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January 30, 2014
Last updated

10 Reasons to Not Make Moonshine - Part 2

Owner of Clawhammer Supply

This is part 2 of our article on the top 10 reasons to NOT make moonshine. Click here to check out 10 Reasons to Not Make Moonshine - Part 1.

Before we get started, a reminder: Distilling alcohol is illegal without a federal fuel alcohol or distilled spirit plant permit as well as relevant state permits. Our distillation equipment is designed for legal uses only and the information in this article is for educational purposes only. Please read our complete legal summary for more information on the legalities of distillation.

6. The Federal Government May Have Access to a Buyer's Personal Information

Federal rules require manufacturers of distillation equipment to keep records of customer names and information for a period of 3 years after purchase. The federal Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the federal agency that regulates alcohol distillation in the United States, also has the authority to make distillation equipment manufacturers report the purchaser information and equipment serial number. However, the TTB does not currently collect this information.

It is our policy to only provide information requested by the TTB. In some rare cases, if contacted by local law enforcement, we may provide a subset of data to local law enforcement as well.

As mentioned elsewhere in this article, still ownership is fine according to federal law if the still isn't being used to produce alcohol. However, if it is used to produce alcohol, a permit is required.  Additionally each state has its own set of rules and regs regarding still ownership. So don't purchas and / or operate a still before you're aware of the requirements in your area.

Read more info in this article we wrote on moonshine laws.

7. Not Having the Right Equipment

If a commercial distiller used crappy equipment to make moonshine, it probably would not be good. Using bad equipment also puts the consumer at risk for poisoning and puts the distiller at risk while distilling (keep reading for more info on that). The bottom line is that a commercial distiller needs to have a good still to make good whiskey. 

The problem with good stills is that they’re expensive. The best stills are made from 100% copper, and copper is pretty pricey. However, having a copper still is worth the extra cash. Copper does an excellent job of distributing heat, meaning that a batch of wash is much less likely to be scorched by a commercial distiller. Copper also makes whiskey taste better by reacting with sulfides in the wash and removing them. As a result, the end product tastes better, smells better, and is much smoother. 

If money ain’t no big deal, hop online and buy a pre-built still. Just make sure to get one that is pure copper. In order to get a cheaper still that is still high quality and 100% copper, consider buying a kit and putting it together. It’s not that difficult.

For those looking to get started with distilling and want a high quality still for a good price, we’d suggest buying one of our copper still kits. They’re pretty much awesome. A few other things will be needed in order to make mash, ferment, etc., so make sure to check out our distillation equipment guide.

8. Fire Safety

What's the best way to burn a house down while distilling? Distill indoors. For those with the proper permits that would like to distill without risking a house fire, it would be a great idea to do some additional reading on how to make moonshine safely.

9. Poisoning

When a commercial distiller is making moonshine, one thing they always keep in mind is that poisoning the customer is a real possibility. There a few ways this might happen.

  • Making moonshine with a still that is constructed with any other material than copper or stainless steel is a bad idea. Certain types of metal can leech into moonshine during the distillation process. Contaminated moonshine could injure or even kill someone. Commercial distillers always use a 100% copper still or a stainless steel still.

  • Never use an antique still, even if it is copper. Why? Old stills (or any still that was not built by the distiller for that matter) could have been assembled with solder that contains lead. Lead can be very toxic. So, stay away from these stills. Always use lead free solder when building a still

  • Although it is unlikely, the possibility of methanol poisoning exists and should not be ignored. Make sure to discard foreshots, as described in our article on methanol in moonshine. Also, checkout our article "Making Moonshine - The Dummies' Guide" for more information on making safe moonshine.

10. Getting Stupid Drunk

Let’s be honest, for some that drink store-bought moonshine, moderation may have never been their strong point. They won’t be sipping this stuff during cocktail hour down at the country club, they'll be chugging it by the jar-full. What happens after that is anybody’s guess. To be clear, Clawhammer Supply does not condone reckless drunken behavior and we hope everyone stays safe out there. Please, if someone can't drink a tug of shine without pissing their pants and getting thrown in jail, they should definitely not become a commercial distiller! It'll be better for everyone.

Remember, it is illegal to distill alcohol at home for consumption. Do not do this.

Kyle Brown is the owner of Clawhammer Supply, a small scale distillation and brewing equipment company which he founded in 2009. His passion is teaching people about the many uses of distillation equipment as well as how to make beer at home. When he isn't brewing beer or writing about it, you can find him at his local gym or on the running trail.

  • And remember to certify/test your copper as some cheap Chinese versions have high lead concentrations that are also highly toxic.

    Posted by smudge on April 15, 2019
  • Thanks for sharing this detail guide of moonshine, you cover such a important points which need to be considered by all.

    Posted by Texas Brewing on September 18, 2018

    Posted by Banga on August 29, 2018
  • So I’m building my own still w copper I salvaged from the scrap yard. Needless to say, it’s filthy grimey and has plenty of patina on it. I have however, Been able to grind all of that stuff off but am down to pink salmon colored copper on a couple peices. Is this copper still safe to use, and will i get any leaching from bare copper?

    Posted by Chris on March 19, 2018
  • Hahhahhahhahha Ha , Love the Read.

    Posted by Boulder on June 19, 2017
  • I would like to buy a copper still

    Posted by MIke KAelin on November 16, 2016
  • Thanks

    Posted by AUstin hOrnbuckle on August 28, 2016
  • Hello I live in the Bahamas and I’m very interested in the 5gal copper still kit, what else will I need to make shine? What about a thumper

    Posted by MIchael on October 27, 2015
  • You say copper only, can’t you also use stainless and if so do you recommend a certain type 304, 316, 321?

    Posted by Cliff on February 08, 2014
  • You say copper only, can’t you also use stainless and if so do you recommend a certain type 304, 316, 321?

    Posted by Cliff on February 08, 2014
  • you say only use copper, what about stainless will that work

    Posted by ken on January 31, 2014

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