How to Make a Still

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Introduction: How to Make a Still

About: I'm an experimentalist, a scientist and I have a tendency to do things just for the sake of doing them, or to find out what they're like. I love life, show me something I can feel good about. I've got an ...

This contribution tells you how to distill liquids in your own kitchen.
Maybe for illegal liquor, maybe for purifying water.

! Drinking distilled alcohol may be harmful / fatal.
! Distilling alcohol may be illegal
! Drinking distilled water may be harmful / fatal

Step 1: Materials

I used:
A pressure-cooker
8mm OD copper tubing
A plastic bucket.

Step 2: Construction

Form a coil with the copper tube, leaving a long lead-in. I wrapped around a demi.
Drill a hole in the bucket, and poke the lower end of your coil through this.
The copper tube is connected to the pressure-cooker with a (brewing) cork
A bit of Blu-Tac seals the tube to the bucket
Fill the bucket with cold water, and maybe some ice.

Step 3: Use

A person might take two bottles of cheap wine. put them in the pressure-cooker an heat them to the boil. The distillate would be enriched in alcohol, collected from the bottom of the still.
One might wish to add a bit of colour with homemade caramel, and have homemade brandy.

And then one might drink the output and try to post a coherent Instructable.

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419 Comments

im tryin to make a personal still out of things i already have. these pipes are 'chrome plated white brass' but only the outside of the pipe is chrome. i was just wondering if the alcohol vapor being exposed to the brass was bad, cause i dont ever see brass on any stills except for a few connectors. Also, are you saying do the whole process again with glass? cause if i had a glass setup i would just do that, and would only have to do it once right??

6 replies

I would never use brass pipes or fittings where it would or could come into contact with the mash, vapor or any other part of you liquor! Brass is made from copper zinc and LEAD! That's a recipe for certain death! Even if you ran a batch through a still with brass parts one time throw it away it's poison! Even if you run it through a glass or copper still a second time to try and clean it up it's still poison! Once you get lead crystals in your alcohol It's lethal poison! DO NOT DRINK IT! I don't know of any way to remove the LEAD. The best metal for making a still is 99.9% pure food grade copper because it's non-toxic and the copper helps remove sulfites from the mash, Copper water pipe with lead free silver solder will work but even that I would clean it up good before using it. The next best thing is 18/8 304 food grade or 316 surgical grade stainless steel. Don't use cheap non food grade stainless steel because the cheap stuff has other metals in it that will corrode and contaminate you final product and stainless steel won't remove sulfites like copper does. Last but not least you can use lab grade borosilicate glass or pyrex glass But it's 10 times more expensive than the other two. To buy just a 5 gallon glass boiler pot you going to pay $1000. or more and that's not counting the class condenser and all the glass fittings to put it together. You can get a small complete glass still for about $500. to $1000. but it would be so small you could only make a pint or two of product at a time making it not worth it and again glass will not remove sulfites like copper does. My 15 gallon setup is all copper and food grade stainless steel and it took me about a year to get it all exactly right and cost me about $350. Take your time and do it right in the end it will pay for itself in one or two runs.

False. Brass is made of copper and zinc.

However why use brass when copper does the same job for less and is cheaper and better?

I built an all copper 10 liter still for 50 dollars Australian that makes 75% alcohol.

todays brass fittings you buy for drinking water does not have lead in it any more. That's not an issue anymore

Wow. What incredible alarmism. The boiling point of lead is 3,182°F, and it doesn't azetrope with water or alcohol. Lead is a leeching risk for older brass, but alot of modern brass only has 8 percent lead to make it machinable, often plated so its not on an exposed surface. If you think a bit of mash washing over a brass surface is going to cause CERTAIN DEATH, perhaps you shouldn't be giving advice out.

Vinegar and H2O2 in a 2:1 ratio will remove any surface lead and the brass fitting will be suitable for use.

Do you know that alot water today has lead in it? if you look at Deerparks website they show you how much is there, and there are millions of brass instruments out there. I'm not saying that you should definitely use brass, but you might be overacting a bit. as long as you keep the brass well below 600°f you should be fine.

char up some cherry wood and add small bits to liquid until wood floats and pieces no longer sink the charred cherry wood absorbs wood alchol

3 replies

bad idea. In addition to possibly getting toxins in your spirit from the charcoal, it's also a natural filter that absorbs chemicals like a sponge so you'll lose a lot of ethanol along with methanol.

Totally false. Charcoal, of many types of woods, is used in all commercial production of spirits such as whiskeys and rums as well as wines and brandy. Charcoal is harmless and absorbs off flavors. It does not produce poisons. It does not lower the alcohol percentage of your spirit.

bad idea. In addition to possibly getting toxins in your spirit from the charcoal, it's also a natural filter that absorbs chemicals like a sponge so you'll lose a lot of ethanol along with methanol.

TL;DR: Methanol is poisonous, use a thermometer to boil it off first.

Nice big warnings at the top of the page, shame this method doesnt actually tell you to remove the poisonous methanol that can blind you among other things.

Basics you should know:

Alcohol is produced by yeast metabolizing sugars (grain,fruit,cane,corn etc). Methanol and ethanol are produced, methanol is poisonous, ethanol is what you want to drink. Fortunately methanol boils at(65°C/149°F) a lower temperature than ethanol(78°C/173°F) which boils at a lower temperature than water (100°C/212°F). Knowing this and by having a thermometer in your still/pot you can discard the vast majority of the methanol and the water (the first and last bits), achieving a stronger end product that won't blind you.

More stuff:

Wine and beer have small safe amounts of ethanol in them that your body can deal with, until you concentrate the methanol by distilling and then consuming.

For those interested methanol is metabolized into formaldehyde (used in tanning, wood finishing) and formic acid (will literally shut your cells down then blow them up giving you cancer) eyes are particularly sensitive to formic acid this is why blindness is strongly associated with methanol poisoning.

On a side note, definitely use ice in the water around your coil and it doesn't hurt to add salt.

2 replies

The problem of methanol is greatly overstated. The vast majority of distilation produced no methanol. You DO throw away the first 50 mls, due to poor taste, not methanol. The methanol is an urban myth.

That's not how cancer works. Cancer is your body's cells losing the ability to perform interphase (step of the cell cycle) and the cells can't control their rate of reproduction and you get growing lumps of useless cells that are known as tumors.

Will this home made still work if you go ahead and add prepared corn mass solution. Just fir a trail run

hi my name is jon

Thoughts?

Make your own wine with grape juice and a balloon, I did in
school.

Make your own sour mash, doesn’t look that hard.

Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe you can make and consume
all the wine and distillate you want, just not sell it. Who would know anyway, unless you put it in your
front yard?

I am assuming this eliminate the methanol problem

Can I make methanol using this still configuration?

I was actually looking to distill water, but this works too.

1 reply