Making a Relatively Cheap Still (for Distilling Water(for EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY!))





Introduction: Making a Relatively Cheap Still (for Distilling Water(for EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY!))

Let's get started learning what distilling is:

1. Purify (a liquid) by vaporizing it, then condensing it by cooling the vapor, and collecting the resulting liquid.
2. Make (something, esp. liquor or an essence) in this way.

Distillation is the method of separating a mixture into its component parts by use of the difference in their boiling points. It normally involves heating the mixture to a temperature at some point just over the boiling point of one, but well below the boiling point of the other. This makes the first one boil off, where it can be collected or discarded, and leaves the other in the original container. The method is often used in oil refinery (fractional distillation is used to split out the different compounds in crude oil) and in liquor and alcoholic beverage creation (to adjust the alcohol content).

Distillation is the one way to clean and purify most water (killing water borne pathogens and even removing most salt from the water). 

LAWS: Within the United States, it is ILLEGAL to distill any kind of alcohol without a license.
1. this is for informational purposes only and should not be used for illegal activities.
2. DO NOT use an open flame if distilling alcohol. The vapors are HIGHLY flammable. Doing so can result in a huge fire ball!

Here is my disclaimer: What you choose to use this still for is your own doing, and by doing so I will NOT be held liable for anything that happens, or if your busted by the law. I assume NO liability at all.  (in other words don't blame me for your bad decisions!) 

Lets get started...

Supplies you will need:
- 5 Gallon bucket
- 20 or more feet of 1/4 inch (or size of your choosing. 1/4 inch seems to work best) copper pipe
- Compression fitting for your copper pipe 
- 1 gallon metal (plastic lined) paint can (can find them at homedepot for around 5 bucks)
- Thermometer
- JB weld
- 5 minute epoxy
- sandpaper 
- wireties

(I hope i haven't missed anything)

I greatly apologize for not showing it being built step by step. I had this made and thought "Damn, should have made a instructable!"

I hope this tutorial will show you somewhat what mine looks like and you'll be able to base your design off of it.

Good luck!

Step 1: Making Your "pot"

Drill a hole just big enough to let the thermometer slide in. pull it out and rough up the can around the hole a little with the sand paper. put down some JB weld, slide the thermometer back in, and apply a little more to make sure it's sealed up good and tight

The jb weld will ensure that there are no leaks.

Note: While your at the step, drill a hole to allow the compression fitting to fit into it nice and SNUG!

Step 2: Create Your Condenser

With your copper tubing and your bucket, begin by drilling on the side, at the very bottom (just big enough for a snug fit around the tubing) pull about 6 or so inches through the hole and begin to spiral the tubing around the inside (try to maintain a constant downward slope). 

Tilt the "spout" downward as well

Rough up the plastic and copper a little where it exits the bucket and use your "5 Minute Epoxy" to seal the hole. 

You may find it necessary to drill a hole and wire tie the tubing and spot to hold it steady and secure, wherever you drill, rough it up, and use some epoxy to seal it!

Step 3: Let It All Dry

let all the epoxy dry and setup. (approx 1 day)

Nows a good time to take a break!

Step 4: Connect It All, and Begin Distilling

Im wrapping this tutorial up for now as i can no longer feel my fingers, or my hands for that matter.

Fill the "pot" with what every liquid you want to distill (water), fill the condenser bucket with water (you can add some ice as well). 

begin heating it up and distilling.

Whatever you are distilling you will need to research the temperatures to use. 

REMEMBER: I assume NO responsibility for what you choose to use this still for.. What you use it for is based on your own decision.

Note: I recommend only distilling water.

Note: I will edit and add onto this tutorial as needed. but for now I hope this help get some folks headed in the right direction into the magical world of science! :P



    • Make it Move Contest

      Make it Move Contest
    • Oil Contest

      Oil Contest
    • Woodworking Contest

      Woodworking Contest

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    If you want to make a real still, here you go :

    Are you crazy? Use a PLASTIC lined paint bucket????? yes, let's heat up plastic in a hot solvent based liquid. Also, how is JB-Weld safe for being in a hot alcohol vapor? Do you know how many chemicals will be dissolving off JB Weld into the vapor path, and into your spirit?

    Use ONLY COPPER and S/S in all vapor and liquid areas!!!! Anything else can leach unknown chemicals into your final spirit!

    Omg.....It;s like you are trying to kill people with this.

    #1. When making a still use as much Copper in the construction of it, at least the condenser needs to be copper.

    #2. Never bring your still to the boiling point! 212° you will ruin the final product, never take it over 150°.
    Keep your temperature between 130°and 140° but for better results try 110 or 115°. bring your temp up slowly.

    #3. When your run starts dump the first pint or so out. This is Methanol it is poison it can kill you!

    #4. Alcohol boils at 170° it starts evaporating at 100°. Water boils at 212° and starts evaporating around 110°. See where I'm going with this?

    #5. Think about this.... Water starts freezing at 30°f. Alcohol freezes at -170°f.
    You don't need a still to make good drinkable Alcohol. Put your fermented brew in plastic gallon jugs with the tops off in a freezer overnight. Then turn them upside down on quart sized canning jars.
    the Alcohol will start running out within a few minutes. If you made good Must or Wort you should get about 3/4 of a quart of about 80 proof liquor out of a gallon. This is Called "Jacking" In the olden days they used this to make Apple Jack.
    But you can with any fermented liquid. Plus there isn't any Methanol to worry about.

    1 reply

    Please explain how freeze distilling has no methanol, despite being a fruit based wash, which has the MOST amount of methanol in it?

    Second, the methanol amount is dependent on what the wash is. Sugar and grain washes have the least, fruits, and especially apples have the most. Distilling it, you should be dumping the heads due to ALL the nasties in it, which btw is not that much methanol. Tails (the ending bad tasting spirit) also has a good amount of methanol.

    Heat input is a concern, and should be a constant source, you should NOT control the wash temp, because that means you are changing the input heat. If that is varied, then you do not have a clean run. Monitor the vapor temp, or better yet, use a spirit hydrometer.

    One VERY IMPORTANT thing that should be mentioned: if anyone should choose to distill alcohol using a setup like this, do not use a gas burner, and keep away from any open flames--the alcohol vapor that you will be condensing is incredibly flammable, and any source of ignition could cause a giant fireball. Many bootleggers have the scars to show for it--if they were lucky enough to get by with just burns.

    15 replies

    My advice is to use OPEN flame,, because it preventing large vapor build up,,, if any leak it burn up instead of building up to a big explosion,, i use a electric heater but keeping a burning candle near,, to prevent any accident,,, any vapor is burning out before it get to the point of any danger,,,, this is tested and well known method in Scandinavia ,,and Eastern Europe,,,,,,,, also copper pipe should be avoided,,, it can be poison,,, in fact it is more poison when its used whit warm alcohol

    Copper has been used for MANY MANY years. infact it's one metal that was found to be non reactive when used in a still application. all major breweries (I.E. Heineken) use all copper setups.

    beer is not distilled

    im sure they use stainless

    They use copper because of it's conduction capabilities. Stainless is far much harder to heat & keep at a specific temp.

    Best of luck,

    Not sure about what country you are in but there is no way they can get away with brewing beer here in australia brewing in copper because of the standards they have to use stainless to eliminate contaminents wich develope over time with copper and there is no need to use copper because of its conductive purposes becase if you have a temp cotrolled area it will do just fine and if you leave it in a copper boiler you will ger copper caroisin in your beer

    You are correct in that beer brewers use stainless, but spirits and whiskeys use copper pipes. Look at the pipes in houses. They are copper. The solder is non-toxic, and the system is safe.


    I didnt say distillers don't or can't use copper because copper is the only thing that will get rid of the egg smell from the product only brewers shouldn't use it

    The distillers need copper somewhere in it not the brewers because of the boiling of dead yeast gives of a rotten egg smell you can not carbon filter of easy or at all

    I merely said that major breweries use stainless as much as possible, and actually the yeast is not boiled, the yeast is at a yeast friendly temperature during fermentation and is filtered out with the hops, flavor additives and anything else in the beer


    Your talking about brewers when i was talking about distilers big difference
    When people are talking about distillers they mean places like jim bean etc when people talk about brewers they talk about companies that make beer cider etx

    Thats right brewers dont boil/distill the yeast of they filter it or decide to make a pale ale with the live yeast still inside thats the 2 ways you get the fiz

    Not distilled but brewed. Theres a difference of boiling, and brewing. But shows that when working with alcohol, copper is the choice metal.

    Copper is not legal to use in Norway,,,,in any breweries any more,,,, you can see copper boilers,, but thy are all covered inside,,,,

    what thy use is stainless steel ,,,,, copper is its most poison when its new,,,but will be reactive for many years,,,,, also hot water boilers have not copper any more for same reason

    Copper is the traditional material used in commercial still construction and for good reason:
    Copper catalyses the breakdown of esters and sulphuric compounds in the steam vapors. These volatile compounds are produced during the fermentation process and are highly undesirable in the distilled spirit.
    Copper avoids the production of ethylcarbamat which is a toxic substance formed from cyanides. Again these are nasty chemicals you don't want in beverage spirits.
    Copper improves the quality of the final product when the mash is not biologically perfect.
    Copper improves the aroma of the final product.
    Copper is a great conductor of heat. This allows for good natural reflux production in a still column as well as very efficient condensers.

    I mcan't seem to find anything about copper being posiousnous

    Not to be a nag, but comming from first hand experience of a product made of some mash in said still. copper is safe to use when maintained properly. that being said, stainless steel is a better option. the taste of the end result is dramatically improved by the lack of impurities from the stainless. i promise im not talking out my rear end, the beverage lacks its normal bitter flavor while maintaining that kick. hope this helps.

    Pure copper isn't poisonous. But nothing in nature is pure.
    It's copper compounds like sulfates that are poisonous.
    But when it comes to stills, the mistake is that people use lead/tin solder to connect and seal copper parts together. The lead leeches into the liquids.