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Step 2: The Vat

The vat is the container in which you heat your mash. I would suggest the use of an old pressure cooker, as it has a seal around the lid to keep vapours inside the system, and is large enough to hold a reasonable volume of wash.

<p>*Sigh*</p><p>Read the disclaimers, please, folks, then read *all* the comments before adding your own...</p>
<p>Some good information here, but also a lot of bad!</p><p>Copper is used to remove sulphite which are harmful. EVERY fermentation using yeast causes methane production. This is why all distillers remove the first portion of the distillate and trow it in the bin!</p><p>As far as construction, ONLY use copper or SS! Solder with lead-free solder or SS welding! IF you're going to do this, be smart and save your own life and that of your family... think carefully and research research research! Theres a lot of forums out there that'll give you much better designs and proper procedures!</p><p>Peace out!</p>
<p>Methane is a gas, so I think you mean methanol?</p><p>If &quot;every fermentation&quot; using yeast produces methanol, why do we never, ever hear of beer or wine containing methanol?</p>
<p>Hmm good question. Not familiar with this processes, sorry, but I am certain that methanol is present in both, as are other chemicals that need to be removed...</p>
<p>You may be certain, but the head brewer of my local brewery, which also has a distillery, says that the grain mash contains no significant traces of methanol - according to him (and his spirits regularly win global awards), the heads are disposed of to improve the flavour.</p>
<p>@Kiteman I envy you! I am very interested in making Whisk(e)y and have no such luxury at hand! I have, however, joined 5 distilling forums (3 Ozzy, 1 US and 1 international - European) to learn what I can; my comments above are not of my own experience but of a collaboration of all those 5 forums. These guys range from hobbyists to boutique stiller to still manufacturers, servicing these boutique distilleries. Naturally I had assumed they knew what they are talk ing about. </p><p>Furthermore, I have recently digested 2 books (&quot;The Complete Distiller&quot;, by Nixon &amp; McCaw and &quot;Making fine spirits&quot; by Zymurgy Bob) which are stating the same as what I have noted above.</p><p>Essentially, the distillate collected is in 4 parts (often simplified into 3 where freshet &amp; Heads are combined for ease and, as you say, taste improvement) - foreshots, heads Hearts and Tails; where:</p><p>FORESHOTS: A small amount of low boiling distillate, which is the first to be collected during a run. Foreshots contain high levels of acetone, methanol, and aldehyde volatiles. Catch and discard</p><p>HEADS: Spirits from the beginning of the run that contain a high percentage of low boiling alcohols such as methanol, acetone and aldehydes.</p><p>HEARTS: The section of a distillation run which is taken as the product, contains mostly ethanol, with a small amount of congeners.</p><p>TAILS: Distillate from late in the distilling process containing a high percentage of fusel oil and little alcohol.</p><p>From extensive reading and some experimentation with a friend that has a hobby still, we allocate 5-% of the initial boiler volume to foreshots, then take &quot;cuts&quot; in order to separate the other 3 parts. </p><p>CUTS: The different collections of varying distillate (taken by the distiller) during a distilling run. Cuts are usually small amounts (300-500ml) in volume allowing efficient separation of the parts.</p><p>personally, Heads feels pricey on the tongue, hearts are warm and smooth and tails have a little warmth but smell funny (wet cardboard or dog) and often taste similar to the wash put into the still, but not in a good way...</p><p>Hope that clears up where I'm coming from....</p>
<p>Which &quot;ss&quot; metal are you referring to, Sterling Silver? Or Stainless Steel?<br>Thank you!</p>
<p>Stainless, mate. Haven't heard of using silver for this kind of process, possibly because it is too expensive...</p>
<p>It is actually much easier to make wine than it is to make beer AND once the wine is done fermenting (12 to 18% alcohol) you can circumvent the distilling legalities by putting the wine in plastic jugs &amp; sticking them in the freezer for several days. Then take them out &amp; pour what didn't freeze into another container. In my experience, the yield is approx 1 quart per gallon. What you end up with is the rough equivalant to a schnapps or brandy. I've done it with several different flavored wines. Makes a very nice 'sipping' drink without any hassles.</p>
<p>The freezing process is known as crystal fractalization. I don't know the laws in the UK, but in the US it is just as illegal as any other form of distillation, and will get you(trusting to memory here) $10,000 in fines a d five years in the federal hoosgow.</p>
I thought it was legal to make up to 99 gallons of your homemade Hooch for personal use in the United States. If that is an error someone please reply.
<p>Without a Federal license it is a felony. You're thinking of fermentation (beer- and wine-making), which is perfectly legal in all 50 states. The US Treasury Department's web site says this (among other things):</p><ol><br><li>Within title 26 of the United States Code, <a href="http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2013-title26/html/USCODE-2013-title26-subtitleE-chap51-subchapJ-partI-sec5601.htm" rel="nofollow">section 5601</a> sets out criminal penalties for activities including the following. Offenses under this section are felonies that are punishable by up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both, for each offense.<ul><br><li>5601(a)(1) &ndash; Possession of an unregistered still.<li>5601(a)(2) &ndash; Engaging in business as a distiller without filing an application and receiving notice of registration.<li>5601(a)(6) &ndash; Distilling on a prohibited premises. (Under <a href="http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2010-title26/html/USCODE-2010-title26-subtitleE-chap51-subchapB-sec5178.htm" rel="nofollow">26 U.S.C. 5178(a)(1)(B)</a>, a distilled spirits plant may not be located in a residence or in sheds, yards, or enclosures connected to a residence.)<li>5601(a)(7) &ndash; Unlawful production or use of material fit for production of distilled spirits.<li>5601(a)(8) &ndash; Unlawful production of distilled spirits.<li>5601(a)(11) &ndash; Purchase, receipt, and/or processing of distilled spirits when the person who does so knows or has reasonable grounds to believe that Federal excise tax has not been paid on the spirits.</ul></ol>
The govt needs the money and the control, I guess.
<p>It's better than Prohibition. License and tax it. Same thing they ought to do with all the other recreational drugs. But Prohibition is a big money maker.</p>
<p>Do that with cider, you're making &quot;applejack&quot;.</p>
<p>I live in Alabama, and have seen it made. I've talked with quite a few folks that made it before, during, and after the depression, just to survive. And you got it right in your tutorial. </p><p>There are as many &quot;recipes&quot; for making shine as there are for making chocolate cake. </p><p>There are those that use different ingredients in their mash. I've seen whole corn, sprouted and mashed, cracked corn that was soaked soured then mashed up, corn meal, oats, sprouted oats, and even sweet feed. </p><p>Pots and what they are made of are always debated. The old timers always use copper, but stainless steel is popular among younger makers. Another disclaimer can be mentioned about lead poisoning as some brass can contain lead. Nobody in their right mind uses car radiators, solder, &quot;lead-free&quot; or otherwise. The old timers around here used a bit of pancake batter and an old paint brush on pipe joints and fittings. </p><p>Water.... good water makes good spirits. </p><p>Tap water, with it's chlorine, fluoride, etc, etc, etc makes a bitter or metallic taste. Well water is hit or miss, iron water is a no-no, as well as water with any sulfur content. The best you can get according to the really good distillers is water piped out of a limestone cavern. And even then the water should be tested. </p><p>All this typing is making me thirsty, take care. ;)</p>
<p>Instructions unclear!! crashed car and lost wife.</p>
<p>An absolutely fascinating read (the comments!) with the slight entertainment value of reading about how to become a federal felon in the US. Both sides of my family produced distilled spirits until the 1950's, when it became legal to purchase alcoholic beverages in the former Indian Territory.</p>
<p>No wher ein the USA or in virtualy all nations on earth is it legal to distill. Make beer/wine/mead perhaps, but not distill. </p><p>New Zealand (up to about 3 years ago) was the ONLY place to legal distil.</p><p>Now legal to distil vs will you get hunted down is another story. Here in the USA they take it very seriously</p><p>As far as Myths etc.</p><p>Methanol will kill you pure simple truth. Ethanol that is properly distilled and charcoal filtered 2-3 times has no real taste. Knob Creek and Mellow Corn Whiskey are my faves and while they are both 100 proof, the Mellow corn does indeed taste like whiskey and one has a small reaction when consumed neat, no ice no water. Knob Creek on the other hand has no nasty &quot;kick&quot;. In my experience if I gave it to you neat, and did not say what it was and you never drank liquor before, could drop shots with no issue. Yes it is THAT smooth. If you are given to drink, try a shot of 9 year old KC. </p><p>After effects, well the cleaner the ethanol is the better you feel the next day. I can drink quite a bit of either and no issues. I do not drink much of either because it is that easy to get blotto then be a hermit the next day. </p><p>After removing all the heads/methonol spirit, then taking the middle of the run and not getting any of the fusil oil/tail, that give pure ethanol, with some water. You can re-distil that for higher % of booze, but it isn't needed, then you pour it through a wetted charcoal filtration system 3 times. You should now have a clear relatively tasteless liquor. Put into a deeply charred barrel (Oak? Maple?), toss in the right peatmoss and let sit for a year to steep. Walla Crappy Happy Highland Happy Juice.</p><p>Oh I fergit, some feed stocks (say apples) produce more meths spirits then other, (like grain)</p><p>Do you research first on if you think having you house taken away by the BTF, is worth saying here &quot;here try my moonshine&quot; . </p><p>ciao</p>
<p>thee things I didn't see here are one don't use an aluminium pot use only copper or stainless steel and you need some copper in your still, two the first part to come out should be dumped this is usually about 10% of your expected yeild and three what can cause a still to explode is leaking alcohol vapor that is exposed to open flame, there are many good books on the subject, before trying this learn all you can first and of course check to be sure you can legally distill where you live</p>
<p>Do not go much over 78.4C as over this temperature Methyl Alc produced. </p>
<p>Given the risks, I think I'll just buy my whiskey. Upside of home distilling, some marginal booze, downside, blindness and worse. H'mm let me think about this. NOT. </p>
MMMMM<br/><br/>This guy puts new meaning in choose your poison!<br/>A lot of no no's in this, worked in a lab ay? As a lab technician or janitor?<br/><br/>You can get lots of methanol from realy anything you distill including just a simple wash of sugar-water-yeast.<br/><br/>People going blind from a punch mmmm better stay away from wine champagne and beer.<br/><br/>Using a bed post as a column is a good idea if it's made from 304 or 316 foodgrade stainless steel or waterpipe copper tubing somehow i don't see that. You will get contaminents in your wash that will cause you harm in the long run from mostly anything else.<br/><br/>Things like using epoxy to seal up joints is bad you need to use lead free solder or silver solder for that.<br/>It's lucky that you have never done any of this yourself or you might be writing this instructable in hospital.<br/><br/>If you realy want to build yourself a quick or complex still try this place for more info first <a rel="nofollow" href="http://homedistiller.org/">http://homedistiller.org/</a><br/>If you want to distill just small amounts glassware is the safest and most accurate way.<br/><br/>Serg<br/>
<em>A lot of no no's in this, worked in a lab ay? As a lab technician or janitor?</em><br/><br/>As head of a large industrial lab. As a high school science teacher. As a published science writer.<br/><br/>Let me know when you've actually <em>read</em> the Instructable properly, plus all the replies I've made to <em>other</em> people who have not read it properly (like the other people who think that yeast produces methanol in anything other than trace amounts). If you still have any smart comments to make, make them then.<br/>
"(like the other people who think that yeast produces methanol in anything other than trace amounts)" I'm assuming this is a snide remark at my expense. I guess pointing out the biochemistry and science behind it was the wrong way to go. And here I thought it would resonate with someone who claims a scientific background. You can call it what you want - 'trace amounts' or whatever, it doesn't change the fact they are in there. I wont point out the irony that the whole idea behind distillation is to concentrate things that are present in trace amounts. In my average brandy run 3-5% of the total distillate is the sub-78C fraction, and most of that is methanol. Assuming 75% methanol in that fraciton, and assuming that the other 25% is non-toxic, including that fraction into the portion you drink that would be a high enough concentration that 1 servings (i.e. 1.5oz) would exceed what is considered a safe limit. You would hit a mildly toxic dose (i.e. possible blindness) around 6 servings in. For someone who claims to have the background you do, you're sure adamant about something which is both wrong, and a common/ widely reported problem in producing food-grade ethanol. The production of methanol during the fermentation process, and its concentration during distillation is the topic of a multitude of scientific and industrial reports. BTW, homedistiller.org is an excellent resource of home distilation, and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in the craft.
From <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.homedistiller.org/">your recommended reference</a><br/><br/><em>Poor quality home distilled spirit : methanol 0.0186%</em><br/><em>Methanol : usual fatal dose 100-250 mL</em><br/><br/>So, to get a fatal dose of methanol from poor quality spirits, you would have to drink over 500 litres of the spirit at a single sitting.<br/><br/>Also<br/><br/><em>The lethal dose of methanol is at least 100 ml that is equal to about 80000 mg or you need 27000 liters of mash at least to get that amount.</em><br/><br/><strong>That is, to produce a single lethal dose of methanol, you have to collect all the methanol from nearly <em>thirty tonnes</em> of fermented grain and water.</strong><br/><br/>&gt;end&lt;<br/>
&quot;Poor quality home distilled spirit : methanol 0.0186%&quot;<br/><br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://homedistiller.org/methanol.htm">here's the full link, so everyone can see</a><br/><br/>As everyone can see, you're distorting what the webpage states. After a discussion of proper distillation techniques - incluiding throwing away the heads, they (correctly) point out that the methanol content will be minimal; even if you do a poor job. But that is with <strong>*throwing away the heads*</strong>, which is exactly what we've been saying you have to do all along.<br/><br/>But you're counseling people to not throw away the heads. If you do this the amounts of methanol are much, much higher.<br/><br/>For example, most wines have a methanol content of &gt;0.1%; some fruit juices have methanol contents even higher then that - meaning, of course, if you distill them, and don't toss the heads, you'll concentrate them along with your ethanol. Even with grains you'll get methanol produced, although it'll be lower then fruit-based ferments.<br/><br/>As stated before, my personal experience with brandies is 3-5% of total distillate is methanol/other lower-boiling point compounds. I used to do a lot of sugar mashes, and even then I collected 1-2% the final volume of these lower temperature fractions.<br/><br/>&quot;The lethal dose of methanol is at least 100 ml&quot;<br/><br/>Firstly, that is out-and-out wrong. Methanol has an LD50 of ~1ml/kg, and since most of us aren't 100kg, you're toxic limit is way off.<br/><br/>Secondly, I never said anything about death. I specifically said &quot;mild toxicity, i.e. possible blindness&quot;, not once did I say &quot;death&quot; or &quot;lethal dose&quot;.<br/><br/>Blindness occurs at doses as low as 0.1ml/kg, and permanent eye damage occurs at doses about 1/5th of that. Meaning for me (at 65kg) I'd have to drink a meager 6.5ml of methanol to blind myself, and a minute 1.3ml to begin seeing minor damage to my eyes. That's not very much.<br/><br/>In the case of my Brandies, if I were to put those heads back in I'd have a methanol content of ~3%, meaning to get my 1.3ml worth (onset of eye damage) I'd have to drink a mere 43ml (1.45oz, just shy of 1 serving) to hit a point where damage is possible. 5 servings gets me upto 6.5ml; onset of blindness.<br/><br/>Lastly, there is a growing body of medical evidence that long-term exposure to minute amounts - parts per *billion* range - can have damaging effects of the neurological system, including the onset of a Parkinson's-like disease. Chronic higher doses have a large range of known effects - including, but not limited to - reproductive disorders, teratogenic effects, optic, liver, kidney, and heart damage.<br/><br/>But hey, its your life. If you'd rather continue on in your delusion, and poison yourself slowly, that's your business. But to falsely claim that there is no danger - when there is a well established danger - is just wrong.<br/>
Please point out where I say &quot;do not throw away the heads&quot;?<br/><br/>All this argument has happened because people - yes, I mean you - are not reading what I wrote.<br/><br/>Check Step 5 - I specifically say not to collect the condensate until the temperature at the top of the column reaches 78<sup>o</sup>C - by that point, <em>all the methanol will have evaporated</em>.<br/><br/><em>I</em> have been discussing the product collected if you follow what I write. <em>You</em> seem to have assumed, that just because I did not use the term &quot;heads&quot; that I am some sort of ignorant fool that is quite happy to encourage others to poison themselves.<br/><hr/><br/><em>&quot;The lethal dose of methanol is at least 100 ml&quot;</em><br/><br/><em>Firstly, that is out-and-out wrong. Methanol has an LD50 of ~1ml/kg, and since most of us aren't 100kg, you're toxic limit is way off.</em><br/><br/>First you recommend <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.homedistiller.org/,">http://www.homedistiller.org/,</a> then you criticise me for your recommended site quoting numbers you do not agree with.<br/><br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanol#Health_and_safety">Wikipedia agrees with those numbers</a><br/>According to the official MSDS; &quot;<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/M2015.htm">Methyl Alcohol (Methanol) Oral rat LD50: 5628 mg/kg</a>&quot; (I mass about 70kg, so (a rat my size) needs a touch under half a litre to kill me)]<br/><br/>The reference you gave us says that says a 100ml dose is fatal.<br/>The official HSE data says it needs 500ml to kill 50% of those who drink it.<br/>What do <em>you</em> say?<br/>
"Please point out where I say "do not throw away the heads"?" My bad, but you have repetitively commented that there is no risk of methanol poisoning, when there is. You specifically attributed methanol poisoning from moonshine to adulterants; which is also false. "First you recommend..." They're a great resource for how to distill properly, build a still, make a mash, etc. But I'll take the medical communities findings when it comes to toxological data. "According to the official MSDS" There is no such thing as an "official MSDS". MSDS's are produced by the manufacturing companies, and simply have to meet some rather weak standards. Take a look at Lilly's MSDS for methanol - they've got completely different LD50's listed compared to yours. And why use the rat standard, when the toxicity in humans is well established? its long been known us lowly primates are far more sensitive to methanol than are our rat brothers. My values - both the LD50, onset of blindness, and onset of optical damage, came from HUMAN data, published in "Medical Toxicology" by R.Dart, published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins in 2003. "Wikipedia agrees with those numbers" No, it don't. Direct quote, from your wikipedia link: "The usual fatal dose is 100–125 mL (4 fl oz)" That 1/5th of your "half liter". For myself thats 1.3ml/kg; just a hair higher than the 1ml/kg I quoted previously. And wikipedia does not state its an LD50, so we don't even know if the two values are comparable. Bryan
There isn't a risk of methanol poisoning here. I hope you've lightened up since then.
just read your new post about the methanol 0.0186%. You get more than that in a 25l wash of just sugar water and yeast just to make 4 liters of alcohol especialy if it's a pot still.
Then Warthaug's references are wrong.
'Then Warthaug's references are wrong." No, you mis-read what it was stating. The resource pointed out - correctly - that when the heads are disposed of the worst case scenario is a minute amount of methanol (0.0186%). You're telling people not to dispose of the heads - which is where the methanol is. That is plain wrong, and including those in the final product will greatly increase the methanol content.
See my post timed 12:36pm
It's not that people didn't read it properly, you simply didn't explain it properly.
Yeh, it's real bad. That's why I won...
You did an excellent job.
<p>people love to critisize. I enjoyed </p>
<p>There is some methanol present in all fermentations. It comes out first because it boils at a lower temp than ethanol. This is why moonshiners throw away the first runnings. </p><p>In general, there are few food-grade epoxies so some specificity would help here, using LocTite could poison someone.</p><p>Moreover, you can reduce the amount of fusel alcohols present by fermenting at a low temperature. Knowing the behavior of the yeast can do wonders for the flavor of any alcohol product. Stress a yeast with too-high a temperature and they produce fusel-alcohols.</p>
I'm a chemist. No no no. You cannot get methanol from distilling fermented sugar/ yeast mixtures/edible grains. Just no. It doesn't work like that. There is a good reason they call it &quot;wood alcohol&quot;.
<p>pressure cooker is fine although to small. Where the pressure gauge is is going to be your tubing(copper) so it will not ever build pressure and blow up, steam/vapours will exit this 1/2&quot;tubing. </p>
*too
<p>OMFG these are terrible recommendations. DO NOT USE A BRASS BED POST, DO NOT USE ANY BRASS, use copper or 304/316ss only. Do not use copper or anything from CHINA.</p>
Errr it's Illegal in the UK unless licensed!!<br><br>Still pots don't explode! tell that to the 5 Eastern Europeans recently killed in Boston Lincs.<br><br>Your picture of the pressure cooker seems to show the safety valve which you say don't bother if it gets blocked - Whereas in a perfect world the system isn't pressurised there are circumstances where it might be and so the safety valve is a good - Ummm -Safety feature.<br><br>I have 'heard' you can distil alcohol in the freezer freezing the water and then pour off the Alcohol. You could do this in a PET soda bottle. There are Turbo yeasts that produce higher levels of alcohol.
you can use freeze distillation but you also concentrate the bad alcohols. I this now and again for making very high strength beer,much akin to 'tactical nuclear penguin'. I wouldn't use this method for making a fo whiskey/vodka
wort, mash, wash, are all right in there own countries. <br> <br>i made apple pie moonshine and because i wanted 190 proof or better i used a thumper. <br>why because if i got caught with the apple pie shine i could claim i made it with 190 Everclear and if they did not find my still it would be imposable for them to prove different <br>I used a old world war 2 stainless oxygen tank that had been modified by adding a filler cap and electric tank heater fittings welded on with TIG welding <br>http://images.cloud.worthpoint.com/wpimages/images/images1/1/1007/25/1_b9ff676a018758079b5fd93de2982730.jpg <br> <br>The best part it looked nothing like a still when stored. <br>and if not caught running it i could claim it was for distilling water. <br>The cops in Kalifornia are dumb because there are few people in calif making moonshine and a lot of drug labs. <br> <br>Some meth head broke into the shed i had it stored in and took it for scrap.

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