Introduction: How to Make a Still

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.

Comments

author
guitarMan85 made it!(author)2013-01-20

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??

author
thomasedwin made it!(author)2014-03-31

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.

author
KaneC8 made it!(author)2017-05-31

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.

author
aquadave123 made it!(author)2015-12-27

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

author
DropScience made it!(author)2015-11-12

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.

author
JeremiahC1 made it!(author)2015-06-04

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

author
cmadsen5 made it!(author)2015-05-02

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.

author
leoned made it!(author)2016-03-17

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

author
SaiC3 made it!(author)2016-06-22

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.

author
KaneC8 made it!(author)2017-05-31

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.

author
SaiC3 made it!(author)2016-06-22

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.

author
JokulH made it!(author)2014-09-16

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.

author
KaneC8 made it!(author)2017-05-31

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.

author
Mr.Brownstone made it!(author)2016-09-09

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.

author
Jack+knife made it!(author)2017-03-23

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

author
jj10375 made it!(author)2017-03-13

hi my name is jon

author
Highball made it!(author)2016-12-27

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

author
AlexanderC124 made it!(author)2016-12-18

Can I make methanol using this still configuration?

author
Tecwyn+Twmffat made it!(author)2016-11-27

https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Distill-Alcohol/

distiller small.jpg
author
Jake+Smith99 made it!(author)2016-10-08

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

author
Rosalea made it!(author)2016-10-20

Same

author
OldPirate made it!(author)2016-08-24

Made from scrap. She puts out a pretty smooth brew, and has over 3 states.

image.pngimage.pngimage.png
author
Skwurlito made it!(author)2015-08-11

Heres a freebee for those who dont want to buy copper or whatever. Get a steel soup pot that hold 1+gal. Set a glass/cup/jar in the center secured with a magnet. Now fill pot with intended fluid. Place a salad bowl filled with ice over the pot. Slowly boil. The vapors will stick to the salad bowl and run down the side before dripping into the glass.

author
devrid made it!(author)2014-11-24

Has anyone used this for purifying water? Thats what I am looking to do.

author
JeremiahC1 made it!(author)2015-06-04

It's the same process except alcohol boils at 80 C and water of course at 100 C.

author
warren_adams made it!(author)2012-05-28

The pressure-cooker, isn't that made of stainless steel or aluminum? I have read a few things about it's effect, I mean using this kind of metal distiller in the spirit taste as against using a copper still. I broke my whiskey still so I thought I might as well come up with an improvised distiller. I've made a couple of run with my old still using a recipe from this site: http://www.whiskeystill.net/pages/how-to-make-moonshine, it was excellent. I'm all new to this hobby but the recipe really worked well for me. I'm just not sure how it will turn out if I prepare it with a homemade distiller.

author
JeremiahC1 made it!(author)2015-06-04

As long as the aluminum pot is oxidized then there shouldn't be an issue... Until new studies say otherwise.

author
FredS5 made it!(author)2014-12-14

I've been using a home made pot still made from exactly the kind of aluminium pressure cooker pictured above. It works fine and can produce some very nice spirit with a bit of care.

author
thomasedwin made it!(author)2014-03-31

Use copper or stainless steel only, anything else and your going to make something that taste bad, will make you sick or kill you.

author
lemonie made it!(author)2012-05-28

It's Al, but it's not a sophisticated still.
Post your still if we can learn something / like it?

L

author
demon00 made it!(author)2013-01-24

what length of copper coil did you use ?

author
lemonie made it!(author)2013-01-26

I don't know because I didn't measure it. I just re-shaped the coil so it was never straightened and measured.

L

author
cmadsen5 made it!(author)2015-05-02

Can we have a rough guesstimate?

author
Tammysue990 made it!(author)2015-01-11

how did you attach the copper tubing to the lid. and don't tell me with brewing cork please since I have no idea what that is and where to get it. also how did you attach instructions are needed

author
clewis21 made it!(author)2014-09-07

Pretty cool!

author
grannyjones made it!(author)2012-05-31

Another reason to throw out the first and last bits of your distillate is because that is where all the bitterness/unpleasant flavor comes from. If you get it right, the resulting hootch is smooth, mellow, and fragrant. A work of art.
Also, if using copper tubing, the tubing needs to be thoroughly cleaned and dried before and after each use, to avoid contamination by copper salts.

author
thomasedwin made it!(author)2014-03-31

I can see that you know something about this. My father made grain and sugar shine in the 1940's and always told me, If your not going to do it the right way that's clean and safe don't waist you time.

author
tallguy89 made it!(author)2012-06-26

What are the other reasons I wold want to throw out the first and last bits of the distillate and how much should be thrown out? Also how long should I let it boil for?

author
Broom made it!(author)2012-08-17

Well, it's related to what grannyjones said... There are multiple alcohols present, but only ethanol is drinkable, and the others impart "off" tastes. Fortunately, (1) ethanol is by far the greatest component of the alcohols, and (2) the others distill at slightly different temperatures - some slightly lower, some slightly higher.

So, in addition to taste, removing the first part (the cooler-temperature mix of non-ethanol + some ethanol) and the last part (the hotter-temperature mix of the last of the ethanol, + some high-temp non-ethanol) reduces the toxicity of the distillate.

You won't die if you you don't do this, but it sure won't make your hangovers (and life expectancy) any better. So do it. :)

author
guitarMan85 made it!(author)2013-01-20

ok ill try it. thanks, also another question, can you use chrome brass drain pipes on the still?

author
lemonie made it!(author)2013-01-20

"chrome brass drain pipes" - probably, but I don't see a need. If you're really bothered about purity; do a second distillation with glassware.

L

author
guitarMan85 made it!(author)2013-01-20

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??

author
lemonie made it!(author)2013-01-24

A lot of top-quality, expensive spirits are distilled in copper-stills. Copper would be good, but I think you'd be fine with brass.

L

author
thomasedwin made it!(author)2014-03-31

You do know brass is made from copper zinc and LEAD don't you? I would never use brass. They have some new stuff they are calling lead free brass but even that has a small % of lead in it, it will make poison you don't want any lead at all in you still.

author
guitarMan85 made it!(author)2013-01-19

is it ok to use an old flexible copper tube water line? its not shiny insinde now, its a little dark. but no green corrosion at all. i mean we had been drinkin water out of it so it cant be that bad. plus its not real close to the heat its gonna be the worm

author
thomasedwin made it!(author)2014-03-31

Clean it out with hot vinegar and lemon juice first or just go buy some new copper pipe, All that stuff built up in that old water pipe will go into your product.

author
lemonie made it!(author)2013-01-20

I would think so: try it and see what it tastes like.

L

author
Country411 made it!(author)2013-01-29

Just so everybody know methanol boils at 149 degrees, and that is the alcohol that will kill you, or make you blind, do some research the stuff is toxic. Ethanol boils at 178, and that's the good get ya drunk stuff. Water boils at 212. So boil your mash to 178 degrees, then throw it away. Keep everything between 179 and 211. Once the temp raises to 212 your getting water, this is when your done. Another little fact that might help, your temp will not rise to the ethanol boiling point till the methanol has been boiled off. Same with the water, it will not turn to steam until the ethanol is gone.

author
thomasedwin made it!(author)2014-03-31

Makes perfect sense.

author
lemonie made it!(author)2013-01-30

With regard to "do some research"; I have and I've got the paperwork to prove it somewhere (BSc, PhD).
Do you know anything about azeotropes ("it will not turn to steam until the ethanol is gone" is false), or how much methanol there is in a bottle of wine?

L

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