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How To Make Alcohol

Before we get into the hows lets first clarify something that you will need to know. It is legal to own an alcohol still, but illegal to produce and sell alcohol without a proper license.

How Alcohol is made. First a mixture of corn meal, sugar, water and yeast (see link at bottom of page) ferments in a large container. This is then transfered to the still for alcohol production after a few days.

Heat is added to the bottom of the still. This could be a gas burner or even firewood, but it must be controllable. The still is heated to the point of vaporization, around 173 degrees Fahrenheit. The mash is never supposed to reach the boiling point at any time. The vapors from the mash are drawn into the narrow cone at the top of the moonshine still and eventually through the coiled copper tubing. This tubing needs to be cooled with running water if possible.

The condensate that come out of the end of the copper coiling is alcohol.

OK so now you know the basics of how it is done. What next? Well first you have to build it. The still if you are using it at all for drinking purposes will need to have some part of the still as copper. Copper helps remove sulfides from the process. Other than that the best choice is stainless. This makes cleaning easier and stainless is more durable than copper.

A Thermometer! One used for cooking will suffice. The temperature is critical so a thermometer is essential. Also since you will probably be doing this over a wood fire you will need some way of keeping the still from getting to hot. One method would be to have a setup so that either the still or the fire is movable. Moving the still a bit off the fire when the temp starts to climb to high.

You will need some sort of container with a conical top for the vapors to travel out of the main container and the container itself. Which will need to be some sort of large pot with a top that can be held on fairly tightly so as not to loose the vapors to the atmosphere.

Welding ability would be a highly valuable in making a still but it isn't 100% required.

As far as what you can use feed stock wise to make your alcohol there are a number of choices and whatever you have extra is what you will be using. This list isn't all inclusive but it hits the one you are most likely to be able to grow yourself. Items at the top of the list produce more alcohol per pound than items further down the list.
  • wheat
  • corn
  • sugar cane
  • buckwheat
  • grain sorghum
  • rye
  • oats
  • soybeans
  • sweet potatoes
  • potatoes
  • citrus waste
  • apples
  • grapes
  • pears
  • pumpkins


These feedstocks all can optimally be handled differently and I hope to revisit this with more details on how to prepare each of the feeds stocks to get the most alcohol out of them. For now suffice to say the smaller the better. Crush, grind, chop the feed stock up into as small of pieces as possible before setting up for fermentation.

Fermentation
Fermentation takes place in a sealed vessel which ideally would have some sort of warming capability (probably the sun) a place to introduce oxygen in the early phases of the process and a check valve to vent off the build up of CO2 but not let air in and an agitator would be awesome. Sloshing the container might have to suffice.

Yeast
Link To Getting Your Own Yeast. Located at start of bread article which also uses yeast. Small but critical part of the fermentation process.



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