Picture of 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.
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Step 1: Rice Cooker Modification

Picture of 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.
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lwise412 months ago
I'm sorry, i don't want to sound trollish, but this is an extremely bad idea. First off there is no way to separate the head shot which is mostly methanol - this is one the ingredients in "poor" moonshine that is known to cause blindness. secondly, even if you happen to find a large plastic bag that is food grade it won't be suitable for high proof alcohol because of how solvent it is - it will strip the bag.
ilpug3 years ago
This... looks dangerous. I generally don't know what I'm talking about, but I think there is a reason that normal stills are made out of Metal and glass. I think the plastic would just degrade into the drink. Also, don't normal stills use a hotter heat source, like flame? I don't know, but your set up looks like it operates at a lower temp, which might result in a less complete chemical reaction, leading to lots of unwanted crap in the brew.

Interesting concept though, fersure.
nlantz6 years ago
im suprised no one has really pointed out that by using this "still" for anything with Ethanol will more then likely kill you. because of the hot vapors and high concentrate of said vapors coming in contact with plastic's it breaks down the plastics and they end up in your drink, then once consumed in your liver. all the myths about people dieing are from people who use things with lead "solder, old car rads" or use some crap like this. STAINLESS STEEL AND COPPER ONLY PEOPLE. aluminum also cant withstand the treatment ethenol vapors put on it . not as bad as plastic but it will pit and corrode within a few uses
Certain types of food or medical grade flexible plastic tubing, sold cheaply at hardware stores, can withstand temperatures much higher than the alcohol vapours. Plastic is sometimes used in laboratory stills, where purity standards are higher even than for drink. For something cheaper and easier to work with than copper, I'd go for some household flexible hot-water PVC.
I agree, however, that the garbage bag is a terrible idea. Just have a longer tube that drips into a glass jar!
Punkguyta8 years ago
Sheesh, what ever happened to putting apple cider in a bottle with some yeast and opening it once in a while to let it vent? Ha ha, I'd like to know how to do this stuff, but it seems too complicated to me.
Pwag Punkguyta3 years ago
Distillation gives you a much higher alcohol content.
LOL that's basic brewing for things like wine and beer. What they're talking about here is more advanced stuff--think brandy, whiskey, etc. I want to do this too, but my boyfriend has specifically instructed me not to blow up the house. *grin*
it is actually very easy to brew 7-10 proof alcohol. all you need is probably in your kitchen already (exempting a very basic understanding of chemistry). try putting some PURE apple juice in a glass bottle with a stick of cinnemon, some whole cloves, and a dash of nutmeg (if youlike). then just add a few granules of any old yeast to it, cork it and seal with wax, and put it in a warm dark place for 5-7 days. mighgt be better once distilled but you dont need to bother with that.
sealing this is not a good idea. there needs to be a way for the CO2 to vent which is produced when yeast break down the sugars into alcohol. otherwise you can have a build up of CO2 in the bottle which can either present issues for taste or the production. also I'd imagine you might blow the cork. try a one way valve. I did not want to buy one so I drilled a whole in a screw on cap, put a tube into it, then made a loop in the tube and added water into the tube but just enough to create a seal. then as CO2 moves through the tubing it pushes through the water but just like in your toilet no gases, namely O2, can get back into your beverage.
i seal with a cork because it is a permeable membrane which is far simpler and cheaper than anything manufactured for the need. it allows co2 to escape while maintaining enough pressure for self-carbonaton and limiting alcohol production as is my preference when brewing most drinks.
ahh I did not think cork would have the permeability needed to allow enough venting knowing that it does I will have to try it. thanks for defending your style now I know a new way of brewing that can produce different results
You're right, it generally doesn't. If it did breathe well we wouldn't have bubbly champagne.
of course one should always remember to us a bottle capeable of safely managing the pressure. wire hoods also help excellently.
not likely unless you're making high proof alchohol, which whiskey is not.
jbuzzard8 years ago
As long as you use edible foods for your mash, distillation should produce perfectly drinkable results (not accounting for taste) . Poisons can be made if non consumable materials are used in the mash (such as sawdust, antifreeze, or other chemicals). Another potential source of distillation related poisons is the materials used to make the apparatus - Lead-based solders, for instance, are not a good idea. Certainly, producing your own 'fortified' drinks from cheap wines, etc should be perfectly safe. Having said that, I might be concerned about chemicals leaching from a plastic bag condenser.
 The BLACK plastic bag container is made from (yeah I know originally petroleum!) from the recycled recycled and recycled again plastic waste normally flying about  at your friendly garbage dump / landfill....and thats the reason it is deliberately coloured   Black would look sickening if they tried any other colour that reflected more light. The black it absorbs light making it   decent enough for your garbage. It was made for it isn't their problem if you use it to distill BOOZE!
Now where I live in Asia  we have "rag" pickers....... the poorest of the poorest of the poor  who collect & then  wash plastic bags/ bits of all colours shapes and  thickness that they might find at the garbage dumps, gutters etc.The  water used is what they can get free (normally open drains and gutters),pack them into neat bundles and sell them to the "recycle" man who collects truckloads and delivers it to the manufacturer.... Voila  Black Garbage bag in neat packs of 50's and 100's. The bottom of the recycle chain! 
I found this gas can in my basement- washed it out with amonia... then water. once i thought it was totally clean I poured water, sugar, and yeast once it was filled... i smelled it and I can kinda smelled a light gas oder. should i dump it?
most likely ...better safe than sorry
You should dump it without a doubt. Never make anything intended for consumption with anything less than food grade containers.

Wyle_E jbuzzard6 years ago
Even if you start with edible grains or fruits, you can still get methanol. Most of the online articles I've seen advise "throwing away the heads", dumping the first 25% or so of the distillate. Since methanol boils lower than ethanol, this gets rid of most of the bad stuff.
Not the first 25%.. Typically the first 5-10% is considered 'foreshots' and should be discarded.. The next 15-20% is usually called 'heads'.. It typically has alot of flavor/body.. The next 40-50% is called 'hearts'.. That is the purest portion.. Really the only thing vodka makers would want to deal with.. And anything worth collecting after that is called 'tails'.. Depending on what you're making, you typically mix in various proportions of heads, hearts, and tails, then toss the remainders into the next batch, and likely redistill your proper mix, and do separations again... As for methanol, the vast majority does come over in the foreshots.. Recipes that use ingredients with alot of cellulose/pectins will produce more than things like sugar/molasses (which hardly produce ANY at all).. Actually pretty much anything you distill would be safe if you didn't separate the phases.. Essentially that wouldn't be much different than drinking the undistilled wash.. A few ounces of pure foreshots on the other hand could be bad!
The treatment for methanol poisoning is ethanol.  It seems that drinking both ethanol and methanol would cancel out any methanol risks.  I think people discard it because it affects the taste and hangover.  Here is a link to a site with some interesting info

A 10% ethanol solution administered intravenously is a safe and effective antidote for severe methanol poisoning. Ethanol therapy is recommended when plasma methanol concentrations are higher than 20 mg per dl, when ingested doses are greater than 30 ml and when there is evidence of acidosis or visual abnormalities in cases of suspected methanol poisoning.
nobody jbuzzard8 years ago
The bag is probably HDPE, which is kind of safe but using a thick PP bag would be a better idea.
Use an airlock from a legitimate source, not a cork for the love of all that is boozy. Also I don't Know where many of Y'all get your information on toxcicity of homebrews and distilations. But , like 90% percent of y'all are wrong. I suggest ya just nut up and read something REAL. The smart ones do. Like the compleat distiller, or the alaskan bootleggers bible. Happy boozin'.....
 Not so sure about the pipe (to be safe it should be stainless steel or copper) running your distillate into a trash bag that is manufactured from a petroleum base (as most trash bags are). 

Better to use a smaller copper pipe, and run it all the way through a bucket or cooler full of ice or ice water (just keep it cold). Your distillate will then drip out the end of the pipe into your containment vessel. Plus, it will be further from the heat source of the rice cooker. Remember, this type of instrument is just a barely controlled bomb.

Get those alcohol vapors too close to a heat source and you may experience the big bang theory first hand. ALWAYS throw away the first 50 ml that drip into your collection vessel (it should be stainless steel too) as those first drippings (called the heads) are almost pure methyl alcohol. That stuff will make ya go blind.

 You should always sterilize your equipment (and that means all equipment, any pots, spoons, funnels, fermenting pots, air locks, corks, etc) prior to beginning a wine. The danger is not in getting croaked from botulism; the danger is that vinegar bacteria will get into your mixture. It's a real drag to let your 5 gallons of wine ferment for a week or three and then discover it's pure vinegar

If it's apple cider vinegar you can use it for cooking; it's much stronger than what you'll buy in the grocery store. But you're not going to be visiting the land of the homemade buzz.
ktdiddd6 years ago
When I was living in a dormitory a half century ago we would put a bottle of hard cider on the window and let it freeze. We would pour off the unfrozen portion and repeat the procedure once or twice.. How do you get hard cider? Buy unpasteurized cider and leave at room temperature for a day or two.
Caym ktdiddd5 years ago
probably longer than that but i suppose you could add yeast and call it good
64bithero6 years ago
Beware, using this technique you are unable to filter out the first 50 ml of your alcohol (referred to as "heads") which contains huge levels of methanol and other toxins which can cause blindness and the like.
Since this was a food grade product to begin with there should be no Methanol in it.
bowrabob6 years ago
I wouldn't drink alcahol that was distilled from plastic components.
m.w.oldham6 years ago
"Many people are killed by bad homebrews containing botulism etc., so you do need to follow certain sterilization procedures." This is an urban myth. No known pathogen can survive the conditions in homebrew that can kill you. Your brew can taste really bad, but wont even get you sick. These people probably put every effort into making rocket fuel "beer" and got alcohol poisoning.
Actually methanol is present in alcohol in all alcohol to a very tiny degree. Undistilled alcohol has a much greater amount.
not so much of a a myth as you say. ive researched methods for making vodka. its is one of those few that CAN kill you if made improperly.
jianqiang6 years ago
maybe I'm just miss informed, and taking the fun out of it, but I'm pretty sure its just cheaper to by rice wine(白酒)than buying the rice cooking wine. But then again maybe the rice cooking wine is already 40-60%
ClayOgre6 years ago
Not sure if a garbage bag is a good idea. Garbage bags aren't food grade and there might be a possibility of plasticizers or other nasty chemicals leaching into your production...particularly since alcohol is something of a solvent.'s just a thought.
Kaiven6 years ago
I'm doing this or this years science project. no, I am not going to distill alcohol xD Just salt water
Esmagamus6 years ago
How strong does it gets? You probably can't do even 40% alcohol in the first run. Beware of methanol: alcoholic drinks have methanol in them and, as it evaporates before alcohol does, it gets into the bag. Methanol=poison!
sumguysr8 years ago
it might be a good idea to use a copper pipe instead of whatever tubing you used to catalyse some of the nasty stuff in mash and produce a better tasting booze.
Auto brake-pipe is good stuff, i.e. easily bent, but has narrow bore. W/ref plastics, please note that hot alcoholic vapour will strip placticisers from materials which contain them. For heath implications search for "phthalate plasticisers"
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