Denatured Methanol

Why can't we get commercial methylated spirits and just distill it to make it safe to drink ?

Methylated spirits (a.k.a. denatured spirits) is ethanol or methanol with various chemicals added to make it undrinkable (well unless you're desperate). Some commercial distilleries sell their foreshots as metho after denaturing them with the pyridine and wood naptha group[s]; two of the most obnoxious, toxic/poisonous compounds in that family. The whole point of denaturing it is to add chemicals that can't be easily removed, then it can be sold without excise tax.

The additives chosen have vaporisation properties almost identical to ethanol so can't be separated by distillation and/or chemical methods. The Australian/New Zealand Food Authority Act has chosen pyridine & wood naptha because they BOND in an ethanol/water solution most delightfully to the point that to separate this evil concoction you would need rising/falling film distillation equipment which worked under vacuum as well and then the result after one pass may only be marginal. This cost for this sort of equipment starts around 6 figures


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