This may sound a bit melodramatic but when you are dealing with a procedure for the first time, and know that alcohol is inflammable, you may wonder. Let's take the explosion issue first. At no time, from beginning to end, is there any pressure in the equipment used for distillation. It is always open to the atmosphere. Fully open. Completely open. You will see that this is so when you look at the equipment diagrams later on and read the description of the procedures involved. So don't worry about it — an explosion is virtually impossible.
As far as fire is concerned you are dealing with an aqueous solution of alcohol which is non-inflammable right up to the time you collect the pure alcohol dripping from the draw-off valve. This is inflammable, but most people will be using an electrically heated boiler so there is no open flame. Secondly, in the remote possibility that a fire occurred, e.g. if you were smoking and dropped some burning ash into the collection bottle, alcohol fires can instantly be doused with water because alcohol and water are miscible. For this reason it is an infinitely safer inflammable liquid than gasoline, and in the fuel alcohol industry this fact is always quoted as one of the benefits associated with ethanol when it is used alone as a fuel — in Brazil for example.
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