Drinking Racing Fuel and Soda Killed Two Teens

Two 16 year old males in TN died after drinking racing fuel. They had mixed it with a soft drink. The first was found dead at home 11 hours later. The second had seizures. So he was rushed to an emergency room. He received treatment. But he died five days later.

drinking racing fuel

The teens could not buy alcohol themselves. They may have known that racing fuel is virtually pure alcohol.

But it’s highly toxic methanol. Beverage alcohol is ethanol. They sound similar. So it’s very  easy to confuse them.

Drinking Racing Fuel Kills

But the first signs of a methanol drunk are similar to those of ethanol. Very quick medical treatment can increase the chances of surviving methanol poisoning.

Methanol is a powerful solvent. It’s widely used in industrial, lab, and home products. Methanol turns into formaldehyde. Then it becomes formic acid. This accumulates in the optic nerve. That’s why blindness is common among survivors.

Methanol is highly toxic. As little as one tablespoon (one-half ounce or 15 ml) of methanol can be fatal.

All young people need to know that drinking racing fuel can kill them. The same is true of any other product containing methanol.

Most states permit parents to serve their children alcohol in their home. Many also permit those under 21 to consume alcohol for religious, medical, or other reasons. TN alcohol laws make no such exceptions.

Effects of Prohibition

During National Prohibition, many people died from drinking after shave lotion, hair tonic, and other products containing methanol. Even today, skid-row alcoholics sometimes do so because of restrictive alcohol laws or lack of money. Perhaps they can’t purchase alcohol before noon on Sunday. It’s much easier to get alcohol by shoplift such products than by shoplifting alcohol.

Some people during Prohibition falsely thought that they could make the methanol in antifreeze safe by filtering it through a loaf of bread. Many died as a result.


    • To remember the difference between poisonous methanol and beverage ethanol is easy. People can drink ethanol and Ethyl is a personal name.