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A little more detail for those interested:The body has two ways to get rid of methanol (a poison). One is to metabolize it (break it down to other substances), the other is to flush it out through the kidneys.Metabolizing methanol produces formic acid, which for some reason the optic nerve is very susceptible to. It does permanent damage.Flushing it out through the kidneys takes time.In the presence of ethanol, the body metabolizes the ethanol more quickly, slowing down methanol metabolization, which gives it time to be flushed out.If you are poisoned by methanol, the standard treatment in a hospital is methanol administered intravenously. But it has to be caught before onset of symptoms.
What, no warning about how not to go blind from methanol consumption?Basically, methanol boils off first, and will be in higher concentration in what comes out of the still first. Methanol is present in small amounts in fermented beverages, but is harmless in the undistilled fermented beverage because it's mixed with ethanol, and ethanol is an effective antidote for methanol.If you drink the first stuff that comes out of your still (too much methanol, not enough ethanol), even as little as one or two shot glasses, and drink nothing else, you run a serious risk of being blind in a couple of days. Also, by the time you notice ANY symptoms, it's too late.Without this knowledge, it's not unlikely someone distilling for the first time might be eager to sample what's coming out of the still.
Another note: The amount of methanol in the undistilled ferment depends on what's being fermented. Whole mashed fruit with seeds, for instance, will produce more methanol.