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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.

  • Can you post a video on how to fire up your still (i.e what temp to start at and when you know your gettin the tails of the shine!) this would be very helpful

    Posted by Taylor on November 19, 2012
  • To answer the question to harris….in the making of the stills you will see the condenser tube is a pipe within a pipe. water flows through the outside pipe cooling the inside pipe which acts like the worm causing the steam to convert to liquid. run the water at a slow / medium to keep cool water flowing around the inside tube of the condenser. no matter which way water flows uphill or downhill if it moves at a steady pace it will do the job of cooling. the discharge arm is connected to the inner tube of the condenser the outer tube of the condenser is sealed and seperate from the inner tube thus allowing the flow around the inner tube. very easy to make actually.

    Posted by walter seigler on November 19, 2012
  • I am interested as well and i have the same question as Troy.

    I am very interested in purchasing one of your still, but I have a few concerns on the way you cool you vapors.. When you hook up the water hose how far should you turn it on? And how does the water not run into the dischager arm? Water tends to run down hill easyer then up hill this has me very confuseand puzzled..

    Posted by James Christopher on November 17, 2012
  • I may be missing something but what is the step after filling your still with mash and heating it, is the still sodeered open and closed each time?

    Posted by Staton on November 16, 2012
  • Is there a way to copy the “How to Distill” video’s to DVD for my husband’s use only?

    Posted by Sandy on November 15, 2012
  • In South Western Va, right alongside the NC state line, the Dowdy family fan the liquor business from Martinsville to Danville. My ancesters made some goood drink!

    Posted by Randy Dowdy on November 14, 2012
  • What do you mean by collecting 85% of alcohol? Would it be 85% of the total original volume ( whitch would be 8.5 gal in a ten gal still). Or is it 85% of the original alcohol by volume (if it was 10% alcohol by volume than you would produce .85 gal of moon shine. I’m thinking it’s the latter. I guess my ? Is how much should you expect to produce from 10 gal.? And should you test your wash with a hydrometer to gauge your production? Thanks for your time!

    Posted by Aaron on November 12, 2012
  • please send me information on stils

    Posted by charles jones on November 12, 2012
  • what is your duration time broken down from fire up to flow? and flow to finish?

    Posted by Travis Allen on November 11, 2012
  • I am very interested in purchasing one of your still, but I have a few concerns on the way you cool you vapors.. When you hook up the water hose how far should you turn it on? And how does the water not run into the dischager arm? Water tends to run down hill easyer then up hill this has me very confuseand puzzled..

    Posted by Troy Harris on November 10, 2012
  • CAN’T HEAR IT BECAUSE OF THE DAMN MUSIC!

    Posted by DENNIS WHITE on November 08, 2012
  • 1,How much product do you get from a 10 gallon still.
    2,Can I buy a book from you for different recipes?

    Posted by Rich on November 07, 2012


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