this is for informational purposes only and should not be used for illegal activities. there are many legal things one can do with a still including fueling cars (must register with the federal government) as well as extracting essential oils from plants (not necessary to register). also, implementing the following procedures could result in bodily harm from explosions, fires, burns, not to mention what could happen if you actually consume your final product. use your head, be careful and be safe. 

Thank you to everyone who has made this a successful Instructable!  I appreciate the views and positive feedback.  Please cut me some slack where I am lacking.  I have recently updated to include a few more specifics, but this does not take the place of doing your own research.  I am not an expert, though I play one on TV.  I am also toying with a discussion forum for all the numerous repeat questions.  Please continue to check the comments discussions before posting questions.  Many have been answered before and plenty more than once.

as a further note, i have decided to add this link to clear up any misunderstandings about what United States law has to say about distilling. Hopefully this will make some of you think a little harder about this and the rest to stop posting comments debating the legality of this. This is ONLY for the US.

Distilling Code

let's begin.

anything alcoholic can be distilled. i've distilled everything from my own moonshine washes to jug wine purchased at my local liquor store. distillation is actually quite simple. the hard part is making sure you are getting ethanol and not methanol (or the like). in this instructable i will show how i made a wash, fermented it, and consequently--the most important part--how i distilled it. i have added more specifics in order to answer some of the most asked questions i've gotten in the comments.  i hope this helps. i might also mention that everything here is hypothetical and for informational purposes only. hope that covers the bases.

and. . . let's begin. for real this time.

(if this doesn't make sense or you would like more info, check out my instructable--distilling basics--for more detailed information on the distillation process or read through the comment strings before posting a question.  I get repeat questions constantly and I don't have time to answer the same questions over and over.  Sorry.)

Step 1: fermentation

i used a sugar water solution to create a wash which i then distilled to a neutral spirit. i dissolved about 5lbs of sugar in 3 gallons of water (not an exact formula, play around a bit) and then let it cool to room temperature. this is about as basic a wash as you can get. many more options are available for different flavor characteristics.  for instance, if you ferment molasses you will end up with rum.  if you ferment blue agave you will end up with tequila. i was looking for simplicity for a beginner and ran with this. it is the easiest to procure and make. unfortunately white sugar creates a decidedly cidery flavor to the spirit, but much of that can be distilled out or masked by flavoring or blending.

the wash (fermentable solution, a.k.a. sugar water) was then poured into a clean carboy (big glass bottle, see pic). after that i 'pitched' the yeast (dumped yeast into wash) and then capped the carboy with an airlock (see pic). now we wait. depending on yeast, temperature, amount of digestible materials, etc., a couple of weeks is usually good. at this point yeast is eating sugar, and excreting carbon dioxide and alcohol. give it some time. let it work. when the bubbles stop (and look close) it's done.  if it is still bubbling, let it go.  the two week time is just a very rough estimate.  it will vary for everyone.

if the bubbles have slowed considerably, taste a bit. if it is sweet, let it go a bit longer.

when it is done. we're ready for the next stage:

<p>One safety-related comment for all to consider: one should <em>never</em> distill alcohol in an enclosed environment such as the kitchen shown. Move your &quot;system&quot; outside <em>en</em> <em>plein air</em> as the French Impressionists of yesteryear did with their painting. One small leak, one ignition source and your containment structure (house, garage, kitchen, etc.), with all contained therein, will be subject to a rapid, unplanned, violent and potentially lethal, random--and, I am certain, unwanted--disassembly.</p>
<p>There's many dangers about making and consuming homemade moonshine.</p><p><a href="http://lessaccounting.com/moonshine" rel="nofollow">http://lessaccounting.com/moonshine</a></p><p>Plus it's a felony in many states, it's just not worth it, stick to brewing beer.</p>
<p>Most of that information is FUD spread by the ATF to continue support for keeping home distillation illegal and tax revenues up. For example, the first thing and most prominent warning is the risk of methanol. Methanol (wood alcohol) is produced by fermenting wood. Methanol is indeed a deadly poison and causes blindness it is required by the ATF to be added to &quot;denatured alcohol&quot; sold at the hardware store to prevent anyone from drinking it without paying tax. During prohibition people likely did try fermenting wood and removing methanol from the ethanol (drinking alcohol) sold at the hardware store.<br><br>It's important to remember almost all REAL dangers come from what is distilled because distillation is physical and not chemical process.* The output only contains the substances that were in the mash. If you distill a bottle of wine down to a glass of brandy drinking that glass is no more dangerous than drinking that bottle. You won't be any more intoxicated and generally speaking you won't be exposed to any more methanol, acetone, propanol, butanol, or amyl alcohols (all the things listed on that dangers site) than you would drinking the bottle of wine. That is regardless of whether the person doing the distilling knows what they are doing or not. They will be more concentrated of course but that generally balances out because the ethanol is what is most concentrated. In practice, every how to on making &quot;moonshine&quot; on the internet will tell you a method for removing the &quot;heads&quot; (lower but close boiling point elements like methanol) and tails (higher but close temperature elements) and following any of the above would mean the distilled output contains LESS of these undesirable substances than your starting bottle of wine.</p><p>That said, there ARE dangers. I just think repeating the same old tired nonsense detracts from them. Which is especially bad because they are easy to avoid in the modern age.</p><p>The only real danger of home alcohol distillate to the consumer that is not also in the liquid being distilled is in common with all lab processes is anything introduced by the distillation equipment. For example, if lead based solder is used to make a copper still (lead based solder is always clearly labeled as such), galvanized steel, or anything else which reacts with ethanol or releases something unexpected in the presence of heat. This is easily solved by lightly regulating equipment sold for distillation and spreading information about safe practices for those making their own equipment. The short answer is to stick with glass, pyrex, noble metals, and/or stainless steel. Any rubber should be made for high temperature lab use. Copper can be used with the correct solder the output will contain copper but within limits considered safe in drinking water. Some ceramics can be used as well but I hesitate to mention them because ceramic is a broad term for most any hardened mixture. You could make a ceramic containing lead for instance.</p><p>For the person doing the distilling there is the risk of explosion and fire if there were a substantial leak of fumes in the still. There are actually many many things at home that carry a similar level of risk and cooking with wine carries the exact same kind of risk, cooking with flour carries an even greater risk (a puff of flour in the air is a very powerful dust explosive). Again, standards on commercially produced equipment and spreading information is the answer here. <br><br>So if anyone reads this and is thinking about distilling. First, only ferment things that are safe to eat. Keep fermentation vessels sterile. Make fermentation vessels out of food grade HDPE plastic/g. If you aren't sure if it is food grade </p>
<p>Did you just make distilled alcohol on the stove ? :D </p>
I want to make corn whiskey the was it was made in the old times.i am reaearching recipies and techniques for a book if there is anyone who can help me i would be very much obliged.
<p>Moonshine by Matt Rowley Corn whiskey employed the use of germination of the seed, to convert the starch to sugar. Amylase is an easier and much simpler process.</p>
I'm pretty sure you can make 100 gallons of alcohol for your own personal use in the U.S. You can MAKE&nbsp;Moonshine but you can't sell it. THAT&nbsp;is what is illegal about it.<br />
<p>FALSE. It is legal to make your own beer or wine in some locations but it is against FEDERAL law to concentrate the alcohol (distill it) from your mash. Not illegal to own a still, just to use it to distill alcohol. You can distill the chemicals out of your tap water though!</p>
<p>WRONG YOU CANNOT MAKE ANY MOONSHINE FOR ANY REASON ! I use our still to condense water, we have a shallow well we use for drinking water &amp; it makes it a 100% better tasting. it is done the same way as shine but, w/o mash. just plain water !!!</p>
You can make 100 gallons per year per person 21 and older in your house
Not true.&nbsp; You can make certain amounts of beer and you can make certain amounts of wine, but you cannot make liquor of ANY quantity without registering your still with the federal government and therefore, I would assume, pay the taxes on it. <br /> <br /> I'm not sure why I'm debating this.&nbsp; Check my link about distilling laws.&nbsp; And if you still don't agree, cite your statute.&nbsp; = )<br />
pdub77 is right, you can brew beer, wine, mead, and that kind of stuff all day long in your garage as long as you're not under 21 and not distributing it. i believe you need a business license to distribute it. not sure about the liquor thing though, but moonshine, aka 100% pure alcohol is illegal to possess just like a drug. everclear is only legal because it's made by government-authorized stills and is only about 99% pure, they add that 1% of water just to be pricks. lol i think you might be able to register a moonshine still for ethanol-powered vehicles though, but it's probably expensive to get the license and you gotta pay taxes.
pdub77 is right, it is physically impossible to distill an ethanol/water solution above 95.6% and that's why Everclear clocks in at 95% or 190 proof (in the states that high of a proof is legal). It's not them being pricks, it's a thermodynamic impossibility for them to go any higher with the product being safe for human consumption. Anything you see that is labeled as 200 proof ethanol is denatured, meaning that a third chemical has been added to the solution during distillation to break the azeotrope (limit). Chemicals such as benzene or cyclohexane are often used and residual amounts of those are why you should never ever drink any 200 proof ethanol.
You can't get 100% pure ethanol with a basic still. Google 'azeotropic solution' to see what I'm talking about here.
Good post. I saw another one where the guy was very unclear as to how to get rid of the methanol. He basically said throw out the first half cup of distillate. <br> <br>Here's the link to the ATF regulation governing distillation. Look at section/chapter 19. <br>http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2003-title27-vol1/pdf/CFR-2003-title27-vol1.pdf. You can't distill alcohol in the US without jumping through all kinds of hoops. You have to be bonded, your facility can only be used for distillation, no private residence, sheds or garages, permits from the ATF, yada, yada, yada. If you're running a still it better be for something other than alcohol. <br> <br>The amounts of beer and wine you can make are dependent on the state. I'm a home brewer BTW, not a distiller. (Although I wouldn't mind trying it) <br> <br>Also, I love the comment at the end of the post, &quot;just because i know how to do something doesn't mean i will&quot; Uhhh, you have a picture of a still, presumably yours, and you claim to have gotten a blue flame off a first run. Self incrimination? :-D <br>
You are not allowed to make a drop of the product. Beer and Wine wasn't legal until Carter. Unlike many other countries, (ie: New Zealand), I cannot see anytime in the foreseeable future that we will be able to make what we want to make for ourselves without the government regulating it.
Just because something's legal by state law it can still be legal by federal law. For example, marijuana is legal now under Colorado law but it's still a federal offense.
nope. every still must be registered and regulated by the govnt. its easy enought to get a fuel alc license, but its expensive
According to the Missouri statutes in Mo. you can make 100 gals of distilled alcohol, 200 gals if there are more than one person over the age of 21 living in the residence per year. But it has to be for personal and family consumption it can not be sold
Nope - not a drop. It's a federal law.
Nope, not in the US - can't make a drop without a distiller's license (Federal and State).
If you distill even a thumble of likker, your comitting a Federal Crime. You don't have to sell it to get locked up you just have to make it!
I've unsucessfully made many batches of shine and can't figure out what i'm doing wrong. I've been using corn, sugar, yeast, and water for my mash and let is sit for 3 days to ferment.(whether that's right or wrong i got it from a website) well any way when i try to distill it, it comes out cloudy not clear and definitly not drinkable. plus i've tried to keep my temp at 173 degress F. but nothing happens till about 200. there is some alcohol in the wash and when it comes out of the still but not much. Can any one tell me what i'm doing wrong?<br />
<p>Yep. You're temps are too high. You have to be PATIENT and let the vapor build up. </p>
<p> 3 days is waaayyy tooo short. Sounds like your trying to make sourdough bread starter.</p>
Your running your still to high temp and sounds like you need to study up on fermenting start simple like this sugar shine three days is way early man
<p>pdub is right they yeast would not even finished multiplying even turbos take longer then that to ferment, but once you get it keep it up soon you won't buy likker at a store i know i havent in a long time.</p>
3 days is never enough time to ferment.&nbsp; Try two to three weeks.&nbsp; <br />
okay i didn't think it was long enough but i wasnt sure thanks. I'll let you know how it goes<br />
Does it matter what metal cooker you use in quality of taste! just a thought if you use a steel pot vs a copper pot the heated metals might give off difrent taste in liqueur?
<p>you guys are dumb get a life that will make god happy</p>
<p>nobody cares about god thats why we killed him so go f*ck yourself and d*ck my suck</p>
<p>There is always a smart a__ in the crowd. Don't read their garbage and get on with your distilling.</p>
<p>Im gunnu get fucking hammerd</p>
<p>Move to New Zealand, people. Brew whatever you want legally :D</p>
<p>I have tried this before a few years back</p>
i have 18 litres of wash fermenting right now except it is not bubbling as usual and never started.been sitting for 8 days, its been a bit colder here but i think its stuck. maybe the yeast was no good i brought temp up to around 30 degrees today but still nothing , is the solution to add another packet of yeast. ?
Too much heat can definitely kill yeast. I would try adding more yeast and see if that works. If not, I'm not sure. As long as you have enough for the yeast to eat, they should go to town. I've had some washes that never really went nuts, though. They were a laid back strain, apparently. You should definitely see some bubbles, though, either way. No bubbles equals no fermentation, obviously. Too cold will slow down fermentation rather reliably too. Might want to do a search for the particular yeast you are using to see its optimum fermentation temperature. Different types of yeast prefer different temps. Try the yeast, check your temp and let me know how that works.
<p>I have a fruit mash that has been fermenting for 4 days.. It bubbled away very good until yesterday when it stopped and now it's not bubbling at all... What does this mean? This is my first attempt.</p>
What you need is a starting"batch".Mix yeast with any sugar rich substrate in a pint container,place it above the fridge or any source of mild heat and THEN empty it in your main "wash"( after it has started to bubble vigorously).Never fails.
i brought the wash up to 35degrees centigrade added more yeast then let it cool its now at around 25 and bubbling furiously. thanks hinge . so pdub this turbo yeast claims to give up to 20% lets see.
20% is really high. Let me know how it works. Could save a lot of people a lot of time.
just finished 2 runs 10 litres of wash in each. the turbo yeast i used brought wash up to 15% in 7 days , theyre claim of 20% might be a bit hopeful but im happy with this result. got 4 litres of good juice. will stay with this yeast. 7 days is fast. trying some blackberry champagne next.
Another week and you might have achieved closer to 20%. The yeast slows down a lot as it goes and the last few percentage points tend to take for freaking ever. Not bad, though, dude. 15% in 7 days is pretty impressive and well within the general range of your basic brewing yeast. Good job, Rowdy. Thanks for the updates. Myself and many others (I'm sure) appreciate it.
Good plan, hinge. Thanks. Even warm water (not hot) out of the tap can work for this.
<p>So if i was to want to make this moonshine and flavor it with fruit what would the best option be?</p><p>add fruit in fermenting process ?</p><p>or add fruit in the final product ?</p>
<p>Simple question....Is it legal to make mash ONLY? While I doubt it's very viable as a business to sell mash for obvious reasons, it is an interesting thought. A distillers mash recipe and method is key to producing quality shine. What someone does with mash is their business. You could charge for a standard keg still worth of mash..$30-$50 bucks. For the person that doesn't want to deal with making the mash this would be a nice set up. Just thinking...</p>
<p>Awesome Guide never thought of distilling in the kitchen, and it doesn't seem as it would be too dangerous since the vapor won't ignite of the electric stove. But one question do you solder the cooper together to make it air tight or just put it together </p>