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July 3, 2014
Last updated

How to Make "Sugar Shine"

Owner of Clawhammer Supply
how to make fuel alcohol

First things first, we're using the term "sugar shine" very loosely here.  This is actually an excellent fuel alcohol recipe for beginners. This is also the process that a commercial distiller would likely use to make cheap, (probably bad tasting) spirits.

This is one of the first recipes we ever made. It was a great recipe to make when we first started out because it is almost fool proof. When we made this recipe, we had a fuel alcohol permit and we were in compliance with state and federal regulations. We produced, stored, and used this alcohol in accordance with TTB requirements. We also kept and reported production logs in accordance with TTB fuel alcohol permit requirements.

Making this mash literally only took us an hour or so from start to finish, it did not require any special equipment, and it was also almost impossible to screw up. 

Believe it or not, this is probably exactly how commercial vodka is made as well! Though vodka is distilled several times to a very high proof to remove as much aroma and taste as possible from the original mash. They do that because distilling this recipe just once probably wouldn't produce something that tasted or smelled very good.

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.

Ingredients

8 Pounds Sugar

Yeast Nutrient

5.5 Gallons Water

1 Packets Wine Yeast

Equipment Needed

6 Gallon Brew Pot

6.5 Gallon Fermenter

Airlock

Mash Paddle or Spoon 

Sanitizer

Mash Making Process

We added 5.5 gallons of water to a sanitized brew kettle. Because the mash won't be heated anywhere near pasteurization temperatures, all brewing equipment should be thoroughly cleaned with an oxygen based cleaner (such as PBW or Oxyclean) and then sanitized with an acid based sanitizer (such as star-san) to make sure only yeast and sugar water ends up in the fermenter.

 

We then added 8 pounds of sugar to the kettle. This resulted in a starting gravity of about 1.058, which produced a wash with a starting alcohol of 7.5%. 

 

Once we added the sugar, we applied high heat to the pot and slowly heated the mash to to 70F. The initial tap water temp was somewhere in the neighborhood of 55 degrees,  so this did not take too long.

 

While the kettle was heating, we stirred the mixture of sugar and water with a mash paddle until the sugar had completely dissolved.

 

After the sugar had completely dissolved and while the temperature of the mixture was still heating up (70F), we rehydrated the yeast by following the instructions on the back of the yeast package.

 

Once the temperature reached (70F), we turned off the heat. We made sure not over-shoot (70F) because we did not want to have to wait for the mash to cool back down. We aerate by dumping the sugar mash back and forth between two sanitized buckets and then dumped it into the sanitzed fermenter.

 

After we aerated the mash we dumped it into a fermentation bucket and added our yeast nutrient and yeast starter.

 

We put a sanitized lid and airlock on the fermentation bucket. We did our best to maintain a steady temperature of 70 degrees during the fermentation process. We've found over the year that a basement or a dark closet is a great place to ferment.

  

We fermented the sugar mash for a week. We took a gravity with a brewing hydrometer and determined that fermentation was finished. We then siphoned the sugar wash into our still. We made sure to leave the sediment and yeast behind in the fermenter. We were careful to not overfill the still and never filled the vapor cone with liquid.

We then distilled the sugar wash, checked the  proof, and distilled it again until the desired proof had been reached. For fuel alcohol, it's best to use a bubble plate still with a reflux head.

We obtained a federal fuel alcohol permit and all relevant state permits when we performed this experiment. It is illegal to distill alcohol without federal and state distillers or fuel alcohol permits.

As we mentioned, this is more or less exactly how commercial vodka is made. The final product from this recipe wouldn't have much flavor, and the flavor it does have isn't likely to be good. That's why this recipe is most suitable for making a flavorless vodka, which would definitely get filtered. We used the final product as fuel for a lawnmower. 

Again, remember, distilling alcohol without a permit is illegal. Don't do it!

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.

  • You can try this if you want…
    8 Pounds Sugar
    1 Pound of Raisins
    5.5 Gallons Water
    1 Packets ‘Wine’ Yeast
    Equipment Needed
    6 Gallon Brew Pot
    6.5 Gallon Fermenter
    Airlock
    Mash Paddle or Spoon
    Sanitizer
    Mash Making Process
    Add 5.5 gallons of water to your sanitized brew pot. Because the mash won’t be heated anywhere near pasteurization temperatures, you’ll need to make sure that all brewing equipment has been thoroughly cleaned with an oxygen based cleaner. and sanitized with an acid based sanitizer (such as star-san). You don’t absolutely have to do this, but if you don’t you risk bacterial infections – which could cause off-flavors and potentially even ruin your batch altogether by killing the yeast.

    Posted by Sean on July 23, 2017
  • Made sweet feed mash using 5 pounds sweet feed, 5 pounds sugar,1 pack champagne yeast, and 5 gallons of distilled water. When I ran it, after the head, it only produced 4 pints and the tail. Ran it at about 190 degrees. If someone could tell me what I am doing wrong to produce so little, I would appreciate it.

    Posted by JENNIFER on February 05, 2017
  • I want to know if I make a 5 gallon batch of corn mash,would it be fine to use 6lbs of sugar and use an enzyme to convert the corn starches to sugar, what is the best yeast to use for a run like this? or is there a more tasty , higher alcohol recipe that I should use?

    Posted by steve on January 14, 2017
  • No

    Posted by PEter on December 31, 2016
  • Loved your show watched it oftrn.

    Posted by LInda on December 06, 2016
  • A friend and I ran off a batch of sugar wash and after I got home with it ,I put it in the frig a couple weeks later the juice had mold growing in it ,any ideas what could have happened and could it be re-ran to clean it up

    Posted by Tony on November 28, 2016
  • I use straight pure can sugar. 12.5 lbs per 10 to 11 gallons of water. Heat up to 180 to 190. Wait to cool until 90 add turbo test. First run off my pot still produces 125 to 140 proof. I get a little over 2 gallons of 130 for this recipe. Smooth and has no bad tastes.

    Posted by curt on August 25, 2016
  • Answer for swisher. Fast easy and cheap but good is sugar shine. My recipe is 6 gallons of water, 8 lbs sugar, 2 pounds of raisons, turbo yeast, and bakers yeast. 2 weeks later run it through the still. Awesome!!

    Posted by Tim on May 01, 2016
  • Cloudy shine. When this happens there is no fixing it. I would add a flavor that comes with a color to hide the fact its cloudy. To avoid this in the future watch what comes out of your still and test every pint for quality. Have 12 pint jars handy and only mix the ones without the cloud. The cloudy ones are usually at the end of the cycle of distilling. When you bump it down to 80 proof use only store bought clean water. Do not use what comes out of your sink. Don’t even use it for your mash.

    Posted by tim on May 01, 2016
  • Answer for Michelle. This happened to me once where nothing happened with the yeast. It might be the yeast was dead. I use turbo yeast as well as bakers yeast. The turbo yeast is done after 3 days but the bakers yeast keeps it percolating for another 9 days. 2 TBS per 3 gallons of turbo and a half cup of bakers yeast per 3 gallons. Your wash should not be thick. Strain and don’t let the dead yeast in the bottom of your carboy go into the still.

    Posted by Tim on May 01, 2016
  • Answer for Sasha. I make sugar shine all the time and do not filter it before putting it into the still. I’m not sure if you mean cold filtering like when you freeze the wash and just remove the ice yielding the remainder as shine without going through a still.

    Posted by Tim on May 01, 2016
  • Answer for Bill Maynard. I get 5 quarts of 80 proof out of 6 gallons of wash. I would imagine you would get 3 or 4 quarts.

    Posted by Tim on May 01, 2016
  • where the hell are the answers to these questions ??
    WTF …something rotten in denmark….

    Posted by aLBRO on March 15, 2016
  • out of 4 gal. what is the yeald

    Posted by bill maynard on January 20, 2016
  • out of 4 gal. what is the yeald

    Posted by bill maynard on January 20, 2016
  • Is there any way of filtering the sugar shine without a still?

    Posted by Sasha on December 07, 2015
  • My sugar shine is not fermenting at all I have added yeast a second time.I used the recipe with the raisins.should I add yeast again and will sugar shine be thick like corn mash?

    Posted by michelle on November 24, 2015
  • my shine is cloudy how do i clean it up

    Posted by bill maynard on November 21, 2015
  • I’m lookin for something that’s fast and cheap. But good

    Posted by swisher on October 13, 2015
  • I made something similar to this when I was in Iraq, just 5 GALLONS (ROUGHLY) OF WATER, 6 LBS OF SUGAR AND TURBO YEAST i HAD ORDERED OFF THE INTERNET. i KEPT MY MASH BUCKETS HIDDEN IN MY BATHROOM IN MY chu (i WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE MY OWN BATHROOM OVER THERE), ANYWAY, i KEPT THE BATHROOM SEALED OFF FROM THE AIR CONDITIONER SO IT WAS A SAUNA IN THERE lol THE OUTRAGEOUSLY HIGH TEMPERATURES GAVE ME SOME OUTSTANDING /PROOF. iN FACT A FEW TIMES i HAD RIGHT CLOSE TO 100.
    mY BUDDY IN bAGHDAD HAD THE SAME SET UP BUT HE WAS USING FLEISHMANN’S OR ACTUALLY AN iRAQI EQUIVALENT AND HE WAS PULLING SOME GOOD HOOCH TOO. fUNNY, WE GOT THE IDEA FROM WATCHING RERUNS OF m*a*S*H.

    Posted by Lil Country on September 20, 2015


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