Popular social media app TikTok has more than its fair share of controversial viral challenges. From the tripping jump challenge resulting in arrests, to the salt challenge posing health risks, TikTok is the birthplace of myriad dangerous challenges and trends. The newest trend? Teens taking to TikTok to document how they’re creating DIY alcohol out of their bedrooms.
Not do they portray an illegal act due to underage drinking, but the videos also showcase a dangerous way to drink alcohol. These TikToks show underage users the process of making, then drinking their own alcohol easily produced with ingredients found in their own home kitchens.
How Does It Work?
Common ingredients include fruit juices, sugar and active dry yeast. Most of the tutorials tell users to put a tablespoon of active yeast and a cup of sugar into a gallon-sized bottle of juice. Leave the cap slightly loosened or attached a balloon to the open top and let the concoction sit in a hiding spot for about a week. What results — something similar to alcohol.
Popular Science reports on the process, as explained by John Wilson, a food scientist at Colorado State University. “If you are pitching yeast into sugar, you will certainly get fermentation and alcohol production,” Wilson stated.
When sugar is broken down within yeast cells, carbon dioxide and ethanol (alcohol) are created. The carbon dioxide is supposedly released by a loosened cap or into an attached balloon. The alcohol, if done right, is enough to get consumers drunk.. but that doesn’t mean it’s safe for consumption.
What’s So Unsafe?
The DIY concoction can cause botulism, an illness triggered by bacterial toxins that may bloom in the alcohol. When the bottled juice’s pH reaches above 4.6 (less acidic), it creates an environment for bacteria spores to thrive. Symptoms of botulism include blurred vision, difficulty breathing and swallowing, slurred speech, dry mouth and muscle weakness. Untreated cases can result in muscle paralysis and death.
This definitely isn’t the first time DIY alcohol is being brewed in unregulated atmospheres. Prisoners make a drink that goes by the name of pruno, hooch, brew, prison wine and buck. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that inmates in Califonia, Arizona, Utah and Mississippi have died after consuming self-made alcohol.
Just as it appeals to prisoners who don’t have access to alcohol, the TikTok videos lure in underage drinkers that can’t get their hands on alcohol themselves. Add to that the lure of creating a DIY-based video and the chance of it going viral can lead to one too many underage drinking incidents with potential health risks.