Step 3: Use

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

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

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..
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.
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.
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?

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.
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.

mattbomb4 years ago
3 CHEERS FOR MOON SHINE, hip hip! HORAY, HIP hip hip, hoRAY, HIP HIP hoRAy!!!
lemonie (author)  mattbomb4 years ago
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.
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