Alcohol Test: A Vital Tool for Assessing Raw Milk Quality


The quality of raw milk is a critical factor in the production of various dairy products. To ensure that milk meets the required standards for further processing, the alcohol test has become an essential tool in the dairy industry. This test allows for the assessment of milk’s potential to coagulate during thermal processing. Particularly vital for the manufacturing of UHT milk, evaporated milk, and milk powders, the alcohol test provides a sensitive indication of milk quality. This article delves into the significance of the alcohol test, its underlying principles, and its applications in the dairy industry.


Understanding the Alcohol Test:

The alcohol test is known for its heightened sensitivity compared to traditional methods such as the Clot-on Boiling (COB) test. It operates on the principle that milk proteins become unstable when there is an imbalance in the mineral composition of milk. The presence of high acidity, elevated levels of calcium and magnesium compounds, increased albumen (colostrum milk), or concentrated salts (mastitis) can result in coagulation when alcohol is added to the milk sample.


Evaluating Milk Quality:

Dairy industries typically employ three different concentrations of ethanol solutions for the alcohol test, depending on the intended use of the milk. These concentrations are 68% v/v, 65% v/v, and 60% v/v. Milk that successfully passes the 68% ethanol test is considered of superior quality. For the production of UHT milk and milk powders, raw milk must pass the 68% ethanol test. Conversely, dairies deem raw milk that fails the 60% ethanol test as unsuitable for manufacturing pasteurized polypack milk, as it does not undergo rigorous heat treatment like UHT milk. Raw milk that does not even pass the 60% ethanol test is rejected at processing units to maintain product quality and safety.


The Testing Procedure:

The alcohol test can be conducted using a simple procedure. For routine testing, 5 ml of milk is mixed with an equal amount of the chosen ethanol solution. If the milk is of good quality, no coagulation, clotting, or precipitation should occur. However, the presence of flakes or clots during this test indicates poor milk quality, which may affect the final dairy products.



The alcohol test serves as a crucial assessment tool for evaluating the quality of raw milk in the dairy industry. By determining the potential for coagulation upon thermal processing, this test aids in producing superior dairy products such as UHT milk, evaporated milk, and milk powders. Employing different concentrations of ethanol solutions, the alcohol test allows dairy processors to make informed decisions regarding the suitability of raw milk for specific product types. By adhering to stringent quality standards, the industry ensures that only milk of the highest quality is utilized, safeguarding consumer health and satisfaction.