ace stills

how to build a moonshine still

Table of Contents

The Basics of a Moonshine Still

A moonshine still is a simple device that allows you to distill alcohol by separating the alcohol from the water and other impurities.

The process heats a mixture of fermented grains, fruit or vegetables and collects the evaporated alcohol separately.

Copper moonshine still

The History of Moonshine

Moonshine dates back to the early days of America. Alcohol was so scarce that settlers evaded liquor taxes by brewing their own spirits.

How Moonshine Stills Work

The principle behind a moonshine still is quite straightforward. By boiling the fermented liquid and then cooling the vapor, you can isolate the alcohol due to its lower boiling point compared to water.

The resulting spirits are flavorful and can be enjoyed on their own as well as in cocktails and cooking.

Materials Needed

Essential Components for Building a Still

  1. To build a moonshine still, you’ll need the following materials:
  2. Large pressure cooker (12-16 quart)
  3. Copper pipe (10 feet)
  4. Copper tubing (10 feet)
  5. Copper wire
  6. Copper fittings

Additional Materials for Assembly

You’ll also require:

  1. Rubber stopper
  2. Thermometer
  3. Heavy-duty hose

Supplies for the Distillation Process

Lastly, you need:

  1. Glass jars
  2. Ice
  3. Fermented mash
  4. Propane burner

You can find most of these materials at your local hardware store or online. Keep in mind that copper is the preferred material for a moonshine still because it’s both durable and conducts heat well.

Step 1: Create the Boiler

Constructing the Boiler’s Body

The boiler is the vessel that holds the fermented mash and heats it until it reaches boiling point. To create the boiler, you’ll need a large pressure cooker.

Modifying the Pressure Cooker

Drill a hole in the lid of the pressure cooker and insert the copper tubing through the hole. Seal the hole with a rubber stopper to ensure a tight fit.

Ensuring a Tight Seal

It’s crucial that the connection between the copper tubing and the pressure cooker is airtight to prevent the escape of vapor and maintain pressure within the boiler.

Step 2: Create the Condenser Coil

Shaping the Copper Pipe

The condenser coil is the part of the still that cools the hot vapor and turns it back into liquid form. To create the condenser coil, wrap the copper pipe around a cylindrical object, such as a coffee can or bottle.

Leaving Room for Connections

Leave a few inches of straight pipe on each end. Secure the coil using copper wire.

Importance of the Condenser Coil

Critical to a successful distillation process is the condenser coil. It needs to work efficiently to turn the alcohol vapor back into a liquid.

Step 3: Connect the Condenser Coil to the Boiler

Attaching the Coil

Attach the condenser coil to the boiler by connecting the straight ends of the coil to the copper pipe coming out of the pressure cooker.

Using the Right Fittings

Use copper fittings to ensure a secure connection. It’s important that these are properly soldered to avoid leaking.

Testing for Leaks

Once you’ve connected everything, it’s a smart move to check the system for any leaks. If a leak occurs, it means that the alcohol vapor overflows, reducing the efficiency of the distillation process.

Step 4: Create the Cooling System

Setting Up the Cooling Reservoir

To create a cooling system, fill a large container with cold water and ice. Place the container on a higher surface, such as a table or a stool, for example.

Connecting the Hose

Attach one end of the heavy-duty hose to the copper tubing coming out of the condenser coil, and place the other end in the cold water.

The Role of the Cooling System

This will allow the hot vapor to flow through the condenser coil and cool before reaching the collection container.

Maintaining the Temperature

It is important to keep an eye on the temperature of the cooling water and replenish the ice as needed to ensure efficient condensation throughout the distillation process.

Step 5: Prepare the Propane Burner

Selecting a Safe Location

Before you start using your moonshine still, make sure you have a propane burner set up in a well-ventilated area.

Understanding the Heat Source

This will provide the necessary heat to boil the fermented mash and produce vapor.

Controlling the Flame

Adjust the propane burner to maintain a consistent temperature, which is crucial for a steady distillation process.

Safety Precautions with the Burner

Always monitor the flame and have safety equipment on hand, such as a fire extinguisher, in case of any accidents.

Step 6: Start Distilling

Initiating the Distillation

To start distilling, fill the pressure cooker with the fermented mash and attach the lid.

Managing the Heat

Turn on the propane burner and wait for the mash to reach boiling point.

Collecting the Distillate

Once the mash starts to boil, the vapor will travel through the copper tubing and into the condenser coil, where it will be cooled and turned back into liquid form.

Finalizing the Product

The liquid will then drip into the collection container, where you can collect it for consumption.

Safety Tips

Ventilation is Key

· Always distill in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling dangerous fumes.

Material Safety

· Make sure you still are made of food-grade materials, such as copper.

Never Leave the Still Unattended

· Never leave your still unattended while it’s in use.

Have a Fire Extinguisher Ready

· Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergencies.

Check All Connections

· Make sure all connections are secure to avoid leaks.

Proper Disposal of Waste

· Dispose of any leftover mash appropriately.

The Reward of DIY Spirits

Building a moonshine still is a fun and rewarding DIY project that can save you money in the long run.

Patience and Precision

With a little bit of patience and the right materials, you can create your own moonshine still and start producing your very own homemade spirits.

Safety and Responsibility

Just remember to follow safety precautions and always drink responsibly.

Celebrating Your Craft

Cheers to a successful moonshine still build! Enjoy the rich tradition of home distillation and the fruits of your labor.

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