Cook's Illustrated ran some tests on filtering vodka; an excerpt from that article is below. However, if your moonshine contains methanol, no amount of carbon filtering is going to remove it.Published September 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.Can you improve cheap vodka by passing it through a home water filtration system?To find out, we held a blind tasting of three bottles of vodka: Grey Goose, Ruble (the cheapest vodka we could find), and “doctored” Ruble passed four times through a Brita water filter. We still preferred Grey Goose straight up, but in mixed drinks and Penne alla Vodka, Grey Goose and filtered Ruble both had supporters. So while straight-vodka connoisseurs may prefer to spring for a premium bottle, home-filtered cheap vodka is fine for cooking and cocktails.
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Methanol is taken care of by the old moonshiner trick: empty out the first ten percent of the distilled product and the rest is your Kentucky Clear!
Moonshine won't contain methanol unless it's been adulterated.
Mythbusters did the Britta filter test on vodka, and the myth was confirmed; Passing cheap vodka thru a filter will improve it's flavor. The more times it's filtered, the better it tasted. Look it up.
The short answer? It works quite well. A water distiller is a simple pot still. There is some difference in temperature between brands. The lower the better, generally (look for how long it takes to distill "X" amount of water, or a wattage rating if it gives one.
The countertop water distillers that I've seen all have a small hole in the condensing coil, to allow volatiles to boil off. I recommend that you plug that pinhole with food-grade epoxy to minimize alcohol loss. Other that that there probably aren't any modifications needed.
. Depends on how efficient you want to be and how adjustable the distiller is.. If it's not adjustable, you can collect the alcohol before the water starts boiling off. The water will start evaporating quickly, so you won't be able to get a lot of high purity alcohol.. If it is adjustable, slowly raise the temp to about 150oF. There is probably a more optimum temp (Google is your friend), but that should put you in the ballpark. Anything much above that will probably evaporate a lot of water.. Using either method, you need to discard the very first bit of distillate. This will be volatiles that you don't want to use.. As for the methanol that ewilhelm mentions, it is not possible for a DIYer to fractionate MeOH/EtOH with a simple still. It would require precise temperature control, reflux, very tall distillation tower, &c.
Alcohol evaporates at 171-172 degrees F, I forget which. So in order to use this to distill only the alcohol you'd have to be able to keep it at that temperature. If its for distilling water, it'll probably run hotter so you'd get the water and alcohol, which is basically what you start off with.