Gin Guild warns about explosive risk of ethanol

6th December, 2019 by Melita Kiely

The Gin Guild has raised concerns over the growing popularity of micro-distilling and “hobby-style gin schools”, and warned new distillers about the explosive risks that come with using ethanol.

Gin Guild

The Gin Guild and the SIA have created a poster warning about the dangers of ethanol

The Gin Guild has partnered with the Solvents Industry Association (SIA) – a not-for-profit organisation that supports the UK solvents industry and consumers regarding the “safe and responsible” use of solvent materials – to create a guide about the safe handling of gin and other ethanol-based liquids.

The guide was created in light of the increased numbers of “new and often comparatively inexperienced distillers” and also ‘gin schools’ – particularly those using micro-pot stills, some with open flames.

The Gin Guild stressed the importance of understanding the risks involved with using ethanol, from storage and application to production processes.

Nicholas Cook, director of the Gin Guild, said: “The industry has seen great expansion over the last few years. There is concern that new players in the industry, particularly those producing distilled gin on a very small scale, in and under circumstances which are not purpose designed and built for purpose, are exposing themselves to considerable risk.

“Distillers need to be aware of the dangers of using ethanol and of the need to ensure, regardless of the size of their operations, that they operate on the basis that this is an industrial issue and (albeit on a scalable and relatable basis), that they need to comply and observe with good industry practice.

“I have a particular additional concern with members of the public exposed to micro-distilling via some ‘gin schools’ on what is effectively a ‘hobby-style’ basis. The risks are no less and of course there is the added complication and danger that those undertaking the process are not trained and are involved in what is very much a one-off application.

“I hope that the poster issued by the SIA and ourselves will be clearly and prominently displayed in all relevant properties and that it will act as a timely guide for all who are involved in dealing with ethanol. Hopefully this will also act as a prompt for many to seek further guidance and assistance in order to mitigate the dangers involved.”

The poster can be downloaded from the Gin Guild website at theginguild.com/news/playing-with-fire.

Andrew Norman, the general secretary of the SIA, said: “We are all aware that spirits can easily be ignited through cooking or producing cocktails, but the familiarity of the products which are readily available in our everyday lives can often lead to complacency, with the risks often underestimated.

“The issue of this outline guidance is a timely reminder to all in the industry, large and small, of the risks involved in working with ethanol. We would welcome the opportunity to provide further detailed assistance and guidance on request.

“The distilling industry is an exciting and vibrant Industry which could benefit from education, training and guidance in order to mitigate risk and to ensure safe operating practice.”

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