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Home Stilling

mtnman

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#2
How are the laws in NZ? Over here it's a felony to distill at home with out a licence.
 

michael59

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Law? It is only the revenue man that cares.

Interesting fact: Prohibition was responsible for so many deaths due to methanol poisoning. And, because of these deaths the coroner of new york city had to do forensics. Yeah, that is where it all started.

Anywhoo, nice still. I have been thinking of making a positive feed, steam fed Christmas tree still.
 

AceNZ

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How are the laws in NZ? Over here it's a felony to distill at home with out a licence.
Distilling for home use is legal in NZ. No license needed. No taxes payable. You just can't sell it or give it away. If you do want to sell it, there's an excise tax of US $35 per quart of 100% (NZ $51 per L).

FWIW, growing your own tobacco is also legal (illegal in the US).
 

AceNZ

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Law? It is only the revenue man that cares.
I realize it's illegal in the US. Even so, I know many, many people there who make it. It's apparently pretty easy in some places to get a license to distill alcohol for "automotive use only."

Interesting fact: Prohibition was responsible for so many deaths due to methanol poisoning.
Another interesting fact: with just a little distilling knowledge, it's easy to eliminate methanol. I'm convinced the whole people-died-by-methanol-poisoning thing is a giant fear-mongering scam. Not that it didn't happen, just that when it did, the people responsible were idiots.
 

michael59

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I realize it's illegal in the US. Even so, I know many, many people there who make it. It's apparently pretty easy in some places to get a license to distill alcohol for "automotive use only."



Another interesting fact: with just a little distilling knowledge, it's easy to eliminate methanol. I'm convinced the whole people-died-by-methanol-poisoning thing is a giant fear-mongering scam. Not that it didn't happen, just that when it did, the people responsible were idiots.
No it actually happened these dead people. Had nothing to do with those that "knew" how to do it, had to do with those who wanted to profit and did not care. Bathtub jin. Kind of like the same poison that works its way through the drug trade today.

Look, we all know it is not a unconserved thing to brew, the thing back then was POS-its did it because they could. And, it just wasn't one guy like say the Alvin from chick-a-go.....No it was a bunch of people.... And they talk about the zombie craze drug going around now, shit bath salts fall into this cata-gory.

Thing is the uninformed do try and sometimes their end result is body's found just laying there and then sometimes they get it right.....BUT, the learning curve is steep.
 

mtnman

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Distilling for home use is legal in NZ. No license needed. No taxes payable. You just can't sell it or give it away. If you do want to sell it, there's an excise tax of US $35 per quart of 100% (NZ $51 per L).

FWIW, growing your own tobacco is also legal (illegal in the US).
Nothing illegal about growing Tobacco, ya just can't sell it without paying the taxes. Now growing that other smoke, they kinda frown on that...
 

mtnman

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Here's my still collection. The big one on the left is a 35 gallon Kentucky Pot Still. It's complete, Pot, thump and condenser and It was making liquor a year ago. The center one, the dark pointy one is a 2 gallon stove top still made in the 1920's here in Tennessee and the on on the far right is a 5 gallon stove top still. made in the 1950's here in Tennessee. It wasn't uncommon for a family to keep a still to run on the stove, for medicinal use...

P1060632.JPG
 

AceNZ

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No it actually happened these dead people.
I'm not saying it didn't. Blindness from methanol was more common than death, but both happened.

Had nothing to do with those that "knew" how to do it, had to do with those who wanted to profit and did not care. Bathtub jin. Kind of like the same poison that works its way through the drug trade today.

Look, we all know it is not a unconserved thing to brew, the thing back then was POS-its did it because they could. And, it just wasn't one guy like say the Alvin from chick-a-go.....No it was a bunch of people.... And they talk about the zombie craze drug going around now, shit bath salts fall into this cata-gory.
Yeah, like I said: idiots.

Thing is the uninformed do try and sometimes their end result is body's found just laying there and then sometimes they get it right.....BUT, the learning curve is steep.
Steep learning curve to get something that tastes great. Easy as spit to get something safe.
 

AceNZ

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#13
Nothing illegal about growing Tobacco, ya just can't sell it without paying the taxes.
Ah, OK. I was told otherwise by a friend in the US. Maybe the law varies by state?
 

AceNZ

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Here's my still collection. The big one on the left is a 35 gallon Kentucky Pot Still. It's complete, Pot, thump and condenser and It was making liquor a year ago. The center one, the dark pointy one is a 2 gallon stove top still made in the 1920's here in Tennessee and the on on the far right is a 5 gallon stove top still. made in the 1950's here in Tennessee. It wasn't uncommon for a family to keep a still to run on the stove, for medicinal use...
Wow! Those are awesome. Love the old-style copper work.
 

brosil

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First off, it's legal to grow a tenth of an acre of tobacco for your own use. Second, the .gov intentionally poisoned booze to try and get folks to stop drinking. Estimated deaths were 50k. No one was prosecuted.
 

Unca Walt

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Here's my still collection. The big one on the left is a 35 gallon Kentucky Pot Still. It's complete, Pot, thump and condenser and It was making liquor a year ago. The center one, the dark pointy one is a 2 gallon stove top still made in the 1920's here in Tennessee and the on on the far right is a 5 gallon stove top still. made in the 1950's here in Tennessee. It wasn't uncommon for a family to keep a still to run on the stove, for medicinal use...

View attachment 83888
Jeepers. Do I see soldered seams???
 

TAEZZAR

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My granddad, on mom's side, had a still in his basement in Los Angeles & the local priest would visit him regularly until someone snitched & the feds busted in & destroyed his "blessed" still.
I make my own whyne, I think brandy would be interesting.
 

mtnman

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Jeepers. Do I see soldered seams???
Yep, and it's most defiantly lead solder. That still was originally built in the 1920's, so said the man who I bought it from. Any brain damage ya might get from the lead will be negated by the damage from the alcohol!
 

AceNZ

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#19
Even where it's illegal today, distilling is a good thing to know how to do, IMO -- like cooking or hunting. The only potentially better currency than gold is booze. Plus, laws can and do change. There's a big movement in the US to legalize home distilling.

If anyone has questions on the theory side of things, I'll answer them if I can.
 

Flight2gold

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#20
I'm not saying it didn't. Blindness from methanol was more common than death, but both happened.
Yeah, like I said: idiots.
Steep learning curve to get something that tastes great. Easy as spit to get something safe.
AceNZ,
Asking here.

Didn't the blindness cases occur from people using radiator fluid to cool the output ?

I've got a small 30 liter still I've used for years to make a variety of things.
My water connections to the pot still run down a copper tube into an igloo cooler full of ice.
I've never been able to figure out a better way.
It's a fun hobby but as others have said illegal in the US.
You can make 10,000 gallons a year legally if you apply with the BATF.
Of course, you have to add ingredients to make this officially ethanol.
Undrinkable.

So officially, I've never made booze. Only distilled water and oils.
I'll dust off my little still and upload a picture.
I just realized I've got a large package of different types of yeast still in my freezer.
 
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AceNZ

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#21
Didn't the blindness cases occur from people using radiator fluid to cool the output ?
Haven't heard about that, but I can't imagine anyone using radiator antifreeze (ethylene glycol) to cool a condenser, since water alone works perfectly fine.

However, I have heard of people trying to drink ethylene glycol, and that will definitely mess you up.

I've got a small 30 liter still I've used for years to make a variety of things.
My water connections to the pot still run down a copper tube into an igloo cooler full of ice.
I've never been able to figure out a better way.
What most people do is to use a condenser with a water jacket, along with a large barrel or similar container filled with cold water, and a small recirculating pump to move the water from the container through the condenser. With a large enough container, it will take a long time for the water to heat up to the point where it stops being useful. You can also add more cold water along the way. I use a bathtub in that way. The water doesn't have to be ice cold, although the colder it is, the better the condenser will work.

It can work with a smaller container like an igloo cooler, but you might need to steadily replace warm water with cold when it gets too hot.

Of course, you have to add ingredients to make this officially ethanol.
Yes. My favorite wash uses white sugar and tomato paste. The fermentation step is perfectly legal in the US, of course -- kinda like beer, but much easier. (you can get to about 14% alcohol that way).

Getting something drinkable out of a pot still alone is a bit of an art. The best way involves making frequent cuts (switching to a new capture container) to separate the foreshots, head, heart and tail, plus going pretty slowly. It's best suited for certain end products, such as whiskey and certain rums. Neutral spirits (vodka) require a distillation column (tower).

I use my pot still for "stripping" runs, which reduces the total volume way down, and eliminates all of the poisons and most of the bad tasting components. I follow that with one or more runs through the tower for neutral. Gin pushes good neutral through a basket of botanicals, in a pot still-like setup.
 

TAEZZAR

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#22
Law? It is only the revenue man that cares.

Interesting fact: Prohibition was responsible for so many deaths due to methanol poisoning. And, because of these deaths the coroner of new york city had to do forensics. Yeah, that is where it all started.

Anywhoo, nice still. I have been thinking of making a positive feed, steam fed Christmas tree still.
Law? It is only the revenue man that cares.

EVERYTHING I LIKE IS ETHER
ILLEGAL, IMMORAL OR FATTENING !!! :belly laugh:
 

Flight2gold

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#23
Haven't heard about that, but I can't imagine anyone using radiator antifreeze (ethylene glycol) to cool a condenser, since water alone works perfectly fine.
However, I have heard of people trying to drink ethylene glycol, and that will definitely mess you up.
What most people do is to use a condenser with a water jacket, along with a large barrel or similar container filled with cold water, and a small recirculating pump to move the water from the container through the condenser. With a large enough container, it will take a long time for the water to heat up to the point where it stops being useful. You can also add more cold water along the way. I use a bathtub in that way. The water doesn't have to be ice cold, although the colder it is, the better the condenser will work.
It can work with a smaller container like an igloo cooler, but you might need to steadily replace warm water with cold when it gets too hot.
I use a 25 foot piece of 1/2 inch copper coil. Drop it in the igloo with water filled frozen bottles of whatever. Add some ice occasionally.
I think the ethyl glycol would leak through the inputs in the column and get added accidently into the final product. I'm sure some of the deaths were of the malicious type also. In the 1930's "jake walking" was a term individuals that purchased even cheaper illegal booze with up 70% alcohol content. Of course, when they added an industrial chemical called tri-ortho-cresyl phosphate to help water down the jake paralysis occurred.
Yes. My favorite wash uses white sugar and tomato paste. The fermentation step is perfectly legal in the US, of course -- kinda like beer, but much easier. (you can get to about 14% alcohol that way).
Sounds great. I remember starting with sugar shine. White sugar, yeast and water then stripped it out. I think 92%. Used the reflux still attachment though not a pot still.

Getting something drinkable out of a pot still alone is a bit of an art. The best way involves making frequent cuts (switching to a new capture container) to separate the foreshots, head, heart and tail, plus going pretty slowly. It's best suited for certain end products, such as whiskey and certain rums. Neutral spirits (vodka) require a distillation column (tower).
I use my pot still for "stripping" runs, which reduces the total volume way down, and eliminates all of the poisons and most of the bad tasting components. I follow that with one or more runs through the tower for neutral. Gin pushes good neutral through a basket of botanicals, in a pot still-like setup.
Great info. No expert here.
 
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Professur

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#24
I keep telling people .. you're wasting your time with stills. Brew in winter. Leave it outside and when the temp drops the water freezes solid, and you're left with your alcohol. No distilling required.

Also ... why are none of you running solar stills?
 

michael59

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#25
I keep telling people .. you're wasting your time with stills. Brew in winter. Leave it outside and when the temp drops the water freezes solid, and you're left with your alcohol. No distilling required.

Also ... why are none of you running solar stills?
Was thinking of distilling my cider this year but with a specific gravity of 151 it is already pushing 20 something percent which is fine for me. It is actually one third by volume or so. Yeah I have a friend who aants to Jack some barley and I was thinking reduced....or pulling a vacuum on it bit also have been thinking of running steam through the pot and letting the vapor condense on or through a tree.

Maybe I should stick to the little flame as a heat source....I mean I could blow shit sky high generating the steam.
 

Flight2gold

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I keep telling people .. you're wasting your time with stills. Brew in winter. Leave it outside and when the temp drops the water freezes solid, and you're left with your alcohol. No distilling required.

Also ... why are none of you running solar stills?
Solar? Good idea.
Temp in Florida? IDK
 

AceNZ

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#27
I use a 25 foot piece of 1/2 inch copper coil. Drop it in the igloo with water filled frozen bottles of whatever. Add some ice occasionally.
Would be a lot less expensive to use plastic tubing from the condenser to the water, but copper would certainly work.

Sounds great. I remember starting with sugar shine. White sugar, yeast and water then stripped it out. I think 92%. Used the reflux still attachment though not a pot still.
The tomato paste provides nutrients for the yeast, so you get faster, more complete fermentation and less bad-tasting crap.

I used to run my ferments through the reflux tower first. However, I found the taste that way was pretty crappy, even going very slow. I get better results now by doing a stripping run using the pot still setup first, followed by a run in the tower, which produces 95% azeotrope (190 proof). Ultimate purity and taste takes a second run through the tower, though, followed by carbon filtration.

I keep telling people .. you're wasting your time with stills. Brew in winter. Leave it outside and when the temp drops the water freezes solid, and you're left with your alcohol. No distilling required.
If only it was so easy! Sadly, freezing doesn't separate alcohol from water, as the booze in my freezer shows.

Also ... why are none of you running solar stills?
I use a 2400W heating element in my boiler. Even then, it takes an hour or more to heat to the boiling point. After that, a full run in a reflux tower can take 8 hours. Getting that much heat to the boiler for that long using solar would be a huge pain in the ass.

Was thinking of distilling my cider this year but with a specific gravity of 151 it is already pushing 20 something percent which is fine for me. It is actually one third by volume or so.
Nice! We're making cider now, too. I'm planning to try making apple brandy, which is distilled cider. Should be fun.

There are reasons for distilling over-and-above just increasing alcohol concentration. The methanol mentioned earlier, for example, is generated by the yeast, along with a bunch of other foul-tasting junk. The distillation process only helps remove it, not make it. Removing the crap from the ferment can improve flavor hugely, while also minimizing hangovers.

Yeah I have a friend who aants to Jack some barley and I was thinking reduced....or pulling a vacuum on it bit also have been thinking of running steam through the pot and letting the vapor condense on or through a tree.

Maybe I should stick to the little flame as a heat source....I mean I could blow shit sky high generating the steam.
There are some cool "alternative" stills out there. Most are horribly inefficient, but playing around with them can be fun.

To purify, you don't need to run steam through the pot. Just heat it up, and help the vapor condense somewhere. When done in a controlled, efficient way, that's exactly what a still does.

You definitely don't want to mix open flames and stills -- alcohol vapor is flammable. Even worse, when pure it tends to burn with a flame that's nearly invisible; very dangerous.
 

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AceNZ

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I don't think these guys are taking your advice...
Yeah, open flame can work if you're very well-ventilated (outdoors) -- it is dangerous, though. But, hey, people do all kinds of crazy shit.

Have you seen this show?
http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/moonshiners/videos/4am-fire/

On a related note, one of the things regulators like to complain about with the commercial sale of high-proof alcohol like Everclear is that it's flammable. Well, that and how drinking a quart of it can kill you. Kinda seems like a cure for stupid to me, but then what do I know.
 

michael59

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#32
Yep I've injured my dendrites a time or two.

On the Apple cider: do not strain, do not let it kick open aired. Seems if you strain and put a bubbler on it you get Apple wine, nasty. For a crisp flavor: what ever is pressed with the liquid goes into the barrel. If heat conditions are very warm cap barrel and burp daily to control yeast activity and thereby taste. If you chose not to Jack with a cold activated yeast and would rather use natural yeast in Apple's your brew will come out tasting like sour apples....very refreshing. And, yes I did 25 to 30 gallons with no yeast last year....Yep, everything mechanical that could go wrong did but weather conditions were cool to very cold and kept open barrel from kicking too hard. By the time I got back to barrel it was 20%. Transferred to barrel that could be capped and finished burping by letting out coh2 once a day. Never did hit that stuff with yeast, sept what was left over in barrel.
 

AceNZ

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#33
If you chose not to Jack with a cold activated yeast and would rather use natural yeast in Apple's your brew will come out tasting like sour apples....very refreshing.
That sour / green apple taste is acetaldehyde. It's terrible in distilled spirits, but can be OK in small amounts in fermented products. Budweiser is famous for purposely leaving a little acetaldehyde in their beer.

BTW, if you leave cider exposed to air for a few months (like with a cheesecloth over the top of the container), it usually turns to vinegar -- another useful SHTF item. (you can speed it up by adding a Mother of Vinegar starter).

Never did hit that stuff with yeast, sept what was left over in barrel.
Fresh apples normally have a little yeast on the skin, so they often start fermenting on their own. However, if you want a consistent product, most people kill the natural yeast with something like Campden tablets, and then add a specific yeast that's known to work well for cider.
 

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michael59

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#35
I don't know there New Zealand ace, every one comes back for more cider.

Some times it is the comedy of errors that makes the brew. I first did it like all the "books" related how it was supposed to be done and even I was not happy with the product. In fact I remember kicking over a 50gallon juice barrel of cider because it went acetic. All I know is that the stuff that went sour why that cider was not sour to begin with, in fact it was the last batch I ran due to every thing going to hell in a hand basket.

Oh well gearing up for this season if I live that long.
 

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#37