol. What drinking ethanol does to treat the methanol is that it slows how fast your body processes the methanol.
That is good to know. I am planning on making some apple jack (according to the TTB freeze concentration is legal in the US) but was worried about the methyl alcohol content. I've been looking at filtering of something but from what I have seen the molecular size of ethyl alcohol is about the same as that of methyl so that won't work.
I am planning to settle this issue once and for all (in my own mind). Ive got some cider brewing ( without pectin enzyme). Going to make a good strong apple jack. Once complete i Will put one batch under a strong vacuum and boil off some methanol (i hope) I will then do a scientific (wink wink) experiment with each batch, same amounts. I plan on overconsuming. I Have the vacuum flask ordered. Will let you know.
What davids said.. Making AppleJack is not a good idea if you are worried about hangovers or methanol, although it is legal to do. That stuff will light you up.
Make the cider with just Mott's AJ. It would have less pectin than a Cider would. You don't need to waste money on extra sugar, final alcohol content of AppleJack has to do with the temperature you freeze it at, not the starting ABV.

Drink a lot of water, you should be fine. Unless you drink too much and go blind.
No need to distill, unless you want to condense and save the methanol. All you need to do is boil for 2 or 3 minutes or until you are sure all the methanol is gone into the air. I realize the heat might change the taste? If so a vacuum can be used to boil the cider at a lower temperature, any decent vacuum pump or even an old fridge compressor should be strong enough to boil methanol at room temperature. Thus removing it from your cider without any other changes.