Better living through chemistry?
September 26, 2012 6:57 AM Subscribe
Are there unpleasant compounds in plastic (specifically Britta filters) that are soluble in pure ethanol that I don't want to drink?
I enjoy making home-made liquors (specifically infusions) like limoncello. I use a 190 proof Everclear as my solvent to extract the lemon oils (or fruit or whatever). Based on a tip I read online, my habit is to filter the alcohol in a new Britta filter before I soak the flavoring agent in the alcohol. I know that Everclear is only distilled once and I believe that it contains some impurities that contribute to a very harsh character. I further believe that the charcoal filtration has led to a much smoother taste in my finished product.
However, last night whilst studying to make my latest creation (a raspberry liquor), I came across a claim that highly concentrated alcohol is a very effective solvent for dissolving chemicals out of the plastic. The most knowledgeable sounding folks suggest that it will specifically dissolve the "plasticizer." However, other folks say that the liquor industry uses plastics to ship and store their alcohol and that it must therefore be approved by the FDA.
I'm told that the plastic used by Britta is either NAS (some kind of styrene) or SAN (Styrene Acrylonitrile). I think my pitcher is of the SAN variety, but I'm not entirely certain.
I've tried to find some kind of definitive food safety website, but get myself entangled in lots of unrelated stuff about BPA. My stuff is never heated, but it does make some sense that alcohol is an effective solvent and that Britta probably didn't design for that purpose. For what its worth, the alcohol is in contact with the plastic for perhaps a couple of hours at most. All subsequent steps are in glass. What do you think of the relative risk level?