|MadSci Network: Chemistry|
Name: Roberta Hagar E-mail: email@example.com Subject: Chemicals put in alcohol before transport to deter thievery??? Message ID Number: 918763667.Ch You asked, “Quite a few years ago (maybe 15 years) someone told me that
alcohol manufacturers put a certain chemical in tanker trucks transporting
their product to the bottling plants. Before bottling, an antidote was
poured into the alcohol to counteract the poisoning to someone from this
chemical. This was done to deter any truck high-jacks of the product. I
believe this is no longer done, however I would like to know the chemical
which was used at that time, for this purpose.”
This has been a difficult question to answer for lack of data about alcohol
Our Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) doesn’t seem to have
information on what goes into alcoholic beverages.
BATF’s site was of little help:
Several telephone calls pointed to a Steve Simon (202) 927 -8183, who was
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
(202) 628-3544 is primarily a lobbying organization and their “scientific:
staff has been “away from the phone.”
So the rest of this response is my speculation:
1) This sounds like an “urban legend” although I didn’t find it at:
2) High quality alcoholic beverages have subtle flavor notes. Quality
distillers closely control the ingredients including the source of
fermentable sugars and the strain of yeast. Even the source of the wood
(much less the kind of wood) going into aging barrels affects the beverage’s
So, I think adding a poison then its antidote would disturb this delicate
balance of flavors.
However, it could be possible to mask a poison and it’s antidote with fruit
flavors, herbs, or perhaps cream and sugar.
3) Distilled beverages are highly regulated. Brewers, distillers and
companies that produce alcoholic beverages must keep track of the quantity
of both ingredients and the volume and strength of outgoing product (for tax
purposes). When transported, beverage alcohol is shipped under seals
to ensure the volume or strength doesn’t change.
So, the market for a tank truck of stolen alcohol would be restricted.
However, I guess that anyone going to the trouble of stealing a tank truck
would have an idea as to where to market it. Moonshine?
Lastly: What is a poison, that would be effective in a tank of alcohol and
easily neutralized before poisoning?
Consulting with our staff chemists, toxicologists, & my wife (a chemist
with NIH) indicates there ain’t no such thing.
Therefore, in conclusion, I believe this is an “Urban legend”.
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Chemistry.