The story. A business minded man attempted to manufacture lambanog from sugar palm sap. However, his excellent idea was never put to reality. A person from concerned agency warned him about the fishermen who suffered death from lambanog drinking. Lambanog production could be very dangerous without enough technical knowledge.
The question. What if the man eyed making sugar palm wine instead? Would it be safer?
Here are some pointers to consider!
1) Coconut which is a relative of sugar palm is exuding sap with methanol content. Sugar palm producing methanol is not surprising. Some literature are stating that kaong also has the toxic substance.
2) Lambanog making involves the distillation of fermented coconut sap to increase its alcohol content from the average 14% to 45% (90 proof). There is a drastic increase in ethanol content and so there is also a drastic methanol increase. True if the distillation is not done properly.
3) Natives around the world are drinking fresh sugar palm sap and there is no report about poisoning. The same for fermented sap/toddy.
4) Methanol is more volatile than ethanol. The first boils at 65°C while the latter boils at 78°C. Both volatilize at ambient temperature. If the sap is allowed to fully ferment into wine, heat build-up might be enough to fend off bulk of methanol content.
In the end, a reliable laboratory test is needed for consumer safety.