snopes.com   
search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hello snopes.com » Archived Forums » Food Archive » Don't freeze alcohol

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Don't freeze alcohol
snopes
Return! Return! Return!


Icon 24 posted      Profile for snopes   Author's Homepage   E-mail snopes       Edit/Delete post 
Comment: I heard from friends that workers on the Alaskan pipeline
were warned not to keep alchohol outside in the freezing
cold. Alchohol freezes at a very low temperature, much
much lower than water, and people. If you had a bottle
of strong liquer, say 151 rum, rolling around in
the car, and made the mistake of taking a swig, the
results could be fatal. The friends maintain that
there were several injuries and actual fatalities
amongst the pipeline workers due to this.

I recently finished a fiction book, "Drop City" by
T.C.Boyle (apparently a National Book Award runner up)
which featured a character doing just such a thing
and dying of his injuries.

So now I'm curious, is this a true thing?

Posts: 36029 | From: Admin | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Troodon
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Troodon     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
The alcahol would not be colder than the air, and it is safe to breathe there...
Posts: 3745 | From: New York City | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
vanilla
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


Icon 1 posted      Profile for vanilla     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
quote:
Originally posted by snopes:
If you had a bottle
of strong liquer, say 151 rum, rolling around in
the car, and made the mistake of taking a swig, the results could be fatal. The friends maintain that there were several injuries and actual fatalities amongst the pipeline workers due to this.

That's called drinking and driving dearie. Always fatal if done together with large quantities of 151 proof rum and freezing weather!

--------------------
I swear, it was funnier in my head.
Yeah, I used to be pink. vanilla_pink.

Posts: 2493 | From: California | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


Icon 1 posted      Profile for AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
I don't get how it would be fatal, though.

Anyway, I keep my vodka in the freezer, and, while it's not -40, it still isn't particularly warm. So far, no adverse affects.

--------------------
"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."--George Bernard Shaw

Posts: 19266 | From: Nashville, TN | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Eyeliner Lace
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 24 posted            Edit/Delete post 
Hmmm... I dunno about this one. SO loves 151, Van Shapps, etc. And we always keep it in the freezer. As far as I can tell, we're both alive and kicking... I actually prefer liquor be kept in the freezer (the hard stuff anyway) Never had any problems...


Eyeliner "Damn! These bushes are comfy!" Lace

IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Troodon
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Troodon     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
I think most freezers are kept at about -20 C. At least when in the lab some chemical needs to be kept at that temperature, we put it in the freezer of a normal kitchen refrigirator.

We also have a special freezer that is at -80 C, which is colder than it gets in Alaska I think, and you can touch things in there with your bare hands without getting hurt (although you would freeze if you held on too long).

Posts: 3745 | From: New York City | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Jason Threadslayer
Let There Be PCs on Earth


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Jason Threadslayer     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
If you put wine outside in that weather, you'd get brandy (freeze distillation).

--------------------
All posts foretold by Nostradamus.

Turing test failures: 6

Posts: 5481 | From: Decatur, GA | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Troodon
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Troodon     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
Is that actually a good way to distill it? I would think that you would lose a lot of alcahol due to evaporation, even at low temperatures.

Edit: my mistake, for some reason I assumed that this was happening in an open container.

Posts: 3745 | From: New York City | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Finite Fourier Alchemy
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Finite Fourier Alchemy   E-mail Finite Fourier Alchemy   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
quote:
Originally posted by AnglRdr:
I don't get how it would be fatal, though.

Anyway, I keep my vodka in the freezer, and, while it's not -40, it still isn't particularly warm. So far, no adverse affects.

The issue is that, when you freeze a water/alcohol mixture, you're going to get some of it to freeze and some of it to stay liquid. Water freezes at a higher temperature than alcohol (that is to say, more readily than alcohol). Due to this, you're going to end up with a liquid that has a higher alcohol concentration than the unfrozen stuff you started with, and ice that has a lower alcohol concentration.

If your vodka isn't freezing, this separation isn't happening.

The effect is less pronounced when you're starting with more and more alcohol. So if you had a bottle of wine and let about half of it freeze, the liquid left might be twice the proof you started with, or more. But if you have a bottle of 151 rum, and let half of it freeze, the liquid left probably won't be that much stronger - maybe 155 or 165 proof, as a total off-the-wall guess.

Not that it matters much, as I doubt the effects of drinking 75% alcohol and 90+% alcohol are all that different.

I wish I had water/alcohol freezing tables on hand . . .

Anyway, I think most freezers don't go low enough to freeze anything stronger than Bud Lite. But that's just anecdotal, so don't take my word for it.

Alchemy

--------------------
Thinking about New England / missing old Japan

Posts: 2603 | From: Virginia | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Horse Chestnut
Happy Holly Days


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Horse Chestnut     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
I remember reading something about this in Martin Cruz Smith's Gorky Park, about keeping the vodka bottle by the fire when camping out. I couldn't find the passage, but I think it had to due with the alcohol separating and becoming some ungodly high proof. So one or two swigs would give you alcohol poisoning.

Horse "shoot, now where is it?" Chestnut

Posts: 1651 | From: Columbus, Ohio | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
sherri_lu
Xboxing Day


Icon 1 posted      Profile for sherri_lu   Author's Homepage   E-mail sherri_lu   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
I keep my vodka, Gin & Tequila in the freezer & just about everyone I know keeps theirs in the freezer aswell maybe its a local thing but I never had a problem just cold alcohol
Posts: 1344 | From: San Francisco | Registered: Feb 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Jason Threadslayer
Let There Be PCs on Earth


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Jason Threadslayer     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
quote:
Originally posted by Alchemy:
The issue is that, when you freeze a water/alcohol mixture, you're going to get some of it to freeze and some of it to stay liquid. Water freezes at a higher temperature than alcohol (that is to say, more readily than alcohol). Due to this, you're going to end up with a liquid that has a higher alcohol concentration than the unfrozen stuff you started with, and ice that has a lower alcohol concentration.

That's freeze distillation. That's one of the ways to distill a fermented beverage into a hard liquor.

quote:
Originally posted by Alchemy:
I wish I had water/alcohol freezing tables on hand . . .

Anyway, I think most freezers don't go low enough to freeze anything stronger than Bud Lite. But that's just anecdotal, so don't take my word for it.

Water freezes at 0°C. Mercury freezes at -38.83°C. Alcohol freezes at -114.3°C.

Temperatures in Alaska currently range from -2°C to 11°C. That's not far from the temperatures in a normal freezer (-18°C). So bottles of alcohol left outside now would have a nice chill to them.

The record temperature for Alaska is -62.1°C.

ETA: Alcohol is banned on the North Slope.

--------------------
All posts foretold by Nostradamus.

Turing test failures: 6

Posts: 5481 | From: Decatur, GA | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Wizard of Yendor
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


Icon 301 posted      Profile for Wizard of Yendor   E-mail Wizard of Yendor   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
It does kind of seem like a bad idea to drink things that are below freezing. But since it's only strong alcohol that has this problem you wouldn't take a big ol' gulp of it anyway. Also alcohol holds less than half as much heat as the same volume of water.

[edit] And even if it were possible to get pure alcohol that way (which it isn't) that's only 2.5 times as strong as 80 proof stuff. It's not like that would kill you instantly either.

Posts: 2352 | From: California | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Jason Threadslayer
Let There Be PCs on Earth


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Jason Threadslayer     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
It looks like it's true!

This page on cold weather health warns against drinking super cold alcohol:
quote:
Conduction is the transfer of heat to objects or substances in direct contact. Your tongue sticking to the flagpole in grade school is a perfect example of how tissue can almost instantly freeze when in contact with cold metal, an excellent heat conductor. Keep in mind that alcohol is also an excellent conductor and often freezes at much colder temperatures than water, so if you bring a beer out on your next cold-weather adventure, don’t throw back a few swigs until you’ve checked its temperature. Extremely cold alcohol can instantly freeze and damage your lips, tongue or other mouth tissue. And if the alcohol comes in contact with your throat or esophagus, that can turn out to be deadly.
Norman Vaughan on: Drinking on the Expedition (member of Richard Byrd's 1934 Antartica expedition):
quote:
That man that went out to get more alcohol was pretty intoxicated because he was a lone drinker before anybody else started and he didn't know he was going out to get it but he did go out and when he inhaled through the tube he was supposed to feel the solidity of the liquid in the tube as it went by his fingers and then he would turn the tube and make the tube into a siphon and get all the alcohol he wanted but he didn't feel the alcohol in the tube. And took a great inhale for another breath and pulled this cold alcohol into his mouth and throat and the result of that was exactly the same as if he'd taken a blow torch and put it in his mouth, for the temperature of that alcohol was fifty and sixty degrees below zero. I don't know, just extremely cold because it was packed in the ice, been there all winter. And when it got into his mouth and burned every part of his mouth his mouth swelled up and he couldn't eat, couldn't swallow, couldn't do anything about it and the Doctor Coleman thought that he might lose him but he worked on it and got a passage way through to his throat and then fed liquid through it, through the throat and pulled him around out of it but that was a drastic experience.
(from this page (cached))

--------------------
All posts foretold by Nostradamus.

Turing test failures: 6

Posts: 5481 | From: Decatur, GA | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Floater
Xboxing Day


Icon 23 posted      Profile for Floater   Author's Homepage   E-mail Floater   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
quote:
Originally posted by Wizard of Yendor:
It does kind of seem like a bad idea to drink things that are below freezing.

Have you ever tried a dessert called ice cream? It is usually served at a temperature below freezing.

--------------------
Små hönor skall inte lägga stora ägg för då blir de slarviga i ändan

Posts: 1334 | From: Sweden | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Pseudo_Croat
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Pseudo_Croat   Author's Homepage   E-mail Pseudo_Croat   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
So, if oyu drank really cold alcohol and it froze your mouth, throat, etc., how would the doctor treat such a problem? And how would a person eat/feed oneself during such an incident?

- Pseudo_Croat

--------------------
"At all events, people who deny the influence of smaller nations should remember that the Croats have the rest of us by the throats." - Norman Davies, Europe: A History

God wants spiritual fruits, not religious nuts.

Posts: 4578 | From: Sunrise, FL | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Doc J.
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Doc J.   E-mail Doc J.   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
Not sure about the treatment - probably similar to treatment of burns. As for feeding, it might be possible to insert a tube into the stomach, if not people can be maintained via a drip.
Posts: 3100 | From: London, UK | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
mrrentalshoes
Deck the Malls


Icon 1 posted      Profile for mrrentalshoes   Author's Homepage   E-mail mrrentalshoes   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
quote:
Originally posted by Alchemy:
Not that it matters much, as I doubt the effects of drinking 75% alcohol and 90+% alcohol are all that different.

If you were you to raise it to that level, you'd have the same concentration as the stronger of the two versions of Everclear. I'll let you all judge if that's safe to drink or not. Just for anybody who's wondering though, pouring little bits of it into shot glasses and lighting it on fire is not such a great idea though.
Posts: 265 | From: Groveland, FL | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Casey, making hot chocolate
Let There Be PCs on Earth


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Casey, making hot chocolate   Author's Homepage   E-mail Casey, making hot chocolate   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
Everclear? That's not for drinking, that's lighter fluid!

--------------------
"To be or not to be! That is the question! Now, will you answer, dare, double dare, or take the Physical Challenge?" --Mark Summers as Hamlet
Countdown: 177 days and counting... or less. My blog. 14 keyboards owed.

Posts: 5584 | From: Ohio | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
pinqy
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


Icon 24 posted      Profile for pinqy   E-mail pinqy   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
And that's the beauty of it...dual usage! [Smile]
But everclear is best used for soaking cherries.

pinqy

--------------------
Don't Forget!
Winter Solstice Hanukkah Christmas Kwanzaa & Gurnenthar's Ascendance Are Coming!

Posts: 8671 | From: Washington, DC | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
mrrentalshoes
Deck the Malls


Icon 1 posted      Profile for mrrentalshoes   Author's Homepage   E-mail mrrentalshoes   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
quote:
Originally posted by pinqy:
And that's the beauty of it...dual usage! [Smile]
But everclear is best used for soaking cherries.

pinqy

I wouldn't say that's the "best" use for it, but it's probably the best "won't make you suffer from memory loss" use for it.
Posts: 265 | From: Groveland, FL | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Remarkgullabull
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Remarkgullabull     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
quote:
Originally posted by Casey, fending off zombies:
Everclear? That's not for drinking, that's lighter fluid!

Or for starting cars, sterilizing wounds.... [fish]

(I actually used it for starting my charcoal grill one time when I was out of lighter fluid [lol] )

--------------------
Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Posts: 1961 | From: California | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Samuel Jones
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 1 posted            Edit/Delete post 
Okay, I'll be the first to take the plunge into personal anecdotes which prove nothing and elighten no one.

Back in the winter of 89/90 when I was in Nebraska it dipped down to -20F (that's stated without the Windchill.) -20F is cold. -20F is real cold. (~-29C.)

My brother and I were stuck outside for a few minutes. We had a bottle of Yukon Jack - 80 proof - with us that had been sitting in the trunk of my car, so we decided that nipping off of it would be a smart thing to do. We were cognizant of the fact that this would probably be the coldest liquid either of us had ever had direct contact with.

A couple of notes about my experience drinking hard liquor in cold temperature.

1. You wouldn't immediately take a huge mouth-filling gulp of hard liquor without taking a sip or 2 first, doesn't matter the temperature.

2. When it's -20F, you really, really don't want to lift your elbows from your side or your chin from your chest. Small sips from your huddled little mass is the best most of us could do.

3. The liquor and the bottle were cold. This was noticeable. They weren't painfully cold or even uncomfortably cold. They were just cold. We had to lower our masks to drink and the cold air contacting our uncovered faces was more uncomfortable than the coldness of the alcohol.

If it ever hits -20F in New York, I'm getting a bottle Belvedere vodka, a bottle of Noilly Prat vermouth and a jar of Olives and you're all invited!

IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Casey, making hot chocolate
Let There Be PCs on Earth


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Casey, making hot chocolate   Author's Homepage   E-mail Casey, making hot chocolate   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
quote:
Originally posted by Remarkgullabull:
quote:
Originally posted by Casey, fending off zombies:
Everclear? That's not for drinking, that's lighter fluid!

Or for starting cars, sterilizing wounds.... [fish]

(I actually used it for starting my charcoal grill one time when I was out of lighter fluid [lol] )

Load it in a Zippo sometime- the 190 proof- and light it up. You'll be surprised at how much better the lighter likes alcohol.

--------------------
"To be or not to be! That is the question! Now, will you answer, dare, double dare, or take the Physical Challenge?" --Mark Summers as Hamlet
Countdown: 177 days and counting... or less. My blog. 14 keyboards owed.

Posts: 5584 | From: Ohio | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Wizard of Yendor
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Wizard of Yendor   E-mail Wizard of Yendor   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
quote:
Originally posted by Floater:
quote:
Originally posted by Wizard of Yendor:
It does kind of seem like a bad idea to drink things that are below freezing.

Have you ever tried a dessert called ice cream? It is usually served at a temperature below freezing.
Not since I was 2 years old, but that's a good point. Ice cream isn't normally served [i]too[i/] much below freezing though.
Posts: 2352 | From: California | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Debi
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 1 posted            Edit/Delete post 
In school, we did one of those activites about which items are most important if you have to survive. It was written by a top dog in the army or some other branch of the US military who was an expert on such things. He said that you should not drink alcohol when it is very cold because the alcohol takes the temperature of whereever it is, without freezing. If you have vodka in a freezer that's -20 degrees, the vodka will be -20 degrees also. I forget what else he said, but basically it would be very very bad for your body.

ETA: I searched and found the site that my teacher got the activity from. Here's what it says:

Quart of 100 proof whiskey
The only uses of whiskey are as an aid in fire building and as a fuel for a torch (made by soaking a piece of clothing in the whiskey and attaching it to a tree branch).  The empty bottle could be used for storing water.   The danger of whiskey  is that someone might drink it, thinking it would bring
warmth.  Alcohol takes on the temperature it is exposed to, and a drink of minus 30 degrees ahrenheit whiskey would freeze a person’s esophagus and stomach.  Alcohol also dilates the blood vessels in the skin, resulting in  chilled blood belong carried back to the heart, resulting in a rapid loss of
body heat.  Thus, a drunk person is more likely to get hypothermia than a sober person is.

http://scoutingweb.com/scoutingweb/SubPages/SurvivalGame.htm

IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
LeaflessMapleTree
The twelve shopping days 'til Christmas


Icon 1 posted      Profile for LeaflessMapleTree   E-mail LeaflessMapleTree   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post 
I would have thought that lighter fluid would be toxic...am I wrong?

--------------------
"For me, religion is like a rhinoceros: I don't have one, and I'd really prefer not to be trampled by yours. But it is impressive, and even beautiful, and, to be honest, the world would be slightly worse off if there weren't any."
-Silas Sparkhammer

Posts: 3239 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Sep 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
   

   Close topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Urban Legends Reference Pages

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2