Experiments You Can Do at Home - But Probably Shouldn't

Chapter 3
Raw Power » Bathtub Ethanol

Brewing your own fuel is easy-it's also dangerous and potentially illegal. Ethanol is hot stuff in Washington: It replaces oil and originates in electoral districts. It's basically the same alcohol found in liquor (with gasoline added), and too much in either form seems to cause people to lose their judgment.

To make it, whether in home stills or factories, cornmeal is put in vats with water and enzymes that convert some of the corn to sugar. Yeast added to the "mash" converts the sugar to alcohol. In a few days, the alcohol concentration tops 10 percent and the yeast goes inactive, having, ironically, rendered its own environment toxic.

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