Is Wood Vinegar Safe For Human Consumption?

I heard the term wood vinegar from her. She stated that it is good for the body. Her mother unit is producing this kind of vinegar. But she have never brought one home yet.

She asked me to accompany her to their exhibit and I did. I got a chance to see the wood vinegar for the first time. Packed in water pet bottles. The color is very similar to dark honey. We never bought one as test sample (sorry).

bottles of wood vinegar

I also saw the process of wood vinegar making. Not in reality, only in posters.

1) The woods are fermented for several days. The kind of wood was never mentioned. Maybe any wood of choice will fit for the purpose as long as it is not dried.
2) Woods are then arranged in a drum, sealed and placed over fire.
3) A condenser tube is attached on drum top. There is a small faucet like tube in which the condensed liquid from baking wood are collected. The condenser is a plain tube with no water cooling components.
4) The collected wood vinegar are allow to stand until it separates to three layers. The middle layer is the real wood vinegar. I never know what are they going to do with the remaining two layers.
5) The baked wood (burned wood inside the drum) is a high quality charcoal.

The methanol or the wood alcohol is a wood by-product. The reason why I never bought a test sample. Methanol is toxic, an ingestion of 30 ml is enough to send one to the other world. Scary!

It is also known as pyrolignous liquid with 80 to 90% water and an estimates of other 200 components. Methanol,tar, butanol, anylalcohol, acetic acid, formic acid, proprionic acid, valeric acid, formaldehyde, acetone, furfural, valerolactone, guaicol, syringol, cresol, phenol, ammonia, methyl amyne. etc…

My first thought was correct cause it is indeed contain toxic methanol. The ammonia, formaldehyde and acetone are harmful too. Maybe the toxic substances are too little cause a ratio of 1:50 to 1:800 (vinegar to water) is prepared before used. I still never want to take chances.

Wood vinegar is used to be a source of commercial vinegar and agent for meat and fish preservation. As feed mixture for animal production to improved meat, milk and egg output. It also posses many internal benefits such as:

lowering cholesterol
eliminating dental infection
reducing peptic ulcer
prevent vomiting
blocking diarrhea
heal liver disease
removing foul odor
reducing acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion.

Are you using wood vinegar for medicinal or culinary purposes?

update as of May 7, 2011

She brought home a wood vinegar packed in recycled PET bottle. I opened the bottle with excitement. It has a strong smoke flavor and aroma, typical properties of a burnt wood. It has a substance that act like needles, piercing gently on my tongue.  I never ingested the liquid. I spew it out after few moments.

wood vinegar

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

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