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January 22, 2014

10 Reasons Why You Should Not Make Moonshine - Part 1

1. Making Moonshine is Illegal

It's true, federal law prohibits distillation of alcohol without the proper permits, even if it's just for personal use. Each state also has its own set of laws, which vary considerably. That's the bad news. The good news is that a federal fuel alcohol permit is available. Some states offer fuel alcohol permits as well. You'll need both if that's the route you're going to take.

As always, if you're planning on buying or building a moonshine still but aren't planning on getting permits, you might not want to announce your new toy after Sunday school and you definitely better not be selling the product you make. Selling moonshine is a really, really bad idea. Don't do it! If you're curious about federal and state laws on making moonshine, make sure to check out an article we wrote a while back where we answer the question, "Is it Legal to Make Moonshine?

2. You Have No Idea What You Are Doing

Let's face it, you're just plain dumb. You've never been any good at learning new things, especially if it involves build stuff or making things. Even if you were good at that stuff, there is absolutely zero information, anywhere, available on the subject of distilling whiskey. Heck, even if there was a vast and easily searchable "web" of information on the topic of making moonshine, you'd probably still never be able to figure out how to make your own hooch. And since there is nowhere to find the information you need, you probably shouldn't click on this article we wrote on "How to Make Moonshine," because it doesn't exist.

If you didn't catch our sarcasm, we probably owe you an apology. We don't really think you are dumb...but we do think that you might want to have a drink and lighten up a bit before reading the rest of the article.

3. You Could Blow Yourself Up

OK, we were joking a bit in that last section, but we're going to be serious here. Alcohol vapor is explosive; that's a fact. If you don't believe us, watch this video featuring an alcohol vapor explosion.

Several scenarios could cause an alcohol vapor to combust during the operation of a still. 1. The still could get clogged up, and with enough heat an pressure it's possible that it could explode. According to our sources (depending on what kind of still you are using) the top will just pop off before an explosion occurs. However,  when using a still. Nevertheless, it's a real concern and one must always keep a careful eye on things during the distillation process. 2. A vapor leak in a still could fill an enclosed space with alcohol vapor. A flash heat source could ignite the vapor, and boom, shake the room. For both of these reasons, one should never distill alcohol in enclosed areas. For more safety tips, read this article on safety tips for moonshiners.

4. Drinking Moonshine Will Make You Go Blind

During fermentation, yeast turn sugar into alcohol. The vast majority of the alcohol produced by the yeast is ethanol, which is the good stuff. However, a tiny bit of bad stuff (methanol) is produced too. This happens whether one is fermenting beer, wine, or a mash for making whiskey. There is literally a tiny bit of methanol in all of that stuff, and 5 gallons of beer should contain roughly the same amount of methanol as 5 gallons of whiskey wash (before it is distilled). However, during the distillation process, the volume of methanol has a chance to be concentrated, and if there is enough of it (and somebody drinks it) they could become ill, go blind, or even die.

The possibility of methanol poisoning is why moonshiners always discard "foreshots" at the beginning of their distillation run. You see, methanol has a slightly lower boiling temperature than ethanol, and a much lower boiling temperature than water. This means that when a still starts producing liquid, the first bit that comes out could contain methanol. This portion of the run should be either thrown away (and not consumed) or evenly mixed in with the rest of the run. That's how good moonshiners and even the big commercial distilleries do it. 

We kind of touched on the basics, but you might still want more info. Check out this link if you want more information on how much methanol to discard, or if you still find yourself wondering "Does moonshine cause blindness?"

5. Making Moonshine Takes a Long Time

This is no exaggeration. When moonshine is made right, it takes a long time. Making a mash can take an entire day. Fermentation takes a few weeks. The actual distilling process varies depending on the size of the still used, but it can take an entire day to distill a 10 gallon batch of mash. Are you sure you have the time to do all this? Of course, you could fire up the smoker, invite some friends over, drink a few beers, bust out an old timey fiddle and banjo, and enjoy yourself while the still is doing its thing. But, then again, maybe you don't have time to relax and have fun while making your own craft brewed, premium quality, home distilled whiskey.

  • 10 Reasons would be just enough to convince me that this is a bad idea… 5 reasons however is juuuust enough to think with a little practice I can get good at this.

    Thanks for not sharing all of the great and useful information that I’ve been looking for to get started!

    Posted by Just Enough on March 24, 2016
  • Crab apples

    Posted by kari on November 05, 2015
  • How sugar you put in when using cabbage apples

    Posted by Kari on November 05, 2015
  • Most of the Methanol poisoning was intentional. Read “The Poisoner’s Handbook”. Besides Smoke Bars which specialized in selling the stuff Congress changed the denaturing agents in industrial alcohol during Prohibition. The whole point was to make drinking deadly, not just distasteful. The moralizers crowed with pride at the thought of “sinners” (yes, they used that word) dying for a drink. It was an enormous political issue in its day and contributed to the end of the Volstead Act

    Posted by a. Nuran on March 23, 2015
  • Could you please leave the Authors name for this article? i want to use this as a reference for my paper.

    Thank you

    Posted by Brant on February 18, 2015
  • For most recent information you have to pay a visit the web and on web I found this web site as a best web site for most recent updates.

    Posted by Kelsey on July 28, 2014
  • Just wondering, Can you make moonshine by burning alcoholic beverages. Combining different wines and distilling it. Or, combining different rums and so on?

    Posted by Fred Goulart on June 11, 2014
  • Kyle ur smthng else,love the write up.and the sarcasum lol,all very good points;-))

    Posted by Paul Parish on January 23, 2014
  • All of the above is so true. I have made it before and it took me over 6 hours to run off 5 gallons. I did just to try but by the time it takes from start to finish. ..just go to the store…but I do have to say my first run was at 190 proof.

    Posted by Jerry on January 23, 2014

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