Some alcohol beverages are not produced by companies that are licensed and regulated. Sometimes, these drinks are produced in accordance with longstanding community traditions or home recipes solely for personal consumption. In other situations, the drinks are made or distributed illicitly to avoid health or quality regulations, or licensing and taxes imposed by government. Drinking these products carries the same risk as drinking other alcohol beverages; but in some cases, risks may be greater.
Traditionally produced drinks are often home-made and are not normally labeled with the alcohol content or even package size, but their production and use have been informally regulated by custom and practice for generations. These traditional products are largely fit for human consumption, although the quality, taste, alcohol content, and safety of traditionally produced drinks may be different with each batch.
However, unscrupulous producers who seek a quick profit may make similar products with methods or ingredients that are not traditional, increasing the health risk for the drinker.
Illicit alcohol may carry greater risks that go beyond the illegal status of production and distribution. These drinks may contain widely different amounts of alcohol. Some may be made from alcohol that is not ethanol, or may contain toxins that may sicken and even kill the drinker.
Some illicit alcohol is made and packaged to look just like legitimate products. These counterfeit products may seem like a good deal, but the buyer has no idea what is inside. When you buy a particular brand, be suspicious of an unreasonably low price and make sure that the packaging is authentic and secure. An off-taste may be an indicator of a counterfeit product.
Fuels, cosmetics, and disinfectants that may contain some forms of alcohol should never be ingested. They often contain ingredients that are dangerous for people to consume.