Picture of 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

Picture of Materials
I used:
A pressure-cooker
8mm OD copper tubing
A plastic bucket.
Skwurlito17 days ago
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.
devrid9 months ago

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

JeremiahC1 devrid2 months ago
It's the same process except alcohol boils at 80 C and water of course at 100 C.
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.
As long as the aluminum pot is oxidized then there shouldn't be an issue... Until new studies say otherwise.

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.

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

lemonie (author)  warren_adams3 years ago
It's Al, but it's not a sophisticated still.
Post your still if we can learn something / like it?

guitarMan852 years ago
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??

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.

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.
demon002 years ago
what length of copper coil did you use ?
lemonie (author)  demon002 years ago
I don't know because I didn't measure it. I just re-shaped the coil so it was never straightened and measured.

cmadsen5 lemonie3 months ago
Can we have a rough guesstimate?
Tammysue9907 months ago
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
JokulH11 months ago

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.

clewis2111 months ago

Pretty cool!

grannyjones3 years ago
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.

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.

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?
Broom tallguy893 years ago
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. :)
guitarMan852 years ago
ok ill try it. thanks, also another question, can you use chrome brass drain pipes on the still?
lemonie (author)  guitarMan852 years ago
"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.

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??
lemonie (author)  guitarMan852 years ago
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.


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.

guitarMan852 years ago
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

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.

lemonie (author)  guitarMan852 years ago
I would think so: try it and see what it tastes like.

Country4112 years ago
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.

Makes perfect sense.

lemonie (author)  Country4112 years ago
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?

Country4112 years ago
I in no way meant to be rude when I said, "do some research", sorry it offended you. There is very little methanol in a bottle wine, but that doesn't matter to me because I am distilling corn mash. I am a layman, not a PhD, and my understanding of azeotropes is that they are a combination of fluids such as, ethanol and water, that can not be separated by distillation. This is only relavant to me because my final distilled product will never be more 95ish% alcohol . In reality it's probably lower, I use the bubble test, and not a hydrometer. I understand that this post contradicts my last post, but the method I use (including charting the temps) produces a good product. Just trying to keep it simple, and in terms that simple minded people like myself can easily understand. Thank you for the correction, it pushed me to understand my little back woods hobby in a fuller more scientific way.

I don't speak German so I may have clicked the wrong thing but as to the amount of methanol in something fermented like beer or wine it's not very much because if it was people would go blind from drinking a six pack or a bottle of wine. I think what most people don't understand or see is that when you distill beer or wine your concentrating that little 5 or 10 %ABV to 5 times or more stronger than in the first place and your also concentrating the methanol that much more. The methanol in beer and wine isn't enough to hurt you but when you concentrate it 5 or more times stronger in a still then it becomes poison. Methanol in any amount is no good for anyone.

Jugband2 years ago
Not sure what is meant by "Drain Pipe".

You need copper in your vapor path if you plan to be drinking what you're distilling, because copper absorbs sulfur compounds in the vapor which detract from the taste.

I wouldn't want chrome in the vapor path at all, because hot alcohol vapor is corrosive, and might pick up chromium from the fittings.

My boiler is 18/8 304 stainless steel with a FDA grade silicone lid gasket. My column is made from a 50 year old piece of 3 inch x 30 inch copper vent pipe and all the coupler fittings have red brass outside threads over copper unions with hand made silicone gaskets, the red brass doesn't come in contact with the vapor path. I took me about a year to put it together piece by piece. I was worried about the chromium in the stainless steel but 304 is plenty corrosion resistant for mash.

Jugband2 years ago
Is there a way to monitor temperature on this still arrangement?

You need to stop the run when the temperature starts rising above 190F, or you begin getting propanol coming out, and alcohol content starts dropping, because at about 200F the water starts putting off vapor mixing in with the alcohol vapor.

You don't just boil out all the ethanol then start boiling the water at 212F. When the water starts getting close to it's boiling point, it's already giving off steam, to dilute the alcohol output.

It looks to me like you'd have to just guess at when to stop the distillation, or is there something I'm not seeing about where/how to put a thermometer?

On my still I have 3 Miljoco thermometers, One on the boiler, one at the top of the column and one on the condenser.

jbaade2 years ago
It is absolutely untrue that the methanol won't harm you. You must dump the proper volume of the first fraction to come off the still. Methanol turns to formaldehyde in the body when metabolized. It can cause serious, long term damage and kill you. The reason you don't suffer ill-consequences when you drink a bottle of wine (or 2 or 3...) is because in wine the concentration of methanol is at a safe level and is metabolized in such a way that your body can tolerate. It's like I tell my students in the lab all the time, it's not the volume that matters most of the time, it's the concentration.

I was told some years back that as a rule of thumb for every 5 gallons of mash in a simple pot still you need to remove the first 100 ML off the top and for a good column rectifier still take off the first 50 ML to remove all the methanol. I have a good column still and I take off the first 100 ML per 5 gallons of mash anyhow just to make 100% sure that I remove all the methanol. I have been told I don't need to take this much heads off and it's a waist of good ethanol but I don't waist it, I use it for parts cleaner and sometimes I mix it with 10 gallons of gas to burn in the lawn mower and rototiller. Those heads that first come over smells like acetone or nail polish remover anyway. If you drink enough of the heads you will go blind or it will kill you not to mention it will make your final product taste and smell like shit.

eherts241 year ago

why is there steam coming out instead of liqued

You either don't have a long enough coil or the water isn't cold enough or your flame is too hot on the boiler.

There could be many reasons as to why you are getting steam instead of liquid.

Alcohol and water have two different evaporation temps, alcohol is much lower than water, 78C/ 160F. Water is around 100C/ 212F. The idea is to evaporate the alcohol and not the water.

You probably have the heat too high and are vaporizing EVERYTHING in your pot.

Try by heating up the liquid and monitor the temp until it gets about 10 to 20 degrees lower than the bottom threshold and then cap the pot, turn the heat down to about half of what it was and watch the results.

If you collect the product and run it thru again, it will become stronger.

Just a bit of trivia; the 'XXX" on a jug of shine signified how many times it had been processed, but thanks to the porn industry it has a TOTALLY different meaning today! lol

I hope this helps.

I run a 15 gallon 304 stainless steel pot with a copper 3" x 30" column packed with pure copper wool then it feeds into a 21" x 1 and 1/2" copper counter flow shotgun condenser that has 7 smaller copper tubes inside for more surface area. I have a 30 gallon water tank that sets out side in the winter cold with a pump and hoses to feed the cold water into the house to cool my condenser. I put in a good couple of shovel full's of snow into the water tank and I get a constant flow of about 35 F water to my still that will last a good 7 to 9 hours. If the cooling water temp starts to go up I simply go outside and put in some more snow and the temp drops back down to 35 F. The thing with this set up is, I have to heat up the boiler to 212 F and the top of the column must reach about 210 F before distillate will start to drip out of the final leg to be collected. I know ethanol boils at 173 F and water boils at 212 F but for some reason this setup won't pass the alcohol over to the condenser unless the top of the column reaches 210 F witch I thought was too hot. I take off and set aside the first 100 ML per 5 gallons of mash for methanol removal and then start collecting the hearts. The first 750 ML that comes over after the heads are removed has a hydrometer reading of 170 proof or 85% ABV and it's crystal clear and clean with no bad smell or taste. I run it at this temp (210 F) until the output drops to about 60 proof or 30% ABV and then I shut it down. Out of 15 gallons of mash I get a little over 2 and1/2 gallons of clear distillate. I then combine it altogether and the final ABV is just over 70%ABV or about 141 proof. I run it through a carbon filter and it's good to go. I'm thinking the reason I have to have a 210 F temp at the top of the column before it will start producing is I have 22 inches of pure copper wool separated by 6, 3 inch diameter perforated copper plates packed inside the column as a rectifier. I only run a batch one time and get over 140 proof so I think that's strong enough, Anyone have any comments or ideas about this set up? I'm all ears.

Jugband2 years ago
There isn't enough methanol in a mash to do anything at all except detract from the flavor. That myth dates to when moonshiners got the bright idea to distill denatured alcohol, which was pure methanol. It was cheaper, quicker, and nobody would follow a truck loaded down with sugar back to the still.

But when you distill Pure Methanol, the output is Pure Methanol.

Unless you separate out the heads from a hundred batches of moonshine, save it all then drink it when you have enough, you aren't going to get enough out of drinking the entire output of a large run to actually do you any harm.

While methanol is toxic, there simply isn't enough by percentage in moonshine to hurt anyone. What there IS boils out in the first 20ml, along with the acetone and other alcohols and esters which smell and taste nasty.

Just catch the first output in a shot glass, toss it down the sink, and you're good, taste-wise AND health-wise..
guitarMan852 years ago
sorry. no clue why it sent 3 times
guitarMan852 years ago
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??
stetsberg2 years ago
If i am just trying to make pure water, would any copper leach into the water? The water would be acidic so i also wonder about the pipes corroding. Also, is there any point to making the coil if all i want is pure water? It seems like what i am looking for would turn to steam and then go through the tube and into the collection tank. Am i correct in assuming this?
lemonie (author)  stetsberg2 years ago
The purest water is distilled in glass, but why would your water be acidic?
Coil is to cool the vapour back to liquid.

boongirl002 years ago
if one were to theoretically distill alcohol, is there a good way to control the temperature to ensure the alcohol evaporates but not the water?
lemonie (author)  boongirl002 years ago
You build a more sophisticated still.
(Look up "aezeotrope")

BigCountry2 years ago
if for some reason (I can't think of one) you didn't want to use the plumber's putty on the bucket you could just use bagged ice. Might lose a little efficiency, but not too much.
mrceeky2 years ago
Really interested in stills? Look up HillBillyStills in Barlow, KY, they build the best stills and sell world wide. Just look it up on line and you'll see what I'm talking about. Also check out on youtube,com for sessions on stills and operating a still. Very good video's. Small family operation, they'll welcome you as friends from your first contact.
'yusrianto3 years ago
hi lemonie .. this is one Great instructions..
umm..just a question about the picture of your stove, what was that chili sauce pan doing up there again? i din quite get it thx
lemonie (author)  'yusrianto3 years ago
The chili sauce pan was just there, it's not important.

jmellott3 years ago
I just recently found this instructable, great job by the way, and i was curious how much tubing you needed, unfortunately that stuffs not cheap
lemonie (author)  jmellott3 years ago
"A pack" - I didn't find anyone selling tube to length, it was £20-25 but I probably only used a third of it.

yanik123 years ago
Can anyone who has a decent knowledge of home brewing spirits inbox me, i have a few questions. Thanks
~KGB~3 years ago
Do you actually have to use malt or is it ok just to use: yeast, corn meal, water and sugar? Also, how much of each component would you need for about a 1Ltr kettel? Thanks...
lemonie (author)  ~KGB~3 years ago
I do not mention malt, and this is about a still not fermentation.

~KGB~ lemonie3 years ago
Oh ok, i read that you need all of the above components to make it, but you could do it without the malt...
chano913 years ago
hey,just wanted to know what is that cork looking thing on the pressure cooker itself connected to the copper and is there a possible way i could install a thermometer? btw great job!
littledemon3 years ago
hi newbee here has any one used a demi jon instead of the pressure cooker ta
lemonie (author)  littledemon3 years ago
You would need to heat it in oil, and you should reasonably expect the thing to break through thermal-shock - don't try with glass.

rosendomuyo3 years ago
For a pressure cooker still how much Water Cornmeal Sugar Yeast and Malt do i need to make this.
lemonie (author)  rosendomuyo3 years ago
I haven't brewed with those, so I don't know.

so what do i brewed in this one ?
lemonie (author)  rosendomuyo3 years ago
It's a still, not a brewing-kit.

sorry i did not say it right i need to make about 190 proof alcohol or higher for my car so i need to know the recipe for a pressure cooker still thank you.
lemonie (author)  rosendomuyo3 years ago
You would need a different still and a drying process. Look at bio-diesel / vegetable-oil instead.

i look at bio-diesel can not do it and i have not look in to vegetable-oil but to make a car run on alcohol is just about 300 dollars to do.
Draasch3 years ago
Hello. I need some help!! My father built a still when I was little and it amazed me. He is elderly and cant remember how he constructed it. Can anyone tell me the steps I need to take to have my own?
lemonie (author)  Draasch3 years ago
Did you read what is on this page?

Draasch3 years ago
Still reading! WOW this is great!!!!
pegasus9173 years ago
Oh just a note though. It will taste real sweet and peachy when first done then as it ages it gets more refined.
pegasus9173 years ago
If it calls for 3# then its 3 pounds of that ingredient.
pegasus9173 years ago
Stevegrimmer- here is a site with a recipe for some great brandy that doesn't need any special equipment and no distilling required http://brewery.org/brewery/cm3/recs/12_51.html
I have been making it for years and years with peaches and it is always a big hit. Potent too. My family and friends just love it.
hi pal what douse # Qt and 112f mean please
Pound sign (#) and 112 degrees Fahrenheit
thanks pal im off out to get ingredients now. let you know how it turns out.
Dorsel3 years ago
Hi, I would like to build a column still and have done some research but have some questions. Some columns are short and some very tall. (5ft or so) Dose anyone know why and what’s better? Also should I put the thermometer close too the boiling mash or at the top of the column just before the condenser? Thanks for the help.
lemonie (author)  Dorsel3 years ago
Longer columns (that are otherwise identical) have more "effective plates" so they work better for your output %.
The thermometer should be right at the top of the column to give you the boiling point of what you're actually collecting out of the condenser.

hi lemonie
im just trying your pressure cooker still out. can you give me a recipe for brandy. i saw them making moonshine brandy on telly [moonshiners] but i dont know recipe or how much to put in. thanks pal for your time,
lemonie (author)  stevegrimmer3 years ago
If it's rough-brandy you distill wine, simple as that. Oh and then add a bit of caramel to make it brown and slightly-sweeter.

thanks pal. on telly they used fruit ie bananas. you know anything about that.
lemonie (author)  stevegrimmer3 years ago
You don't get Brandy from bananas.

tboy19723 years ago
Hello I am wanting to kake a couple 400 gallon pots to cook my mash in what is the cheapest and simplest way i should go about doing this? Thanks Tobester
lemonie (author)  tboy19723 years ago
400 Gal?
I do not know, that's "industrial"

wiseolemule4 years ago
Do any of you out there know of a distilling process that will turn a plant product, say Hemp Budd's in to a medicinal oil?
You're looking for an essential oil distiller. Basically a still with a longer column where steam is used to "strip" the oils out of the hemp (or whatever) held in the column itself. The key word you're looking for is "Sieve Tray Still." Google it, and if you don't turn up anything, try "essential oil distilling." I know Whiskey Still sells the smaller ones for a decent price, but if you can make your own, that'd be best and would help you learn the process better.
lemonie (author)  wiseolemule4 years ago

Dry your hemp-buds, simmer in butter or oil and water, until the water has boiled-off. It's a bit of a steam-extraction. Sieve it, maybe using an old shirt so you can give it a good squeeze
If it's butter make cakes, otherwise do what you wish with your oil.

ilpug lemonie3 years ago
i want me some of those cakes.
lemonie (author)  ilpug3 years ago

Yes, they really are super. I've got an Altoids cake-tin Instructable to do next week...

ilpug lemonie3 years ago
Hmm. the perfect Portable Treat. It seems that you might be interested in what our main source of economic growth is here in Mendocino County, California.
Any alcohol can be flammable. I would advise anyone that is distilling anything in which alcohol is recovered in any percentage NOT TO USE A FLAME! for a source of heat. This is a good way to blow yourself up if the conditions are right.
durbandave3 years ago
i need help i just started making a pot still with a preassure cooker. what i wanna know how my fruit ratio should be and how much of what i should ad if i use say peaches with a 10 liter pressure cooker and the steps leading too my yummy juice
lemonie (author)  durbandave3 years ago

Make sure that your brew (fruit) is good enough to drink anyway before you distill it.
For brewing I would advise that you find a home-brewing book somewhere (eBay, library, bookshop, Amazon etc.)

aceman4246 years ago
okay im 18 im doing this for a science fair project i can get my hands on everything even got a reciep for the mash. im just confused on how to attach that pipe to the pressure cooker. and can anyone give me links to me info about this like a reciep they know works and what temp the alcohol comes out at
lemonie (author)  aceman4246 years ago
Last image on this step - a brewing cork (with the hole for the fermentation traps) connects the two in this case - you might find a better solution.
And the alcohol comes out with water over a steadily increasing temperature. Distill half of the volume, then distill half of that.

Here are the pics.
i cant tell but it looks like aluminium cooker to me , if it is dont do it . i read use only copper or stainless steel.who needs a 2 day hangover .
Aluminum doesn't harm you or make moonshine harmful. The reason true blue bootleggers use copper....and your legal distilleries, is that copper is supposed to impart a molecular level goodness on the alcohol vapors. Simply put: Copper in the still makes the shine taste better.
Aluminium increases risk of Alzeihmer's, there will be trace amounts from distilling or cooking, small amounts but still harmful, aluminium is also found in deodorant, going straight into your bloodstream through the pores of your armpit. Use stainless steel or copper for cooking and distilling.
There is circumstantial evidence linking aluminum with Alzheimer's disease, but no causal relationship has yet been proved. As evidence for other causes continues to grow, a possible link with aluminum seems increasingly unlikely.


How many aluminum pots, pans, cookie sheets, pie plates etc. does the average human eat from over the course of his/her life?

Use stainless steel or food grade plastic to ferment, but do not be afraid to convert that old aluminum pressure cooker to a still.
 Use aluminum at your own risk. Drink it if you want, just don't give it to anybody else. High percentage alcohol will cause aluminum to pit, and even microscopically some of it will end up in your hooch. 

I advise going over to the distillers forum (just Google it) and read about aluminum and what the pros say.

In short, don't use it.
Heck, better say, "Drink alcohol at your own risk."  Alcohol is a poison by itself in the fact that it can cause harm to the organism than consumes it.  You can kill yourself from off the shelf drink as easily as homemade drink.  Just consume too much or take in conjunction with any psychotropic medication.  If all you are running your shine through is an aluminum pot then you shouldn't be worried.

Now, if you are condensing it in an old copper radiator or throwing a battery in the mix or some dynamite to add kick, then you are surely dancing with danger.

Aluminum is everywhere.  We eat it, drink it, inhale it.  Every take a TUMS?  You ate aluminum. 

 Sorry Moose, but you're flat wrong. And that analogy is just silly. I hear drinking gasoline is bad for you too.

I advise everyone to avoid aluminum if they're building a device of this sort. It's flat out dangerous and could screw you up bad and/or kill you. Yes, aluminum is everywhere, but it doesn't always have 190 proof alcohol in it.

Seriously, for anybody reading this, and considering a build, check out homedistillersforum,org for the truth of the matter. Those guys have decades of experience - the real pros - and every last one of them will tell you to NEVER use an aluminum pot. Stainless steel or copper only . . . and the same goes for your tubing. Also stay away from ANY sort of plastic jugs or rubber gaskets when distilling. High proofs will leach chemicals in the plastic/rubber into your mix.
The aluminum pot doesn't have 190 proof alcohol in it - that comes out of the copper pipe at the other end. The pot has perhaps 5% - 10% alcohol in it at the beginning, and as the alcohol distils off, that percentage gets weaker.

As the price of copper has risen, go and see what they're selling at the hardware shop now for water pipes (at least in Europe and Australia and China from my own eyes). New water pipe is aluminum.

But your advice is well meant, and taken in good spirit by those who want to take it. Don't get upset when people don't take your advice. If people always took advice, then Columbus would never have sailed West.
I don't get upset. Thanks for the supportive post.
Oops! homedistillersforum.org didn't survive; not enough aluminum in their diet!
What am I wrong about?  Am I wrong that you consume small amounts of aluminum daily and sometimes larger doses in over the counter medication?  Am I wrong that you can kill yourself with too much of any alcohol or a little alcohol and medication mixes?  Am I wrong that you can kill yourself using old car radiators to condense the alcohol vapor?

I didn't make an analogy.  What I am saying is that, you mildly poison yourself every time you drink alcohol and that you cannot escape consuming aluminum.  The short time that you use the aluminum pressure cooker to distill the alcohol will not poison a person with aluminum.   I'd dare say a swig of Mylanta has more aluminum than your whole bottle of liquor distilled in an aluminum pressure cooker.

If you have a stainless steel pressure cooker, then use it.  But do not scare those who have been driven to distillation by exorbitant alcohol taxes away from aluminum pressure cookers.  A lot of people who experiment with distilling do so because money is tight.  A new stainless steel pressure cooker is not in the budget. 

I would avoid lead at all costs, even doing without alcohol, but I will not be scared away from my aluminum pressure cooker.  

By the way, when I put my mash in the pressure cooker, it is no where near 190 proof.  More like 30 proof.  I heat it to boil off the alcohol which is taken into a copper pipe and condensed into a glass jar. 

Hey, kill yourself if you want. If dogmatic argument is more important to you than and doing things right, and more important than your health, then be my guest.

For everyone else, I urge you NOT to use aluminum pots. Further, don't believe me at face value either. jSimply go to homedistillers.org and learn the truth. Read and ask questions of the folks there. Then, if you still think a couple thousand, seasoned distillery experts are wrong, that's your business. It's not like I'm going to be drinking your product.

Moose, it's better to admit you're wrong, and learn something, then to just keep arguing when you've no idea what you're talking about. If you only have 30 proof then you've just doing one run. That's pretty heavy hangover juice, full of fusel oils and impurities. Hope you are pouring off the heads (the first 50 ml). That's almost pure methyl alcohol. Pour off the tails (last part of the run) as well. If you re-run the distillate about three more times it will purify and be at around 90% alcohol.

This is the last time I'm responding, since you seem to have all the answers.


I think it is hilarious to accuse me of not knowing what I am talking about when you have no idea who I am and what my experience is. 

For all you know I might be one of the "experts" on homedistillers.org.

Thank you for the two sided argument, though.  This will actually do more good than harm, because it will prompt people to seek the truth and not to simply take an internet posts advice.

Cheers and happy moonshine making.

Ok then, just my take on things...

Fermentation will produce sulfides, especially if doing a fast fermentatio at high temps... and those sulphides do not ( or minimally ) interact with stainless steel... and a full stainless set-up can result in a "sulphur" taste because it passes thru the system / distillation...

On the other hand, with a stainless boiler and a copper coil / column... as the sulfides pass through the tube / tower they will interact and bind with copper removing them... carrying no taste from the boiler and actually cleaning it some through the coil... this is part of the reason I and others pack our columns with copper mesh / scrubbies...

On the other hand, with a ( clean ) aluminum boiler... the same sulphides will interact ( albeit minimally ) with aluminum... once this happens those ( simplifying here ) aluminum sulfides will be carried through the column into the end product... and while the sulfur taste will be gone, you could end up with a distillate imparted with a bit of a "metallic" taste...

Having said that - I do prefer a stainless boiler with copper on the condenser... and would not be interested in even tasting the first couple of batches from an aluminum pot... But if an aluminum boiler is used a few times it will oxidize and get a nice 'crust'... and if you do NOT scrub it so its nice and bright and shiny - it wil no longer easily react with whatever is heated in it... you should be good to go...

In other words... If you are starting from scratch, want to be 100% safe ( and are worried about aluminum or sulphide compounds ) and partake of anything and everthing that comes from your still - then I would hazard to say that bluesharp is correct i.e. stainless boiler and copper column...

On the other hand... if you have an aluminum boiler / pressure cooker... aren't going nuts scrubbing it out every use and let it crust up... after the first few batches - there shouldn't be any worries there either...

Btw - I did the ( aluminum ) pressure cooker thing when I was 14... a pot with a big ole crust of calcium and other minerals in it ( we had water from a well )... and it turned out ok for all involved... at least until the morning after my friends and I decided to drink it all... Oops.
nice looking system though.
Hard to tell on the pic, do you have ice in the bucket for the condensing coil?
lemonie (author)  louie10106 years ago
I don't see why that wouldn't work for you, unless perhaps the cork is a bit leaky - cable-tie it perhaps, or like mine the safety-valve leaks (note the fork in last image step 2)? If your liquid is boiling, you should see something coming out of somewhere, maybe just a bit of trouble-shooting will fix this.

Good looking build by the way.

Yep troubleshooting got it, it's important to have a good seal on cooker and outlet as well as condensor going down hill thank for your help.
lemonie (author)  louie10106 years ago
You've made some spirit with this then - what were you starting with? L
10 lbs. sugar 2 cups corn meal 1 big bag of turbo yeast first jar made 80 proof
lemonie (author)  louie10106 years ago
That's good, ~45%? Taste OK? L
Tastes rough 80% not proof, finished with 40%
lemonie (author)  louie10106 years ago
If it does the job, "rough" is acceptable (?) L
well im going to school in nicaragua so i couldnt excactly get my hands on a pressure cooker down here so i had to freeze what i made instead. still worked
im starting up a small system now and attached my stainless kettle to the 15mm copper pipe with an oven cement. dont want to ruin the batch or make something poisonous ...so is oven cement gonna react with my product. am about to change the diameter of pipe anyway up to 42mm feeding off kettle but want to know how to attach safely .
Here's the beauty of distilling. The mash will begin to boil off the alcohol at 173* F and will slowly rise until the alcohol is boiled off, then it will shoot on up to 212* F. BUT the mash will not get into water's boiling temp until the alcohol is boiled off. If you heat it slowly and monitor the temp, you will have a potent product.

Just discard any liquid that comes through before the 173* F temp is reached as it might have methanol in it...POISON. The good stuff is from 173* to 180*. But you can collect distillate up to 205*. Then it is time to turn off the burner.
Jyssa4 years ago
this is kinda confusing...!
I live in NZ (New Zealand) where anyone can brew their own alcohol at home - I'm trying to find an instructable telling me HOW to distill spirits (and can I use the plums from my back yard for it somehow?)

But all the double-talk and nuances to avoid sounding illegal for allll the places where you CAN'T do this is difficult to read through!!

Any simpler advice, specifically re making a beautiful liquor out of my plums?
Check out the home distiller site. http://homedistiller.org/ It's done by a guy in NZ. Lots of good info on that site. They also have a forum with experienced home distillers. There are at least a couple of people from NZ who post on that forum.

Yes you can use plums. You just have to ferment the plums into alcohol first. Then distill the plum wine to make plum brandy.
Exellent site, I have been doing stuff with the plums using the info from homedistiller.org They will also tell you why you should not use aluminium for a still. You CAN get stainless pressure cookers.
sliv111 Jyssa4 years ago
i have just seen your post about using plums. yes you can My girlfriend is slovakian they make a drink called slivovice from plums . they also use most other fruits cherries, pears blackberries etc to make various strong spirits. all very goodto drink

check the forums, and youll find all the info you will ever need fella, probably from one of the many of your fellow kiwis in the forums!
thanson Jyssa4 years ago
1) Extract the juice somehow.
2) Mix it with a yeast to make a plum wine
3) distill it
lemonie (author)  Jyssa4 years ago

You could distill plum wine with kit like this - just boil it gently and steadily.

Im gonna try plastic fish tank or oxygen tubing, It is just as flexible but hopefully won't create the blue water issue.
lemonie (author)  ohyeahitsthechad4 years ago

Hot alcohol will strip plasticisers from that tubing. You'll notice this when it's not as flexible as it was.

would food grade tubing work (most brewers use it for siphoning)?
Plastic should NEVER be used on a still where it will come in contact with alcohol vapors. Hot, high strength alcohol vapors will leach plasticizers from the plastic. Notice how high strength alcohol like everclear always comes in glass bottles?

I use plastic tubing for siphoning my wine. That's fine because the wine is room temp and no more than 18% abv.

lemonie (author)  joshbierton4 years ago

It's not good with hot-vapour, and apart from anything else the thermal conductivity is poor.

Love88z4 years ago
I have read several places that using aluminum can be very dangerous to distill in. What is the different between using aluminum pans to cook in, wouldnt that also be toxic?
from what I have read you shouldn't use aluminum in a still. The only acceptable materials are copper, stainless steel, and borosilicate glass.
lemonie (author)  Love88z4 years ago
I didn't have / don't know of a problem there. Cooking things in Al can be corrosive, high-acid fruit for example.

acids will corrode aluminium, but it should stay in the solution, not travel through the vapour. metal is heavy, and unlikely to reach melting, never mind boiling point.
that said, your alu cooker wont last too long, so its better to find a steel one.
lemonie (author)  whiskymonster4 years ago

Yeah, I didn't empty it last time, and after some months it had gone very nasty corroded...

If you want good information on how to make distilled spirits properly and safely, this isn't the place to find it. The best source of information is the 'home distiller' site. http://homedistiller.org/ They have tons of good info on the main page. They also have a forum with experienced home distillers.
Strycn1n34 years ago
HOW is distilled water harmful/fatal -.- it should come out as pure H²O
pure H2O will remove, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from the body and tissues. It will kill you and no a proper diet will not take care of the removed nutirents. Now, to get truly pure H2O you do have to distill water more than once. Usually, 3 or 4 times distillation will produce 99.99% pure H2O (according to my brother in law, the biochemist doctor). I am an EMT-P with LPN in the ARMY National Guard, that working in an ER for the last 12 years, has given me this knowledge of what pure H2O can and will do the body.
lemonie (author)  Strycn1n34 years ago
I've heard that about distilled water, but with a proper diet its not a problem.
lemonie (author)  Strycn1n34 years ago
I perhaps should have emphasised "too much".

guiwegian4 years ago
Hi, Great instructables.
I have made alcohol with my dad since I can remember it(in France it is legal if you have a right from the sate or pay a tax).
what I can tell you is, you won't die from drinking the first drop, but you should surely distill it twice. My Dad own some fruits tree, and a vineyard, we always 2pass" it twice, because the first "pass" is always coming out at around 35/40% ABV maximum and full of impurity (like in vodka), the second pass will get rid of most of the impurity but still keep the flavour of the fruit.If you triple distill it you ll get an alcohol close to 80/85% abv but tasteless.

So Distill it twice, the first drop will be at 75/78% ABV and stop when the alchol % decrease to around 15/20 (you ll and alcoholmeter, or whatever it is called) if you want to make something proper.
And my last advice is:distill it slowly, most people distill too fast and it taste like Denatured alcohol.
Enjoy drinking responsibly :)
lemonie (author)  guiwegian4 years ago

I agree with you on those.

WTT4 years ago
Great instructable!! Very simple and easy design - I always thought the "throw out the first run" came from the "old days" when car radiators were reused as the condenser and trace of anti-freeze was still present. Hence the "going blind" because of the ethylene glycol consumption not so much the "spirits" .
I have never done alcohol distilling (except one experiment in lab tech training) but I have tasted plum schnapps in Switzerland. It was made legally by an old guy with a slow still in the mountains. (He distilled for most of the farmers in the area. They just put their windfall apples and pears in a big plastic drum, sealed it and left it for a year. Then, brought it to him and he did his magic. We had 2 tablespoons each morning in our flask of coffee.
He did a slow distillation in the mountains so perhaps 2/3 atmosphere.
That coffee schnapps was the most beautiful alcoholic drink I ever tasted!
The farmer said that the slow distill brought over the aromatic flavours too.
He said it was better than any schnapps that you could buy in a restaurant. Commercial distilling is faster and destroys the esters,etc.
I have heard of throwing away the first glass that comes over too. I heard that it is a combo of the danger of copper poisoning (from the liquid that sits in the pipe and corrodes it from the last time it was used) and methanol poisoning.
In Ireland poteen was made a lot in the past and potatoes were in the mix. I think there is a greater danger of methonol if you use potatoes as an ingredient. But I do not know if that is true.
lemonie (author)  gaiatechnician4 years ago

Thanks for the details, I'm sort of interested in schnapps.

pyrosparker4 years ago
whats that fork for?
lemonie (author)  pyrosparker4 years ago

It holds the safety-valve shut (rubber had gone "manky").

i knew someone would just ask about it
mattbomb4 years ago
3 CHEERS FOR MOON SHINE, hip hip! HORAY, HIP hip hip, hoRAY, HIP HIP hoRAy!!!
lemonie (author)  mattbomb4 years ago
What temperature did you rin the stove at? or do you know for sure?
lemonie (author)  codyleephillips4 years ago
The stove ran as hot as was needed, temperature doesn't mean much, it's more like "how it's boiling" (not very hard/fast)

use a copper pot with the lid welded on instead of an aluminium pressure cooker
lemonie (author)  tomsheltonyahoo.com4 years ago
How would you fill it?

i cut a small hole with a torch and put a copper cork made of pipe caps hammered down into a funnel shape
lemonie (author)  tomsheltonyahoo.com4 years ago
Sounds like it would work.

g1994 years ago
Distiled water shouldnt be harmful, it just has no dissolved ions in it. Just pure H2O
Unless it becomes contaminated by the copper tubing, which in any case would be no more harmful than drinking tap water from copper pipes
lemonie (author)  g1994 years ago
Yes, has no dissolved ions in it - can lead to electrolyte depletion.

bertus52x115 years ago
 I have just posted an Instructable   that could be helpful to yout cooling: look under "classic heat exchanger" (don't use Aluminium though).
lemonie (author)  bertus52x115 years ago
Yea I saw that, classic Liebig design, with running water it's going to be good. Except that you have running water.

I found a pretty decent answer brewing beer. I made a wort chiller with a small pump and a 5 gallon bucket of water with a lot of crushed ice.....easily adaptable for this project.
lemonie (author)  EliWatney5 years ago

Yes I guess so. But if I used a 5 gallon bucket & crushed-ice I guess the cooling capacity would be the same. Having the pump would take the thing off the top conveniently though.

scrounger645 years ago
Good looking setup, looks just like my first rig. I found that the aluminum pressure cooker worked just fine but the rubber seal started to deteriorate. I switched to a large stainless steel canner pot and suddenly found i had a much nicer tasting product. From a gallon pot i usually tossed the first aprox. 8oz or 250mL of distillate into a jar of "Heads Only". The next time i started a pot, i would throw the heads in with the wash to be re-distilled. Wouldn't want to be wasting any of the good stuff!
lemonie (author)  scrounger645 years ago

Yea, the canner-pot does sound better (this was all I had)

manchild665 years ago
specific chemical compounds will start boiling at different temperatures. Methyl alcohol is the first to evaporate at 148.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Ethyl alcohol evaporates at 173 degrees Fahrenheit and water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. The alcohol as it reaches its boiling point will turn into vapor a digital themometer can be used sealed in a small hole through the vessel as for the aluminium it can be copper plated for a small cost you can buy ready made stills over the net http://www.mikesbrew.com.au/stills.htm http://encode.com/exec/ndistilling.htm http://crittersalon.blogspot.com/2009/03/alcohol-still-101.html http://homedistiller.org/photos-sold.htm or the safer open still http://www.matchrockets.com/water/still.html
lemonie (author)  manchild665 years ago

yes I know, I did distillations for years - ever heard of an azeotrope?

aseaheru5 years ago
what about a big tea-kettle instead of a pressure cooker
lemonie (author)  aseaheru5 years ago
If the kettle is well sealed it should work. The advantage of the pressure-cooker is it's designed not to let vapours escape (until you want it to)

ok, ill keep that in mind THIS IS FOR WATER,NOT MAKING BEER/ALCHOL!
Hey great idea! I am so amazed I didn't think of it (ok maybe not that amazed since my mind is often one track lately). But I am definitely going to try this for distilling some essential oils for my soap making. Thanks for sharing it!
lemonie (author)  barefootbohemian5 years ago
you usually steam-distil them. it may take a few fills of water to hydro-distill.

PKTraceur5 years ago
What are the advantages of having a ''copper'' coil, as opposed to, say, a ''stainless'' coil?

Good instructable, I think I might modify my mum's teapot for a project like this. (Temporary, of course!)
Stainless steel would be optimum for this, but like lemonie said, it is hard to work with. If you can bend it, then I would definitely go with the stainless steel for health reasons.
lemonie (author)  PKTraceur5 years ago
Copper is soft and bends easily, and it's a bit better at heat transfer. Stainless' would be good, but a bit harder to work with.

 * ''stainless steel''
thequiff5 years ago
Hi, I have no problem with this, got it all set up with an Aluminium pressure cooker. First batch was fine and now doing a second batch a few weeks later and it is blue. like bombay gin in colour (bottle) is this from the copper tubing?
lemonie (author)  thequiff5 years ago
! yes I think that'll be copper.
clean your pipes and redistil it

Is there anyway i can prevent this building up? I've redone it and got it back to clear.
lemonie (author)  thequiff5 years ago

it may be a bit too foamy? slower perhaps?

daltondude5 years ago
If the kettle is aluminum it will make bad alcohol that could kill you, a still for making alcohol needs to be stainless steel or copper aluminum adds unwanted properties to your alcohol
lemonie (author)  daltondude5 years ago

For the boiler you're OK, you don't get volatile aluminum thingies (unless you know of some?)

Idk ive talkd to some shiners n read alot of stuff on it and the only metals you should use is copper and stainless steel, aluminum adds stuff to the alcohol, but i cant remember wat
i might just have to make some moonshine likker'
ducks65 years ago
If you distill cheap wine to make stronger there should be no way to produce methanol because there shouldn't be any in it right? Otherwise you would get methanol poisoning from drinking cheap wine in the first place?
lemonie (author)  ducks65 years ago
Otherwise you would get methanol poisoning from drinking cheap wine in the first place
I agree with you.

how much copper tubing did you use for the entire project?
lemonie (author)  punkrockscienceguy5 years ago
Just looking at the picture, maybe 20'? You could use less but I bought a "pack", so I wasn't short.

 alright thanks how much that cost you?
lemonie (author)  punkrockscienceguy5 years ago
I can't remember now, but something like 20-25 quid for the package, but it was much more than I needed. Being thin it tends to be sold as a reel rather than lengths.

ohgodwhy5 years ago
how can you tell, the right temerature? or won't the tempereature rise until the acohol vapored?
lemonie (author)  ohgodwhy5 years ago
You can hear things boiling, and you see the liquid coming out the other end. Take it gently - no temperature monitoring on this one.

since when is drinking distilled water harmful or fatal? i like my water pure thanks!
lemonie (author)  cwebsterlusk6 years ago
It's been discussed before, see below Feb 11, 2009. 4:16 PM L
OK, i see that now. but do you know how hard it is to "hyper-hydrate" (water poison) oneself? it is extremely rare unless someone is doing something they have no business doing or in the case of exercise it is their ignorance. it takes a LOT of water to do this.
lemonie (author)  cwebsterlusk6 years ago
It does happen (esp for people that think drinking lost of water is good for them), I'll see if I can find the picture of an official warning sign I used to see... I can but I can't upload to the comment. It's here also.

derst lemonie5 years ago
The sign you are referencing is High Purity Water (used in the pharmaceutical industry).  Tap water, bottled water, and even distilled water contain salts, minerals, and organic carbon which "soften" the water and make it neutral when we drink it.  HPW on the other hand does not contain salts and minerals and has very low TOC (total organic carbon) if you drink it, it will actually pull the salts from your cells through osmosis (hence it can be dangerous).  The only way to make HPW is to use a set-up like a Milli-Q or, in the pharmaceutical industry we make our own by a complex system of centrafugation during distillation.  
Distillation in itself will produce HPW, it is safe to drink. 
derst derst5 years ago
Sorry, HPW in itself will NOT produce HPW and is safe to drink
lemonie (author)  derst5 years ago
I don't quite understand you - you're finishing with "HPW in itself will NOT produce HPW" - you mean something else?

derst lemonie5 years ago
Sorry, I was tired when I wrote it,
What I meant to say is "distillation in itself will not produce HPW".
lemonie (author)  derst5 years ago
Oh no, only higher purity water, but it'll take out most of the mineral content.

m_schup5 years ago
gday guys, does anyone on here know alot about making "schanps" i have some apples fermenting at present and a still being made up. just wondering if anyone has any experiences/tips to share as it is my first time doing it, particularly when do i know the ferment ready to distill? any help is appreciated. cheers :-)
derst m_schup5 years ago
Sorry, one more thing.  If you are going to soldier the copper together, make sure to get soldier that contains silver and not lead as lead is toxic.
derst m_schup5 years ago
I have made schnapps several times.  I made my own still from a 10 gallon stainless milk can and attached a 2 foot long 1.5" copper pipe to the top packed with creamic rashig rings (google them) I capped the pipe, drilled a hole in the top and placed a thermometer as methanol, ethanol, isopropyl, and fusels elude at different temps.  Just below the cap I put a copper "T" with a 45° bend and about a 1 foot length copper pipe with a water jacket condenser over it (hooked up to a garden hose).  This set up works pretty well for me as I typically collect fractions of ethanol that are about 85 - 90% (170 to 180 proof).  I make my mash in 35L batches and wait until they are about 10% EtOH before I distill.  35L times 10% = 3.5 liters 180 proof EtOH.  I would definitely invest in a book, thermometer, and hydrometer.  A great website is www.brewhaus.com  Good Luck!  
lemonie (author)  m_schup5 years ago
It's ready to distill after it's stopped producing gas and the cloudiness has settled out to the bottom. Distill it and you've got schnapps / Calvados whatever else this may be known as. L
m_schup lemonie5 years ago
easy, doesnt sound like a problem haha, i didnt add any sugars or yeats to the mix, should that matteer? also do u know much about "williams" or pear schnaps? do u usually just chop your fruit or mash it up? thats the next one i wanna make... thanks mate
lemonie (author)  m_schup5 years ago
For brewing the sugars in the fruit you need to mash / pulp / squeeze. I used a hand-blender for the plums.
Adding sugar is advisable for alcoholic strength, but you should do it with a hydrometer.

Scruggs5 years ago
Here's a quick question. I have an espresso machine (small single one). Would that work as an improvised still?
lemonie (author)  Scruggs5 years ago
It boils, so I guess it would. But you've not got a lot of capacity, and you need a bit of temperature control. If you boil too hard it can get foamy and throw "muck" out. L
Scruggs lemonie5 years ago
Hmm... Yeah. That's true. It has a temp control of sorts on it. So. The only thing that I might have to get around would be the volume... Hmm... I might be putting out my own instructable soon. =)

lemonie (author)  Scruggs5 years ago
Would be good to see. How about testing with strong white cider (if you can bear to go and buy it) L
klaad35 years ago
I'm really new to making alcohol, I bought a book about it and it all seems really easy but I'm worried about poisoning myself or my friends, iv made wine before and it turned out really weird (one mouthful and you felt really drunk). I want to try making a vodica but I don't know where to start or what to buy my book only tells me some of the things to do and not the tools of the trade and nothing about methanol or any of the nasty things that can happen. I was really hopeing you could help me out.
lemonie (author)  klaad35 years ago
Most of the information is in the instructable, and the Related ones up the top right or down the bottom. Read the comments and have a look at Related, see where you get. L
Kwitmeh35 years ago
fork made me crack up
bandit-one6 years ago
hi I like this still set up and I was wondering what was the right size of the tubing should be I'm really interested and was wondering if any one had any plans for a all-copper still or if the idea had been lost to history OK thanks
lemonie (author)  bandit-one6 years ago
All-copper gets a bit difficult - I'm thinking of an old water tank, but you need a lid / hatch. The diameter of tube should be in proportion to the volume of liquid, if you look for pictures of whisky-stills you'll get the idea. L
thanks i was also wondering i know people who used to make shine and some say its best to make the mash in 25-50 gallon incraments so u can make the shine constantly and others say only make enough whats ur in put on this
lemonie (author)  bandit-one6 years ago
I've got a small set-up and equipment, so I couldn't do it very big. If you've got a good fractionating still, bigger would work better I think. L
well ive got two 6gallon pressure cooking stills and was just wondering i make shine in one and wiskey in the other so i also needed to know would u suggest doing this on an stove top or on like a stand alone propane camp cooker
lemonie (author)  bandit-one6 years ago
What suits you best. But a camping stove and alcohol = fire risk.

to get a higher proof and purer alcohol it needs to be run through a pot still more than one time...that is where the XXX on the jugs comes from running it through the pot still three times... getting rid of the heads and tails each time...you get less but it is higher proof and purer...
lemonie (author)  gypsyrose7276 years ago
Yes I am aware of that, but thanks for the comment. L
kyler7 years ago
does it have to be copper tubing? what about a cheaper metal, like aluminum? and approx. how much tubing? thanks
DO NOT under any circumstances use aluminum. It will leach in to your product, and it is a major factor in brain tumors, alzheimer, etc...
The aluminum-Alzheimer's connection is dubious, at best.
aside from that the steam condenses in the copper coil...
pure conjecture, and post hoc fallacy. However if you are paranoid about that you can bake the Al to form an oxide layer to prevent any leaching.
mce128 mce1287 years ago
Also, copper is far more themally conductive and more desirable as a condenser coil anyway... unless it's developed verdigris, which actually IS toxic. Also, copper can leech into your liquid and if there is too much can be toxic. Always be sure to clean your copper materials that come in contact with food or drinkables properly, in a way build a "normal" and safe oxide layer on it (green oxides = bad = death, browning on copper is your friend.) The oxide layer will prevent leeching.
Drock243 mce1286 years ago
How do you prevent green oxides from forming, but make the copper tubing "Brown"?
mce128 Drock2436 years ago
Just wash it with water only... and let it air dry...(or you can wash it in hot water then bake it for a few hours) then it will develop the brown oxides naturally. if it ever develops the green oxides, you can remove them with a mild acid solution (white vinegar or starsan work well.) Also, just be aware that acid solutions will remove all types of oxide from copper and make it nice and bright at which point you should re-oxidize it (brown)
stoobers mce1287 years ago
Copper is more toxic than aluminum. But no one has ever died of a "copper overdose" that I know of. Have a nice day :)
mossDboss kyler7 years ago
Stick with copper and stainless steel, otherwise you risk using material that will create poison.
Stainless steel transmits heat VERY poorly. That's why there are no stainless steel radiators. You need to use copper or aluminum.
lemonie (author)  kyler7 years ago
Doesn't have to be copper, but this is easy to get hold of and bend. You don't need that much, I've used more than was really necessary. L
shelofsk6 years ago
what kind of presssure cooker is that? how many quarts too?
lemonie (author)  shelofsk6 years ago
I believe it is branded "Prestige", it's about 1 gallon (Brit) L
a croatian friend showed me how to make rakia (um, eastern European spirit made from what ever fruit is easily available...) and he taught me to always throw out the first 150 ml (this was on a 20 litre still, on your will be less). it's important to throw out the first bit, because it's methanol. which is poisonous. a little bit won't hurt you too much I guess, but if you drink it regularly it will.
That is correct but not if you're using wine to make ethanol. Methanol is produced during the fermentation process. Also a little bit of methanol will hurt you, usually in its purest for though. If your getting boozed up on ethanol, and your drink contains mostly ethanol chances are your body will be busy processing the ethanol and the methanol will slip by unnoticed and it will be excreted safely. But dont take my word for it. I have a little experience with biochemistry and i am certainly NOT an expert. better safe than BLIND OR DEAD>
yes, but wine it made with the fermentation process... are you suggesting that commercial wine has the methanol removed? I've never heard of such a thing, and haven't been able to find any such information describing such a methanol removing process for wine.

how ever the amount of wine is low, this website: http://homedistiller.org/methanol.htm recommends discarding the first 50 mL of distilate from a 20 litre pail, and says the lethal dose is around 100 ml, so you the amount you would have to drink to be poisoned would be such that you would suffer severe effects from the ethanol first.

and, in the case described here, where you are only distilling 2 litres, would produce 5 mL or less of methanol. probably not advisable to drink the lot your self... and would definately give you a nasty hangover.

i'd throw out 5-10 mL, myself.

also check out this: http://www.antizol.com/mpoisono.htm

I think my earlier comment about drinking regularily thing is incorrect. it looks like piosoning occurs following after a single session where too much has been consumed, and following that, all the alchols will be processed.

Methanol is wood alcohol which is produced in very small amounts during grape fermentation, and most of that is lost in the CO2 during this process. Methanol is very poisonous and can be lethal in very small amounts, but is not a problem in solely fermented wine. If you do choose distill, throw out the first 50-60mL to make sure the methanol is gone. Distillation will bring out the methanol first due to methanols lower boiling point than ethanol, and in a much more concentrated form than when present in the wine. Note: If you do ever drink methanol by accident, it will stay in your system because it cannot be broken down. The only treatment for it is actually to drink alcohol because the enzymes which break down alcohol will slow the poisoning process of methanol, and then seek medical attention immediately.
hey quick question i herd from a friend that using copper or any other metal other than stainless steel in your stil can turn poisonous, any truth to that?
in turkey,people drink grape rakia with fish it is delicious(i never tasted it though)
eagleANTH6 years ago
i know we were told not to talk about the fork but what about the chili sauce?
lemonie (author)  eagleANTH6 years ago
Chilli sauce

Fork helps keep the safety-valve shut (old rubber)


robot7976 years ago
whats with the fork?
lemonie (author)  robot7976 years ago
The one labeled "don't ask"? Helps keep the safety-valve shut (old rubber) L
herbalmama6 years ago
would this same set-up work for distilling essential herbal oils??
lemonie (author)  herbalmama6 years ago
I answered on the question

wayne wong6 years ago
when using the still wud all the mash go in the pressure vessel or wud it be strained off first and if anybody has any good recipes wud be most thankful
lemonie (author)  wayne wong6 years ago
mash40776 years ago
thats pretty cool
louie10106 years ago
Hi did anyone use this and produce alcohol what I did was run a 1/8 pipe coming out of the top of the lid to the cork no luck is the diameter to small?
lemonie (author)  louie10106 years ago
Yes it works fine. As long as it's not blocked and the outlet is always going downhill it will work. Could you post a picture of your set-up? L
Here is the pics.
louie10106 years ago
Hi could someone tell me would you need to drill a bigger hole on the lid for the cooker to put the cork in there? How far would the copper coil go down into the boiler thank you and great idea.
lemonie (author)  louie10106 years ago
The cork fits on top of the exhaust as you see it in step 1 - no drilling required.The copper tube doesn't enter the cooker, it's only in the cork ~1/2".
aceman4246 years ago
anyone have a good recipe that io can use to distill? and how to make it? heard a balloon on a milk jug
grootpret6 years ago
Sorry it is a 6.4 mm pipe
hey question, is the copper piping toxic at all, so i hear
can it kill you
did you read the first step?
ron175716 years ago
most distillers for water use stainless tubing with many coils and run a fan against the coils to cool them off and cause the condensation effect.also you can charge distilled water with sea salt for minerals and to make it easier to assimalate.the copper thing dosent seem right.
psymansays6 years ago
Hmm...this is a -very- basic distillation system. Most "moonshine" makers include a thermostat in their design, to closely control which chemicals are vaporized and which are not. Also, they like to form the copper tubing into a coil shape, to recover the most vapor they can. The procedure involves heating the mix to just below the boiling point of the target chemical, then dumping out anything that was collected at that temperature, as it is not the target. Next, one would raise the temperature to just above the boiling point of the target, and then filter the results with a coffee filter or something. I just thought I would drop by your page, since I see you commenting all over the recent instructables (mine included). I think its cool to find some of the site's more active members.
lemonie (author)  psymansays6 years ago

the copper is in a coil, which you can see in step 2. Thanks for the comment!

tonkers6 years ago
how do you get the temperature right?
Approximately 78.X° -- Either use a thermometer inserted (make sure not to lose vapour if you are making holes) next the the collection of vapour (the part where the vapour is led off from the heating chamber -- I am reluctant to use the word "boiler" as boiling (water) isn't what we want, we want boiling ethanol.) Keep an eye on the thermometer, or use guess work -- the vapour should a little ways beyond of the heat you can bear on your hands. (Probably not for me as I have scorched myself so many times I can tolerate quite a bit of heat on my hands! If I didn't know better i'd say they were made of asbestos! lol Hope at least some of what I have mentioned is helpful. :-) NOTE: By the way I got that temperature quote from a particular website that is notorious for being both accurate and inaccurate, so give me 5°C grace either way, not only this, but it will depend on the still type being used and your brew, whatever it may be!
WastedOne6 years ago
This would work with an electric hob right? I can't see why not. I can only just imagine how great the distilled water would be for ice cubes!
lemonie (author)  WastedOne6 years ago
Yes it would. Distilled water lacks minerals and can cause hyperhydration
so be careful eh?

Aye indeed, but just to clarify to get hyperhydration you need to drink a lot of water and it doesn't help if you don't eat anything. You can get hyperhydration from normal water.
The fact that distilled water is lacking from minerals and ions is no connection to hyperhydration, the main concern is that water is a main source of getting these important minerals into your body and if you only drink purified water then you are causing your body to seriously miss out on the important stuff!

Great article btw and I hope to find a cheap second hand pressure cooker very soon..

I should think an electric hop or heater would be better than a gas flame due to the flammable nature of alcohol and its fumes. Being one of the reasons why it is illegal to still at home. Can't tax it and you could blow yourself up!

Also, is there a decent alternative for the copper tubing? Considering the price of copper its always tempting to raid plumbers vans and live like kings! Like Kings!
dedkitty6 years ago
Ok whats a demi? and what is the glass bottle with the copper tubing around it? :D
The glass bottle is the demi, otherwise known as a demi-john.
tonkers6 years ago
this worked for me...it takes a bit of time but it does work pretty good, i got the heat issue sorted...just use a very low gas flame, dont let it get too hot or you will just get water.
grootpret6 years ago
Hi! I have made a still with same pot and everything but I have used a 4.6 mm coper pipe. But when i cooked it, after 2 hour still nothing came out. How long does it take to start coming out? And some more advise will help.
instrfreq6 years ago
hello, i am wondering how you clean this system? air is inside the pipe when not in use therefore oxidisation will accour. would it be good to have a method to flush the system via a switch/tap connected to the mains water supply...so you simply turn a tap and it flushes the copper pipe before use? have you tried a water testing kit to see how much copper is present or any other chemicals? great instructable blog thanks peace :P :)
boil a lot of water in it and let it steam untill it is out
fuzzy little pipe cleaner work well for "cleaning pipes"
doolittle886 years ago
When making this still do I need to use stainless?
instrfreq6 years ago
hi i have made a distiller just like this ..i am wondering about the copper pipe . My copper pipe has changed color on the outside where the water and air are able to get to the metal .This must be happening inside the pipe too. unlike with mains water there is very little air in the pipe due to the pressure. i am worried about copper oxidisation with such a system .does anyone have any thoughts on this? :)
copper oxidation is natural. copper is use in stills and numerous other kitchen applications because of its desirable chemistry with most foods.
DAVE37916 years ago
I was wondering if someone could help me. i have a still. and when i turn my water on to cool my vapor at 176 degrees it just keeps getting cooler and cooler whats wrong ? dose any one know?
l3wk6 years ago
can you also still sugar water in this still ? anyways good instructable
Forrunner6 years ago
Great setup! How is the temperature controlled to know and prevent or minimize water from reaching its boiling point? How can a thermometer be inserted into the pot.
ummmm.... why is it bad to drink distilled water?
We are worried about a condition known as Water Intoxication. This results when someone has taken a LOT of water, usually as a result of some psychiatric condition or on purpose due to any other reason. This condition is more common when one has taken DISTILLED water rather than the normal water which contains salts and minerals. The distilled water enters into the cells of the body including the cells comprising the brain and makes one VERY sick...Sometimes even killing them. The distilled water mainly enters the cells since it is hypo-osmotic...The normal water has lesser tendency to do so. Malnourishment due to lack of minerals is not a problem in the longer run since the minerals can be VERY EASILY got from the food also... Of course, as i said earlier, it is quite rare to get this condition unless someone PURPOSELY drinks a HUGE quantity of distilled or even normal water. BTW, I had taken distilled water several times without any ill effects... In fact, it is sometimes claimed that taking distilled water helps the body to throw off some of its excess salts ( like sodium etc) in an attempt to add salts to the distilled water , and this was claimed to help patients etc of some diseases like hypertension, where sodium level is generally high in their bodies. This is yet to be verified...
if we distill water then add salt and minerals or perhaps we eat food? then we will be fine?
Actually there is no need to add salt or anything. Nowadays the distilled water is also sold along with the mineral water bottles, as drinking water, on the same shelves in many supermarkets. It's just a matter of individual preference which one you want. I regularly drink the distilled water but am quite ok. The problem 'll only arise if you INTENTIONALLY take more than several liters of distilled water, and that too without eating anything for a few days, or when you are having associated health problems. For example, when you are having renal failure, and you drink lot of NORMAL water( with the salts etc), even the normal water can accumulate in the body and create problems. In other words, drinking distilled water just as you would NORMALLY drink the regular tap water should have no consequences. Another point of note...The distilled water will not contain SALTS. But it may be FULL og bacteria or other infectious matter for all we know. So PLEASE don't drink it unless its sold for the purpose of DRINKING. Also...It can contain other chemicals or liquids with a higher boiling point than water in it, if simple distillation and not fractional distillation is not done... So its better not to drink distilled water prepared for industrial use, like for use in car batteries, for example. The distilled water sold in food grade plastic or glass bottles for the purpose of drinking, can be used just as you would, the normal drinking water from the taps.
many thanks :P So as long as we eat well ( minerals etc ) we should be fine drinking distilled water:) . im siting here this morning drinking a hot cup of tap water and it is not nice , im sure i can feel chlorine or fluoride stinging my mouth? :( . i was thinking when i steam my veggies in a pressure cooker i could collect the steam in a system like this which i have built and drink the wasted steam/h20 ( id only get half a cup a day ) but why waste steam? i've heard to boil the water for 5 mins first before closing the lid on the cooker to evaporate certain chemicals. My only thoughts is regarding the copper pipe when a system like this is not in use air is inside the pipe and causes oxidisation inside the copper pipe . so i suppose it is necessary to flush the pipe with pressured water to clean it before use? your lucky to be able to buy it from your super market!:) :P
because there is no alcohol in it
LMWAO, Great answer, very dangerous.
mmm.... i'm thinking that the lack of minerals to balance the water decrease the water needed for water poisoning. but that's just a guess
hcold Tobita6 years ago
Distilled water absorbs carbon dioxide (who says one person can't make a environmental change? ;) which basically turns it into carbonic acid. From what I've read, your body cells do what they can to get away from acid, and that includes protecting themselves with minerals etc, which the acid strips away. Anyone up for some malnutrition?
DanielD6 years ago
Good looking fuel cooker, I just might have to check it out.
01bullitt6 years ago
hey has anyone tryed this and how did it go i was going to use wine i bulit it already took like 15 min i had all the stuff around the home ... just havent put anything in it yet
OMG!!!!! im in love! I can finally make my own "stuff". when i go to the ABC store they make me get a permit to haul my goods because i buy so much, now i can make it at home (when i sober up) It's nice to have a goal to work towards. lol burp!
mawktheone6 years ago
hmm i built a still very like this one. worked fine. only real difference was that i happened to have a calibrated digital thermocouple lying around. which i mounted under the lid and tells me the temperature accurate to about .1degrees alcohol varies from rough to caustic. but drinkable all the same
very nice but not to sound frugal but all together tubing, pressure cooker, etc how much would it all cost
I got a pressure cooker, and a igloo insulated water bottle (condenser housing) from a thrift store for $6, and then like 10 ft of copper tubing, and connectors from lowes for$15. For me finding the pressure cooker was a pain. It took 3 or 4 thrift store trips to find one.
bduff7 years ago
the presser cooker looks aluminum is that going to make a difference if its not steel?
homedistiller.org is the best damn website for learning how to distill ethanol, how to avoid the dangers of methanol, and just plain how to enjoy the art of distilling. CAUTION: Distillation of ethanol for the purpose of drinking is considered illegal for US citizens to do. You are "allowed" in the US to operate a still for the purpose of creating ethanol for fuelling a car (or fleet of cars), though. In fact, the feds will even give you a tax break for doing it, since you are helping wean us off foreign oil and taking us to a greener alternative fuel source. Study the laws of your state, too, since there may be local laws that further prohibit ethanol distillation for any reason. Build a still at your own risk, since federal law does not require BATF agents to have a warrant to kick down your door and confiscate your distillation apparatus, and imprison you and whoever they find in your home at the time. - John
thanks carolinatinpan. btw very nice instructable
dark4mdawn7 years ago
I was wondering if i could use plastic tubing as i could on find a 3m lenth of coppper tubbing at $44.00 at bunning? or is there somthing else i could use im making ethanol email me at underground@inbox.com
ranrock657 years ago
i'm itching to try this out. is there any reason i shouldn't do it in an apartment? do i need to worry about odors?
Worry about explosions, if you are distilling alcohol. Water=safe. Alcohol vapor=boom.

To distill alcohol, do it outside, or use an electric hotplate, not a gas range.
lilguy4u7 years ago
Interesting Article.. I would think that the Copper would be bad to use? I once heard that when it's heated to a High Temperature it gives of a Toxic Vapor or Chemical? Also, wouldn't the bad Alcohol that you produce at the start be Non-Existent since the Wine has been Processed Already?
Copper releases toxic vapor when COPPER boils. That's at over 4000 degress F.
Copper is a good metal to use; it releases no toxic vapours afaik, as i've heated it to red heat many a time and i'm still alive.
Copper ions will dissolve in acidic solutions over time.. Heat would speed it up, but the length of time the liquid is in contact on the downward slope is negligable for that.. Copper ions won't rise from the boiler, so only the downslope is important.. You can get copper poisoning by eating say tomato soup that has sat in a copper pot for a few days etc.. Copper poisoning manifests with nausea, and a greeny foam in vomit.. Its not nearly as bad as some metals though, and hasn't been an issue with the millions of well built copper stills out there.. Congrats to instructor on the most sensible distilling instructable I've come across..
ytown7 years ago
Distilled water won't kill you, deionized water will kill you.
rocket50 ytown7 years ago
First of all, distilled water and deionized water are basically the same thing by a different name. Distilled water is water that has gone through a still and is free from mineral and salt deposits. Deionized water has been treated in some other fashion to remove salt, or ions, from the water. Secondly, drinking large amounts (many gallons) of water, tap, distilled, deionized, ect., without consuming anything else can kill you, but only because your bodies electrolyte levels drop to a point that your heart has trouble working. The particular kind of water does not matter, only the volume and whether your bodies chemistry is out of balance.
This is poetry in its simplicity. I built mine with a 16 quart aluminum presto that I picked up at a garage sale today. I have the copper tubing and used silicon to seal the bucket. Works great. Now... I love distilled water. I want to drink distilled water. I believe the copper tubing is safe but the aluminum is not safe. The question I have is would any of the harmful chemicals from the aluminum make their way into the distilled water? How safe would using this still to make distilled water for drinking be? You can reply here or to iamtherealandy@gmail.com -- thanks...
eskimojo7 years ago
Using RTV Silicone would be fine for the seal on the bucket, just make sure it is fully dried.
lotek7 years ago
needs a thump barrel, use only copper,for full size still plans find old foxfire book
evilangel207 years ago
y the fork?
he said dont ask
EeeJay7 years ago
Do not use aluminum. Copper is actually preferred and is can help in the flavor of distillates. Some copper should always be in stills after the thermometer, where the steam gets it. Stainless make a good boiler and be careful of leaksand open flame.
phxmark1237 years ago
ok, I read "don't use aluminum tubing'. Aren't these pressure cookers made out of solid aluminum? Can you use a pressure cooker with that metal? I searched all day for one and found only one at the thrift stores. Should I buy it? I'm just worried about the copper, stainless, aluminum theories of my materials.
what are some of your ways to buildig a cheep working still. I also need a easy resapea for my first on.
theque8 years ago
In my town a local radio station hosted a contest to win a Nintendo Wii, The person to drink the most water (in jugs, i believe it was distilled) Wins the Wii. The girl that won drank 2-3 gallons of water in a short amount of time and ended up dying, i think the station got sued :) Too bad for her though, i think she had two kids
she did have 2 kids it was us wide news but i think she darank 10 gaL
i think she drowned
The human body cannot hold that much water, the stomach will stop taking it in at under a gallon, and most people wind up puking at that point. the reason she died, most likely, is that if you put too much into your stomach, and don't allow it to purge, it will split open, which can be fatal.
Jennifer Strange, 28, died of water intoxication. There was no correllation betwixt the kind
of water and her death. It was the volume. I remember it was on cnn.


It wasn't distilled water - if you drank that it'd kill you. I remember it was bottled water. The point of the contest was to hold your urine - ie your wii (wee/pee). for a Wii. diluting your body's electrolytes will kill you.
Drinking distilled water will not kill you, this is a common misconception. distilled water is very basically purified water, the water if purified has no contaminants and cannot kill you. Ships commonly have a distillery where they boil the water to distill it and use it to drink instead of having copious quantities of potable water that takes up precious space on the ships. The reason your not supposed to drink it is because it doesn't have the minerals that you need from regular water, so you can become malnurished if you don't have another supply of those minerals in your daily diet.
capn VictimDub7 years ago
just plain drinking it [water] will not kill you, but if you drink enough distilled water then the electrolytes are diluted. This diluting of the electrolytes reduces the brains ability to send messages across the neurons that necessitate a conducting fluid. This in turn cause the brain to swell and eventually kill the person. It happens to a lot of runners that do not drink electrolytic water like Gatorade.
what happens is your bodies cells have salt i.e. minerals in them which water is attracted to saying that i am able too say that yes because there is no minerals in distilled water the H2O is attracted to that in the cells and causes them to explode because the solutions cannot reach a equilibrium
I've had distilled water before, and didn't die...you can buy it from walmart.
lemonie (author)  theque8 years ago
That was your town? Yea that story was reported over here.
Radio DJs often have reputations for being morons and now and again they do get sued.


For hateful reviews (with strong language) of UK DJ's try here:
Jalakahops7 years ago
You are going to make a lot of people go blind. It is terribly important to add a thermometer(preferably digital they are more accurate) and first boil it at 160F. This will burn off the methol acetate(its boiling point is really 151 but play it safe). Throw that away.
Everyone is asking about the copper line. The more you have coiled the less ice or ice water you will need. If you don't mind pouring in ice all the time a 5 foot pack for about $5 is fine(smaller coils smaller bucket)
Big Larry's recipie used bread yeast. Bad idea. While it will work, bread yeast has a lower tolerance for alcohol at about 6% and will affect the flavor. Champagne yeast has the highest tolerance at about 18% beer yeast at about 12%. Therefore, you will start off with more alcohol getting a higher yield and doing less work. In my opinion the champagne yeast tastes better anyway.
P.S. 2 lbs brown sugar per gallon of water = cheap
evilangel207 years ago
but how much tubing?
how could I use this to concentrate tea? I am trying to concentrate Chamomile tea to make a sort of 'sleeping potion'
dj whatever7 years ago
I thought about a light bulb still but this is much better tnx!!!
crazycelt7 years ago
Pertaining to previous comments of legality in the States: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was always under the impression that distilling alcohol at home, much like home brewing of beer and wine, was legal as long as the product was for personal use and not distribution! I figured it all fell under the November 1978 repeal of Federal restrictions on home brewing small amounts of alcohol. Regardless, I can't wait to try this instructable, thanks Lemonie!
Distilling is illegal. Brewing beer and wine is legal for personal consumption, up to 100 gallons per person over 21, per household is legal, I think for up to 2 people, or 200 gallons total.
I don't think distilling even for your own use is legal even though homebrewing beer and and making wine is. However if you don't go around telling everyone and you only make a small amount who cares.
lemonie (author)  crazycelt7 years ago
Let us all know what your starting brew was, and what your finished spirit is like, if you would? L
momsnacher7 years ago
sweet job. this makes me want to get a pressure cooker. hypothetically speaking, what do you think the booze out of this might taste like?
good for distilling nitric acid. NITROGLYCERINE!!
ooo ooo where do I get nitric acid and how exactly do I distill it.....
pappyld047 years ago
Are brass or carbon steel Ts a viable option with the copper or SS tubing? A T may give access for a probe higher up in the rise!!
Great instructable. Have you thought about comming up with a way to attach a top column to make it a reflux still like some other people were saying? Maybe you could find one with a threaded pressure gauge on it to thread some copper pipe onto the lid that would work. Also how big of a pressure cooker is that?
misterhack7 years ago
is better to use outdoor gas grill with pot burner and a high fence
projektpat7 years ago
nice thread man.....ill keep in touch.....no gif allowed on this site?
parloot7 years ago
hey i have a quick question im thinking about makeing a smaller verison of this useing a hot plate, beaker and misc lab extras i was woundering if the tubeing has to be copper could it be plastic? sorry if its a dumb quesion just thought id ask
lemonie (author)  parloot7 years ago
Doesn't have to be copper, but you'd want some heat and solvent resistant plastic, i.e. not PVC. But if you have lab-extras, what about glass? L
austin8 years ago
well that is interesting perhaps adding a thermometer could make it easier.
lemonie (author)  austin8 years ago
I broke the thermometer, but at which point would you add one? L
austin lemonie8 years ago
well i guess if its a pressure cooker it should normally have one built in right? but If your using something else then the therm should go on the place where you heat the alcohol so you can keep the temperature hot enough to evaporate alcohol but not water.
lemonie (author)  austin8 years ago
You get a mixture of alcohol and water regardless, since they co-distill to some extent. The liquid won't get above it's boiling point, and it would be a long job to operate below that temperature. A fractionating column would help, and I have some ideas... L
Scoops lemonie8 years ago
I built a similar still. I made a great reflux column out of a 1/2 inch pipe filled with a Chore-Boy scrubber. I put a tee on the top to put a rubber cork for the thermometer. I even found some fiberglass pipe insulation lying around the house to wrap the column. But I never figured a good way to cut a threaded hole in the top of the pressure cooker, so I never tried it.
lemonie (author)  Scoops8 years ago
The Chore-Boy scrubber is steel-strip, steel-turnings, or steel-wool? L
Scoops lemonie7 years ago
lemonie (author)  Scoops7 years ago
Looks like the stee-turnings, or maybe they're ribbon? Yes, this is the sort of thing I was thinking of, but didn't do (cooker-hood a bit too low) L
Home distilling is illegal in America... but I once read something like- the thermometer stays in the whole time... what you're trying to do is boil off the ethanol, and leave as much water as possible in the original container. You do this by keeping the mash (in this case wine) above the boiling temperature of ethanol, and below the boiling temperature of water. In this case, keep the mash at about 94 degrees C (by adjusting the heat frequently) and you should be groovy. Another small note... Wine, beer, and mash all contain methanol as well. Small quantities make you feel like hell (wine hangover anyone?), larger quantities can kill you. Methanol boils at a lower temperature than ethanol... so the common solution is to throw away the first portion of the distillate. (the first 200ml from a 20 liter batch of mash... so, only a few tablespoons from 1.5 liters of wine) Or something like that :) Beautiful still! Thanks for showing us how easy it is!
lemonie (author)  BigCommieNat8 years ago
Why do people keep repeating this methanol-crap?
Has anyone not discarded the first fraction and drunk it? Yes, I have.
I've also spend plenty of time glass-distilling liquids and what you're suggesting (or rather repeating) doesn't work in practice. I've had full analytical back-up to reassue me of it too.
Think about this: If you drink a bottle of wine or beer you drink no less methanol, and get no less drunk than drinking the distillate.

"! Drinking distilled alcohol may be harmful / fatal."
Hey man, I didn't mean to offend you, sorry if it came across that way. And I totally concede the point that two bottles of wine, distilled or no, is two bottles of wine.

I do need to point out however that if something ELSE was fermented, you could be in for some regret. Turbo Yeast (http://www.turbo-yeast.com/) could turn 6kg of sugar in 25 liters of water in to an 14% (28 proof) mixture in 24 hours. Using table sugar... no big deal (very low methanol production with sucrose). But if part of that were replaced with molasses to make a rum, methanol production becomes a BIG deal. Even more so for american corn-mash 'moonshine'. Your head will pound enough without the methanol, f'real.

Again, I think you've done the best job demonstrating how a still is constructed so far on instructables. Thanks for the instructable!
lemonie (author)  BigCommieNat8 years ago
mmm, I've heard of Turbo-yeast, but never used it. Have you? Rum I haven't tried yet, but I was going to give it a go, I'll maybe update if I do. L
Kiteman lemonie8 years ago
Ideally, the thermometer should go in the vertical section of pipe as it exits the pressure-cooker, so that you are measuring the temperature of the vapour leaving the mixture, which gives you a direct way to determine exactly what is passing over at that point.

Personally, I would start this with a 6-12 inch section of vertical 3/4 copper tube, to allow droplets of condensate to trickle back without being blown over into the condenser by other vapours.
lemonie (author)  Kiteman8 years ago
Having considerable experience in distillation, I understand what you're saying. But I exploded the last thermometer (stupidly) and I'm not going to add one until I've built a fractionating column. I do have a Quickfit glass Vigreux column, but can't fit it in at present. Another trip to B & Q perhaps... L
anon30000007 years ago
besides exploding, what are the health risks with that rig? I'm new to this and I want an easy rig but i don't want to go blind and I've heard a lot of talk about methanol.
lemonie (author)  anon30000007 years ago
The thing cannot hold much pressure, and the gas cooker is about as hazardous as alcohol vapour. For methanol, see previous comments. L
John Smith8 years ago
HOLY CRAP! How much did all that copper cost? At my hardware store thats a good $110!
lemonie (author)  John Smith8 years ago
A little under 20 pounds, which will buy ~$40 at the moment. I probably only used 1/3 of it though.

big larry8 years ago
I have a little moonshine expierience. I made an all pyrex still when I was in high school, and used the shine to run a lawn mower as a project. (currently 24). When you use red wine I believe what your distilling is called drambue. The old timers always thew away the first drippings, I believe because of the methenol, and toxins from the copper. A better still would have a "tower" filled with charcol comming from the pot, but this is a great intro still. The old timers also ran the product 3 or 4 times for purity. Another not so humane trick was to test it on the dog. The methenol is more likely to make you blind than kill you. So if the dog started to run into stuff the shine was bad. Also if you wanted to make your own mash, rather than cooking off $20 worth of wine. Go to your local feed store and get 10lbs of ground corn. mix it in a 5 gallon bucket with a packet of bread yeast, 2 lbs of sugar, and 4 gal water. Put a lid on the bucket and seal it air tight. Then drill a hole in the bucket and run a 1/4 rubber tube from the top. Keeping it air tight run the tube into a glass of water. The yeast are anerobic, so the tube will bubble out the o2. Let the mash "work" and bubble until it stops. (about a week or two) Then filter out the stinky mess through some paper towels and run it. Thats how you make real shine. Once you have your shine try cutting it with pure water. It takes out the burn, and makes for a good sippable drink. Also try adding cut apples and brown sugar. Thats called apple pie. My grandpa pours his over cherries. Thats good to. Finally I'll leave you with this. Look at the bubbles. Put the pure shine into a mason jar, half full, and cap it. Give the jar a quick turn 90 degrees and then back up right. Are your bubbles about 1/4 to 3/8" diameter? Good.
lemonie (author)  big larry8 years ago
Drambuie is made with Scotch, honey herbs and stuff...
Rum: wine yeast, black treacle (similar to molasses surely?) sugar, water, lemon juice, bucket.
Single distillation to 1/4 volume & charcoal filter = just fine.

Pretty, oh so pretty.
lemonie (author)  robbtoberfest8 years ago
And it's distilling moonshine (in bright sunshine) right now. I expect to end up with 2 litres by midday. L
I don't understand... how can distilled water be fatal or dangerous? It's just pure water! That's what they put in bottles to make bottled water, for Pete's sake! IT'S JUST WATER!!!
lemonie (author)  threecheersfornick8 years ago
Look below for the comment posted by biznacho.
Bottled water is not distilled, mineral water for example contains minerals.

Hm. So, it's distilled water with added minerals? That would make sense. I wonder why my science teacher didn't mention that... we had a whole conversation on distilled water.
Ha! At last, a still I can understand. All the rest are straight out of M.A.S.H.
I may try this one out for educational purposes.

Come on everybody, sing along: Good by brain cells I will miss you...
Easy Button8 years ago
how is this knex?
lemonie (author)  Easy Button8 years ago
Sorry, I'd put "not knex", I'll see if I can remove those words. L
biznacho8 years ago
I was aware of the dangers of drinking homemade liquor and of the dangers of getting caught making homemade liquor, but how could distilled water "be harmful/fatal"? Unless some sort of contaminant gets into the process somewhere, like from poorly sterilized equipment or something, or if you drink way too much and overdose, I'm not seeing the danger of distilled water.
lemonie (author)  biznacho8 years ago
Distilled water does not contain any minerals. If you drink enough it will strip essential salts out of you (Na, K) and then you die. I'm serious, but it's a process of losing salt, you could drink distilled water and eat salty-snacks to compensate. L
So death by too much distilled water is different than death by water intoxication(the way the woman in theque's story died)? Or are they essentially the same process?
lemonie (author)  biznacho8 years ago
This is good enough to explain:
(same thing)