Introduction: Garbage Bag + Rice Cooker = Alcohol Still
A still has two parts, a boiler and a condenser.
A rice cooker/warmer makes a great boiler.
It's got a rubber gasket so all the steam goes out the vent. It's insulated so all the heat goes into the mash.
A plastic garbage bag makes a great condenser.
It's got lots of surface area, cooling and condensing the vapor very quickly.
In my experiments it didn't need to be vented and hardly puffed up at all.
I tested my still by distilling a gallon of "rice wine for cooking" which has salt added to it to keep people from using it as a beverage. I put the bag in a tub to keep it from rolling off the table when it got heavy, and in case the bag leaked.
The whole system works great!
Finally I was able to use up that gallon of salty wine, which I inherited from a friend who moved back to China.
Step 1: Rice Cooker Modification
My rice cooker is a National/Panasonic cooker/warmer.
I pulled that perforated metal cup out of the cooker's steam vent.
I found a chunk of tubing the right size and inserted it into the steam vent.
Then I bunched up the end of the garbage bag and put it over the open end of the tube and tied it tight with a strip of bicycle innertube. The alcohol steam goes into the bag and condenses back to liquid there.
There's an aluminum baffle disk in the lid that keeps bubbles from going out the vent.
If you use a fermented mash that doesn't make bubbles you can remove the baffle and get more steam.
Don't wait too long to shut off your still. Do it by feel, by putting the bag on a scale to see if it's got as much alcohol as you think it should in it, or by putting a thermometer in the steam vent. You can poke the thermometer in through the side of the bag and just leave it there. When the steam temperature starts climbing higher than 176 fahrenheit (78C)you're getting water vapor. You're done.
Unless you're on a desert island and are distilling fresh water from salt.
If you leave your still running unattended , or if you put your friends in charge which is the same thing, you'll get lousy booze from it. It will keep boiling away long after there's no alcohol left in the mash. Eventually it'll boil the pot dry, start scorching the residue, and shut itself off.
When you get back you'll have a bag full of scorched booze that's too weak to be its own painkiller.
Step 2: Rubber Glove CO2 Trap
Here's my "fermentation vessel".
Just a regular five gallon jug that drinking water comes in.
A rubber glove is held over the neck of the jug with rubber bands.
The CO2 from fermentation puffs up the glove.
The rubber bands should be just tight enough to hold it on there.
If the glove overinflates the gas should leak out around the wrist of the glove.
I put the glass head over the glove because I didn't know where else to put it.
Also it sends the artistic message "This stuff messes with your brain".
A balloon or even a plastic bag works just as well as a vapor trap but doesn't look nearly as cool.
You could also go to a brewer's supply store and buy vapor traps, but then you wouldn't be reading instructables. Please read a beer brewing book especially about the hazards. Many people are killed by bad homebrews containing botulism etc., so you do need to follow certain sterilization procedures.
The jug contains Kombucha - this photo is from an experiment to make Kombucha with a higher alcohol content. It ended up not tasting as good as the regular stuff, but the fermenter worked great.