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March 28, 2013

How to Distill - 101

How to Distill

10 Gallon Moonshine Still Kit

Although our still parts kits can be used for many things (homebrew beer, water, essential oils, etc.) we've had a ton of requests for a simple video on how to distill alcohol.  It may seem counter intuitive, but we've resisted for a few reasons.  First, there is already a lot of information out there on distilling, using just about any kind of still imaginable (column stills, pot stills, fractioning stills, reflux stills, pressure cooker stills, keg stills - you name it). Also, there is a lot to learn on the topic of distilling. Finally, distilling alcohol is illegal without the proper permits. 

The only permit that allows for production of distilled spirits for consumption is a commercial federal distilled spirits plant (DSP) permit. This is only available for commercial operators. Federal law provides no exemptions for the production of distilled spirits for personal or family use. Read our summary of distillation laws for more information. Additionally, state laws apply to the ownership and operation of distillation equipment. Rules on distillation vary from state to state, but in general, it is illegal to produce alcohol for consumption or for fuel, on the state level, without proper permits. Make sure to review your state's laws for rules on the ownership and operation of distillation equipment before purchasing parts from us and manufacturing a still. 

Under no circumstances should you ever distill or sell alcohol without a permit. If you choose to distill alcohol, make sure to obtain all applicable fuel or spirit permits (explained in the distillation law summary, mentioned above.).

We'll never be able to explain everything there is to know about distilling in a YouTube video. We also don't have the time to make a feature length film on the art of distilling, so we've always just suggested that one purchase a book on the subject.  

However, distilling isn't rocket science and we've received so many requests that we decided to put together a simple video. Here it is:

Distilling is pretty dang easy stuff once you get the hang of it, but to make the highest quality product, and more importantly, to make sure you're doing it safely, do the following before you actually start making your own alcohol: make sure to read our article on "moonshine" safety and also get yourself a good book on the topic.

As always, feel free to call or email us with questions on this article or questions about our copper "moonshine" still parts kits.

  • if i just want to make one gallon of shine or a jar of it how much water sugar and yeast or cornwheat. I want to try to make it like they do in prison right here in my own room but if i were to get that just one gallon still all i would have to combine the simple ingredients in a container and let it set for a while then put it in the still and heat it up till it starts pouring out the alcohol. sorry if im being abit out of there. i thanks for your time

    Posted by donald atwood on January 15, 2014
  • From a Rookie-
    After Fermentation:
    Do you strain the Mash and then pour the liquid into the still?

    Posted by Sarge on October 09, 2013
  • I was just wondering I have a copper pot copper thump keg an copper worm if I would of knew about yalls stills before I got this one I would of bought one of yalls just saying. But here’s my ? Is it ok to drink the liquir out of the thump keg? an if I have heat to my cook pot an it goes over 177 is it ok to cut temperature down or will it mess my run up? I’m only yielding if I’m lucky 6 quarts out of a 12 gallon pot an im waiting for over 6 hours before my first drip but it is really good alchol but I want to yield more cause really just that much is a waist of time. What can I do to be better.

    Posted by slone on September 15, 2013
  • What is the best books on distilling alcohol? Thanks and keep up the good work!

    Posted by Shinereye on August 30, 2013
  • Hey Kyle I’ve herd many things about the source of water thats used in a mash or wash could I get your opinion of a good source of water to use in you lr mash

    Posted by Josh mabery on June 09, 2013
  • I live at a high altitude, I did the math and 163 degrees F is when liquor starts flowing. I throw away the first 50 ml of foreshots. I use a 3 gallon pot still, I always bring the temp up to 167 or 168 to be safe but during the process I continually lower the temp to keep it at 167 to 168 degrees. sometimes it drops to 165 degrees but I getter a highr proof if I continually drop temp but the lowest it goes is 165 degrees. wanted to double check and see if im making a mistake? should I just let the temp continually climb till it gets too hot? thanks

    Posted by brent on June 04, 2013
  • iread a book that told me to distill water first then try beer so i bought 2 cases of cheap beer put it in one of your 5gal stills and learned a lot while i was doing this it was a good idea now that i have figured out how to work the still the right way i am making some mash to try thatoh by the way i got one and a half quarts of very strong likker out of the cheap beer it tastes like flat beer but it goes down smooth and is about 160 proof

    Posted by bjk 6913 on April 22, 2013
  • ok here goes first timer making a still form SS & copper stainless still pot 5 gallon as I leave in the UK copper is hard to get, top of the pot all copper down to the worm, before I put the first run of mash through it, should I have a dry run with water & vinegar ? . I have been trying to get some corn here but not doing to good could I use corn syrup ? and how much would I need for 5 gallon`s plus sugar ? .
    regards to all tricky

    Posted by tricky on April 17, 2013
  • This may be a common sense question. but when starting your run, when your temperature gets where you want it. When do you turn on the water supply and how much water do you want running through your still.

    Posted by Trey on March 08, 2013
  • Do you sale a bigger still than 10 gallon? Please respond. I am in the market to purchase a still.

    Posted by Ellis Ross on January 23, 2013
  • iwould like to leave a comment to the fellow that said water flows downhill, not uphill.clawhammer uses a heat exchanger.if you put water in the top,it would never completly encircle the inner copper tube.the vapor would not cool before it reached the bottom

    Posted by bob on January 22, 2013
  • some body already said it im just gona repeat it, some of the questions u all are asking are common sense stuff, if u dont have common sense dont mess with this, it really isnt for everybody, if u still insist on doing it then do ur home work, theres tons of info on forums and you tube has videos, shine safe above all.

    Posted by lee lenard on January 20, 2013
  • I read some of the questiond on the how to make shine video page. I have some of the same questions. Are there answers to the questions somewhere on your web site?
    Thank you very much.
    Greg G.

    Posted by Greg Grundtisch on January 15, 2013
  • From reading some of these questions….a few of them should not be trying this….jus sayin ! You have to be just a little bit smarter than the object you’re messin with !

    Posted by Mark on January 07, 2013
  • how much product do you get from a 10 gallon still

    Posted by mike thompson on December 18, 2012
  • How much mash would I put into a 5gal still and how much product would I get and how do you figure out how much product would be 85%

    Posted by Brandon on December 10, 2012
  • Why do you collect 85% ?
    how much shine does agal of mash make?
    How do you know what proof it is

    Posted by Jim Pierce on December 07, 2012
  • Getting ready to try this. My questions: is it necessary to clean the still (inside) between runs, and if so, how is it done?

    Posted by Brad on December 06, 2012
  • Very interesting, My Granfather used to still in north Georgia. Finally witnessed the process first hand. Is it legal to make your own, and if so how much?

    Posted by Alan Thomas on November 23, 2012
  • You should definitely amend this video by telling folks to discard the first 2 to 3 ounces of shine that comes out of your still. All you need is someone to drink that poison and die and you’ll be screwed! Just a thought bud!

    Posted by rick on November 23, 2012

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