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WARNING!!!!!
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:

distillation.
Made basic sugar shine 10 pounds two quarts white grape juice five gallons water two packets of red star champagne yeast bubbled first and second day slowed way down taste sweet can I or should I pitch two more packs of yeast??
Anyone got any advice
If there were preservatives, it may prevent your yeast from doing its thing. Did you start the yeast in warm (not hot) water? How warm/cool is the environment, if it's too cold it won't ferment either. Just a few things to think about.
Did you activate your yeast before adding to the mash?
<p>I had somethin like that once.. Turned out the lid of my vessel was not properly closed. It is worth a check, including your airlock</p>
<p>Also if you are using a &quot;thumper&quot; or &quot;thump keg&quot; pour your grape juice into it, instead of using it in your mash recipe. You do not get a lot of flavors from the mash itself. Sure you can detect a little here and a little there. I assure you though if you do add them to thumper, you will be very pleased with your end flavor.</p>
<p>What was the temperature, Any mash is going to give you optimal performance at 75-95 degrees, with the optimal temperature being around 80-90 degrees. You do not have to have no fancy container with a &quot;bubbler&quot; on top. Because it isn't required to be airtight in order to perform. Old timers would use a wood barrel and cover it with a canvas tarp, or a piece of 2x2 plywood. I have &quot;seen&quot; people mash in many times in a 30 gallon stainless steel pot and cover it with a broken piece of marble counter top.</p>
Too small of a boiler
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>Davids60 is right about temps usually 175-180F. Did you clean the copper first. Use 1/4 of vinegar and 3/4 water in your still on the first run. Other than that the only thing that comes to mind is burping which means it's to high of temp and your ingredients is boiling into your worm, instead of vapor only, which doesn't sound like your problem but could be a possibility.</p>
<p>Yep. You're temps are too high. You have to be PATIENT and let the vapor build up. </p>
<p>In a 4.5 gal pot still about 85% full... about how long does it take for that vapor to build &amp; produce once I reach 173. minutes? Hour?</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 />
<p>First of all, I would just like to point out that if you engage in the art of using any vessel (i.e. still) for the purpose of making a product (i.e. liquor) into a more concentrated form you are NOT breaking a federal law. I reside about 60 miles from where the late hero Marvin &quot;Popcorn&quot; Sutton lived, there are about 4-5 articles every year in the newspaper and on the news starting in about April or May and ending in late September or early October. You are only committing a MISDEMEANOR when you distill spirits not a FELONY. while you can quote any federal or state statue there is available on the subject, and tell me word for word what the law says, I have never in my life known anyone to go to a FEDERAL PENITENTARY for violating a law that results in committing a MISDEMEANOR. Now with that being said, would it be a legal headache ? Check. Would it have every local law enforcement agency within it's legal jurisdiction sniffing around your place, and threatening you with anything they can imagine including the death penalty ? Check. The Federal authorities MIGHT involve themselves, but it is still rather highly unlikely. If you do have a 3,000 gal still then they will more than likely involve themselves, but with even a 50 gallon still it is highly unlikely, because they know they still face an uphill batlle convicting you of violating tax and alcohol laws Because in convicting someone of a crime in this great country, they will have to prove that without any REASONABLE DOUBT, that you were planning to profit tax free dollars off of the finished product. In other words maybe you were going to use it for &quot;personal reasons&quot;, or simply give it away. Now on to the facts. If you are caught transporting the liquor. FEDERAL CRIME. If you are caught selling the liquor. FEDERAL CRIME. Just ask yourself how many times have I ever heard of anyone in my life of going to a federal prison for possessing moonshine. My point exactly. Use your head and do not have a large operation with 300-400 gallons sitting around, and you are going to be fined and placed on 11/29 probation, we come back to REASONABLE DOUBT, because you were not conspiring to defraud the United States government, you were simply thirsty. Use your heads for more than a hat rack, quit watching, listening, reading, and subscribing to every scare tactic non-sense piece of fiction you can get your hands on, and do something that makes them squirm and cringe.......think for youself.</p>
<p>About recipies; it seemed that the legend Popcorn Sutton did not use any yeast. Or at least did not add it. Does anyone know the recipe of his mash?</p>
<p>I'm new to distilling. I made a still from a 22L canner. Clamps to seal the lid (I add clamps if there is any steam linkage), temp gage installed &amp; 10' 3/8 copper tube direct to a bucket as the worm. For wash I used cracked corn &amp; sugar fermented in an airlocked brewing bucked 8 days (mixed a few times) till bubbles stopped. I run it up to 175ish but the still will not produce. How long does it take for the steam to build up? Is there an easy way to test the still. I'm trying to figure out if it's the hardware or mash, or am I just not waiting long enough.</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>Hi Distill Bill. I recommend How to Make Moonshine by RW Marshall. I got a copy on Amazon...it's pretty thorough, and easy to understand. First part of the book is how to and includes corn whiskey recipes. Last half is recipes. Before reading it, I didn't know about using malt or amylase with the corn, but like Marydavet below, I agree, it's needed to convert starch into sugar when fermenting any grains into alcohol. </p>
<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>
<p>Been looking into this type of stuff, having a hard time finding a yeast ratio though, any help?</p>
<p>Hi creative badger...I've found that those little packets of yeast you can buy at the wine store will be enough to do up to about 5 or 6 gallons of wine, beer or moonshine. You can make a 'starter' but I usually have no problem just adding it. Two things to watch, make sure your must is warm, but not above 90 degrees, and stir vigorously for a couple minutes to oxygenate it, since yeast do 'breathe'. Most yeasts you buy will have instructions for how much to use for a specific volume. I would recommend you stick to a wine or distillers yeast, since they will yield a cleaner flavor and higher alcohol level than bakers yeast or bread yeast. I found a really good book at Amazon called 'How to Master Moonshine' that takes you right through the process and gives lots of recipes too! It answered a lot of my questions that I didn't know before, like turbo yeasts. I found out it will give you up to 20 percent alcohol...I use one pack of turbo yeast, 4 - 2 kg bags of white sugar in about 5 gallons of warm water. It's also faster than other yeasts, hence the name I guess!</p>
depends on what kind of yeast you are using. I use red star dady and it calls for 1-2 grams per gallon ( i pay less than $10 for a pound of it one package will ferment up to 450 gallons) if you use turbo its a whole pack per 7 gallons. if you use bakers yeast I used one pack per 5 gallon bucket of wash.
Nice information first question if it burns a real good blue flame is that near 150 proof cause i though it was like a little over 50 percent it will burn if it is 150 proof yeah me . And second any info on these turbo yeasts cause the more i read it seems like they have set backs almost like to many nutrients that linger . They get into talking about carbon cleansing and such .which i dont think running it through a brita filter would be bad and way more simple and i like simple. I like the sugar wash very much straight and blends well so what proof does it burn blue and whats your take on turbo yeasts cause ive seen blue flames on bakers yeast .
yeast and color of flame have nothing to do with each other. turbo yeast is just a high abv yeast with nutrients already mixed in with them. the nutrients make the yeast work faster and live a little longer. turbo yeast can take your wash to 20%abv in a week bakers yeast is only good for about 15%abv and can take 2 weeks or more to get there. the trade off is turbo yeast can sometimes give off smells and or flavors that need to be filtered out. some hobbies find a yeast that gives no off flavors ( I use dady ) let that ferment for three or four days then pitch turbo to speed it up without giving it time to make the bad smells and flavors.
<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>This guy wins.</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>

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