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New Distillers FAQ

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  • Tony & Elle Ackland
    New Distillers FAQ ****************************************************************** NEW DISTILLERS Frequently Asked Questions (Sept 00) Posted near the 1st
    Message 1 of 18 , Mar 3, 2001
    • 0 Attachment
      New Distillers FAQ
      ******************************************************************
      "NEW DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (Sept'00)

      Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at
      www.egroups.com

      Please email any additions, corrections, clarifications required, etc
      regarding the FAQ to Tony Ackland (ackland@...), however please
      direct any general questions to the newsgroup itself.

      *******************************************************************

      1) Is distilling hard to do ?
      2) Is it legal ?
      3) Will it make me blind ?
      4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
      fractionating column ?
      5) How do I get or make a still ?
      6) How do I make a whisky / rum / vodka / gin ?
      7) Should I use sugar or grains ?
      8) Can I use fruit wine ?
      9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?
      10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
      11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?
      12) What web resources are there ?
      13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?
      14) Can I run my car on it ?
      15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....
      16) What is a "Thumper" ?

      **********************************************************************
      1) Is distilling hard to do ?
      Nope - if you can follow instructions enough to bake scones, then you can
      sucessfully distil. To distil well however, will require you to understand
      what you're doing, so read around and get a bit of information under your
      belt before you begin.
      2) Is it legal ?
      Probably not. It is only legal in New Zealand, and some European countries
      turn a blind eye to it, but elsewhere it is illegal, with punishment
      ranging from fines to imprisonment or floggings. This action against it is
      usually the result of either religous beliefs (right or wrong), but more
      generally due to the great revenue base it provides Governements through
      excise taxes. So if you are going to distil, just be aware of the potential
      legal ramifications.
      3) Will it make me blind ?
      Not if you're careful. This pervasive question is due to moonshine lore,
      which abounds with myths of blindness, but few actual documented cases. The
      concern is due to the presence of methanol (wood alcohol), an optic nerve
      poison, which can be present in small amounts when fermenting grains or
      fruits high in pectin. This methanol comes off first from the still, so it
      is easily segregated and discarded. A simple rule of thumb for this is to
      throw away the first 50 mL you collect (per 20 L mash used). Probably the
      greatest risk to your health during distilling is the risk of fire -
      collecting a flammable liquid near a heat source. So keep a fire
      extinguisher nearby.
      4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
      fractionating column ?
      A pot still simply collects and condenses the alcohol vapours that come off
      the boiling mash. This will result in an alcohol at about 40-60% purity,
      with plenty of flavour in it. If this distillate were put through the pot
      still again, it would increase in purity to around 70-85% purity, and lose
      a bit of its flavour.

      A reflux still does these multiple distillations in one single go, by
      having some packing in a column between the condensor & the pot, and
      allowing some of the vapour to condense and trickle back down through the
      packing. This "reflux" of liquid helps clean the rising vapour and increase
      the % purity. The taller the packed column, and the more reflux liquid, the
      purer the product will be. The advantage of doing this is that it will
      result in a clean vodka, with little flavour to it - ideal for mixing with
      flavours etc.

      A fractionating column is a pure form of the reflux still. It will condense
      all the vapour at the top of the packing, and return about 9/10 back down
      the column. The column will be quite tall - say 600-1200mm (2-4 foot), and
      packed with a material high in surface area, but which takes up little
      space (pot scrubbers are good for this). It will result in an alcohol 95%+
      pure (the theoretical limit without using a vacuum is 95.6%), with no other
      tastes or impurities in it.
      5) How do I get or make a still ?
      If you're after a pot still, these are generally home made using what-ever
      you have at hand - say copper tubing and old water heaters or pressure
      cookers. Reflux stills can be made from plans on the net, or bought from
      several manufacturers. For reflux stil plans see Stillmakers :
      http://stillmaker.dreamhost.com/ (free!) or Gert Strands :
      http://partyman.se/Engelsk/default.htm (US$5), or for a fractionating
      column see Nixon & Stones : http://www.gin-vodka.com/ (US$8). See the list
      of "web resources" below for links to sites selling ready-made stills.

      Regarding the choice of heating for the still - if you have 240V available
      it is usually easiest to control & safer (particularly with internal
      elements). Gas can be used, but more care is needed to keep the collection
      container further away and not letting it overfill.
      6) How do I make a whisky / vodka / rum / gin ?
      Whiskey : Heat 4 kg cracked or crushed malt with 18 L of water to 63-65C,
      and hold there for 1-1.5 hours. Heat to 73-75C, then strain off and keep
      liquid, using 250 mL of hot water to rinse the grains. Cool to below 30C
      (should have an initial specific gravity of 1.050). Add hydrated yeast &
      leave to ferment (maintain at 26C) until airlock stops bubbling and final
      SG of around 1.010. Let settle for a day, then syphon carefully into a pot
      still. Discard the first 50 mL's, collect the next 2-3L of distillate or
      until you start noticing the tails coming through.

      Vodka : dissolve 5 kg of sugar & 60g of nutrients in 20L of water, cool to
      below 30C and add hydrated yeast. Leave to ferment at 25C until below an SG
      of around 0.990, then settle for a day. Syphon into a reflux or
      fractionating still, and collect as per usual.

      Rum : as per vodka, but use some brown sugar or mollasses, to give an
      initial specific gravity (SG) of around 1.06 - 1.07. Run through either a
      pot still, or a not-so-great reflux still.

      Gin : make a very pure vodka, then add the following essence. Simmer 35g of
      juniper berries in 350 mL of 50% vodka for ten minutes with the lid on, let
      cool overnight, then filter through coffee filters. Use 5-10 mL of this
      essence per bottle of vodka.

      When doing any fermenting, take a lot of care to ensure that any items used
      are clean/sterile (soaking them in a water + bleach (10 mL per litre) ), or
      else the wash can start growing other things. Use a closed fermenter with
      an airlock too, to let the CO2 out without letting wild yeasts, bugs etc
      in. For more information about fermenting, see beer or wine homebrewing
      sites.
      7) Should I use sugar or grains ?
      It depends on what sort of still you have, and what you are trying to make.
      If you have a reflux or fractionating still, only use whatever is cheapest
      (usually sugar), as the refluxing will strip out all the flavours anyhow.
      If you have a pot still, and are after a bourban or whiskey, then you need
      to go the grain route, or mollasses if after a rum. If you are trying to
      make a neutral spirit for flavouring, go for sugar.
      8) Can I use fruit wine ?
      Sure, if you have it available. Again, using a pot still will result in a
      brandy/grappa/schnapps, whereas a reflux still will just strip it down to
      neutral spirit.
      9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?
      That "rough moonshine edge" or "off-taste / wet cardboard smell" is due to
      impurities such as the higher order alcohols, known as cogeners or fusel
      oils. These will be present more when using a pot still, less if using a
      reflux still, and just about absent if using a fractionating column. So one
      way is to use a taller packed column and increase the amount of reflux
      occuring. They can also indicate that you've tried to collect too much of
      the alcohol, and have run into the "tails"; so finish collecting a little
      bit earlier next time. Soaking tainted alcohol with activated carbon for a
      week (or even months) will help remove some of this flavour - this is known
      as "polishing" the spirit.
      10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
      You need a hydrometer. This is a wee float, with a scale inside it. The
      more alcohol that is present, the lighter the density of the liquid, so the
      hydrometer sinks a bit lower. You then just read off the scale how much
      alcohol is present. You need a seperate hydrometer for measuring the
      density of the mash, as this is generally > 1.0, whereas the spirit is <
      1.0, and they can't accurately do both ends of the scale.
      11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?
      There are now many commercial flavourings available, which turn vodka or
      neutral alcohol into pretty decent gin or whiskey, or all manor of
      liqueurs. See the commercial sites, like Des Zines
      http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~topkiwi or Ray Toms http://moonshine.co.nz/
      for details.Or you can soak it with oak chips and make whiskey, or soak
      fruits in it to make your own liqueurs.
      12) What web resources are there ?
      For more details, see :
      Tony Ackland's http://www.geocities.com/kiwi_distiller
      Aaron Smiths's http://www.go.to/distillation
      Steve Spence's http://www.webconx.com/ethanol.htm
      13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?
      Both the NEW DISTILLERS and the DISTILLERS news groups are available via
      Egroups, at http://www.egroups.com . NEW DISTILLERS is, as the name
      suggests, intended for those of you new to distilling and after simple,
      straight-forward discussions, whereas the DISTILLERS group is a bit more
      advanced, throwing in bits of design philosophy, theory, and alternative
      ways of achieving the results. Both tend to overlap to some extent.
      14) Can I run my car on it ?
      You can run your car on alcohol over about 80% purity. See Steve Spences
      site for more details. In addition, in the USA, you can get a "small fuel
      producer" permit, which allows small scale distilling for "motor fuel"
      purposes. A nice advantage is that they don't require denaturing for "fuel"
      used on the premises. The regulations are posted at
      http://www.webconx.com/ethanolusaregs.htm
      15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....
      To convert between SI & Imperial units, multiply the first unit by the
      conversion factor to get the second. Divide back to do it in reverse .eg 1L
      = 0.264 US gal, so 20 L = 20 x 0.264 = 5.28 US gal, and 20 US gal / 0.264 =
      75.76 L

      1 L = 0.264 US gal = 0.221 UK gal
      1 L = 1.057 US qt = 0.880 UK qt
      1 kg = 2.204 lbm = 32.15 oz (troy) = 35.27 oz (av)
      deg F = ((9/5) x deg C )+ 32
      1m = 1000 mm = 39.37 inch = 3.28 ft = 1.09 yd
      16) What is a "Thumper" ?
      A "thumper" is an extra chamber sometimes fitted to a pot still. It can be
      as simple as a glass jar with two holes in the lid. The off-take from the
      still is fed into it, with the pipe running almost all the way to the
      bottom of the jar; the jar is half filled with liquid (water or mash or
      tails) so that the vapour from the still will bubble up through it; then
      the vapour coming off it is collected & cooled as per normal. It acts as a
      second distilling chamber using just the heat from the vapour, and lifts
      the purity from 50-60% to 70-80%, hence improving what might otherwise be a
      very mediocre design.
    • Tony & Elle Ackland
      New Distillers FAQ ****************************************************************** NEW DISTILLERS Frequently Asked Questions (Sept 00) Posted near the 1st
      Message 2 of 18 , Apr 27, 2001
      • 0 Attachment
        New Distillers FAQ
        ******************************************************************
        "NEW DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (Sept'00)

        Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at
        www.yahoogroups.com

        Please email any additions, corrections, clarifications required, etc
        regarding the FAQ to Tony Ackland (ackland@...), however please
        direct any general questions to the newsgroup itself.

        *******************************************************************

        1) Is distilling hard to do ?
        2) Is it legal ?
        3) Will it make me blind ?
        4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
        fractionating column ?
        5) How do I get or make a still ?
        6) How do I make a whisky / rum / vodka / gin ?
        7) Should I use sugar or grains ?
        8) Can I use fruit wine ?
        9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?
        10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
        11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?
        12) What web resources are there ?
        13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?
        14) Can I run my car on it ?
        15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....
        16) What is a "Thumper" ?

        **********************************************************************
        1) Is distilling hard to do ?
        Nope - if you can follow instructions enough to bake scones, then you can
        sucessfully distil. To distil well however, will require you to understand
        what you're doing, so read around and get a bit of information under your
        belt before you begin.
        2) Is it legal ?
        Probably not. It is only legal in New Zealand, and some European countries
        turn a blind eye to it, but elsewhere it is illegal, with punishment
        ranging from fines to imprisonment or floggings. This action against it is
        usually the result of either religous beliefs (right or wrong), but more
        generally due to the great revenue base it provides Governements through
        excise taxes. So if you are going to distil, just be aware of the potential
        legal ramifications.
        3) Will it make me blind ?
        Not if you're careful. This pervasive question is due to moonshine lore,
        which abounds with myths of blindness, but few actual documented cases. The
        concern is due to the presence of methanol (wood alcohol), an optic nerve
        poison, which can be present in small amounts when fermenting grains or
        fruits high in pectin. This methanol comes off first from the still, so it
        is easily segregated and discarded. A simple rule of thumb for this is to
        throw away the first 50 mL you collect (per 20 L mash used). Probably the
        greatest risk to your health during distilling is the risk of fire -
        collecting a flammable liquid near a heat source. So keep a fire
        extinguisher nearby.
        4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
        fractionating column ?
        A pot still simply collects and condenses the alcohol vapours that come off
        the boiling mash. This will result in an alcohol at about 40-60% purity,
        with plenty of flavour in it. If this distillate were put through the pot
        still again, it would increase in purity to around 70-85% purity, and lose
        a bit of its flavour.

        A reflux still does these multiple distillations in one single go, by
        having some packing in a column between the condensor & the pot, and
        allowing some of the vapour to condense and trickle back down through the
        packing. This "reflux" of liquid helps clean the rising vapour and increase
        the % purity. The taller the packed column, and the more reflux liquid, the
        purer the product will be. The advantage of doing this is that it will
        result in a clean vodka, with little flavour to it - ideal for mixing with
        flavours etc.

        A fractionating column is a pure form of the reflux still. It will condense
        all the vapour at the top of the packing, and return about 9/10 back down
        the column. The column will be quite tall - say 600-1200mm (2-4 foot), and
        packed with a material high in surface area, but which takes up little
        space (pot scrubbers are good for this). It will result in an alcohol 95%+
        pure (the theoretical limit without using a vacuum is 95.6%), with no other
        tastes or impurities in it.
        5) How do I get or make a still ?
        If you're after a pot still, these are generally home made using what-ever
        you have at hand - say copper tubing and old water heaters or pressure
        cookers. Reflux stills can be made from plans on the net, or bought from
        several manufacturers. For reflux stil plans see Stillmakers :
        http://stillmaker.dreamhost.com/ (free!) or Gert Strands :
        http://partyman.se/Engelsk/default.htm (US$5). See the list of "web
        resources" below for links to sites selling ready-made stills.

        Regarding the choice of heating for the still - if you have 240V available
        it is usually easiest to control & safer (particularly with internal
        elements). Gas can be used, but more care is needed to keep the collection
        container further away and not letting it overfill.
        6) How do I make a whisky / vodka / rum / gin ?
        Whiskey : Heat 4 kg cracked or crushed malt with 18 L of water to 63-65C,
        and hold there for 1-1.5 hours. Heat to 73-75C, then strain off and keep
        liquid, using 250 mL of hot water to rinse the grains. Cool to below 30C
        (should have an initial specific gravity of 1.050). Add hydrated yeast &
        leave to ferment (maintain at 26C) until airlock stops bubbling and final
        SG of around 1.010. Let settle for a day, then syphon carefully into a pot
        still. Discard the first 50 mL's, collect the next 2-3L of distillate or
        until you start noticing the tails coming through.

        Vodka : dissolve 5 kg of sugar & 60g of nutrients in 20L of water, cool to
        below 30C and add hydrated yeast. Leave to ferment at 25C until below an SG
        of around 0.990, then settle for a day. Syphon into a reflux or
        fractionating still, and collect as per usual.

        Rum : as per vodka, but use some brown sugar or mollasses, to give an
        initial specific gravity (SG) of around 1.06 - 1.07. Run through either a
        pot still, or a not-so-great reflux still.

        Gin : make a very pure vodka, then add the following essence. Simmer 35g of
        juniper berries in 350 mL of 50% vodka for ten minutes with the lid on, let
        cool overnight, then filter through coffee filters. Use 5-10 mL of this
        essence per bottle of vodka.

        When doing any fermenting, take a lot of care to ensure that any items used
        are clean/sterile (soaking them in a water + bleach (10 mL per litre) ), or
        else the wash can start growing other things. Use a closed fermenter with
        an airlock too, to let the CO2 out without letting wild yeasts, bugs etc
        in. For more information about fermenting, see beer or wine homebrewing
        sites.
        7) Should I use sugar or grains ?
        It depends on what sort of still you have, and what you are trying to make.
        If you have a reflux or fractionating still, only use whatever is cheapest
        (usually sugar), as the refluxing will strip out all the flavours anyhow.
        If you have a pot still, and are after a bourban or whiskey, then you need
        to go the grain route, or mollasses if after a rum. If you are trying to
        make a neutral spirit for flavouring, go for sugar.
        8) Can I use fruit wine ?
        Sure, if you have it available. Again, using a pot still will result in a
        brandy/grappa/schnapps, whereas a reflux still will just strip it down to
        neutral spirit.
        9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?
        That "rough moonshine edge" or "off-taste / wet cardboard smell" is due to
        impurities such as the higher order alcohols, known as cogeners or fusel
        oils. These will be present more when using a pot still, less if using a
        reflux still, and just about absent if using a fractionating column. So one
        way is to use a taller packed column and increase the amount of reflux
        occuring. They can also indicate that you've tried to collect too much of
        the alcohol, and have run into the "tails"; so finish collecting a little
        bit earlier next time. Soaking tainted alcohol with activated carbon for a
        week (or even months) will help remove some of this flavour - this is known
        as "polishing" the spirit.
        10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
        You need a hydrometer. This is a wee float, with a scale inside it. The
        more alcohol that is present, the lighter the density of the liquid, so the
        hydrometer sinks a bit lower. You then just read off the scale how much
        alcohol is present. You need a seperate hydrometer for measuring the
        density of the mash, as this is generally > 1.0, whereas the spirit is <
        1.0, and they can't accurately do both ends of the scale.
        11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?
        There are now many commercial flavourings available, which turn vodka or
        neutral alcohol into pretty decent gin or whiskey, or all manor of
        liqueurs. See the commercial sites, like Des Zines
        http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~topkiwi or Ray Toms http://moonshine.co.nz/
        for details.Or you can soak it with oak chips and make whiskey, or soak
        fruits in it to make your own liqueurs.
        12) What web resources are there ?
        For more details, see :
        Tony Ackland's http://www.geocities.com/kiwi_distiller
        Aaron Smiths's http://www.go.to/distillation
        Steve Spence's http://www.webconx.com/ethanol.htm
        13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?
        Both the NEW DISTILLERS and the DISTILLERS news groups are available via
        YahooGroups, at http://www.yahoogroups.com . NEW DISTILLERS is, as the name
        suggests, intended for those of you new to distilling and after simple,
        straight-forward discussions, whereas the DISTILLERS group is a bit more
        advanced, throwing in bits of design philosophy, theory, and alternative
        ways of achieving the results. Both tend to overlap to some extent.
        14) Can I run my car on it ?
        You can run your car on alcohol over about 80% purity. See Steve Spences
        site for more details. In addition, in the USA, you can get a "small fuel
        producer" permit, which allows small scale distilling for "motor fuel"
        purposes. A nice advantage is that they don't require denaturing for "fuel"
        used on the premises. The regulations are posted at
        http://www.webconx.com/ethanolusaregs.htm
        15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....
        To convert between SI & Imperial units, multiply the first unit by the
        conversion factor to get the second. Divide back to do it in reverse .eg 1L
        = 0.264 US gal, so 20 L = 20 x 0.264 = 5.28 US gal, and 20 US gal / 0.264 =
        75.76 L

        1 L = 0.264 US gal = 0.221 UK gal
        1 L = 1.057 US qt = 0.880 UK qt
        1 kg = 2.204 lbm = 32.15 oz (troy) = 35.27 oz (av)
        deg F = ((9/5) x deg C )+ 32
        1m = 1000 mm = 39.37 inch = 3.28 ft = 1.09 yd
        16) What is a "Thumper" ?
        A "thumper" is an extra chamber sometimes fitted to a pot still. It can be
        as simple as a glass jar with two holes in the lid. The off-take from the
        still is fed into it, with the pipe running almost all the way to the
        bottom of the jar; the jar is half filled with liquid (water or mash or
        tails) so that the vapour from the still will bubble up through it; then
        the vapour coming off it is collected & cooled as per normal. It acts as a
        second distilling chamber using just the heat from the vapour, and lifts
        the purity from 50-60% to 70-80%, hence improving what might otherwise be a
        very mediocre design.
      • Tony & Elle Ackland
        New Distillers FAQ ****************************************************************** NEW DISTILLERS Frequently Asked Questions (July 01) Posted near the 1st
        Message 3 of 18 , Jul 28, 2001
        • 0 Attachment
          New Distillers FAQ
          ******************************************************************
          "NEW DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (July'01)

          Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at
          www.yahoogroups.com

          Please email any additions, corrections, clarifications required, etc
          regarding the FAQ to Tony Ackland (ackland@...), however please
          direct any general questions to the newsgroup itself.

          *******************************************************************

          1) Is distilling hard to do ?
          2) Is it legal ?
          3) Will it make me blind ?
          4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
          fractionating column ?
          5) How do I get or make a still ?
          6) How do I make a whisky / rum / vodka / gin ?
          7) Should I use sugar or grains ?
          8) Can I use fruit wine ?
          9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?
          10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
          11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?
          12) What web resources are there ?
          13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?
          14) Can I run my car on it ?
          15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....
          16) What is a "Thumper" ?
          17) Can I use a reflux still to make rum or whisky ?

          **********************************************************************

          1) Is distilling hard to do ?

          Nope - if you can follow instructions enough to bake scones, then you can
          sucessfully distil. To distil well however, will require you to understand
          what you're doing, so read around and get a bit of information under your
          belt before you begin.

          2) Is it legal ?

          Probably not. It is only legal in New Zealand, and some European countries
          turn a blind eye to it, but elsewhere it is illegal, with punishment
          ranging from fines to imprisonment or floggings. This action against it is
          usually the result of either religous beliefs (right or wrong), but more
          generally due to the great revenue base it provides Governements through
          excise taxes. So if you are going to distil, just be aware of the potential
          legal ramifications.

          3) Will it make me blind ?

          Not if you're careful. This pervasive question is due to moonshine lore,
          which abounds with myths of blindness, but few actual documented cases. The
          concern is due to the presence of methanol (wood alcohol), an optic nerve
          poison, which can be present in small amounts when fermenting grains or
          fruits high in pectin. This methanol comes off first from the still, so it
          is easily segregated and discarded. A simple rule of thumb for this is to
          throw away the first 50 mL you collect (per 20 L mash used). Probably the
          greatest risk to your health during distilling is the risk of fire -
          collecting a flammable liquid near a heat source. So keep a fire
          extinguisher nearby.

          4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
          fractionating column ?

          A pot still simply collects and condenses the alcohol vapours that come off
          the boiling mash. This will result in an alcohol at about 40-60% purity,
          with plenty of flavour in it. If this distillate were put through the pot
          still again, it would increase in purity to around 70-85% purity, and lose
          a bit of its flavour.

          A reflux still does these multiple distillations in one single go, by
          having some packing in a column between the condensor & the pot, and
          allowing some of the vapour to condense and trickle back down through the
          packing. This "reflux" of liquid helps clean the rising vapour and increase
          the % purity. The taller the packed column, and the more reflux liquid, the
          purer the product will be. The advantage of doing this is that it will
          result in a clean vodka, with little flavour to it - ideal for mixing with
          flavours etc.

          A fractionating column is a pure form of the reflux still. It will condense
          all the vapour at the top of the packing, and return about 9/10 back down
          the column. The column will be quite tall - say 600-1200mm (2-4 foot), and
          packed with a material high in surface area, but which takes up little
          space (pot scrubbers are good for this). It will result in an alcohol 95%+
          pure (the theoretical limit without using a vacuum is 96.48 %(by volume)),
          with no other tastes or impurities in it.

          5) How do I get or make a still ?

          If you're after a pot still, these are generally home made using what-ever
          you have at hand - say copper tubing and old water heaters or pressure
          cookers. Reflux stills can be made from plans on the net, or bought from
          several manufacturers. For reflux stil plans see Stillmakers :
          http://stillmaker.dreamhost.com/ (free!) or Gert Strands :
          http://partyman.se/Engelsk/default.htm (US$5). See the list of "web
          resources" below for links to sites selling ready-made stills. A good book
          is Ian Smileys "Making Pure Corn Whisky" at
          http://www.magma.ca/~smiley/main.htm, with full design details. For fuel
          alcohol stills see the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual at
          http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_motherearth/meToC.html,
          and the The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel by S.W.
          Mathewson at
          http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_manual/manual_ToC.html

          Regarding the choice of heating for the still - if you have 240V available
          it is usually easiest to control & safer (particularly with internal
          elements). Gas can be used, but more care is needed to keep the collection
          container further away and not letting it overfill.

          6) How do I make a whisky / vodka / rum / gin ?

          Whiskey : Heat 4 kg cracked or crushed malt with 18 L of water to 63-65C,
          and hold there for 1-1.5 hours. Heat to 73-75C, then strain off and keep
          liquid, using 250 mL of hot water to rinse the grains. Cool to below 30C
          (should have an initial specific gravity of 1.050). Add hydrated yeast &
          leave to ferment (maintain at 26C) until airlock stops bubbling and final
          SG of around 1.010. Let settle for a day, then syphon carefully into a pot
          still. Discard the first 50 mL's, collect the next 2-3L of distillate or
          until you start noticing the tails coming through.

          Vodka : dissolve 5 kg of sugar & 60g of nutrients in 20L of water, cool to
          below 30C and add hydrated yeast. Leave to ferment at 25C until below an SG
          of around 0.990, then settle for a day. Syphon into a reflux or
          fractionating still, and collect as per usual.

          Rum : as per vodka, but use some brown sugar or mollasses, to give an
          initial specific gravity (SG) of around 1.06 - 1.07. Run through either a
          pot still, or a not-so-great reflux still.

          Gin : make a very pure vodka, then add the following essence. Simmer 35g of
          juniper berries in 350 mL of 50% vodka for ten minutes with the lid on, let
          cool overnight, then filter through coffee filters. Use 5-10 mL of this
          essence per bottle of vodka.

          When doing any fermenting, take a lot of care to ensure that any items used
          are clean/sterile (soaking them in a water + bleach (10 mL per litre) ), or
          else the wash can start growing other things. Use a closed fermenter with
          an airlock too, to let the CO2 out without letting wild yeasts, bugs etc
          in. For more information about fermenting, see beer or wine homebrewing
          sites.

          7) Should I use sugar or grains ?

          It depends on what sort of still you have, and what you are trying to make.
          If you have a reflux or fractionating still, only use whatever is cheapest
          (usually sugar), as the refluxing will strip out all the flavours anyhow.
          If you have a pot still, and are after a bourban or whiskey, then you need
          to go the grain route, or mollasses if after a rum. If you are trying to
          make a neutral spirit for flavouring, go for sugar.

          8) Can I use fruit wine ?

          Sure, if you have it available. Again, using a pot still will result in a
          brandy/grappa/schnapps, whereas a reflux still will just strip it down to
          neutral spirit.

          9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?

          That "rough moonshine edge" or "off-taste / wet cardboard smell" is due to
          impurities such as the higher order alcohols, known as cogeners or fusel
          oils. These will be present more when using a pot still, less if using a
          reflux still, and just about absent if using a fractionating column. So one
          way is to use a taller packed column and increase the amount of reflux
          occuring. They can also indicate that you've tried to collect too much of
          the alcohol, and have run into the "tails"; so finish collecting a little
          bit earlier next time. Soaking tainted alcohol with activated carbon for a
          week (or even months) will help remove some of this flavour - this is known
          as "polishing" the spirit. I'm also suspecting that you need a little bit
          of copper somewhere in the still where it can come in contact with the
          vapour. The copper helps catalyse some of the sulphur, esters & organic
          acids, reducing their odour & taste.

          10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?

          You need a hydrometer. This is a wee float, with a scale inside it. The
          more alcohol that is present, the lighter the density of the liquid, so the
          hydrometer sinks a bit lower. You then just read off the scale how much
          alcohol is present. You need a seperate hydrometer for measuring the
          density of the mash, as this is generally > 1.0, whereas the spirit is <
          1.0, and they can't accurately do both ends of the scale.

          11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?

          There are now many commercial flavourings available, which turn vodka or
          neutral alcohol into pretty decent gin or whiskey, or all manor of
          liqueurs. See the commercial sites, like Des Zines
          http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~topkiwi or Ray Toms http://moonshine.co.nz/
          for details. Or you can soak it with oak chips and make whiskey, or soak
          fruits in it to make your own liqueurs.

          12) What web resources are there ?

          For more details, see :
          Tony Ackland's http://www.geocities.com/kiwi_distiller
          Aaron Smiths's http://www.go.to/distillation
          Steve Spence's http://www.webconx.com/ethanol.htm
          Biofuels Library http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library.html

          13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?

          Both the NEW DISTILLERS and the DISTILLERS news groups are available via
          YahooGroups, at http://www.yahoogroups.com . NEW DISTILLERS is, as the name
          suggests, intended for those of you new to distilling and after simple,
          straight-forward discussions, whereas the DISTILLERS group is a bit more
          advanced, throwing in bits of design philosophy, theory, and alternative
          ways of achieving the results. Both tend to overlap to some extent.

          14) Can I run my car on it ?

          You can run your car on alcohol over about 80% purity. Because any water
          present will seperate out in the presence of the gasoline (and become a
          problem), you either need to exclusively use the alcohol, or dry it right
          out (eg 99%+ purity) if using it to mix with gasoline. See Steve Spences
          site for more details, the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual, or the The
          Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel. In addition, in
          the USA, you can get a "small fuel producer" permit, which allows small
          scale distilling for "motor fuel" purposes. A nice advantage is that they
          don't require denaturing for "fuel" used on the premises. The regulations
          are posted at http://www.webconx.com/ethanolusaregs.htm

          15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....

          To convert between SI & Imperial units, multiply the first unit by the
          conversion factor to get the second. Divide back to do it in reverse .eg 1L
          = 0.264 US gal, so 20 L = 20 x 0.264 = 5.28 US gal, and 20 US gal / 0.264 =
          75.76 L
          1 L = 0.264 US gal = 0.221 UK gal
          1 L = 1.057 US qt = 0.880 UK qt
          1 kg = 2.204 lbm = 32.15 oz (troy) = 35.27 oz (av)
          deg F = ((9/5) x deg C )+ 32
          1m = 1000 mm = 39.37 inch = 3.28 ft = 1.09 yd

          16) What is a "Thumper" ?

          A "thumper" is an extra chamber sometimes fitted to a pot still. It can be
          as simple as a glass jar with two holes in the lid. The off-take from the
          still is fed into it, with the pipe running almost all the way to the
          bottom of the jar; the jar is half filled with liquid (water or mash or
          tails) so that the vapour from the still will bubble up through it; then
          the vapour coming off it is collected & cooled as per normal. It acts as a
          second distilling chamber using just the heat from the vapour, and lifts
          the purity from 50-60% to 70-80%, hence improving what might otherwise be a
          very mediocre design.

          17) Can I use a Reflux Still to make Rum or Whisky ?

          Yes you can. To do so, you need to carefully monitor the various
          transitions between the foreshots, heads, middle run, and tails, and time
          the collection of the middle run precisely. The reflux still allows you to
          more precisely judge the changes between the various stages, and hence
          target them accurately. A typical rum or whisky would be obtained by
          discarding the foreshots, then collecting the heads, middle run, and then
          begin the tails, until the purity has dropped to around 58-60% (81.4C). By
          altering when to start collecting, and how late to time the final "cut",
          various flavour profiles will result.
        • Tony & Elle Ackland
          NEW DISTILLERS Frequently Asked Questions (Sept 01) Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at www.yahoogroups.com Please email
          Message 4 of 18 , Oct 1, 2001
          • 0 Attachment
            "NEW DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (Sept'01)

            Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at
            www.yahoogroups.com

            Please email any additions, corrections, clarifications required, etc
            regarding the FAQ to Tony Ackland (ackland@...), however please
            direct any general questions to the newsgroup itself.

            *******************************************************************

            1) Is distilling hard to do ?
            2) Is it legal ?
            3) Will it make me blind ?
            4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
            fractionating column ?
            5) How do I get or make a still ?
            6) How do I make a whisky / rum / vodka / gin ?
            7) Should I use sugar or grains ?
            8) Can I use fruit wine ?
            9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?
            10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
            11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?
            12) What web resources are there ?
            13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?
            14) Can I run my car on it ?
            15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....
            16) What is a "Thumper" ?
            17) Can I use a reflux still to make rum or whisky ?

            **********************************************************************

            1) Is distilling hard to do ?

            Nope - if you can follow instructions enough to bake scones, then you can
            sucessfully distil. To distil well however, will require you to understand
            what you're doing, so read around and get a bit of information under your
            belt before you begin.

            2) Is it legal ?

            Probably not. It is only legal in New Zealand, and some European countries
            turn a blind eye to it, but elsewhere it is illegal, with punishment
            ranging from fines to imprisonment or floggings. This action against it is
            usually the result of either religous beliefs (right or wrong), but more
            generally due to the great revenue base it provides Governements through
            excise taxes. So if you are going to distil, just be aware of the potential
            legal ramifications.

            3) Will it make me blind ?

            Not if you're careful. This pervasive question is due to moonshine lore,
            which abounds with myths of blindness, but few actual documented cases. The
            concern is due to the presence of methanol (wood alcohol), an optic nerve
            poison, which can be present in small amounts when fermenting grains or
            fruits high in pectin. This methanol comes off first from the still, so it
            is easily segregated and discarded. A simple rule of thumb for this is to
            throw away the first 50 mL you collect (per 20 L mash used). Probably the
            greatest risk to your health during distilling is the risk of fire -
            collecting a flammable liquid near a heat source. So keep a fire
            extinguisher nearby.

            4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
            fractionating column ?

            A pot still simply collects and condenses the alcohol vapours that come off
            the boiling mash. This will result in an alcohol at about 40-60% purity,
            with plenty of flavour in it. If this distillate were put through the pot
            still again, it would increase in purity to around 70-85% purity, and lose
            a bit of its flavour.

            A reflux still does these multiple distillations in one single go, by
            having some packing in a column between the condensor & the pot, and
            allowing some of the vapour to condense and trickle back down through the
            packing. This "reflux" of liquid helps clean the rising vapour and increase
            the % purity. The taller the packed column, and the more reflux liquid, the
            purer the product will be. The advantage of doing this is that it will
            result in a clean vodka, with little flavour to it - ideal for mixing with
            flavours etc.

            A fractionating column is a pure form of the reflux still. It will condense
            all the vapour at the top of the packing, and return about 9/10 back down
            the column. The column will be quite tall - say 600-1200mm (2-4 foot), and
            packed with a material high in surface area, but which takes up little
            space (pot scrubbers are good for this). It will result in an alcohol 95%+
            pure (the theoretical limit without using a vacuum is 96.48 %(by volume)),
            with no other tastes or impurities in it.

            5) How do I get or make a still ?

            If you're after a pot still, these are generally home made using what-ever
            you have at hand - say copper tubing and old water heaters or pressure
            cookers. Reflux stills can be made from plans on the net, or bought from
            several manufacturers. For reflux stil plans see Stillmakers "Build a World
            Class Distillation Apparatus" at http://www.Moonshine-Still.com (Free!) or
            Gert Strands : http://partyman.se/Engelsk/default.htm (US$5). A good book
            is Ian Smileys "Making Pure Corn Whisky" at
            http://www.magma.ca/~smiley/main.htm, with full design details. See the
            list of "web resources" below for links to sites selling ready-made stills.
            For fuel alcohol stills see the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual at
            http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_motherearth/meToC.html,
            and the The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel by S.W.
            Mathewson at
            http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_manual/manual_ToC.html

            Regarding the choice of heating for the still - if you have 240V available
            it is usually easiest to control & safer (particularly with internal
            elements). Gas can be used, but more care is needed to keep the collection
            container further away and not letting it overfill.

            6) How do I make a whisky / vodka / rum / gin ?

            Whiskey : Heat 4 kg cracked or crushed malt with 18 L of water to 63-65C,
            and hold there for 1-1.5 hours. Heat to 73-75C, then strain off and keep
            liquid, using 250 mL of hot water to rinse the grains. Cool to below 30C
            (should have an initial specific gravity of 1.050). Add hydrated yeast &
            leave to ferment (maintain at 26C) until airlock stops bubbling and final
            SG of around 1.010. Let settle for a day, then syphon carefully into a pot
            still. Discard the first 50 mL's, collect the next 2-3L of distillate or
            until you start noticing the tails coming through.

            Vodka : dissolve 5 kg of sugar & 60g of nutrients in 20L of water, cool to
            below 30C and add hydrated yeast. Leave to ferment at 25C until below an SG
            of around 0.990, then settle for a day. Syphon into a reflux or
            fractionating still, and collect as per usual.

            Rum : as per vodka, but use some brown sugar or mollasses, to give an
            initial specific gravity (SG) of around 1.06 - 1.07. Run through either a
            pot still, or a not-so-great reflux still.

            Gin : make a very pure vodka, then add the following essence. Simmer 35g of
            juniper berries in 350 mL of 50% vodka for ten minutes with the lid on, let
            cool overnight, then filter through coffee filters. Use 5-10 mL of this
            essence per bottle of vodka.

            When doing any fermenting, take a lot of care to ensure that any items used
            are clean/sterile (soaking them in a water + bleach (10 mL per litre) ), or
            else the wash can start growing other things. Use a closed fermenter with
            an airlock too, to let the CO2 out without letting wild yeasts, bugs etc
            in. For more information about fermenting, see beer or wine homebrewing
            sites.

            7) Should I use sugar or grains ?

            It depends on what sort of still you have, and what you are trying to make.
            If you have a reflux or fractionating still, only use whatever is cheapest
            (usually sugar), as the refluxing will strip out all the flavours anyhow.
            If you have a pot still, and are after a bourban or whiskey, then you need
            to go the grain route, or mollasses if after a rum. If you are trying to
            make a neutral spirit for flavouring, go for sugar.

            8) Can I use fruit wine ?

            Sure, if you have it available. Again, using a pot still will result in a
            brandy/grappa/schnapps, whereas a reflux still will normally just strip it
            down to neutral spirit.

            9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?

            That "rough moonshine edge" or "off-taste / wet cardboard smell" is due to
            impurities such as the higher order alcohols, known as cogeners or fusel
            oils. These will be present more when using a pot still, less if using a
            reflux still, and just about absent if using a fractionating column. So one
            way is to use a taller packed column and increase the amount of reflux
            occuring. They can also indicate that you've tried to collect too much of
            the alcohol, and have run into the "tails"; so finish collecting a little
            bit earlier next time. Soaking tainted alcohol with activated carbon for a
            week (or even months) will help remove some of this flavour - this is known
            as "polishing" the spirit. I'm also suspecting that you need a little bit
            of copper somewhere in the still where it can come in contact with the
            vapour. The copper helps catalyse some of the sulphur, esters & organic
            acids, reducing their odour & taste.

            10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?

            You need a hydrometer. This is a wee float, with a scale inside it. The
            more alcohol that is present, the lighter the density of the liquid, so the
            hydrometer sinks a bit lower. You then just read off the scale how much
            alcohol is present. You need a seperate hydrometer for measuring the
            density of the mash, as this is generally > 1.0, whereas the spirit is <
            1.0, and they can't accurately do both ends of the scale.

            11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?

            There are now many commercial flavourings available, which turn vodka or
            neutral alcohol into pretty decent gin or whiskey, or all manor of
            liqueurs. See the commercial sites, like Des Zines
            http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~topkiwi or Ray Toms http://moonshine.co.nz/
            for details. Or you can soak it with oak chips and make whiskey, or soak
            fruits in it to make your own liqueurs.

            12) What web resources are there ?

            For more details, see :
            Tony Ackland's http://homedistiller.org
            Aaron Smiths's http://www.go.to/distillation
            Steve Spence's http://www.webconx.com/ethanol.htm
            StillMaker's http://www.Moonshine-Still.com
            Biofuels Library http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library.html

            13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?

            Both the NEW DISTILLERS and the DISTILLERS news groups are available via
            YahooGroups, at http://www.yahoogroups.com . NEW DISTILLERS is, as the name
            suggests, intended for those of you new to distilling and after simple,
            straight-forward discussions, whereas the DISTILLERS group is a bit more
            advanced, throwing in bits of design philosophy, theory, and alternative
            ways of achieving the results. Both tend to overlap to some extent.

            14) Can I run my car on it ?

            You can run your car on alcohol over about 80% purity. Because any water
            present will seperate out in the presence of the gasoline (and become a
            problem), you either need to exclusively use the alcohol, or dry it right
            out (eg 99%+ purity) if using it to mix with gasoline. See Steve Spences
            site for more details, the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual, or the The
            Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel. In addition, in
            the USA, you can get a "small fuel producer" permit, which allows small
            scale distilling for "motor fuel" purposes. A nice advantage is that they
            don't require denaturing for "fuel" used on the premises. The regulations
            are posted at http://www.webconx.com/ethanolusaregs.htm

            15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....

            To convert between SI & Imperial units, multiply the first unit by the
            conversion factor to get the second. Divide back to do it in reverse .eg 1L
            = 0.264 US gal, so 20 L = 20 x 0.264 = 5.28 US gal, and 20 US gal / 0.264 =
            75.76 L

            1 L = 0.264 US gal = 0.221 UK gal
            1 L = 1.057 US qt = 0.880 UK qt
            1 kg = 2.204 lbm = 32.15 oz (troy) = 35.27 oz (av)
            deg F = ((9/5) x deg C )+ 32
            1m = 1000 mm = 39.37 inch = 3.28 ft = 1.09 yd

            16) What is a "Thumper" ?

            A "thumper" is an extra chamber sometimes fitted to a pot still. It can be
            as simple as a glass jar with two holes in the lid. The off-take from the
            still is fed into it, with the pipe running almost all the way to the
            bottom of the jar; the jar is half filled with liquid (water or mash or
            tails) so that the vapour from the still will bubble up through it; then
            the vapour coming off it is collected & cooled as per normal. It acts as a
            second distilling chamber using just the heat from the vapour, and lifts
            the purity from 50-60% to 70-80%, hence improving what might otherwise be a
            very mediocre design.

            17) Can I use a Reflux Still to make Rum or Whisky ?

            Yes you can. To do so, you need to carefully monitor the various
            transitions between the foreshots, heads, middle run, and tails, and time
            the collection of the middle run precisely. The reflux still allows you to
            more precisely judge the changes between the various stages, and hence
            target them accurately. A typical rum or whisky would be obtained by
            discarding the foreshots, then collecting the heads, middle run, and then
            begin the tails, until the purity has dropped to around 58-60% (81.4C). By
            altering when to start collecting, and how late to time the final "cut",
            various flavour profiles will result.
            ------------------------------------------------------------------------
            --------
          • Ackland, Tony (CALNZAS)
            NEW DISTILLERS Frequently Asked Questions (Sept 01) Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at www.yahoogroups.com Please email
            Message 5 of 18 , Nov 18, 2001
            • 0 Attachment
              "NEW DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (Sept'01)

              Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at
              www.yahoogroups.com

              Please email any additions, corrections, clarifications required, etc
              regarding the FAQ to Tony Ackland (ackland@...), however please
              direct any general questions to the newsgroup itself.

              *******************************************************************

              1) Is distilling hard to do ?
              2) Is it legal ?
              3) Will it make me blind ?
              4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and fractionating
              column ?
              5) How do I get or make a still ?
              6) How do I make a whisky / rum / vodka / gin ?
              7) Should I use sugar or grains ?
              8) Can I use fruit wine ?
              9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?
              10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
              11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?
              12) What web resources are there ?
              13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?
              14) Can I run my car on it ?
              15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....
              16) What is a "Thumper" ?
              17) Can I use a reflux still to make rum or whisky ?

              **********************************************************************

              1) Is distilling hard to do ?

              Nope - if you can follow instructions enough to bake scones, then you can
              sucessfully distil. To distil well however, will require you to understand
              what you're doing, so read around and get a bit of information under your
              belt before you begin.

              2) Is it legal ?

              Probably not. It is only legal in New Zealand, and some European countries
              turn a blind eye to it, but elsewhere it is illegal, with punishment ranging
              from fines to imprisonment or floggings. This action against it is usually
              the result of either religous beliefs (right or wrong), but more generally
              due to the great revenue base it provides Governements through excise taxes.
              So if you are going to distil, just be aware of the potential legal
              ramifications.

              3) Will it make me blind ?

              Not if you're careful. This pervasive question is due to moonshine lore,
              which abounds with myths of blindness, but few actual documented cases. The
              concern is due to the presence of methanol (wood alcohol), an optic nerve
              poison, which can be present in small amounts when fermenting grains or
              fruits high in pectin. This methanol comes off first from the still, so it
              is easily segregated and discarded. A simple rule of thumb for this is to
              throw away the first 50 mL you collect (per 20 L mash used). Probably the
              greatest risk to your health during distilling is the risk of fire -
              collecting a flammable liquid near a heat source. So keep a fire
              extinguisher nearby.

              4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and fractionating
              column ?

              A pot still simply collects and condenses the alcohol vapours that come off
              the boiling mash. This will result in an alcohol at about 40-60% purity,
              with plenty of flavour in it. If this distillate were put through the pot
              still again, it would increase in purity to around 70-85% purity, and lose a
              bit of its flavour.

              A reflux still does these multiple distillations in one single go, by having
              some packing in a column between the condensor & the pot, and allowing some
              of the vapour to condense and trickle back down through the packing. This
              "reflux" of liquid helps clean the rising vapour and increase the % purity.
              The taller the packed column, and the more reflux liquid, the purer the
              product will be. The advantage of doing this is that it will result in a
              clean vodka, with little flavour to it - ideal for mixing with flavours etc.


              A fractionating column is a pure form of the reflux still. It will condense
              all the vapour at the top of the packing, and return about 9/10 back down
              the column. The column will be quite tall - say 600-1200mm (2-4 foot), and
              packed with a material high in surface area, but which takes up little space
              (pot scrubbers are good for this). It will result in an alcohol 95%+ pure
              (the theoretical limit without using a vacuum is 96.48 %(by volume)), with
              no other tastes or impurities in it.

              5) How do I get or make a still ?

              If you're after a pot still, these are generally home made using what-ever
              you have at hand - say copper tubing and old water heaters or pressure
              cookers. Reflux stills can be made from plans on the net, or bought from
              several manufacturers. For reflux stil plans see Stillmakers "Build a World
              Class Distillation Apparatus" at http://www.Moonshine-Still.com (Free!) or
              Gert Strands : http://partyman.se/Engelsk/default.htm (US$5). A good book is
              Ian Smileys "Making Pure Corn Whisky" at
              http://www.magma.ca/~smiley/main.htm, with full design details. See the list
              of "web resources" below for links to sites selling ready-made stills. For
              fuel alcohol stills see the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual at
              http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_motherearth/meToC.html,
              and the The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel by S.W.
              Mathewson at
              http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_manual/manual_ToC.html

              Regarding the choice of heating for the still - if you have 240V available
              it is usually easiest to control & safer (particularly with internal
              elements). Gas can be used, but more care is needed to keep the collection
              container further away and not letting it overfill.

              6) How do I make a whisky / vodka / rum / gin ?

              Whiskey : Heat 4 kg cracked or crushed malt with 18 L of water to 63-65C,
              and hold there for 1-1.5 hours. Heat to 73-75C, then strain off and keep
              liquid, using 250 mL of hot water to rinse the grains. Cool to below 30C
              (should have an initial specific gravity of 1.050). Add hydrated yeast &
              leave to ferment (maintain at 26C) until airlock stops bubbling and final SG
              of around 1.010. Let settle for a day, then syphon carefully into a pot
              still. Discard the first 50 mL's, collect the next 2-3L of distillate or
              until you start noticing the tails coming through.

              Vodka : dissolve 5 kg of sugar & 60g of nutrients in 20L of water, cool to
              below 30C and add hydrated yeast. Leave to ferment at 25C until below an SG
              of around 0.990, then settle for a day. Syphon into a reflux or
              fractionating still, and collect as per usual.

              Rum : as per vodka, but use some brown sugar or mollasses, to give an
              initial specific gravity (SG) of around 1.06 - 1.07. Run through either a
              pot still, or a not-so-great reflux still.

              Gin : make a very pure vodka, then add the following essence. Simmer 35g of
              juniper berries in 350 mL of 50% vodka for ten minutes with the lid on, let
              cool overnight, then filter through coffee filters. Use 5-10 mL of this
              essence per bottle of vodka.

              When doing any fermenting, take a lot of care to ensure that any items used
              are clean/sterile (soaking them in a water + bleach (10 mL per litre) ), or
              else the wash can start growing other things. Use a closed fermenter with an
              airlock too, to let the CO2 out without letting wild yeasts, bugs etc in.
              For more information about fermenting, see beer or wine homebrewing sites.

              7) Should I use sugar or grains/fruit ?

              It depends on what sort of still you have, and what you are trying to make.
              If you have a reflux or fractionating still, only use whatever is cheapest
              (usually sugar), as the refluxing will strip out all the flavours anyhow. If
              you have a pot still, and are after a bourban or whiskey, then you need to
              go the grain route, or mollasses if after a rum. If you are trying to make a
              neutral spirit for flavouring, go for sugar.

              Basic guidelines for using them are ..
              SUGAR. Wine yeast can use no more than 2.5lbs of sugar/1imp gal or
              2.2lb/1U.S.gal or 1.25kg/5litres of must. This will produce 14%a.b.v. Honey
              and liquid malt extract are 80% sugar so you need 1.5kg/5l must or mash.
              Molasses is 50% sugar so you need 2.5kg/5l must or mash. Maple syrup is 32%
              sugar. Carob beans are 45% sugar. Sugar beets are 15% sugar Grain malt is
              60% sugar (starch converted to sugars) so you need 1.5kg/5l mash. Cooked
              grain contains 60% convertible starch so you need 1.5kg/5l mash
              FRUIT - Grapes contain the ideal sugar, water, acid balance. A sugar content
              of 17-23% and a water content of about 80%. 8kg of grapes produces 5l of
              wine. Most common fruits (apples, plums, apricots) contain about 10% sugar
              and 85% water. Cherries and figs contain 15% sugar. A fruit mash could be
              4kg fruit, (400g sugar content), 2l water (3l in pulp already), 800g
              additional sugar. Bananas are 17-24% sugar, 75% water. Acid content 0.3%. A
              banana mash could be 4kg of cooked bananas, 2l water (3l in pulp
              already),400g sugar. Add 3lemons/5l for correct pH. Dates are 70% sugar, 20%
              water. Add acid to a date mash. Raisins and sultanas have a water content of
              about 15% and a sugar content of 60%, grapes have a water content of 75% and
              a sugar content of about 20%, so using 1.5-2kg/5l of water appears about
              right if we want to reconstitute them.
              ACID - 5g of citric acid (1tsp)/5l must raises acidity by 0.1%. 3g of
              calcium carbonate powder lowers acidity by 0.1%. A pH of 5 is 0.4% acidity.
              Winemakers aim for 0.6% acidity. Most common fruits are about 0.6% acid
              content. For distilling, a higher acidity in the mash helps to suppress
              bacteria. A high tannin content doesn't matter as we are not making wine.
              Meaurements are logarithmic, so a pH of 4 is 10 times more acidic than a pH
              of 5.
              YEAST - Brewers (& possibly baker's yeast) can tolerate only 8% alcohol. A
              bottom fermenting lager yeast ferments out all the sugars better than a top
              fermenting ale yeast. A good wine yeast (Champagne, in the right conditions,
              can tolerate 15%a.b.v. (up to 18%a.b.v. in optimal conditions - no need to
              use expensive turbos). Wild yeasts vary, but some are very low - this is a
              risky path. Whisky distillers often use a combination of yeasts - initially
              a brewer's yeast because they believe it effects the flavor.

              8) Can I use fruit wine ?

              Sure, if you have it available. Again, using a pot still will result in a
              brandy/grappa/schnapps, whereas a reflux still will just strip it down to
              neutral spirit.

              9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?

              That "rough moonshine edge" or "off-taste / wet cardboard smell" is due to
              impurities such as the higher order alcohols, known as cogeners or fusel
              oils. These will be present more when using a pot still, less if using a
              reflux still, and just about absent if using a fractionating column. So one
              way is to use a taller packed column and increase the amount of reflux
              occuring. They can also indicate that you've tried to collect too much of
              the alcohol, and have run into the "tails"; so finish collecting a little
              bit earlier next time. Soaking tainted alcohol with activated carbon for a
              week (or even months) will help remove some of this flavour - this is known
              as "polishing" the spirit. I'm also suspecting that you need a little bit of
              copper somewhere in the still where it can come in contact with the vapour.
              The copper helps catalyse some of the sulphur, esters & organic acids,
              reducing their odour & taste.

              10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?

              You need a hydrometer. This is a wee float, with a scale inside it. The more
              alcohol that is present, the lighter the density of the liquid, so the
              hydrometer sinks a bit lower. You then just read off the scale how much
              alcohol is present. You need a seperate hydrometer for measuring the density
              of the mash, as this is generally > 1.0, whereas the spirit is < 1.0, and
              they can't accurately do both ends of the scale.

              11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?

              There are now many commercial flavourings available, which turn vodka or
              neutral alcohol into pretty decent gin or whiskey, or all manor of liqueurs.
              See the commercial sites, like Des Zines
              http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~topkiwi or Ray Toms http://moonshine.co.nz/ for
              details. Or you can soak it with oak chips and make whiskey, or soak fruits
              in it to make your own liqueurs.

              12) What web resources are there ?

              For more details, see :
              Tony Ackland's http://homedistiller.org
              Aaron Smiths's http://www.go.to/distillation
              Steve Spence's http://www.webconx.com/ethanol.htm
              StillMaker's http://www.Moonshine-Still.com
              Biofuels Library http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library.html

              13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?

              Both the NEW DISTILLERS and the DISTILLERS news groups are available via
              YahooGroups, at http://www.yahoogroups.com . NEW DISTILLERS is, as the name
              suggests, intended for those of you new to distilling and after simple,
              straight-forward discussions, whereas the DISTILLERS group is a bit more
              advanced, throwing in bits of design philosophy, theory, and alternative
              ways of achieving the results. Both tend to overlap to some extent.

              14) Can I run my car on it ?

              You can run your car on alcohol over about 80% purity. Because any water
              present will seperate out in the presence of the gasoline (and become a
              problem), you either need to exclusively use the alcohol, or dry it right
              out (eg 99%+ purity) if using it to mix with gasoline. See Steve Spences
              site for more details, the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual, or the The
              Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel. In addition, in the
              USA, you can get a "small fuel producer" permit, which allows small scale
              distilling for "motor fuel" purposes. A nice advantage is that they don't
              require denaturing for "fuel" used on the premises. The regulations are
              posted at http://www.webconx.com/ethanolusaregs.htm

              15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....

              To convert between SI & Imperial units, multiply the first unit by the
              conversion factor to get the second. Divide back to do it in reverse .eg 1L
              = 0.264 US gal, so 20 L = 20 x 0.264 = 5.28 US gal, and 20 US gal / 0.264 =
              75.76 L

              1 L = 0.264 US gal = 0.221 UK gal
              1 L = 1.057 US qt = 0.880 UK qt
              1 kg = 2.204 lbm = 32.15 oz (troy) = 35.27 oz (av)
              deg F = ((9/5) x deg C )+ 32
              1m = 1000 mm = 39.37 inch = 3.28 ft = 1.09 yd

              16) What is a "Thumper" ?

              A "thumper" is an extra chamber sometimes fitted to a pot still. It can be
              as simple as a glass jar with two holes in the lid. The off-take from the
              still is fed into it, with the pipe running almost all the way to the bottom
              of the jar; the jar is half filled with liquid (water or mash or tails) so
              that the vapour from the still will bubble up through it; then the vapour
              coming off it is collected & cooled as per normal. It acts as a second
              distilling chamber using just the heat from the vapour, and lifts the purity
              from 50-60% to 70-80%, hence improving what might otherwise be a very
              mediocre design.

              17) Can I use a Reflux Still to make Rum or Whisky ?

              Yes you can. To do so, you need to carefully monitor the various transitions
              between the foreshots, heads, middle run, and tails, and time the collection
              of the middle run precisely. The reflux still allows you to more precisely
              judge the changes between the various stages, and hence target them
              accurately. A typical rum or whisky would be obtained by discarding the
              foreshots, then collecting the heads, middle run, and then begin the tails,
              until the purity has dropped to around 58-60% (81.4C). By altering when to
              start collecting, and how late to time the final "cut", various flavour
              profiles will result.
            • AuntyEthyl
              Well this has been asked about quite a bit of late so i ll put my 40 cents worth in. Firstly, this is not the *only* way, nor the easiest way, nor the best way
              Message 6 of 18 , Nov 18, 2001
              • 0 Attachment
                Well this has been asked about quite a bit of late so
                i'll put my 40 cents worth in.

                Firstly, this is not the *only* way, nor the easiest
                way, nor the best way it's just my way and for me it
                works well. But it has some advantages over other
                designs.

                This system, uses a tube that is essentially sealed,
                so unlike other designs, you can fill and forget,
                rather than watch for overflow or needing to top it up
                all the time. It is also designed around a 25ltr wash,
                so will process about 10 ltrs of 40% spirit in a
                single pass in about 36hours.

                Secondly I apologise for the drawings, when it comes
                to Artistic, I'm all Autistic.

                Materials

                1 x 500mm long 50mm diameter upvc pipe
                1 x 50mm end cap
                1 x 50mm threaded adapter
                1 x 50mm threaded end cap with O ring
                1 x poly pipe barbed adapter (see drawing/see text)
                1 x Caulking gun glue tube nozzle
                1 x Aquarium air tap
                1 x 1 meter+ of silicon aquarium air hose

                20ltr drum with tap
                Container to collect treated spirit (I use a
                fermenter)
                Some coffee filter paper
                Activated carbon
                Some untreated spirit

                Note. The poly pipe barbed fitting is the barbed part
                of the poly pipe adapter that screws to a tap and has
                the barbed part to attach some poly pipe. See
                polyfit.gif

                After studying my ordinary drawings, drill a hole in
                the centre of the end cap to suit the nozzle. This can
                be glued into position with silicon, from the outside.
                The end cap can then be glued onto the end of the main
                pipe. The barbs on the poly pipe fitting need to be
                filed down flush with the outside of the fitting, then
                a suitable hole drilled into the centre of threaded
                cap, and the poly pipe fitting glued into place. The
                threaded adapter can be glued onto the other end of
                the pipe.

                With the main filter unit built, all you need is a
                short piece of plastic tubing to fit over the barbed
                poly pipe fitting, then other end fits over the end of
                a standard drum tape (not the cobra/flip type tap)

                To the caulking gun nozzle attach a short peice of
                silicon tube. The other end is attached to the air
                tap. A longer peice of silicon tube is used from the
                tap, leading into the collection container.

                When you are ready to use.
                Cut two layers of coffee filter paper to fit inside of
                the main pipe. Push these inside the main pipe until
                they rest at the bottom against the end cap.
                Fill your main pipe with activated carbon, to 50mm
                from the top.
                Pour the carbon into a glass bowl and pour boiling
                water over carbon. Stir, leave sit for a couple of
                minutes and pour off the water.
                Repeat about five times until water above the carbon
                is clear.
                Rinse filter housing. And fold silicon tube and clamp
                with a clothes peg. Fill tube with fairly warm to hot
                water.
                Pour off excess water from carbon and using a desert
                spoon fill tube with the carbon. Once filled, screw on
                threaded cap and top up water in filter. Push the
                clear plastic tube over the tap of the drum which has
                been filled with untreated spirit at 50% or less, the
                drum has also been suspended from the garage roof
                truss.
                Turn on the drum tap and adjust the aquarium air tap
                until the flow is quite fast, feel the filter pipe, as
                the spirit flows thru the pipe will cool, letting you
                know how far the spirit has flowed.
                Let the spirit flow fast until about two thirds of the
                water has been displaced. The water can be chucked,
                adjust the air tap until the spirit is just flowing,
                about 2 drips a second.

                Relax and wait for some smooth tasting, non smelling
                spirit.

                This works very well for me.

                Enjoy
                AuntyEthyl





                __________________________________________________
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              • Tony & Elle Ackland
                ****************************************************************** NEW DISTILLERS Frequently Asked Questions (Sept 01) Posted near the 1st of each month, to
                Message 7 of 18 , Jan 1, 2002
                • 0 Attachment
                  ******************************************************************
                  "NEW DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (Sept'01)

                  Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at
                  www.yahoogroups.com

                  Please email any additions, corrections, clarifications required, etc
                  regarding the FAQ to Tony Ackland (ackland@...), however please
                  direct any general questions to the newsgroup itself.

                  *******************************************************************

                  1) Is distilling hard to do ?
                  2) Is it legal ?
                  3) Will it make me blind ?
                  4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
                  fractionating column ?
                  5) How do I get or make a still ?
                  6) How do I make a whisky / rum / vodka / gin ?
                  7) Should I use sugar or grains ?
                  8) Can I use fruit wine ?
                  9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?
                  10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
                  11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?
                  12) What web resources are there ?
                  13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?
                  14) Can I run my car on it ?
                  15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....
                  16) What is a "Thumper" ?
                  17) Can I use a reflux still to make rum or whisky ?

                  **********************************************************************

                  1) Is distilling hard to do ?

                  Nope - if you can follow instructions enough to bake scones, then you can
                  sucessfully distil. To distil well however, will require you to understand
                  what you're doing, so read around and get a bit of information under your
                  belt before you begin.

                  2) Is it legal ?

                  Probably not. It is only legal in New Zealand, and some European countries
                  turn a blind eye to it, but elsewhere it is illegal, with punishment
                  ranging from fines to imprisonment or floggings. This action against it is
                  usually the result of either religous beliefs (right or wrong), but more
                  generally due to the great revenue base it provides Governements through
                  excise taxes. So if you are going to distil, just be aware of the potential
                  legal ramifications.

                  3) Will it make me blind ?

                  Not if you're careful. This pervasive question is due to moonshine lore,
                  which abounds with myths of blindness, but few actual documented cases. The
                  concern is due to the presence of methanol (wood alcohol), an optic nerve
                  poison, which can be present in small amounts when fermenting grains or
                  fruits high in pectin. This methanol comes off first from the still, so it
                  is easily segregated and discarded. A simple rule of thumb for this is to
                  throw away the first 50 mL you collect (per 20 L mash used). Probably the
                  greatest risk to your health during distilling is the risk of fire -
                  collecting a flammable liquid near a heat source. So keep a fire
                  extinguisher nearby.

                  4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
                  fractionating column ?

                  A pot still simply collects and condenses the alcohol vapours that come off
                  the boiling mash. This will result in an alcohol at about 40-60% purity,
                  with plenty of flavour in it. If this distillate were put through the pot
                  still again, it would increase in purity to around 70-85% purity, and lose
                  a bit of its flavour.

                  A reflux still does these multiple distillations in one single go, by
                  having some packing in a column between the condensor & the pot, and
                  allowing some of the vapour to condense and trickle back down through the
                  packing. This "reflux" of liquid helps clean the rising vapour and increase
                  the % purity. The taller the packed column, and the more reflux liquid, the
                  purer the product will be. The advantage of doing this is that it will
                  result in a clean vodka, with little flavour to it - ideal for mixing with
                  flavours etc.

                  A fractionating column is a pure form of the reflux still. It will condense
                  all the vapour at the top of the packing, and return about 9/10 back down
                  the column. The column will be quite tall - say 600-1200mm (2-4 foot), and
                  packed with a material high in surface area, but which takes up little
                  space (pot scrubbers are good for this). It will result in an alcohol 95%+
                  pure (the theoretical limit without using a vacuum is 96.48 %(by volume)),
                  with no other tastes or impurities in it.

                  5) How do I get or make a still ?

                  If you're after a pot still, these are generally home made using what-ever
                  you have at hand - say copper tubing and old water heaters or pressure
                  cookers. Reflux stills can be made from plans on the net, or bought from
                  several manufacturers. For reflux stil plans see Stillmakers "Build a World
                  Class Distillation Apparatus" at http://www.Moonshine-Still.com (Free!) or
                  Gert Strands : http://partyman.se/Engelsk/default.htm (US$5). A good book
                  is Ian Smileys "Making Pure Corn Whisky" at
                  http://www.magma.ca/~smiley/main.htm, with full design details. See the
                  list of "web resources" below for links to sites selling ready-made stills.
                  For fuel alcohol stills see the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual at
                  http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_motherearth/meToC.html,
                  and the The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel by S.W.
                  Mathewson at
                  http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_manual/manual_ToC.html

                  Regarding the choice of heating for the still - if you have 240V available
                  it is usually easiest to control & safer (particularly with internal
                  elements). Gas can be used, but more care is needed to keep the collection
                  container further away and not letting it overfill.

                  6) How do I make a whisky / vodka / rum / gin ?

                  Whiskey : Heat 4 kg cracked or crushed malt with 18 L of water to 63-65C,
                  and hold there for 1-1.5 hours. Heat to 73-75C, then strain off and keep
                  liquid, using 250 mL of hot water to rinse the grains. Cool to below 30C
                  (should have an initial specific gravity of 1.050). Add hydrated yeast &
                  leave to ferment (maintain at 26C) until airlock stops bubbling and final
                  SG of around 1.010. Let settle for a day, then syphon carefully into a pot
                  still. Discard the first 50 mL's, collect the next 2-3L of distillate or
                  until you start noticing the tails coming through.

                  Vodka : dissolve 5 kg of sugar & 60g of nutrients in 20L of water, cool to
                  below 30C and add hydrated yeast. Leave to ferment at 25C until below an SG
                  of around 0.990, then settle for a day. Syphon into a reflux or
                  fractionating still, and collect as per usual.

                  Rum : as per vodka, but use some brown sugar or mollasses, to give an
                  initial specific gravity (SG) of around 1.06 - 1.07. Run through either a
                  pot still, or a not-so-great reflux still.

                  Gin : make a very pure vodka, then add the following essence. Simmer 35g of
                  juniper berries in 350 mL of 50% vodka for ten minutes with the lid on, let
                  cool overnight, then filter through coffee filters. Use 5-10 mL of this
                  essence per bottle of vodka.

                  When doing any fermenting, take a lot of care to ensure that any items used
                  are clean/sterile (soaking them in a water + bleach (10 mL per litre) ), or
                  else the wash can start growing other things. Use a closed fermenter with
                  an airlock too, to let the CO2 out without letting wild yeasts, bugs etc
                  in. For more information about fermenting, see beer or wine homebrewing
                  sites.

                  7) Should I use sugar or grains/fruit ?

                  It depends on what sort of still you have, and what you are trying to make.
                  If you have a reflux or fractionating still, only use whatever is cheapest
                  (usually sugar), as the refluxing will strip out all the flavours anyhow.
                  If you have a pot still, and are after a bourban or whiskey, then you need
                  to go the grain route, or mollasses if after a rum. If you are trying to
                  make a neutral spirit for flavouring, go for sugar.

                  Basic guidelines for using them are ..
                  SUGAR. Wine yeast can use no more than 2.5lbs of sugar/1imp gal or
                  2.2lb/1U.S.gal or 1.25kg/5litres of must. This will produce 14%a.b.v. Honey
                  and liquid malt extract are 80% sugar so you need 1.5kg/5l must or mash.
                  Molasses is 50% sugar so you need 2.5kg/5l must or mash. Maple syrup is 32%
                  sugar. Carob beans are 45% sugar. Sugar beets are 15% sugar Grain malt is
                  60% sugar (starch converted to sugars) so you need 1.5kg/5l mash. Cooked
                  grain contains 60% convertible starch so you need 1.5kg/5l mash
                  FRUIT - Grapes contain the ideal sugar, water, acid balance. A sugar
                  content of 17-23% and a water content of about 80%. 8kg of grapes produces
                  5l of wine. Most common fruits (apples, plums, apricots) contain about 10%
                  sugar and 85% water. Cherries and figs contain 15% sugar. A fruit mash
                  could be 4kg fruit, (400g sugar content), 2l water (3l in pulp already),
                  800g additional sugar. Bananas are 17-24% sugar, 75% water. Acid content
                  0.3%. A banana mash could be 4kg of cooked bananas, 2l water (3l in pulp
                  already),400g sugar. Add 3lemons/5l for correct pH. Dates are 70% sugar,
                  20% water. Add acid to a date mash. Raisins and sultanas have a water
                  content of about 15% and a sugar content of 60%, grapes have a water
                  content of 75% and a sugar content of about 20%, so using 1.5-2kg/5l of
                  water appears about right if we want to reconstitute them.
                  ACID - 5g of citric acid (1tsp)/5l must raises acidity by 0.1%. 3g of
                  calcium carbonate powder lowers acidity by 0.1%. A pH of 5 is 0.4% acidity.
                  Winemakers aim for 0.6% acidity. Most common fruits are about 0.6% acid
                  content. For distilling, a higher acidity in the mash helps to suppress
                  bacteria. A high tannin content doesn't matter as we are not making wine.
                  Meaurements are logarithmic, so a pH of 4 is 10 times more acidic than a pH
                  of 5.
                  YEAST - Brewers (& possibly baker's yeast) can tolerate only 8% alcohol. A
                  bottom fermenting lager yeast ferments out all the sugars better than a top
                  fermenting ale yeast. A good wine yeast (Champagne, in the right
                  conditions, can tolerate 15%a.b.v. (up to 18%a.b.v. in optimal conditions -
                  no need to use expensive turbos). Wild yeasts vary, but some are very low -
                  this is a risky path. Whisky distillers often use a combination of yeasts -
                  initially a brewer's yeast because they believe it effects the flavor.

                  8) Can I use fruit wine ?

                  Sure, if you have it available. Again, using a pot still will result in a
                  brandy/grappa/schnapps, whereas a reflux still will just strip it down to
                  neutral spirit.

                  9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?

                  That "rough moonshine edge" or "off-taste / wet cardboard smell" is due to
                  impurities such as the higher order alcohols, known as cogeners or fusel
                  oils. These will be present more when using a pot still, less if using a
                  reflux still, and just about absent if using a fractionating column. So one
                  way is to use a taller packed column and increase the amount of reflux
                  occuring. They can also indicate that you've tried to collect too much of
                  the alcohol, and have run into the "tails"; so finish collecting a little
                  bit earlier next time. Soaking tainted alcohol with activated carbon for a
                  week (or even months) will help remove some of this flavour - this is known
                  as "polishing" the spirit. I'm also suspecting that you need a little bit
                  of copper somewhere in the still where it can come in contact with the
                  vapour. The copper helps catalyse some of the sulphur, esters & organic
                  acids, reducing their odour & taste.

                  10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?

                  You need a hydrometer. This is a wee float, with a scale inside it. The
                  more alcohol that is present, the lighter the density of the liquid, so the
                  hydrometer sinks a bit lower. You then just read off the scale how much
                  alcohol is present. You need a seperate hydrometer for measuring the
                  density of the mash, as this is generally > 1.0, whereas the spirit is <
                  1.0, and they can't accurately do both ends of the scale.

                  11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?

                  There are now many commercial flavourings available, which turn vodka or
                  neutral alcohol into pretty decent gin or whiskey, or all manor of
                  liqueurs. See the commercial sites, like Des Zines
                  http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~topkiwi or Ray Toms http://moonshine.co.nz/
                  for details. Or you can soak it with oak chips and make whiskey, or soak
                  fruits in it to make your own liqueurs.

                  12) What web resources are there ?

                  For more details, see :
                  Tony Ackland's http://homedistiller.org
                  Aaron Smiths's http://www.go.to/distillation
                  Steve Spence's http://www.webconx.com/ethanol.htm
                  StillMaker's http://www.Moonshine-Still.com
                  Biofuels Library http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library.html

                  13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?

                  Both the NEW DISTILLERS and the DISTILLERS news groups are available via
                  YahooGroups, at http://www.yahoogroups.com . NEW DISTILLERS is, as the name
                  suggests, intended for those of you new to distilling and after simple,
                  straight-forward discussions, whereas the DISTILLERS group is a bit more
                  advanced, throwing in bits of design philosophy, theory, and alternative
                  ways of achieving the results. Both tend to overlap to some extent.

                  14) Can I run my car on it ?

                  You can run your car on alcohol over about 80% purity. Because any water
                  present will seperate out in the presence of the gasoline (and become a
                  problem), you either need to exclusively use the alcohol, or dry it right
                  out (eg 99%+ purity) if using it to mix with gasoline. See Steve Spences
                  site for more details, the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual, or the The
                  Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel. In addition, in
                  the USA, you can get a "small fuel producer" permit, which allows small
                  scale distilling for "motor fuel" purposes. A nice advantage is that they
                  don't require denaturing for "fuel" used on the premises. The regulations
                  are posted at http://www.webconx.com/ethanolusaregs.htm

                  15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....

                  To convert between SI & Imperial units, multiply the first unit by the
                  conversion factor to get the second. Divide back to do it in reverse .eg 1L
                  = 0.264 US gal, so 20 L = 20 x 0.264 = 5.28 US gal, and 20 US gal / 0.264 =
                  75.76 L

                  1 L = 0.264 US gal = 0.221 UK gal
                  1 L = 1.057 US qt = 0.880 UK qt
                  1 kg = 2.204 lbm = 32.15 oz (troy) = 35.27 oz (av)
                  deg F = ((9/5) x deg C )+ 32
                  1m = 1000 mm = 39.37 inch = 3.28 ft = 1.09 yd

                  16) What is a "Thumper" ?

                  A "thumper" is an extra chamber sometimes fitted to a pot still. It can be
                  as simple as a glass jar with two holes in the lid. The off-take from the
                  still is fed into it, with the pipe running almost all the way to the
                  bottom of the jar; the jar is half filled with liquid (water or mash or
                  tails) so that the vapour from the still will bubble up through it; then
                  the vapour coming off it is collected & cooled as per normal. It acts as a
                  second distilling chamber using just the heat from the vapour, and lifts
                  the purity from 50-60% to 70-80%, hence improving what might otherwise be a
                  very mediocre design.

                  17) Can I use a Reflux Still to make Rum or Whisky ?

                  Yes you can. To do so, you need to carefully monitor the various
                  transitions between the foreshots, heads, middle run, and tails, and time
                  the collection of the middle run precisely. The reflux still allows you to
                  more precisely judge the changes between the various stages, and hence
                  target them accurately. A typical rum or whisky would be obtained by
                  discarding the foreshots, then collecting the heads, middle run, and then
                  begin the tails, until the purity has dropped to around 58-60% (81.4C). By
                  altering when to start collecting, and how late to time the final "cut",
                  various flavour profiles will result.
                  ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  --------

                  http://homedistiller.org This page last modified 10/05/2001 17:21:16
                  email: ackland@...
                • Tony & Elle Ackland
                  NEW DISTILLERS Frequently Asked Questions (Sept 01) Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at www.yahoogroups.com Please email
                  Message 8 of 18 , Feb 28, 2002
                  • 0 Attachment
                    "NEW DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (Sept'01)

                    Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at
                    www.yahoogroups.com

                    Please email any additions, corrections, clarifications required, etc
                    regarding the FAQ to Tony Ackland (ackland@...), however please
                    direct any general questions to the newsgroup itself.

                    *******************************************************************

                    1) Is distilling hard to do ?
                    2) Is it legal ?
                    3) Will it make me blind ?
                    4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
                    fractionating column ?
                    5) How do I get or make a still ?
                    6) How do I make a whisky / rum / vodka / gin ?
                    7) Should I use sugar or grains ?
                    8) Can I use fruit wine ?
                    9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?
                    10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
                    11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?
                    12) What web resources are there ?
                    13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?
                    14) Can I run my car on it ?
                    15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....
                    16) What is a "Thumper" ?
                    17) Can I use a reflux still to make rum or whisky ?

                    **********************************************************************

                    1) Is distilling hard to do ?

                    Nope - if you can follow instructions enough to bake scones, then you can
                    sucessfully distil. To distil well however, will require you to understand
                    what you're doing, so read around and get a bit of information under your
                    belt before you begin.

                    2) Is it legal ?

                    Probably not. It is only legal in New Zealand, and some European countries
                    turn a blind eye to it, but elsewhere it is illegal, with punishment
                    ranging from fines to imprisonment or floggings. This action against it is
                    usually the result of either religous beliefs (right or wrong), but more
                    generally due to the great revenue base it provides Governements through
                    excise taxes. So if you are going to distil, just be aware of the potential
                    legal ramifications.

                    3) Will it make me blind ?

                    Not if you're careful. This pervasive question is due to moonshine lore,
                    which abounds with myths of blindness, but few actual documented cases. The
                    concern is due to the presence of methanol (wood alcohol), an optic nerve
                    poison, which can be present in small amounts when fermenting grains or
                    fruits high in pectin. This methanol comes off first from the still, so it
                    is easily segregated and discarded. A simple rule of thumb for this is to
                    throw away the first 50 mL you collect (per 20 L mash used). Probably the
                    greatest risk to your health during distilling is the risk of fire -
                    collecting a flammable liquid near a heat source. So keep a fire
                    extinguisher nearby.

                    4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
                    fractionating column ?

                    A pot still simply collects and condenses the alcohol vapours that come off
                    the boiling mash. This will result in an alcohol at about 40-60% purity,
                    with plenty of flavour in it. If this distillate were put through the pot
                    still again, it would increase in purity to around 70-85% purity, and lose
                    a bit of its flavour.

                    A reflux still does these multiple distillations in one single go, by
                    having some packing in a column between the condensor & the pot, and
                    allowing some of the vapour to condense and trickle back down through the
                    packing. This "reflux" of liquid helps clean the rising vapour and increase
                    the % purity. The taller the packed column, and the more reflux liquid, the
                    purer the product will be. The advantage of doing this is that it will
                    result in a clean vodka, with little flavour to it - ideal for mixing with
                    flavours etc.

                    A fractionating column is a pure form of the reflux still. It will condense
                    all the vapour at the top of the packing, and return about 9/10 back down
                    the column. The column will be quite tall - say 600-1200mm (2-4 foot), and
                    packed with a material high in surface area, but which takes up little
                    space (pot scrubbers are good for this). It will result in an alcohol 95%+
                    pure (the theoretical limit without using a vacuum is 96.48 %(by volume)),
                    with no other tastes or impurities in it.

                    5) How do I get or make a still ?

                    If you're after a pot still, these are generally home made using what-ever
                    you have at hand - say copper tubing and old water heaters or pressure
                    cookers. Reflux stills can be made from plans on the net, or bought from
                    several manufacturers. For reflux stil plans see Stillmakers "Build a World
                    Class Distillation Apparatus" at http://www.Moonshine-Still.com (Free!) or
                    Gert Strands : http://partyman.se/Engelsk/default.htm (US$5). A good book
                    is Ian Smileys "Making Pure Corn Whisky" at
                    http://www.magma.ca/~smiley/main.htm, with full design details. See the
                    list of "web resources" below for links to sites selling ready-made stills.
                    For fuel alcohol stills see the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual at
                    http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_motherearth/meToC.html,
                    and the The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel by S.W.
                    Mathewson at
                    http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_manual/manual_ToC.html

                    Regarding the choice of heating for the still - if you have 240V available
                    it is usually easiest to control & safer (particularly with internal
                    elements). Gas can be used, but more care is needed to keep the collection
                    container further away and not letting it overfill.

                    6) How do I make a whisky / vodka / rum / gin ?

                    Whiskey : Heat 4 kg cracked or crushed malt with 18 L of water to 63-65C,
                    and hold there for 1-1.5 hours. Heat to 73-75C, then strain off and keep
                    liquid, using 250 mL of hot water to rinse the grains. Cool to below 30C
                    (should have an initial specific gravity of 1.050). Add hydrated yeast &
                    leave to ferment (maintain at 26C) until airlock stops bubbling and final
                    SG of around 1.010. Let settle for a day, then syphon carefully into a pot
                    still. Discard the first 50 mL's, collect the next 2-3L of distillate or
                    until you start noticing the tails coming through.

                    Vodka : dissolve 5 kg of sugar & 60g of nutrients in 20L of water, cool to
                    below 30C and add hydrated yeast. Leave to ferment at 25C until below an SG
                    of around 0.990, then settle for a day. Syphon into a reflux or
                    fractionating still, and collect as per usual.

                    Rum : as per vodka, but use some brown sugar or mollasses, to give an
                    initial specific gravity (SG) of around 1.06 - 1.07. Run through either a
                    pot still, or a not-so-great reflux still.

                    Gin : make a very pure vodka, then add the following essence. Simmer 35g of
                    juniper berries in 350 mL of 50% vodka for ten minutes with the lid on, let
                    cool overnight, then filter through coffee filters. Use 5-10 mL of this
                    essence per bottle of vodka.

                    When doing any fermenting, take a lot of care to ensure that any items used
                    are clean/sterile (soaking them in a water + bleach (10 mL per litre) ), or
                    else the wash can start growing other things. Use a closed fermenter with
                    an airlock too, to let the CO2 out without letting wild yeasts, bugs etc
                    in. For more information about fermenting, see beer or wine homebrewing
                    sites.

                    7) Should I use sugar or grains/fruit ?

                    It depends on what sort of still you have, and what you are trying to make.
                    If you have a reflux or fractionating still, only use whatever is cheapest
                    (usually sugar), as the refluxing will strip out all the flavours anyhow.
                    If you have a pot still, and are after a bourban or whiskey, then you need
                    to go the grain route, or mollasses if after a rum. If you are trying to
                    make a neutral spirit for flavouring, go for sugar.

                    Basic guidelines for using them are ..
                    SUGAR. Wine yeast can use no more than 2.5lbs of sugar/1imp gal or
                    2.2lb/1U.S.gal or 1.25kg/5litres of must. This will produce 14%a.b.v. Honey
                    and liquid malt extract are 80% sugar so you need 1.5kg/5l must or mash.
                    Molasses is 50% sugar so you need 2.5kg/5l must or mash. Maple syrup is 32%
                    sugar. Carob beans are 45% sugar. Sugar beets are 15% sugar Grain malt is
                    60% sugar (starch converted to sugars) so you need 1.5kg/5l mash. Cooked
                    grain contains 60% convertible starch so you need 1.5kg/5l mash
                    FRUIT - Grapes contain the ideal sugar, water, acid balance. A sugar
                    content of 17-23% and a water content of about 80%. 8kg of grapes produces
                    5l of wine. Most common fruits (apples, plums, apricots) contain about 10%
                    sugar and 85% water. Cherries and figs contain 15% sugar. A fruit mash
                    could be 4kg fruit, (400g sugar content), 2l water (3l in pulp already),
                    800g additional sugar. Bananas are 17-24% sugar, 75% water. Acid content
                    0.3%. A banana mash could be 4kg of cooked bananas, 2l water (3l in pulp
                    already),400g sugar. Add 3lemons/5l for correct pH. Dates are 70% sugar,
                    20% water. Add acid to a date mash. Raisins and sultanas have a water
                    content of about 15% and a sugar content of 60%, grapes have a water
                    content of 75% and a sugar content of about 20%, so using 1.5-2kg/5l of
                    water appears about right if we want to reconstitute them.
                    ACID - 5g of citric acid (1tsp)/5l must raises acidity by 0.1%. 3g of
                    calcium carbonate powder lowers acidity by 0.1%. A pH of 5 is 0.4% acidity.
                    Winemakers aim for 0.6% acidity. Most common fruits are about 0.6% acid
                    content. For distilling, a higher acidity in the mash helps to suppress
                    bacteria. A high tannin content doesn't matter as we are not making wine.
                    Meaurements are logarithmic, so a pH of 4 is 10 times more acidic than a pH
                    of 5.
                    YEAST - Brewers (& possibly baker's yeast) can tolerate only 8% alcohol. A
                    bottom fermenting lager yeast ferments out all the sugars better than a top
                    fermenting ale yeast. A good wine yeast (Champagne, in the right
                    conditions, can tolerate 15%a.b.v. (up to 18%a.b.v. in optimal conditions -
                    no need to use expensive turbos). Wild yeasts vary, but some are very low -
                    this is a risky path. Whisky distillers often use a combination of yeasts -
                    initially a brewer's yeast because they believe it effects the flavor.

                    8) Can I use fruit wine ?

                    Sure, if you have it available. Again, using a pot still will result in a
                    brandy/grappa/schnapps, whereas a reflux still will just strip it down to
                    neutral spirit.

                    9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?

                    That "rough moonshine edge" or "off-taste / wet cardboard smell" is due to
                    impurities such as the higher order alcohols, known as cogeners or fusel
                    oils. These will be present more when using a pot still, less if using a
                    reflux still, and just about absent if using a fractionating column. So one
                    way is to use a taller packed column and increase the amount of reflux
                    occuring. They can also indicate that you've tried to collect too much of
                    the alcohol, and have run into the "tails"; so finish collecting a little
                    bit earlier next time. Soaking tainted alcohol with activated carbon for a
                    week (or even months) will help remove some of this flavour - this is known
                    as "polishing" the spirit. I'm also suspecting that you need a little bit
                    of copper somewhere in the still where it can come in contact with the
                    vapour. The copper helps catalyse some of the sulphur, esters & organic
                    acids, reducing their odour & taste.

                    10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?

                    You need a hydrometer. This is a wee float, with a scale inside it. The
                    more alcohol that is present, the lighter the density of the liquid, so the
                    hydrometer sinks a bit lower. You then just read off the scale how much
                    alcohol is present. You need a seperate hydrometer for measuring the
                    density of the mash, as this is generally > 1.0, whereas the spirit is <
                    1.0, and they can't accurately do both ends of the scale.

                    11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?

                    There are now many commercial flavourings available, which turn vodka or
                    neutral alcohol into pretty decent gin or whiskey, or all manor of
                    liqueurs. See the commercial sites, like Des Zines
                    http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~topkiwi or Ray Toms http://moonshine.co.nz/
                    for details. Or you can soak it with oak chips and make whiskey, or soak
                    fruits in it to make your own liqueurs.

                    12) What web resources are there ?

                    For more details, see :
                    Tony Ackland's http://homedistiller.org
                    Aaron Smiths's http://www.go.to/distillation
                    Steve Spence's http://www.webconx.com/ethanol.htm
                    StillMaker's http://www.Moonshine-Still.com
                    Biofuels Library http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library.html

                    13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?

                    Both the NEW DISTILLERS and the DISTILLERS news groups are available via
                    YahooGroups, at http://www.yahoogroups.com . NEW DISTILLERS is, as the name
                    suggests, intended for those of you new to distilling and after simple,
                    straight-forward discussions, whereas the DISTILLERS group is a bit more
                    advanced, throwing in bits of design philosophy, theory, and alternative
                    ways of achieving the results. Both tend to overlap to some extent.

                    14) Can I run my car on it ?

                    You can run your car on alcohol over about 80% purity. Because any water
                    present will seperate out in the presence of the gasoline (and become a
                    problem), you either need to exclusively use the alcohol, or dry it right
                    out (eg 99%+ purity) if using it to mix with gasoline. See Steve Spences
                    site for more details, the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual, or the The
                    Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel. In addition, in
                    the USA, you can get a "small fuel producer" permit, which allows small
                    scale distilling for "motor fuel" purposes. A nice advantage is that they
                    don't require denaturing for "fuel" used on the premises. The regulations
                    are posted at http://www.webconx.com/ethanolusaregs.htm

                    15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....

                    To convert between SI & Imperial units, multiply the first unit by the
                    conversion factor to get the second. Divide back to do it in reverse .eg 1L
                    = 0.264 US gal, so 20 L = 20 x 0.264 = 5.28 US gal, and 20 US gal / 0.264 =
                    75.76 L

                    1 L = 0.264 US gal = 0.221 UK gal
                    1 L = 1.057 US qt = 0.880 UK qt
                    1 kg = 2.204 lbm = 32.15 oz (troy) = 35.27 oz (av)
                    deg F = ((9/5) x deg C )+ 32
                    1m = 1000 mm = 39.37 inch = 3.28 ft = 1.09 yd

                    16) What is a "Thumper" ?

                    A "thumper" is an extra chamber sometimes fitted to a pot still. It can be
                    as simple as a glass jar with two holes in the lid. The off-take from the
                    still is fed into it, with the pipe running almost all the way to the
                    bottom of the jar; the jar is half filled with liquid (water or mash or
                    tails) so that the vapour from the still will bubble up through it; then
                    the vapour coming off it is collected & cooled as per normal. It acts as a
                    second distilling chamber using just the heat from the vapour, and lifts
                    the purity from 50-60% to 70-80%, hence improving what might otherwise be a
                    very mediocre design.

                    17) Can I use a Reflux Still to make Rum or Whisky ?

                    Yes you can. To do so, you need to carefully monitor the various
                    transitions between the foreshots, heads, middle run, and tails, and time
                    the collection of the middle run precisely. The reflux still allows you to
                    more precisely judge the changes between the various stages, and hence
                    target them accurately. A typical rum or whisky would be obtained by
                    discarding the foreshots, then collecting the heads, middle run, and then
                    begin the tails, until the purity has dropped to around 58-60% (81.4C). By
                    altering when to start collecting, and how late to time the final "cut",
                    various flavour profiles will result.
                    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    --------

                    http://homedistiller.org This page last modified 10/05/2001 17:21:16
                    email: ackland@...
                  • Tony & Elle Ackland
                    NEW DISTILLERS Frequently Asked Questions (Sept 01) Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at www.yahoogroups.com Please email
                    Message 9 of 18 , May 8, 2002
                    • 0 Attachment
                      "NEW DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (Sept'01)

                      Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at
                      www.yahoogroups.com

                      Please email any additions, corrections, clarifications required, etc
                      regarding the FAQ to Tony Ackland (ackland@...), however please
                      direct any general questions to the newsgroup itself.

                      *******************************************************************

                      1) Is distilling hard to do ?
                      2) Is it legal ?
                      3) Will it make me blind ?
                      4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
                      fractionating column ?
                      5) How do I get or make a still ?
                      6) How do I make a whisky / rum / vodka / gin ?
                      7) Should I use sugar or grains ?
                      8) Can I use fruit wine ?
                      9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?
                      10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
                      11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?
                      12) What web resources are there ?
                      13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?
                      14) Can I run my car on it ?
                      15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....
                      16) What is a "Thumper" ?
                      17) Can I use a reflux still to make rum or whisky ?

                      **********************************************************************

                      1) Is distilling hard to do ?

                      Nope - if you can follow instructions enough to bake scones, then you can
                      sucessfully distil. To distil well however, will require you to understand
                      what you're doing, so read around and get a bit of information under your
                      belt before you begin.

                      2) Is it legal ?

                      Probably not. It is only legal in New Zealand, and some European countries
                      turn a blind eye to it, but elsewhere it is illegal, with punishment
                      ranging from fines to imprisonment or floggings. This action against it is
                      usually the result of either religous beliefs (right or wrong), but more
                      generally due to the great revenue base it provides Governements through
                      excise taxes. So if you are going to distil, just be aware of the potential
                      legal ramifications.

                      3) Will it make me blind ?

                      Not if you're careful. This pervasive question is due to moonshine lore,
                      which abounds with myths of blindness, but few actual documented cases. The
                      concern is due to the presence of methanol (wood alcohol), an optic nerve
                      poison, which can be present in small amounts when fermenting grains or
                      fruits high in pectin. This methanol comes off first from the still, so it
                      is easily segregated and discarded. A simple rule of thumb for this is to
                      throw away the first 50 mL you collect (per 20 L mash used). Probably the
                      greatest risk to your health during distilling is the risk of fire -
                      collecting a flammable liquid near a heat source. So keep a fire
                      extinguisher nearby.

                      4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
                      fractionating column ?

                      A pot still simply collects and condenses the alcohol vapours that come off
                      the boiling mash. This will result in an alcohol at about 40-60% purity,
                      with plenty of flavour in it. If this distillate were put through the pot
                      still again, it would increase in purity to around 70-85% purity, and lose
                      a bit of its flavour.

                      A reflux still does these multiple distillations in one single go, by
                      having some packing in a column between the condensor & the pot, and
                      allowing some of the vapour to condense and trickle back down through the
                      packing. This "reflux" of liquid helps clean the rising vapour and increase
                      the % purity. The taller the packed column, and the more reflux liquid, the
                      purer the product will be. The advantage of doing this is that it will
                      result in a clean vodka, with little flavour to it - ideal for mixing with
                      flavours etc.

                      A fractionating column is a pure form of the reflux still. It will condense
                      all the vapour at the top of the packing, and return about 9/10 back down
                      the column. The column will be quite tall - say 600-1200mm (2-4 foot), and
                      packed with a material high in surface area, but which takes up little
                      space (pot scrubbers are good for this). It will result in an alcohol 95%+
                      pure (the theoretical limit without using a vacuum is 96.48 %(by volume)),
                      with no other tastes or impurities in it.

                      5) How do I get or make a still ?

                      If you're after a pot still, these are generally home made using what-ever
                      you have at hand - say copper tubing and old water heaters or pressure
                      cookers. Reflux stills can be made from plans on the net, or bought from
                      several manufacturers. For reflux stil plans see Stillmakers "Build a World
                      Class Distillation Apparatus" at http://www.Moonshine-Still.com (Free!) or
                      Gert Strands : http://partyman.se/Engelsk/default.htm (US$5). A good book
                      is Ian Smileys "Making Pure Corn Whisky" at
                      http://www.magma.ca/~smiley/main.htm, with full design details. For an
                      excellent book on all aspects of still design, see "The Compleat Distiller"
                      at http://www.amphora-society.com See the list of "web resources" below
                      for links to sites selling ready-made stills. For fuel alcohol stills see
                      the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual at
                      http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_motherearth/meToC.html,
                      and the The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel by S.W.
                      Mathewson at
                      http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_manual/manual_ToC.html
                      Regarding the choice of heating for the still - if you have 240V available
                      it is usually easiest to control & safer (particularly with internal
                      elements). Gas can be used, but more care is needed to keep the collection
                      container further away and not letting it overfill.

                      6) How do I make a whisky / vodka / rum / gin ?

                      Whiskey : Heat 4 kg cracked or crushed malt with 18 L of water to 63-65C,
                      and hold there for 1-1.5 hours. Heat to 73-75C, then strain off and keep
                      liquid, using 250 mL of hot water to rinse the grains. Cool to below 30C
                      (should have an initial specific gravity of 1.050). Add hydrated yeast &
                      leave to ferment (maintain at 26C) until airlock stops bubbling and final
                      SG of around 1.010. Let settle for a day, then syphon carefully into a pot
                      still. Discard the first 50 mL's, collect the next 2-3L of distillate or
                      until you start noticing the tails coming through.

                      Vodka : dissolve 5 kg of sugar & 60g of nutrients in 20L of water, cool to
                      below 30C and add hydrated yeast. Leave to ferment at 25C until below an SG
                      of around 0.990, then settle for a day. Syphon into a reflux or
                      fractionating still, and collect as per usual.

                      Rum : as per vodka, but use some brown sugar or mollasses, to give an
                      initial specific gravity (SG) of around 1.06 - 1.07. Run through either a
                      pot still, or a not-so-great reflux still.

                      Gin : make a very pure vodka, then add the following essence. Simmer 35g of
                      juniper berries in 350 mL of 50% vodka for ten minutes with the lid on, let
                      cool overnight, then filter through coffee filters. Use 5-10 mL of this
                      essence per bottle of vodka.

                      When doing any fermenting, take a lot of care to ensure that any items used
                      are clean/sterile (soaking them in a water + bleach (10 mL per litre) ), or
                      else the wash can start growing other things. Use a closed fermenter with
                      an airlock too, to let the CO2 out without letting wild yeasts, bugs etc
                      in. For more information about fermenting, see beer or wine homebrewing
                      sites.

                      7) Should I use sugar or grains/fruit ?

                      It depends on what sort of still you have, and what you are trying to make.
                      If you have a reflux or fractionating still, only use whatever is cheapest
                      (usually sugar), as the refluxing will strip out all the flavours anyhow.
                      If you have a pot still, and are after a bourban or whiskey, then you need
                      to go the grain route, or mollasses if after a rum. If you are trying to
                      make a neutral spirit for flavouring, go for sugar.

                      Basic guidelines for using them are ..
                      SUGAR. Wine yeast can use no more than 2.5lbs of sugar/1imp gal or
                      2.2lb/1U.S.gal or 1.25kg/5litres of must. This will produce 14%a.b.v. Honey
                      and liquid malt extract are 80% sugar so you need 1.5kg/5l must or mash.
                      Molasses is 50% sugar so you need 2.5kg/5l must or mash. Maple syrup is 32%
                      sugar. Carob beans are 45% sugar. Sugar beets are 15% sugar Grain malt is
                      60% sugar (starch converted to sugars) so you need 1.5kg/5l mash. Cooked
                      grain contains 60% convertible starch so you need 1.5kg/5l mash
                      FRUIT - Grapes contain the ideal sugar, water, acid balance. A sugar
                      content of 17-23% and a water content of about 80%. 8kg of grapes produces
                      5l of wine. Most common fruits (apples, plums, apricots) contain about 10%
                      sugar and 85% water. Cherries and figs contain 15% sugar. A fruit mash
                      could be 4kg fruit, (400g sugar content), 2l water (3l in pulp already),
                      800g additional sugar. Bananas are 17-24% sugar, 75% water. Acid content
                      0.3%. A banana mash could be 4kg of cooked bananas, 2l water (3l in pulp
                      already),400g sugar. Add 3lemons/5l for correct pH. Dates are 70% sugar,
                      20% water. Add acid to a date mash. Raisins and sultanas have a water
                      content of about 15% and a sugar content of 60%, grapes have a water
                      content of 75% and a sugar content of about 20%, so using 1.5-2kg/5l of
                      water appears about right if we want to reconstitute them.
                      ACID - 5g of citric acid (1tsp)/5l must raises acidity by 0.1%. 3g of
                      calcium carbonate powder lowers acidity by 0.1%. A pH of 5 is 0.4% acidity.
                      Winemakers aim for 0.6% acidity. Most common fruits are about 0.6% acid
                      content. For distilling, a higher acidity in the mash helps to suppress
                      bacteria. A high tannin content doesn't matter as we are not making wine.
                      Meaurements are logarithmic, so a pH of 4 is 10 times more acidic than a pH
                      of 5.
                      YEAST - Brewers (& possibly baker's yeast) can tolerate only 8% alcohol. A
                      bottom fermenting lager yeast ferments out all the sugars better than a top
                      fermenting ale yeast. A good wine yeast (Champagne, in the right
                      conditions, can tolerate 15%a.b.v. (up to 18%a.b.v. in optimal conditions -
                      no need to use expensive turbos). Wild yeasts vary, but some are very low -
                      this is a risky path. Whisky distillers often use a combination of yeasts -
                      initially a brewer's yeast because they believe it effects the flavor.

                      8) Can I use fruit wine ?

                      Sure, if you have it available. Again, using a pot still will result in a
                      brandy/grappa/schnapps, whereas a reflux still will just strip it down to
                      neutral spirit.

                      9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?

                      That "rough moonshine edge" or "off-taste / wet cardboard smell" is due to
                      impurities such as the higher order alcohols, known as cogeners or fusel
                      oils. These will be present more when using a pot still, less if using a
                      reflux still, and just about absent if using a fractionating column. So one
                      way is to use a taller packed column and increase the amount of reflux
                      occuring. They can also indicate that you've tried to collect too much of
                      the alcohol, and have run into the "tails"; so finish collecting a little
                      bit earlier next time. Soaking tainted alcohol with activated carbon for a
                      week (or even months) will help remove some of this flavour - this is known
                      as "polishing" the spirit. I'm also suspecting that you need a little bit
                      of copper somewhere in the still where it can come in contact with the
                      vapour. The copper helps catalyse some of the sulphur, esters & organic
                      acids, reducing their odour & taste.

                      10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?

                      You need a hydrometer. This is a wee float, with a scale inside it. The
                      more alcohol that is present, the lighter the density of the liquid, so the
                      hydrometer sinks a bit lower. You then just read off the scale how much
                      alcohol is present. You need a seperate hydrometer for measuring the
                      density of the mash, as this is generally > 1.0, whereas the spirit is <
                      1.0, and they can't accurately do both ends of the scale.

                      11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?

                      There are now many commercial flavourings available, which turn vodka or
                      neutral alcohol into pretty decent gin or whiskey, or all manor of
                      liqueurs. See the commercial sites, like Des Zines
                      http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~topkiwi or Ray Toms http://moonshine.co.nz/
                      for details. Or you can soak it with oak chips and make whiskey, or soak
                      fruits in it to make your own liqueurs.

                      12) What web resources are there ?

                      For more details, see :
                      Tony Ackland's http://homedistiller.org
                      Aaron Smiths's http://www.go.to/distillation
                      Steve Spence's http://www.webconx.com/ethanol.htm
                      StillMaker's http://www.Moonshine-Still.com
                      Biofuels Library http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library.html

                      13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?

                      Both the NEW DISTILLERS and the DISTILLERS news groups are available via
                      YahooGroups, at http://www.yahoogroups.com . NEW DISTILLERS is, as the name
                      suggests, intended for those of you new to distilling and after simple,
                      straight-forward discussions, whereas the DISTILLERS group is a bit more
                      advanced, throwing in bits of design philosophy, theory, and alternative
                      ways of achieving the results. Both tend to overlap to some extent.

                      14) Can I run my car on it ?

                      You can run your car on alcohol over about 80% purity. Because any water
                      present will seperate out in the presence of the gasoline (and become a
                      problem), you either need to exclusively use the alcohol, or dry it right
                      out (eg 99%+ purity) if using it to mix with gasoline. See Steve Spences
                      site for more details, the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual, or the The
                      Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel. In addition, in
                      the USA, you can get a "small fuel producer" permit, which allows small
                      scale distilling for "motor fuel" purposes. A nice advantage is that they
                      don't require denaturing for "fuel" used on the premises. The regulations
                      are posted at http://www.webconx.com/ethanolusaregs.htm

                      15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....

                      To convert between SI & Imperial units, multiply the first unit by the
                      conversion factor to get the second. Divide back to do it in reverse .eg 1L
                      = 0.264 US gal, so 20 L = 20 x 0.264 = 5.28 US gal, and 20 US gal / 0.264 =
                      75.76 L

                      1 L = 0.264 US gal = 0.221 UK gal
                      1 L = 1.057 US qt = 0.880 UK qt
                      1 kg = 2.204 lbm = 32.15 oz (troy) = 35.27 oz (av)
                      deg F = ((9/5) x deg C )+ 32
                      1m = 1000 mm = 39.37 inch = 3.28 ft = 1.09 yd

                      16) What is a "Thumper" ?

                      A "thumper" is an extra chamber sometimes fitted to a pot still. It can be
                      as simple as a glass jar with two holes in the lid. The off-take from the
                      still is fed into it, with the pipe running almost all the way to the
                      bottom of the jar; the jar is half filled with liquid (water or mash or
                      tails) so that the vapour from the still will bubble up through it; then
                      the vapour coming off it is collected & cooled as per normal. It acts as a
                      second distilling chamber using just the heat from the vapour, and lifts
                      the purity from 50-60% to 70-80%, hence improving what might otherwise be a
                      very mediocre design.

                      17) Can I use a Reflux Still to make Rum or Whisky ?

                      Yes you can. To do so, you need to carefully monitor the various
                      transitions between the foreshots, heads, middle run, and tails, and time
                      the collection of the middle run precisely. The reflux still allows you to
                      more precisely judge the changes between the various stages, and hence
                      target them accurately. A typical rum or whisky would be obtained by
                      discarding the foreshots, then collecting the heads, middle run, and then
                      begin the tails, until the purity has dropped to around 58-60% (81.4C). By
                      altering when to start collecting, and how late to time the final "cut",
                      various flavour profiles will result.
                      ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                      --------

                      http://homedistiller.org This page last modified 03/04/2002 20:40:14
                      email: ackland@...
                    • Tony & Elle Ackland
                      NEW DISTILLERS Frequently Asked Questions (June 02) Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at www.yahoogroups.com Please email
                      Message 10 of 18 , Aug 22 1:01 AM
                      • 0 Attachment
                        "NEW DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (June'02)

                        Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at
                        www.yahoogroups.com

                        Please email any additions, corrections, clarifications required, etc
                        regarding the FAQ to Tony Ackland (ackland@...), however please
                        direct any general questions to the newsgroup itself.

                        *******************************************************************

                        1) Is distilling hard to do ?
                        2) Is it legal ?
                        3) Will it make me blind ?
                        4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
                        fractionating column ?
                        5) How do I get or make a still ?
                        6) How do I make a whisky / rum / vodka / gin ?
                        7) Should I use sugar or grains ?
                        8) Can I use fruit wine ?
                        9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?
                        10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
                        11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?
                        12) What web resources are there ?
                        13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?
                        14) Can I run my car on it ?
                        15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....
                        16) What is a "Thumper" ?
                        17) Can I use a reflux still to make rum or whisky ?
                        18) Can methylated spirits be made safe to drink ?

                        **********************************************************************

                        1) Is distilling hard to do ?

                        Nope - if you can follow instructions enough to bake scones, then you can
                        sucessfully distil. To distil well however, will require you to understand
                        what you're doing, so read around and get a bit of information under your
                        belt before you begin.

                        2) Is it legal ?

                        Probably not. It is only legal in New Zealand, and some European countries
                        turn a blind eye to it, but elsewhere it is illegal, with punishment
                        ranging from fines to imprisonment or floggings. This action against it is
                        usually the result of either religous beliefs (right or wrong), but more
                        generally due to the great revenue base it provides Governements through
                        excise taxes. So if you are going to distil, just be aware of the potential
                        legal ramifications.

                        3) Will it make me blind ?

                        Not if you're careful. This pervasive question is due to moonshine lore,
                        which abounds with myths of blindness, but few actual documented cases. The
                        concern is due to the presence of methanol (wood alcohol), an optic nerve
                        poison, which can be present in small amounts when fermenting grains or
                        fruits high in pectin. This methanol comes off first from the still, so it
                        is easily segregated and discarded. A simple rule of thumb for this is to
                        throw away the first 50 mL you collect (per 20 L mash used). Probably the
                        greatest risk to your health during distilling is the risk of fire -
                        collecting a flammable liquid near a heat source. So keep a fire
                        extinguisher nearby.

                        4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
                        fractionating column ?

                        A pot still simply collects and condenses the alcohol vapours that come off
                        the boiling mash. This will result in an alcohol at about 40-60% purity,
                        with plenty of flavour in it. If this distillate were put through the pot
                        still again, it would increase in purity to around 70-85% purity, and lose
                        a bit of its flavour.

                        A reflux still does these multiple distillations in one single go, by
                        having some packing in a column between the condensor & the pot, and
                        allowing some of the vapour to condense and trickle back down through the
                        packing. This "reflux" of liquid helps clean the rising vapour and increase
                        the % purity. The taller the packed column, and the more reflux liquid, the
                        purer the product will be. The advantage of doing this is that it will
                        result in a clean vodka, with little flavour to it - ideal for mixing with
                        flavours etc.

                        A fractionating column is a pure form of the reflux still. It will condense
                        all the vapour at the top of the packing, and return about 9/10 back down
                        the column. The column will be quite tall - say 600-1200mm (2-4 foot), and
                        packed with a material high in surface area, but which takes up little
                        space (pot scrubbers are good for this). It will result in an alcohol 95%+
                        pure (the theoretical limit without using a vacuum is 96.48 %(by volume)),
                        with no other tastes or impurities in it.

                        5) How do I get or make a still ?

                        If you're after a pot still, these are generally home made using what-ever
                        you have at hand - say copper tubing and old water heaters or pressure
                        cookers. Reflux stills can be made from plans on the net, or bought from
                        several manufacturers. For reflux stil plans see Stillmakers "Build a World
                        Class Distillation Apparatus" at http://www.Moonshine-Still.com (Free!) or
                        Gert Strands : http://partyman.se/Engelsk/default.htm (US$5). A good book
                        is Ian Smileys "Making Pure Corn Whisky" at
                        http://www.magma.ca/~smiley/main.htm, with full design details. For an
                        excellent book on all aspects of still design, see "The Compleat Distiller"
                        at http://www.amphora-society.com See the list of "web resources" below
                        for links to sites selling ready-made stills. For fuel alcohol stills see
                        the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual at
                        http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_motherearth/meToC.html,
                        and the The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel by S.W.
                        Mathewson at
                        http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_manual/manual_ToC.html

                        Regarding the choice of heating for the still - if you have 240V available
                        it is usually easiest to control & safer (particularly with internal
                        elements). Gas can be used, but more care is needed to keep the collection
                        container further away and not letting it overfill.

                        6) How do I make a whisky / vodka / rum / gin ?

                        Whiskey : Heat 4 kg cracked or crushed malt with 18 L of water to 63-65C,
                        and hold there for 1-1.5 hours. Heat to 73-75C, then strain off and keep
                        liquid, using 250 mL of hot water to rinse the grains. Cool to below 30C
                        (should have an initial specific gravity of 1.050). Add hydrated yeast &
                        leave to ferment (maintain at 26C) until airlock stops bubbling and final
                        SG of around 1.010. Let settle for a day, then syphon carefully into a
                        pot still. Discard the first 50 mL's, collect the next 2-3L of distillate
                        or until you start noticing the tails coming through.

                        Vodka : dissolve 5 kg of sugar & 60g of nutrients in 20L of water, cool to
                        below 30C and add hydrated yeast. Leave to ferment at 25C until below an SG
                        of around 0.990, then settle for a day. Syphon into a reflux or
                        fractionating still, and collect as per usual.

                        Rum : as per vodka, but use some brown sugar or mollasses, to give an
                        initial specific gravity (SG) of around 1.06 - 1.07. Run through either a
                        pot still, or a not-so-great reflux still.

                        Gin : make a very pure vodka, then add the following essence. Simmer 35g of
                        juniper berries in 350 mL of 50% vodka for ten minutes with the lid on, let
                        cool overnight, then filter through coffee filters. Use 5-10 mL of this
                        essence per bottle of vodka.

                        When doing any fermenting, take a lot of care to ensure that any items used
                        are clean/sterile (soaking them in a water + bleach (10 mL per litre) ), or
                        else the wash can start growing other things. Use a closed fermenter with
                        an airlock too, to let the CO2 out without letting wild yeasts, bugs etc
                        in. For more information about fermenting, see beer or wine homebrewing
                        sites.

                        7) Should I use sugar or grains/fruit ?

                        It depends on what sort of still you have, and what you are trying to make.
                        If you have a reflux or fractionating still, only use whatever is cheapest
                        (usually sugar), as the refluxing will strip out all the flavours anyhow.
                        If you have a pot still, and are after a bourban or whiskey, then you need
                        to go the grain route, or mollasses if after a rum. If you are trying to
                        make a neutral spirit for flavouring, go for sugar.

                        Basic guidelines for using them are ..
                        SUGAR. Wine yeast can use no more than 2.5lbs of sugar/1imp gal or
                        2.2lb/1U.S.gal or 1.25kg/5litres of must. This will produce 14%a.b.v. Honey
                        and liquid malt extract are 80% sugar so you need 1.5kg/5l must or mash.
                        Molasses is 50% sugar so you need 2.5kg/5l must or mash. Maple syrup is 32%
                        sugar. Carob beans are 45% sugar. Sugar beets are 15% sugar Grain malt is
                        60% sugar (starch converted to sugars) so you need 1.5kg/5l mash. Cooked
                        grain contains 60% convertible starch so you need 1.5kg/5l mash
                        FRUIT - Grapes contain the ideal sugar, water, acid balance. A sugar
                        content of 17-23% and a water content of about 80%. 8kg of grapes produces
                        5l of wine. Most common fruits (apples, plums, apricots) contain about 10%
                        sugar and 85% water. Cherries and figs contain 15% sugar. A fruit mash
                        could be 4kg fruit, (400g sugar content), 2l water (3l in pulp already),
                        800g additional sugar. Bananas are 17-24% sugar, 75% water. Acid content
                        0.3%. A banana mash could be 4kg of cooked bananas, 2l water (3l in pulp
                        already),400g sugar. Add 3lemons/5l for correct pH. Dates are 70% sugar,
                        20% water. Add acid to a date mash. Raisins and sultanas have a water
                        content of about 15% and a sugar content of 60%, grapes have a water
                        content of 75% and a sugar content of about 20%, so using 1.5-2kg/5l of
                        water appears about right if we want to reconstitute them.
                        ACID - 5g of citric acid (1tsp)/5l must raises acidity by 0.1%. 3g of
                        calcium carbonate powder lowers acidity by 0.1%. A pH of 5 is 0.4% acidity.
                        Winemakers aim for 0.6% acidity. Most common fruits are about 0.6% acid
                        content. For distilling, a higher acidity in the mash helps to suppress
                        bacteria. A high tannin content doesn't matter as we are not making wine.
                        Meaurements are logarithmic, so a pH of 4 is 10 times more acidic than a pH
                        of 5.
                        YEAST - Brewers (& possibly baker's yeast) can tolerate only 8% alcohol. A
                        bottom fermenting lager yeast ferments out all the sugars better than a top
                        fermenting ale yeast. A good wine yeast (Champagne, in the right
                        conditions, can tolerate 15%a.b.v. (up to 18%a.b.v. in optimal conditions -
                        no need to use expensive turbos). Wild yeasts vary, but some are very low -
                        this is a risky path. Whisky distillers often use a combination of yeasts -
                        initially a brewer's yeast because they believe it effects the flavor.

                        8) Can I use fruit wine ?

                        Sure, if you have it available. Again, using a pot still will result in a
                        brandy/grappa/schnapps, whereas a reflux still will just strip it down to
                        neutral spirit.

                        9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?

                        That "rough moonshine edge" or "off-taste / wet cardboard smell" is due to
                        impurities such as the higher order alcohols, known as cogeners or fusel
                        oils. These will be present more when using a pot still, less if using a
                        reflux still, and just about absent if using a fractionating column. So one
                        way is to use a taller packed column and increase the amount of reflux
                        occuring. They can also indicate that you've tried to collect too much of
                        the alcohol, and have run into the "tails"; so finish collecting a little
                        bit earlier next time. Soaking tainted alcohol with activated carbon for a
                        week (or even months) will help remove some of this flavour - this is known
                        as "polishing" the spirit. I'm also suspecting that you need a little bit
                        of copper somewhere in the still where it can come in contact with the
                        vapour. The copper helps catalyse some of the sulphur, esters & organic
                        acids, reducing their odour & taste.

                        10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?

                        You need a hydrometer. This is a wee float, with a scale inside it. The
                        more alcohol that is present, the lighter the density of the liquid, so the
                        hydrometer sinks a bit lower. You then just read off the scale how much
                        alcohol is present. You need a seperate hydrometer for measuring the
                        density of the mash, as this is generally > 1.0, whereas the spirit is <
                        1.0, and they can't accurately do both ends of the scale.

                        11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?

                        There are now many commercial flavourings available, which turn vodka or
                        neutral alcohol into pretty decent gin or whiskey, or all manor of
                        liqueurs. See the commercial sites, like Des Zines
                        http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~topkiwi or Ray Toms http://moonshine.co.nz/
                        for details. Or you can soak it with oak chips and make whiskey, or soak
                        fruits in it to make your own liqueurs.

                        12) What web resources are there ?

                        For more details, see :
                        Tony Ackland's http://homedistiller.org
                        Aaron Smiths's http://www.go.to/distillation
                        Steve Spence's http://www.webconx.com/ethanol.htm
                        StillMaker's http://www.Moonshine-Still.com
                        Biofuels Library http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library.html

                        13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?

                        Both the NEW DISTILLERS and the DISTILLERS news groups are available via
                        YahooGroups, at http://www.yahoogroups.com . NEW DISTILLERS is, as the name
                        suggests, intended for those of you new to distilling and after simple,
                        straight-forward discussions, whereas the DISTILLERS group is a bit more
                        advanced, throwing in bits of design philosophy, theory, and alternative
                        ways of achieving the results. Both tend to overlap to some extent.

                        14) Can I run my car on it ?

                        You can run your car on alcohol over about 80% purity. Because any water
                        present will seperate out in the presence of the gasoline (and become a
                        problem), you either need to exclusively use the alcohol, or dry it right
                        out (eg 99%+ purity) if using it to mix with gasoline. See Steve Spences
                        site for more details, the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual, or the The
                        Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel. In addition, in
                        the USA, you can get a "small fuel producer" permit, which allows small
                        scale distilling for "motor fuel" purposes. A nice advantage is that they
                        don't require denaturing for "fuel" used on the premises. The regulations
                        are posted at http://www.webconx.com/ethanolusaregs.htm

                        15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....

                        To convert between SI & Imperial units, multiply the first unit by the
                        conversion factor to get the second. Divide back to do it in reverse .eg 1L
                        = 0.264 US gal, so 20 L = 20 x 0.264 = 5.28 US gal, and 20 US gal / 0.264 =
                        75.76 L

                        1 L = 0.264 US gal = 0.221 UK gal
                        1 L = 1.057 US qt = 0.880 UK qt
                        1 kg = 2.204 lbm = 32.15 oz (troy) = 35.27 oz (av)
                        deg F = ((9/5) x deg C )+ 32
                        1m = 1000 mm = 39.37 inch = 3.28 ft = 1.09 yd

                        16) What is a "Thumper" ?

                        A "thumper" is an extra chamber sometimes fitted to a pot still. It can be
                        as simple as a glass jar with two holes in the lid. The off-take from the
                        still is fed into it, with the pipe running almost all the way to the
                        bottom of the jar; the jar is half filled with liquid (water or mash or
                        tails) so that the vapour from the still will bubble up through it; then
                        the vapour coming off it is collected & cooled as per normal. It acts as a
                        second distilling chamber using just the heat from the vapour, and lifts
                        the purity from 50-60% to 70-80%, hence improving what might otherwise be a
                        very mediocre design.

                        17) Can I use a Reflux Still to make Rum or Whisky ?

                        Yes you can. To do so, you need to carefully monitor the various
                        transitions between the foreshots, heads, middle run, and tails, and time
                        the collection of the middle run precisely. The reflux still allows you to
                        more precisely judge the changes between the various stages, and hence
                        target them accurately. A typical rum or whisky would be obtained by
                        discarding the foreshots, then collecting the heads, middle run, and then
                        begin the tails, until the purity has dropped to around 58-60% (81.4C). By
                        altering when to start collecting, and how late to time the final "cut",
                        various flavour profiles will result.

                        18) Can Methylated Spirits be made safe to Drink ?

                        No. Methylated spirits (aka meths) is a mixture of ethanol and (poisonous)
                        methanol, with a denturant added to make it foul tasting. There is no
                        effective way of seperating them, be it by distilling, using carbon, or
                        filtering through bread (old wives tale). Do not add meths to anything you
                        ever intend to distill or drink, and don't try using it in any form - it
                        will still be poisonous. Keep it for cleaning and starting the BBQ with.
                        ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        --------

                        http://homedistiller.org This page last modified 05/26/2002 17:39:28
                        email: ackland@...
                      • Tony & Elle Ackland
                        Hmmm.... I ve been a bit slack about getting this out on a regular basis. Any suggestions for additions/changes etc ?
                        Message 11 of 18 , Nov 12, 2002
                        • 0 Attachment
                          Hmmm.... I've been a bit slack about getting this out on a regular basis.
                          Any suggestions for additions/changes etc ?

                          ******************************************************************
                          "NEW DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (June'02)

                          Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at
                          www.yahoogroups.com

                          Please email any additions, corrections, clarifications required, etc
                          regarding the FAQ to Tony Ackland (ackland@...), however please
                          direct any general questions to the newsgroup itself.

                          *******************************************************************

                          1) Is distilling hard to do ?
                          2) Is it legal ?
                          3) Will it make me blind ?
                          4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
                          fractionating column ?
                          5) How do I get or make a still ?
                          6) How do I make a whisky / rum / vodka / gin ?
                          7) Should I use sugar or grains ?
                          8) Can I use fruit wine ?
                          9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?
                          10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
                          11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?
                          12) What web resources are there ?
                          13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?
                          14) Can I run my car on it ?
                          15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....
                          16) What is a "Thumper" ?
                          17) Can I use a reflux still to make rum or whisky ?
                          18) Can methylated spirits be made safe to drink ?

                          **********************************************************************

                          1) Is distilling hard to do ?

                          Nope - if you can follow instructions enough to bake scones, then you can
                          sucessfully distil. To distil well however, will require you to understand
                          what you're doing, so read around and get a bit of information under your
                          belt before you begin.

                          2) Is it legal ?

                          Probably not. It is only legal in New Zealand, and some European countries
                          turn a blind eye to it, but elsewhere it is illegal, with punishment
                          ranging from fines to imprisonment or floggings. This action against it is
                          usually the result of either religous beliefs (right or wrong), but more
                          generally due to the great revenue base it provides Governements through
                          excise taxes. So if you are going to distil, just be aware of the potential
                          legal ramifications.

                          3) Will it make me blind ?

                          Not if you're careful. This pervasive question is due to moonshine lore,
                          which abounds with myths of blindness, but few actual documented cases. The
                          concern is due to the presence of methanol (wood alcohol), an optic nerve
                          poison, which can be present in small amounts when fermenting grains or
                          fruits high in pectin. This methanol comes off first from the still, so it
                          is easily segregated and discarded. A simple rule of thumb for this is to
                          throw away the first 50 mL you collect (per 20 L mash used). Probably the
                          greatest risk to your health during distilling is the risk of fire -
                          collecting a flammable liquid near a heat source. So keep a fire
                          extinguisher nearby.

                          4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and fractiona
                          ting column ?

                          A pot still simply collects and condenses the alcohol vapours that come off
                          the boiling mash. This will result in an alcohol at about 40-60% purity,
                          with plenty of flavour in it. If this distillate were put through the pot
                          still again, it would increase in purity to around 70-85% purity, and lose
                          a bit of its flavour.

                          A reflux still does these multiple distillations in one single go, by
                          having some packing in a column between the condensor & the pot, and
                          allowing some of the vapour to condense and trickle back down through the
                          packing. This "reflux" of liquid helps clean the rising vapour and increase
                          the % purity. The taller the packed column, and the more reflux liquid, the
                          purer the product will be. The advantage of doing this is that it will
                          result in a clean vodka, with little flavour to it - ideal for mixing with
                          flavours etc.

                          A fractionating column is a pure form of the reflux still. It will condense
                          all the vapour at the top of the packing, and return about 9/10 back down
                          the column. The column will be quite tall - say 600-1200mm (2-4 foot), and
                          packed with a material high in surface area, but which takes up little
                          space (pot scrubbers are good for this). It will result in an alcohol 95%+
                          pure (the theoretical limit without using a vacuum is 96.48 %(by volume)),
                          with no other tastes or impurities in it.

                          5) How do I get or make a still ?

                          If you're after a pot still, these are generally home made using what-ever
                          you have at hand - say copper tubing and old water heaters or pressure
                          cookers. Reflux stills can be made from plans on the net, or bought from
                          several manufacturers. For reflux stil plans see Stillmakers "Build a World
                          Class Distillation Apparatus" at http://www.Moonshine-Still.com (Free!) or
                          Gert Strands : http://partyman.se/Engelsk/default.htm (US$5). A good book
                          is Ian Smileys "Making Pure Corn Whisky" at
                          http://www.magma.ca/~smiley/main.htm, with full design details. For an
                          excellent book on all aspects of still design, see "The Compleat Distiller"
                          at http://www.amphora-society.com See the list of "web resources" below
                          for links to sites selling ready-made stills. For fuel alcohol stills see
                          the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual at
                          http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_motherearth/meToC.html,
                          and the The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel by S.W.
                          Mathewson at
                          http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_manual/manual_ToC.html

                          Regarding the choice of heating for the still - if you have 240V available
                          it is usually easiest to control & safer (particularly with internal
                          elements). Gas can be used, but more care is needed to keep the collection
                          container further away and not letting it overfill.

                          6) How do I make a whisky / vodka / rum / gin ?

                          Whiskey : Heat 4 kg cracked or crushed malt with 18 L of water to 63-65C,
                          and hold there for 1-1.5 hours. Heat to 73-75C, then strain off and keep
                          liquid, using 250 mL of hot water to rinse the grains. Cool to below 30C
                          (should have an initial specific gravity of 1.050). Add hydrated yeast &
                          leave to ferment (maintain at 26C) until airlock stops bubbling and final
                          SG of around 1.010. Let settle for a day, then syphon carefully into a pot
                          still. Discard the first 50 mL's, collect the next 2-3L of distillate or
                          until you start noticing the tails coming through.

                          Vodka : dissolve 5 kg of sugar & 60g of nutrients in 20L of water, cool to
                          below 30C and add hydrated yeast. Leave to ferment at 25C until below an SG
                          of around 0.990, then settle for a day. Syphon into a reflux or
                          fractionating still, and collect as per usual.

                          Rum : as per vodka, but use some brown sugar or mollasses, to give an
                          initial specific gravity (SG) of around 1.06 - 1.07. Run through either a
                          pot still, or a not-so-great reflux still.

                          Gin : make a very pure vodka, then add the following essence. Simmer 35g of
                          juniper berries in 350 mL of 50% vodka for ten minutes with the lid on, let
                          cool overnight, then filter through coffee filters. Use 5-10 mL of this
                          essence per bottle of vodka.

                          When doing any fermenting, take a lot of care to ensure that any items used
                          are clean/sterile (soaking them in a water + bleach (10 mL per litre) ), or
                          else the wash can start growing other things. Use a closed fermenter with
                          an airlock too, to let the CO2 out without letting wild yeasts, bugs etc
                          in. For more information about fermenting, see beer or wine homebrewing
                          sites.

                          7) Should I use sugar or grains/fruit ?

                          It depends on what sort of still you have, and what you are trying to make.
                          If you have a reflux or fractionating still, only use whatever is cheapest
                          (usually sugar), as the refluxing will strip out all the flavours anyhow.
                          If you have a pot still, and are after a bourban or whiskey, then you need
                          to go the grain route, or mollasses if after a rum. If you are trying to
                          make a neutral spirit for flavouring, go for sugar.

                          Basic guidelines for using them are ..

                          SUGAR. Wine yeast can use no more than 2.5lbs of sugar/1imp gal or
                          2.2lb/1U.S.gal or 1.25kg/5litres of must. This will produce 14%a.b.v. Honey
                          and liquid malt extract are 80% sugar so you need 1.5kg/5l must or mash.
                          Molasses is 50% sugar so you need 2.5kg/5l must or mash. Maple syrup is 32%
                          sugar. Carob beans are 45% sugar. Sugar beets are 15% sugar Grain malt is
                          60% sugar (starch converted to sugars) so you need 1.5kg/5l mash. Cooked
                          grain contains 60% convertible starch so you need 1.5kg/5l mash

                          FRUIT - Grapes contain the ideal sugar, water, acid balance. A sugar
                          content of 17-23% and a water content of about 80%. 8kg of grapes produces
                          5l of wine. Most common fruits (apples, plums, apricots) contain about 10%
                          sugar and 85% water. Cherries and figs contain 15% sugar. A fruit mash
                          could be 4kg fruit, (400g sugar content), 2l water (3l in pulp already),
                          800g additional sugar. Bananas are 17-24% sugar, 75% water. Acid content
                          0.3%. A banana mash could be 4kg of cooked bananas, 2l water (3l in pulp
                          already),400g sugar. Add 3lemons/5l for correct pH. Dates are 70% sugar,
                          20% water. Add acid to a date mash. Raisins and sultanas have a water
                          content of about 15% and a sugar content of 60%, grapes have a water
                          content of 75% and a sugar content of about 20%, so using 1.5-2kg/5l of
                          water appears about right if we want to reconstitute them.

                          ACID - 5g of citric acid (1tsp)/5l must raises acidity by 0.1%. 3g of
                          calcium carbonate powder lowers acidity by 0.1%. A pH of 5 is 0.4% acidity.
                          Winemakers aim for 0.6% acidity. Most common fruits are about 0.6% acid
                          content. For distilling, a higher acidity in the mash helps to suppress
                          bacteria. A high tannin content doesn't matter as we are not making wine.
                          Meaurements are logarithmic, so a pH of 4 is 10 times more acidic than a pH
                          of 5.

                          YEAST - Brewers (& possibly baker's yeast) can tolerate only 8% alcohol. A
                          bottom fermenting lager yeast ferments out all the sugars better than a top
                          fermenting ale yeast. A good wine yeast (Champagne, in the right
                          conditions, can tolerate 15%a.b.v. (up to 18%a.b.v. in optimal conditions -
                          no need to use expensive turbos). Wild yeasts vary, but some are very low -
                          this is a risky path. Whisky distillers often use a combination of yeasts -
                          initially a brewer's yeast because they believe it effects the flavor.

                          8) Can I use fruit wine ?

                          Sure, if you have it available. Again, using a pot still will result in a
                          brandy/grappa/schnapps, whereas a reflux still will just strip it down to
                          neutral spirit.

                          9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?

                          That "rough moonshine edge" or "off-taste / wet cardboard smell" is due to
                          impurities such as the higher order alcohols, known as cogeners or fusel
                          oils. These will be present more when using a pot still, less if using a
                          reflux still, and just about absent if using a fractionating column. So one
                          way is to use a taller packed column and increase the amount of reflux
                          occuring. They can also indicate that you've tried to collect too much of
                          the alcohol, and have run into the "tails"; so finish collecting a little
                          bit earlier next time. Soaking tainted alcohol with activated carbon for a
                          week (or even months) will help remove some of this flavour - this is known
                          as "polishing" the spirit. I'm also suspecting that you need a little bit
                          of copper somewhere in the still where it can come in contact with the
                          vapour. The copper helps catalyse some of the sulphur, esters & organic
                          acids, reducing their odour & taste.

                          10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?

                          You need a hydrometer. This is a wee float, with a scale inside it. The
                          more alcohol that is present, the lighter the density of the liquid, so the
                          hydrometer sinks a bit lower. You then just read off the scale how much
                          alcohol is present. You need a seperate hydrometer for measuring the
                          density of the mash, as this is generally > 1.0, whereas the spirit is <
                          1.0, and they can't accurately do both ends of the scale.

                          11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?

                          There are now many commercial flavourings available, which turn vodka or
                          neutral alcohol into pretty decent gin or whiskey, or all manor of
                          liqueurs. See the commercial sites, like Des Zines
                          http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~topkiwi or Ray Toms http://moonshine.co.nz/
                          for details. Or you can soak it with oak chips and make whiskey, or soak
                          fruits in it to make your own liqueurs.

                          12) What web resources are there ?

                          For more details, see :
                          Tony Ackland's http://homedistiller.org
                          Aaron Smiths's http://www.go.to/distillation
                          Steve Spence's http://www.webconx.com/ethanol.htm
                          StillMaker's http://www.Moonshine-Still.com
                          Biofuels Library http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library.html

                          13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?

                          Both the NEW DISTILLERS and the DISTILLERS news groups are available via
                          YahooGroups, at http://www.yahoogroups.com . NEW DISTILLERS is, as the name
                          suggests, intended for those of you new to distilling and after simple,
                          straight-forward discussions, whereas the DISTILLERS group is a bit more
                          advanced, throwing in bits of design philosophy, theory, and alternative
                          ways of achieving the results. Both tend to overlap to some extent.

                          14) Can I run my car on it ?

                          You can run your car on alcohol over about 80% purity. Because any water
                          present will seperate out in the presence of the gasoline (and become a
                          problem), you either need to exclusively use the alcohol, or dry it right
                          out (eg 99%+ purity) if using it to mix with gasoline. See Steve Spences
                          site for more details, the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual, or the The
                          Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel. In addition, in
                          the USA, you can get a "small fuel producer" permit, which allows small
                          scale distilling for "motor fuel" purposes. A nice advantage is that they
                          don't require denaturing for "fuel" used on the premises. The regulations
                          are posted at http://www.webconx.com/ethanolusaregs.htm

                          15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....

                          To convert between SI & Imperial units, multiply the first unit by the
                          conversion factor to get the second. Divide back to do it in reverse .eg 1L
                          = 0.264 US gal, so 20 L = 20 x 0.264 = 5.28 US gal, and 20 US gal / 0.264 =
                          75.76 L

                          1 L = 0.264 US gal = 0.221 UK gal
                          1 L = 1.057 US qt = 0.880 UK qt
                          1 kg = 2.204 lbm = 32.15 oz (troy) = 35.27 oz (av)
                          deg F = ((9/5) x deg C )+ 32
                          1m = 1000 mm = 39.37 inch = 3.28 ft = 1.09 yd

                          16) What is a "Thumper" ?

                          A "thumper" is an extra chamber sometimes fitted to a pot still. It can be
                          as simple as a glass jar with two holes in the lid. The off-take from the
                          still is fed into it, with the pipe running almost all the way to the
                          bottom of the jar; the jar is half filled with liquid (water or mash or
                          tails) so that the vapour from the still will bubble up through it; then
                          the vapour coming off it is collected & cooled as per normal. It acts as a
                          second distilling chamber using just the heat from the vapour, and lifts
                          the purity from 50-60% to 70-80%, hence improving what might otherwise be a
                          very mediocre design.

                          17) Can I use a Reflux Still to make Rum or Whisky ?

                          Yes you can. To do so, you need to carefully monitor the various
                          transitions between the foreshots, heads, middle run, and tails, and time
                          the collection of the middle run precisely. The reflux still allows you to
                          more precisely judge the changes between the various stages, and hence
                          target them accurately. A typical rum or whisky would be obtained by
                          discarding the foreshots, then collecting the heads, middle run, and then
                          begin the tails, until the purity has dropped to around 58-60% (81.4C). By
                          altering when to start collecting, and how late to time the final "cut",
                          various flavour profiles will result.

                          18) Can Methylated Spirits be made safe to Drink ?

                          No. Methylated spirits (aka meths) is a mixture of ethanol and (poisonous)
                          methanol, with a denturant added to make it foul tasting. There is no
                          effective way of seperating them, be it by distilling, using carbon, or
                          filtering through bread (old wives tale). Do not add meths to anything you
                          ever intend to distill or drink, and don't try using it in any form - it
                          will still be poisonous. Keep it for cleaning and starting the BBQ with.
                        • BOKAKOB
                          Hey, Tony your site is G*R*E*A*T!!! Whant I noticed in this group there are many questions like this: - how to run pot still and its cut-off poitnts? - how to
                          Message 12 of 18 , Nov 14, 2002
                          • 0 Attachment

                            Hey, Tony your site is G*R*E*A*T!!! Whant I noticed in this group there are many questions like this:

                            - how to run pot still and its cut-off poitnts?
                            - how to run a reflux and compound stills?
                            - how to make a sugar wash?

                            I thiught a very basic bible-like rigid directives would help to faithfuls...
                            This way this list becomes a compressed essence of your site!

                             Tony & Elle Ackland <Tony.Ackland@...> wrote:

                            Hmmm.... I've been a bit slack about getting this out on a regular basis.
                            Any suggestions for additions/changes etc ?


                            I can be wrong I must say.
                            Cheers, Alex...



                            Do you Yahoo!?
                            New DSL Internet Access from SBC & Yahoo!

                          • Ackland, Tony (CALNZAS)
                            Thanks Alex - Good ideas. The trick will be how to summarise those wonderful topics for debate down into a couple of sentances ..... Tony
                            Message 13 of 18 , Nov 14, 2002
                            • 0 Attachment
                              Thanks Alex - Good ideas.  The trick will be how to summarise those wonderful topics for debate down into a couple of sentances .....
                               
                              Tony
                            • Tony & Elle Ackland
                              NEW DISTILLERS Frequently Asked Questions (Feb 03) Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at www.yahoogroups.com Please email any
                              Message 14 of 18 , Feb 14, 2003
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                                "NEW DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (Feb'03)
                                Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at
                                www.yahoogroups.com
                                Please email any additions, corrections, clarifications required, etc
                                regarding the FAQ to Tony Ackland (ackland@...), however please
                                direct any general questions to the newsgroup itself.
                                *******************************************************************
                                1) Is distilling hard to do ?
                                2) Is it legal ?
                                3) Will it make me blind ?
                                4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
                                fractionating column ?
                                5) How do I get or make a still ?
                                6) How do I make a whisky / rum / vodka / gin ?
                                7) Should I use sugar or grains ?
                                8) Can I use fruit wine ?
                                9) How do I make a Turbo-all-sugar wash ?
                                10) How do I run a Pot still ?
                                11) How do I run a Reflux still ?
                                12) Can I use a reflux still to make rum or whisky ?
                                13) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
                                14) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?
                                15) Why do my spirits turn cloudy when diluted ?
                                16) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?
                                17) What web resources are there ?
                                18) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?
                                19) Can I run my car on it ?
                                20) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....
                                21) What is a "Thumper" ?
                                22) Can methylated spirits be made safe to drink ?
                                **********************************************************************
                                1) Is distilling hard to do ?
                                Nope - if you can follow instructions enough to bake scones, then you can
                                sucessfully distil. To distil well however, will require you to understand
                                what you're doing, so read around and get a bit of information under your
                                belt before you begin.
                                2) Is it legal ?
                                Probably not. It is only legal in New Zealand, and some European countries
                                turn a blind eye to it, but elsewhere it is illegal, with punishment
                                ranging from fines to imprisonment or floggings. This action against it is
                                usually the result of either religous beliefs (right or wrong), but more
                                generally due to the great revenue base it provides Governements through
                                excise taxes. So if you are going to distil, just be aware of the potential
                                legal ramifications.
                                3) Will it make me blind ?
                                Not if you're careful. This pervasive question is due to moonshine lore,
                                which abounds with myths of blindness, but few actual documented cases. The
                                concern is due to the presence of methanol (wood alcohol), an optic nerve
                                poison, which can be present in small amounts when fermenting grains or
                                fruits high in pectin. This methanol comes off first from the still, so it
                                is easily segregated and discarded. A simple rule of thumb for this is to
                                throw away the first 50 mL you collect (per 20 L mash used). Probably the
                                greatest risk to your health during distilling is the risk of fire -
                                collecting a flammable liquid near a heat source. So keep a fire
                                extinguisher nearby.
                                4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
                                fractionating column ?
                                A pot still simply collects and condenses the alcohol vapours that come off
                                the boiling mash. This will result in an alcohol at about 40-60% purity,
                                with plenty of flavour in it. If this distillate were put through the pot
                                still again, it would increase in purity to around 70-85% purity, and lose
                                a bit of its flavour.

                                A reflux still does these multiple distillations in one single go, by
                                having some packing in a column between the condensor & the pot, and
                                allowing some of the vapour to condense and trickle back down through the
                                packing. This "reflux" of liquid helps clean the rising vapour and increase
                                the % purity. The taller the packed column, and the more reflux liquid, the
                                purer the product will be. The advantage of doing this is that it will
                                result in a clean vodka, with little flavour to it - ideal for mixing with
                                flavours etc.

                                A fractionating column is a pure form of the reflux still. It will condense
                                all the vapour at the top of the packing, and return about 9/10 back down
                                the column. The column will be quite tall - say 600-1200mm (2-4 foot), and
                                packed with a material high in surface area, but which takes up little
                                space (pot scrubbers are good for this). It will result in an alcohol 95%+
                                pure (the theoretical limit without using a vacuum is 96.48 %(by volume)),
                                with no other tastes or impurities in it.
                                5) How do I get or make a still ?
                                If you're after a pot still, these are generally home made using what-ever
                                you have at hand - say copper tubing and old water heaters or pressure
                                cookers. You don't really need any plans for these - just follow any of the
                                photos about.
                                Reflux stills can be made from plans on the net, or bought from several
                                manufacturers. For reflux still plans see
                                The photos section at http://homedistiller.org/photos-ns.htm for "Offset
                                head" designs, and http://homedistiller.org/photos-reflux.htm for general
                                reflux stills.
                                Alex's designs at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Distillers/files/OFTS/
                                StillCookers http://us.geocities.com/stillcooker/
                                Stillmakers "Build a World Class Distillation Apparatus" at
                                http://www.Moonshine-Still.com (Free!) or
                                Gert Strands : http://partyman.se/Engelsk/default.htm (US$5).
                                Ian Smileys "Making Pure Corn Whisky" at http://www.home-distilling.com ,
                                with full design details.
                                For an excellent book on all aspects of still design, see "The Compleat
                                Distiller" at http://www.amphora-society.com
                                See the list of "web resources" below for links to sites selling ready-made
                                stills.
                                For fuel alcohol stills see the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual at
                                http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_motherearth/meToC.html,
                                and the The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel by S.W.
                                Mathewson at
                                http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_manual/manual_ToC.html
                                Regarding the choice of heating for the still - if you have 240V available
                                it is usually easiest to control & safer (particularly with internal
                                elements). Gas can be used, but more care is needed to keep the collection
                                container further away and not letting it overfill.
                                6) How do I make a whisky / vodka / rum / gin ?
                                Whiskey : Heat 4 kg cracked or crushed malt with 18 L of water to 63-65 ?C,
                                and hold there for 1-1.5 hours. Heat to 73-75 ?C, then strain off and keep
                                liquid, using 250 mL of hot water to rinse the grains. Cool to below 30 ?C
                                (should have an initial specific gravity of 1.050). Add hydrated yeast &
                                leave to ferment (maintain at 26 ?C) until airlock stops bubbling and final
                                SG of around 1.010. Let settle for a day, then syphon carefully into a pot
                                still. Discard the first 50 mL's, collect the next 2-3L of distillate or
                                until you start noticing the tails coming through.

                                Vodka : dissolve 5 kg of sugar & 60 g of nutrients in 20 L of water, cool
                                to below 30C and add hydrated yeast. Leave to ferment at 25 ?C until below
                                an SG of around 0.990, then settle for a day. Syphon into a reflux or
                                fractionating still, and collect as per usual.
                                Rum : as per vodka, but use some brown sugar or mollasses, to give an
                                initial specific gravity (SG) of around 1.060 - 1.070. Run through either a
                                pot still, or a de-refluxed reflux still.
                                Gin : make a very pure vodka, then add the following essence. Simmer 35 g
                                of juniper berries in 350 mL of 50% vodka for ten minutes with the lid on,
                                let cool overnight, then filter through coffee filters. Use 5-10 mL of this
                                essence per bottle of vodka.

                                When doing any fermenting, take a lot of care to ensure that any items used
                                are clean/sterile (soaking them in a water + bleach (10 mL per litre) ), or
                                else the wash can start growing other things. Use a closed fermenter with
                                an airlock too, to let the CO2 out without letting wild yeasts, bugs etc
                                in. For more information about fermenting, see beer or wine homebrewing
                                sites.
                                7) Should I use sugar or grains/fruit ?
                                It depends on what sort of still you have, and what you are trying to make.
                                If you have a reflux or fractionating still, only use whatever is cheapest
                                (usually sugar), as the refluxing will strip out all the flavours anyhow.
                                If you have a pot still, and are after a bourban or whiskey, then you need
                                to go the grain route, or mollasses if after a rum. If you are trying to
                                make a neutral spirit for flavouring, go for sugar.
                                Basic guidelines for using them are ..
                                SUGAR. Wine yeast can use no more than 2.5lbs of sugar/1imp gal or
                                2.2lb/1U.S.gal or 1.25kg/5litres of must. This will produce 14%a.b.v. Honey
                                and liquid malt extract are 80% sugar so you need 1.5kg/5l must or mash.
                                Molasses is 50% sugar so you need 2.5kg/5l must or mash. Maple syrup is 32%
                                sugar. Carob beans are 45% sugar. Sugar beets are 15% sugar Grain malt is
                                60% sugar (starch converted to sugars) so you need 1.5kg/5l mash. Cooked
                                grain contains 60% convertible starch so you need 1.5kg/5l mash
                                FRUIT - Grapes contain the ideal sugar, water, acid balance. A sugar
                                content of 17-23% and a water content of about 80%. 8kg of grapes produces
                                5l of wine.
                                Most common fruits (apples, plums, apricots) contain about 10% sugar and
                                85% water. Cherries and figs contain 15% sugar. A fruit mash could be 4kg
                                fruit, (400g sugar content), 2l water (3l in pulp already), 800g additional
                                sugar.
                                Bananas are 17-24% sugar, 75% water. Acid content 0.3%. A banana mash could
                                be 4kg of cooked bananas, 2l water (3l in pulp already),400g sugar. Add
                                3lemons/5l for correct pH.
                                Dates are 70% sugar, 20% water. Add acid to a date mash.
                                Raisins and sultanas have a water content of about 15% and a sugar content
                                of 60%, grapes have a water content of 75% and a sugar content of about
                                20%, so using 1.5-2kg/5l of water appears about right if we want to
                                reconstitute them.
                                ACID - 5g of citric acid (1tsp)/5l must raises acidity by 0.1%. 3g of
                                calcium carbonate powder lowers acidity by 0.1%. A pH of 5 is 0.4% acidity.
                                Winemakers aim for 0.6% acidity. Most common fruits are about 0.6% acid
                                content. For distilling, a higher acidity in the mash helps to suppress
                                bacteria. A high tannin content doesn't matter as we are not making wine.
                                Meaurements are logarithmic, so a pH of 4 is 10 times more acidic than a pH
                                of 5.
                                YEAST - Brewers (& possibly baker's yeast) can tolerate only 8% alcohol. A
                                bottom fermenting lager yeast ferments out all the sugars better than a top
                                fermenting ale yeast. A good wine yeast (Champagne, in the right
                                conditions, can tolerate 15%a.b.v. (up to 18%a.b.v. in optimal conditions -
                                no need to use expensive turbos). Wild yeasts vary, but some are very low -
                                this is a risky path. Whisky distillers often use a combination of yeasts -
                                initially a brewer's yeast because they believe it effects the flavor.
                                8) Can I use fruit wine ?
                                Sure, if you have it available. Again, using a pot still will result in a
                                brandy/grappa/schnapps, whereas a reflux still will just strip it down to
                                neutral spirit.
                                9) How do I make a Turbo-all-sugar wash ?
                                The first trick is to locate the "Turbo" yeasts - either try the New
                                Zealand sites, or www.brewhaus.com. Then, dissolve 5-6 kg of sugar with 2-3
                                L of boiling water, top up to 25 L with cold water, wait until its cooled
                                below 24 ?C, and then stir the yeast in, and close the lid with an airlock.
                                Keep at 24 ?C until the SG has dropped below 1.010 Its then possible to add
                                extra sugar (1 kg at a time, dissolved in a little water) each time the SG
                                has dropped below 1.010. You should be able to add an extra 3-4 kg this way
                                over a week. It should finish around 0.980 - 0.990
                                10) How do I run a Pot Still ?
                                See http://homedistiller.org/dtw.htm#use_pot for details. A pot still is
                                fairly straight forward to use. Turn it on. Once the temperature is up to
                                about 60 ?C turn on the cooling water to the condensor. Make sure you throw
                                away the first 1 00 mL per 20L wash, as this will contain any methanol that
                                might be present. Segregate the distillate into 500 mL lots as it comes
                                off. Only keep (for drinking) that which doesn't contain fusels (smell off)
                                - probably below about 92 ? C, however you should keep distilling past
                                here, untill about 96 ? C, as this fraction, although high in tails and not
                                good for drinking this time, can be added back to the next wash and cleaned
                                up OK then.
                                11) How do I run a Reflux / Fractionating Still ?
                                See http://homedistiller.org/dtw.htm#use_reflux for details +/or
                                variations. It is best to first equilibriate the column under total reflux
                                for 10 minutes or so. This will concentrate up the foreshots so that they
                                can be removed first. Collect them one drip at a time, for approx 50 mL per
                                25L wash, and throw away. You can then collect the remaining run at a
                                quicker rate. Adjust the reflux ratio (the ratio of how much of the total
                                vapour is returned as reflux) by varying either the rate of collection or
                                rate of cooling water (depending on still design) to maintain the purity
                                you want. You can judge the purity by measuring the vapour temperature.
                                Target around 78.2 - 78.4 ?C . Towards the end of the run it will be hard
                                to get a high enough reflux ratio to maintain the high purity / low
                                temperature. When the temperature has nudged up to around 80 ?C quit
                                collecting for drinking, and collect the remainder as tails (for
                                redistillation in the next run) up to around 96 ?C .
                                12) Can I use a Reflux Still to make Rum or Whisky ?
                                Yes you can. To do so, you need to carefully monitor the various
                                transitions between the foreshots, heads, middle run, and tails, and time
                                the collection of the middle run precisely. The reflux still allows you to
                                more precisely judge the changes between the various stages, and hence
                                target them accurately. A typical rum or whisky would be obtained by
                                discarding the foreshots, then collecting the heads, middle run, and then
                                begin the tails, until the purity has dropped to around 58-60% (82 ?C). By
                                altering when to start collecting, and how late to time the final "cut",
                                various flavour profiles will result. You'd collect it faster and at a
                                slightly lower reflux ratio than for a neutral spirit, as you want the
                                flavour present.
                                13) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
                                You need a hydrometer. This is a wee float, with a scale inside it. The
                                more alcohol that is present, the lighter the density of the liquid, so the
                                hydrometer sinks a bit lower. You then just read off the scale how much
                                alcohol is present. You need a seperate hydrometer for measuring the
                                density of the mash, as this is generally > 1.0, whereas the spirit is <
                                1.0, and they can't accurately do both ends of the scale.
                                14) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?
                                That "rough moonshine edge" or "off-taste / wet cardboard smell" is due to
                                impurities such as the higher order alcohols, known as cogeners or fusel
                                oils. These will be present more when using a pot still, less if using a
                                reflux still, and just about absent if using a fractionating column. So one
                                way is to use a taller packed column and increase the amount of reflux
                                occuring. They can also indicate that you've tried to collect too much of
                                the alcohol, and have run into the "tails"; so finish collecting a little
                                bit earlier next time. Soaking tainted alcohol with activated carbon for a
                                week (or even months) will help remove some of this flavour - this is known
                                as "polishing" the spirit. I'm also suspecting that you need a little bit
                                of copper somewhere in the still where it can come in contact with the
                                vapour. The copper helps catalyse some of the sulphur, esters & organic
                                acids, reducing their odour & taste.
                                15) Why do my spirits turn cloudy when diluted ?
                                With neutral spirits, either you have pushed 'tails' into your product (eg
                                collected too much product from the still - quit earlier next time), or you
                                are using poor tap-water (high in calcium carbonate). If it happens when
                                diluting your gin, sambuca or the like, its because there is too little
                                alcohol/too much oil present and the oils are no longer dissolved. Either
                                drink it cloudy or increase the % alcohol present.
                                16) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?
                                There are now many commercial flavourings available, which turn vodka or
                                neutral alcohol into pretty decent gin or whiskey, or all manor of
                                liqueurs. See the commercial sites, like Des Zines
                                http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~topkiwi or Ray Toms http://moonshine.co.nz/
                                for details. Or you can soak it with oak chips and make whiskey, or soak
                                fruits in it to make your own liqueurs. There are many websites describing
                                how to make liqueurs - see http://homedistiller.org/liqueurs.htm or
                                http://www.guntheranderson.com for a starting point.
                                17) What web resources are there ?
                                For more details, see :
                                Tony Ackland's http://homedistiller.org
                                Aaron Smiths's http://www.go.to/distillation
                                Steve Spence's http://www.webconx.com/ethanol.htm
                                StillMaker's http://www.Moonshine-Still.com
                                Biofuels Library http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library.html
                                18) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?
                                Both the NEW DISTILLERS and the DISTILLERS news groups are available via
                                YahooGroups, at http://www.yahoogroups.com . NEW DISTILLERS is, as the name
                                suggests, intended for those of you new to distilling and after simple,
                                straight-forward answers to questions, whereas the DISTILLERS group
                                discussions are a bit more advanced, throwing in bits of design philosophy,
                                theory, and alternative ways of achieving the results. Both tend to overlap
                                to some extent.
                                19) Can I run my car on it ?
                                You can run your car on alcohol over about 80% purity. Because any water
                                present will seperate out in the presence of the gasoline (and become a
                                problem), you either need to exclusively use the alcohol, or dry it right
                                out (eg 99%+ purity) if using it to mix with gasoline. See Steve Spences
                                site for more details, the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual, or the The
                                Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel. In addition, in
                                the USA, you can get a "small fuel producer" permit, which allows small
                                scale distilling for "motor fuel" purposes. A nice advantage is that they
                                don't require denaturing for "fuel" used on the premises. The regulations
                                are posted at http://www.webconx.com/ethanolusaregs.htm
                                20) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....
                                To convert between SI & Imperial units, multiply the first unit by the
                                conversion factor to get the second. Divide back to do it in reverse .eg 1L
                                = 0.264 US gal, so 20 L = 20 x 0.264 = 5.28 US gal, and 20 US gal / 0.264 =
                                75.76 L

                                1 L = 0.264 US gal = 0.221 UK gal
                                1 L = 1.057 US qt = 0.880 UK qt
                                1 kg = 2.204 lbm = 32.15 oz (troy) = 35.27 oz (av)
                                deg F = ((9/5) x deg C )+ 32
                                1m = 1000 mm = 39.37 inch = 3.28 ft = 1.09 yd
                                21) What is a "Thumper" ?
                                A "thumper" is an extra chamber sometimes fitted to a pot still. It can be
                                as simple as a glass jar with two holes in the lid. The off-take from the
                                still is fed into it, with the pipe running almost all the way to the
                                bottom of the jar; the jar is half filled with liquid (water or mash or
                                tails) so that the vapour from the still will bubble up through it; then
                                the vapour coming off it is collected & cooled as per normal. It acts as a
                                second distilling chamber using just the heat from the vapour, and lifts
                                the purity from 50-60% to 70-80%, hence improving what might otherwise be a
                                very mediocre design. Don't make the thumper too small, and start it off
                                with liquid already high in alcohol.
                                22) Can Methylated Spirits be made safe to Drink ?
                                No. Methylated spirits (aka meths) is a mixture of ethanol and (poisonous)
                                methanol, with a denturant added to make it foul tasting. There is no
                                effective way of seperating them, be it by distilling, using carbon, or
                                filtering through bread (old wives tale). Do not add meths to anything you
                                ever intend to distill or drink, and don't try using it in any form - it
                                will still be poisonous. Keep it for cleaning and starting the BBQ with.
                              • Ackland, Tony (CALNZAS)
                                NEW DISTILLERS Frequently Asked Questions (Feb 03) Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at www.yahoogroups.com Please email any
                                Message 15 of 18 , May 20, 2003
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  "NEW DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (Feb'03)

                                  Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at www.yahoogroups.com

                                  Please email any additions, corrections, clarifications required, etc regarding the FAQ to Tony Ackland (ackland@...), however please direct any general questions to the newsgroup itself.

                                  *******************************************************************

                                  1) Is distilling hard to do ?
                                  2) Is it legal ?
                                  3) Will it make me blind ?
                                  4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and fractionating column ?
                                  5) How do I get or make a still ?
                                  6) How do I make a whisky / rum / vodka / gin ?
                                  7) Should I use sugar or grains ?
                                  8) Can I use fruit wine ?
                                  9) How do I make a Turbo-all-sugar wash ?
                                  10) How do I run a Pot still ?
                                  11) How do I run a Reflux still ?
                                  12) Can I use a reflux still to make rum or whisky ?
                                  13) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
                                  14) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?
                                  15) Why do my spirits turn cloudy when diluted ?
                                  16) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?
                                  17) What web resources are there ?
                                  18) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?
                                  19) Can I run my car on it ?
                                  20) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....
                                  21) What is a "Thumper" ?
                                  22) Can methylated spirits be made safe to drink ?

                                  **********************************************************************

                                  1) Is distilling hard to do ?

                                  Nope - if you can follow instructions enough to bake scones, then you can sucessfully distil. To distil well however, will require you to understand what you're doing, so read around and get a bit of information under your belt before you begin.

                                  2) Is it legal ?

                                  Probably not. It is only legal in New Zealand, and some European countries turn a blind eye to it, but elsewhere it is illegal, with punishment ranging from fines to imprisonment or floggings. This action against it is usually the result of either religous beliefs (right or wrong), but more generally due to the great revenue base it provides Governements through excise taxes. So if you are going to distil, just be aware of the potential legal ramifications.

                                  3) Will it make me blind ?

                                  Not if you're careful. This pervasive question is due to moonshine lore, which abounds with myths of blindness, but few actual documented cases. The concern is due to the presence of methanol (wood alcohol), an optic nerve poison, which can be present in small amounts when fermenting grains or fruits high in pectin. This methanol comes off first from the still, so it is easily segregated and discarded. A simple rule of thumb for this is to throw away the first 50 mL you collect (per 20 L mash used). Probably the greatest risk to your health during distilling is the risk of fire - collecting a flammable liquid near a heat source. So keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

                                  4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and fractionating column ?

                                  A pot still simply collects and condenses the alcohol vapours that come off the boiling mash. This will result in an alcohol at about 40-60% purity, with plenty of flavour in it. If this distillate were put through the pot still again, it would increase in purity to around 70-85% purity, and lose a bit of its flavour.

                                  A reflux still does these multiple distillations in one single go, by having some packing in a column between the condensor & the pot, and allowing some of the vapour to condense and trickle back down through the packing. This "reflux" of liquid helps clean the rising vapour and increase the % purity. The taller the packed column, and the more reflux liquid, the purer the product will be. The advantage of doing this is that it will result in a clean vodka, with little flavour to it - ideal for mixing with flavours etc.

                                  A fractionating column is a pure form of the reflux still. It will condense all the vapour at the top of the packing, and return about 9/10 back down the column. The column will be quite tall - say 600-1200mm (2-4 foot), and packed with a material high in surface area, but which takes up little space (pot scrubbers are good for this). It will result in an alcohol 95%+ pure (the theoretical limit without using a vacuum is 96.48 %(by volume)), with no other tastes or impurities in it.

                                  5) How do I get or make a still ?

                                  If you're after a pot still, these are generally home made using what-ever you have at hand - say copper tubing and old water heaters or pressure cookers. You don't really need any plans for these - just follow any of the photos about.

                                  Reflux stills can be made from plans on the net, or bought from several manufacturers. For reflux still plans see
                                  The photos section at http://homedistiller.org/photos-ns.htm for "Offset head" designs, and http://homedistiller.org/photos-reflux.htm for general reflux stills.
                                  Alex's designs at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Distillers/files/OFTS/
                                  StillCookers http://us.geocities.com/stillcooker/
                                  Stillmakers "Build a World Class Distillation Apparatus" at http://www.Moonshine-Still.com (Free!) or
                                  Gert Strands : http://partyman.se/Engelsk/default.htm (US$5).
                                  Ian Smileys "Making Pure Corn Whisky" at http://www.home-distilling.com , with full design details.
                                  For an excellent book on all aspects of still design, see "The Compleat Distiller" at http://www.amphora-society.com
                                  See the list of "web resources" below for links to sites selling ready-made stills.
                                  For fuel alcohol stills see the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual at http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_motherearth/meToC.html, and the The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel by S.W. Mathewson at http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_manual/manual_ToC.html
                                  Regarding the choice of heating for the still - if you have 240V available it is usually easiest to control & safer (particularly with internal elements). Gas can be used, but more care is needed to keep the collection container further away and not letting it overfill.

                                  For more details on design, see http://homedistiller.org/designs.htm and http://homedistiller.org/refluxdesign.htm.

                                  6) How do I make a whisky / vodka / rum / gin ?

                                  Whiskey : Heat 4 kg cracked or crushed malt with 18 L of water to 63-65 °C, and hold there for 1-1.5 hours. Heat to 73-75 °C, then strain off and keep liquid, using 250 mL of hot water to rinse the grains. Cool to below 30 °C (should have an initial specific gravity of 1.050). Add hydrated yeast & leave to ferment (maintain at 26 °C) until airlock stops bubbling and final SG of around 1.010. Let settle for a day, then syphon carefully into a pot still. Discard the first 50 mL's, collect the next 2-3L of distillate or until you start noticing the tails coming through. Many people also have sucess starting with a beer-kit instead of using grains.

                                  Vodka : dissolve 5 kg of sugar & 60 g of nutrients in 20 L of water, cool to below 30C and add hydrated yeast. Leave to ferment at 25 °C until below an SG of around 0.990, then settle for a day. Syphon into a reflux or fractionating still, and collect as per usual.

                                  Rum : as per vodka, but use some brown sugar or mollasses, to give an initial specific gravity (SG) of around 1.060 - 1.070. Run through either a pot still, or a de-refluxed reflux still.

                                  Gin : make a very pure vodka, then add the following essence. Simmer 35 g of juniper berries in 350 mL of 50% vodka for ten minutes with the lid on, let cool overnight, then filter through coffee filters. Use 5-10 mL of this essence per bottle of vodka.

                                  When doing any fermenting, take a lot of care to ensure that any items used are clean/sterile (soaking them in a water + bleach (10 mL per litre) ), or else the wash can start growing other things. Use a closed fermenter with an airlock too, to let the CO2 out without letting wild yeasts, bugs etc in. For more information about fermenting, see beer or wine homebrewing sites.

                                  7) Should I use sugar or grains/fruit ?

                                  It depends on what sort of still you have, and what you are trying to make. If you have a reflux or fractionating still, only use whatever is cheapest (usually sugar), as the refluxing will strip out all the flavours anyhow. If you have a pot still, and are after a bourban or whiskey, then you need to go the grain route, or mollasses if after a rum. If you are trying to make a neutral spirit for flavouring, go for sugar.

                                  Basic guidelines for using them are ..

                                  SUGAR. Wine yeast can use no more than 2.5lbs of sugar/1imp gal or 2.2lb/1U.S.gal or 1.25kg/5litres of must. This will produce 14%a.b.v. Honey and liquid malt extract are 80% sugar so you need 1.5kg/5l must or mash. Molasses is 50% sugar so you need 2.5kg/5l must or mash. Maple syrup is 32% sugar. Carob beans are 45% sugar. Sugar beets are 15% sugar Grain malt is 60% sugar (starch converted to sugars) so you need 1.5kg/5l mash. Cooked grain contains 60% convertible starch so you need 1.5kg/5l mash

                                  FRUIT - Grapes contain the ideal sugar, water, acid balance. A sugar content of 17-23% and a water content of about 80%. 8kg of grapes produces 5l of wine.
                                  Most common fruits (apples, plums, apricots) contain about 10% sugar and 85% water. Cherries and figs contain 15% sugar. A fruit mash could be 4kg fruit, (400g sugar content), 2l water (3l in pulp already), 800g additional sugar.
                                  Bananas are 17-24% sugar, 75% water. Acid content 0.3%. A banana mash could be 4kg of cooked bananas, 2l water (3l in pulp already),400g sugar. Add 3lemons/5l for correct pH.
                                  Dates are 70% sugar, 20% water. Add acid to a date mash.
                                  Raisins and sultanas have a water content of about 15% and a sugar content of 60%, grapes have a water content of 75% and a sugar content of about 20%, so using 1.5-2kg/5l of water appears about right if we want to reconstitute them.

                                  ACID - 5g of citric acid (1tsp)/5l must raises acidity by 0.1%. 3g of calcium carbonate powder lowers acidity by 0.1%. A pH of 5 is 0.4% acidity. Winemakers aim for 0.6% acidity. Most common fruits are about 0.6% acid content. For distilling, a higher acidity in the mash helps to suppress bacteria. A high tannin content doesn't matter as we are not making wine. Meaurements are logarithmic, so a pH of 4 is 10 times more acidic than a pH of 5.

                                  YEAST - Brewers (& possibly baker's yeast) can tolerate only 8% alcohol. A bottom fermenting lager yeast ferments out all the sugars better than a top fermenting ale yeast. A good wine yeast (Champagne, in the right conditions, can tolerate 15%a.b.v. (up to 18%a.b.v. in optimal conditions - no need to use expensive turbos). Wild yeasts vary, but some are very low - this is a risky path. Whisky distillers often use a combination of yeasts - initially a brewer's yeast because they believe it effects the flavor.

                                  8) Can I use fruit wine ?

                                  Sure, if you have it available. Again, using a pot still will result in a brandy/grappa/schnapps, whereas a reflux still will just strip it down to neutral spirit.

                                  9) How do I make a Turbo-all-sugar wash ?

                                  The first trick is to locate the "Turbo" yeasts - either try the New Zealand sites, or www.brewhaus.com. Then, dissolve 5-6 kg of sugar with 2-3 L of boiling water, top up to 25 L with cold water, wait until its cooled below 24 °C, and then stir the yeast in, and close the lid with an airlock. Keep at 24 °C until the SG has dropped below 1.010 Its then possible to add extra sugar (1 kg at a time, dissolved in a little water) each time the SG has dropped below 1.010. You should be able to add an extra 3-4 kg this way over a week. It should finish around 0.980 - 0.990

                                  10) How do I run a Pot Still ?

                                  See http://homedistiller.org/dtw.htm#use_pot for details. A pot still is fairly straight forward to use. Turn it on. Once the temperature is up to about 60 °C turn on the cooling water to the condensor. Make sure you throw away the first 1 00 mL per 20L wash, as this will contain any methanol that might be present. Segregate the distillate into 500 mL lots as it comes off. Only keep (for drinking) that which doesn't contain fusels (smell off) - probably below about 92 ° C, however you should keep distilling past here, untill about 96 ° C, as this fraction, although high in tails and not good for drinking this time, can be added back to the next wash and cleaned up OK then.

                                  11) How do I run a Reflux / Fractionating Still ?

                                  See http://homedistiller.org/dtw.htm#use_reflux for details +/or variations. It is best to first equilibriate the column under total reflux for 10 minutes or so. This will concentrate up the foreshots so that they can be removed first. Collect them one drip at a time, for approx 50 mL per 25L wash, and throw away. You can then collect the remaining run at a quicker rate. Adjust the reflux ratio (the ratio of how much of the total vapour is returned as reflux) by varying either the rate of collection or rate of cooling water (depending on still design) to maintain the purity you want. You can judge the purity by measuring the vapour temperature. Target around 78.2 - 78.4 °C . Towards the end of the run it will be hard to get a high enough reflux ratio to maintain the high purity / low temperature. When the temperature has nudged up to around 80 °C quit collecting for drinking, and collect the remainder as tails (for redistillation in the next run) up to around 96 °C .

                                  12) Can I use a Reflux Still to make Rum or Whisky ?

                                  Yes you can. To do so, you need to carefully monitor the various transitions between the foreshots, heads, middle run, and tails, and time the collection of the middle run precisely. The reflux still allows you to more precisely judge the changes between the various stages, and hence target them accurately. A typical rum or whisky would be obtained by discarding the foreshots, then collecting the heads, middle run, and then begin the tails, until the purity has dropped to around 58-60% (82 °C). By altering when to start collecting, and how late to time the final "cut", various flavour profiles will result. You'd collect it faster and at a slightly lower reflux ratio than for a neutral spirit, as you want the flavour present.

                                  13) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?

                                  You need a hydrometer. This is a wee float, with a scale inside it. The more alcohol that is present, the lighter the density of the liquid, so the hydrometer sinks a bit lower. You then just read off the scale how much alcohol is present. You need a seperate hydrometer for measuring the density of the mash, as this is generally > 1.0, whereas the spirit is < 1.0, and they can't accurately do both ends of the scale.

                                  14) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?

                                  That "rough moonshine edge" or "off-taste / wet cardboard smell" is due to impurities such as the higher order alcohols, known as cogeners or fusel oils. These will be present more when using a pot still, less if using a reflux still, and just about absent if using a fractionating column. So one way is to use a taller packed column and increase the amount of reflux occuring. They can also indicate that you've tried to collect too much of the alcohol, and have run into the "tails"; so finish collecting a little bit earlier next time. Soaking tainted alcohol with activated carbon for a week (or even months) will help remove some of this flavour - this is known as "polishing" the spirit. I'm also suspecting that you need a little bit of copper somewhere in the still where it can come in contact with the vapour. The copper helps catalyse some of the sulphur, esters & organic acids, reducing their odour & taste.

                                  15) Why do my spirits turn cloudy when diluted ?

                                  With neutral spirits, either you have pushed 'tails' into your product (eg collected too much product from the still - quit earlier next time), or you are using poor tap-water (high in calcium carbonate). If it happens when diluting your gin, sambuca or the like, its because there is too little alcohol/too much oil present and the oils are no longer dissolved. Either drink it cloudy or increase the % alcohol present.

                                  16) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?

                                  There are now many commercial flavourings available, which turn vodka or neutral alcohol into pretty decent gin or whiskey, or all manor of liqueurs. See the commercial sites, like Des Zines http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~topkiwi or Ray Toms http://moonshine.co.nz/ for details. Or you can soak it with oak chips and make whiskey, or soak fruits in it to make your own liqueurs. There are many websites describing how to make liqueurs - see http://homedistiller.org/liqueurs.htm or http://www.guntheranderson.com for a starting point.

                                  17) What web resources are there ?

                                  For more details, see :
                                  Tony Ackland's http://homedistiller.org
                                  Aaron Smiths's http://www.go.to/distillation
                                  Steve Spence's http://webconx.green-trust.org/ethanol.htm
                                  StillMaker's http://www.Moonshine-Still.com
                                  Biofuels Library http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library.html

                                  18) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?

                                  Both the NEW DISTILLERS and the DISTILLERS news groups are available via YahooGroups, at http://www.yahoogroups.com . NEW DISTILLERS is, as the name suggests, intended for those of you new to distilling and after simple, straight-forward answers to questions, whereas the DISTILLERS group discussions are a bit more advanced, throwing in bits of design philosophy, theory, and alternative ways of achieving the results. Both tend to overlap to some extent.

                                  19) Can I run my car on it ?

                                  You can run your car on alcohol over about 80% purity. Because any water present will seperate out in the presence of the gasoline (and become a problem), you either need to exclusively use the alcohol, or dry it right out (eg 99%+ purity) if using it to mix with gasoline. See Steve Spences site for more details, the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual, or the The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel. In addition, in the USA, you can get a "small fuel producer" permit, which allows small scale distilling for "motor fuel" purposes. A nice advantage is that they don't require denaturing for "fuel" used on the premises. The regulations are posted at http://webconx.green-trust.org/ethanol.htm

                                  20) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....

                                  To convert between SI & Imperial units, multiply the first unit by the conversion factor to get the second. Divide back to do it in reverse .eg 1L = 0.264 US gal, so 20 L = 20 x 0.264 = 5.28 US gal, and 20 US gal / 0.264 = 75.76 L

                                  1 L = 0.264 US gal = 0.221 UK gal
                                  1 L = 1.057 US qt = 0.880 UK qt
                                  1 kg = 2.204 lbm = 32.15 oz (troy) = 35.27 oz (av)
                                  deg F = ((9/5) x deg C )+ 32
                                  1m = 1000 mm = 39.37 inch = 3.28 ft = 1.09 yd

                                  21) What is a "Thumper" ?

                                  A "thumper" is an extra chamber sometimes fitted to a pot still. It can be as simple as a glass jar with two holes in the lid. The off-take from the still is fed into it, with the pipe running almost all the way to the bottom of the jar; the jar is half filled with liquid (water or mash or tails) so that the vapour from the still will bubble up through it; then the vapour coming off it is collected & cooled as per normal. It acts as a second distilling chamber using just the heat from the vapour, and lifts the purity from 50-60% to 70-80%, hence improving what might otherwise be a very mediocre design. Don't make the thumper too small, and start it off with liquid already high in alcohol.

                                  22) Can Methylated Spirits be made safe to Drink ?

                                  No. Methylated spirits (aka meths) is a mixture of ethanol and (poisonous) methanol, with a denturant added to make it foul tasting. There is no effective way of seperating them, be it by distilling, using carbon, or filtering through bread (old wives tale). Do not add meths to anything you ever intend to distill or drink, and don't try using it in any form - it will still be poisonous. Keep it for cleaning and starting the BBQ with.
                                • Ackland, Tony (CALNZAS)
                                  NEW DISTILLERS Frequently Asked Questions (Feb 03) Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at www.yahoogroups.com Please email any
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Jan 28, 2004
                                  • 0 Attachment
                                    "NEW DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (Feb'03)

                                    Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at www.yahoogroups.com

                                    Please email any additions, corrections, clarifications required, etc regarding the FAQ to Tony Ackland (Tony.Ackland@...), however please direct any general questions to the newsgroup itself.

                                    *******************************************************************

                                    1) Is distilling hard to do ?
                                    2) Is it legal ?
                                    3) Will it make me blind ?
                                    4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and fractionating column ?
                                    5) How do I get or make a still ?
                                    6) How do I make a whisky / rum / vodka / gin ?
                                    7) Should I use sugar or grains ?
                                    8) Can I use fruit wine ?
                                    9) How do I make a Turbo-all-sugar wash ?
                                    10) How do I run a Pot still ?
                                    11) How do I run a Reflux still ?
                                    12) Can I use a reflux still to make rum or whisky ?
                                    13) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
                                    14) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?
                                    15) Why do my spirits turn cloudy when diluted ?
                                    16) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?
                                    17) What web resources are there ?
                                    18) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?
                                    19) Can I run my car on it ?
                                    20) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....
                                    21) What is a "Thumper" ?
                                    22) Can methylated spirits be made safe to drink ?

                                    **********************************************************************

                                    1) Is distilling hard to do ?

                                    Nope - if you can follow instructions enough to bake scones, then you can sucessfully distil. To distil well however, will require you to understand what you're doing, so read around and get a bit of information under your belt before you begin.

                                    2) Is it legal ?

                                    Probably not. It is only legal in New Zealand, and some European countries turn a blind eye to it, but elsewhere it is illegal, with punishment ranging from fines to imprisonment or floggings. This action against it is usually the result of either religous beliefs (right or wrong), but more generally due to the great revenue base it provides Governements through excise taxes. So if you are going to distil, just be aware of the potential legal ramifications.

                                    3) Will it make me blind ?

                                    Not if you're careful. This pervasive question is due to moonshine lore, which abounds with myths of blindness, but few actual documented cases. The concern is due to the presence of methanol (wood alcohol), an optic nerve poison, which can be present in small amounts when fermenting grains or fruits high in pectin. This methanol comes off first from the still, so it is easily segregated and discarded, and easily observed via changes in the vapour temperature. A simple rule of thumb for this is to throw away the first 50 mL you collect (per 20 L mash used). Probably the greatest risk to your health during distilling is the risk of fire - collecting a flammable liquid near a heat source. So keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

                                    The cases where you do hear about people poisoned by "illict spirits" have been the terrible situations where adulterants such as methanol, antifreeze, battery acid etc have been added to the spirits afterwards by unscrupulous sellers (for what misguided reasons ??). If you have had a healthy fermentation take place, it is infact very difficult to make methanol. The other problems have been lead poisoning when people have used lead-based products (ie lead solder) when constructing their still, instead of something more appropriate for food-grade vessels. The rules should infact be "dont buy spirits from an unknown supplier" - but its very safe to distill for yourself.

                                    4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and fractionating column ?

                                    A pot still simply collects and condenses the alcohol vapours that come off the boiling mash. This will result in an alcohol at about 40-60% purity, with plenty of flavour in it. If this distillate were put through the pot still again, it would increase in purity to around 70-85% purity, and lose a bit of its flavour.

                                    A reflux still does these multiple distillations in one single go, by having some packing in a column between the condensor & the pot, and allowing some of the vapour to condense and trickle back down through the packing. This "reflux" of liquid helps clean the rising vapour and increase the % purity. The taller the packed column, and the more reflux liquid, the purer the product will be. The advantage of doing this is that it will result in a clean vodka, with little flavour to it - ideal for mixing with flavours etc.

                                    A fractionating column is a pure form of the reflux still. It will condense all the vapour at the top of the packing, and return about 9/10 back down the column. The column will be quite tall - say 600-1200mm (2-4 foot), and packed with a material high in surface area, but which takes up little space (pot scrubbers are good for this). It will result in an alcohol 95%+ pure (the theoretical limit without using a vacuum is 96.48 %(by volume)), with no other tastes or impurities in it.

                                    5) How do I get or make a still ?

                                    If you're after a pot still, these are generally home made using what-ever you have at hand - say copper tubing and old water heaters or pressure cookers. You don't really need any plans for these - just follow any of the photos about.

                                    Reflux stills can be made from plans on the net, or bought from several manufacturers. For reflux still plans see
                                    The photos section at http://homedistiller.org/photos-ns.htm for "Offset head" designs, and http://homedistiller.org/photos-reflux.htm for general reflux stills.
                                    Alex's designs at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Distillers/files/OFTS/
                                    StillCookers http://us.geocities.com/stillcooker/
                                    Stillmakers "Build a World Class Distillation Apparatus" at http://www.Moonshine-Still.com (Free!) or
                                    Gert Strands : http://partyman.se/Engelsk/default.htm (US$5).
                                    Ian Smileys "Making Pure Corn Whisky" at http://www.home-distilling.com , with full design details.
                                    For an excellent book on all aspects of still design, see "The Compleat Distiller" at http://www.amphora-society.com
                                    See the list of "web resources" below for links to sites selling ready-made stills.

                                    For fuel alcohol stills see the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual at http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_motherearth/meToC.html, and the The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel by S.W. Mathewson at http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_manual/manual_ToC.html
                                    Regarding the choice of heating for the still - if you have 240V available it is usually easiest to control & safer (particularly with internal elements). Gas can be used, but more care is needed to keep the collection container further away and not letting it overfill.

                                    For more details on design, see http://homedistiller.org/designs.htm and http://homedistiller.org/refluxdesign.htm.

                                    6) How do I make a whisky / vodka / rum / gin ?

                                    Whiskey : Heat 4 kg cracked or crushed malt with 18 L of water to 63-65 °C, and hold there for 1-1.5 hours. Heat to 73-75 °C, then strain off and keep liquid, using 250 mL of hot water to rinse the grains. Cool to below 30 °C (should have an initial specific gravity of 1.050). Add hydrated yeast & leave to ferment (maintain at 26 °C) until airlock stops bubbling and final SG of around 1.010. Let settle for a day, then syphon carefully into a pot still. Discard the first 50 mL's, collect the next 2-3L of distillate or until you start noticing the tails coming through. Many people also have sucess starting with a beer-kit instead of using grains.

                                    Vodka : dissolve 5 kg of sugar & 60 g of nutrients in 20 L of water, cool to below 30C and add hydrated yeast. Leave to ferment at 25 °C until below an SG of around 0.990, then settle for a day. Syphon into a reflux or fractionating still, and collect as per usual.

                                    Rum : as per vodka, but use some brown sugar or mollasses, to give an initial specific gravity (SG) of around 1.060 - 1.070. Run through either a pot still, or a de-refluxed reflux still.

                                    Gin : make a very pure vodka, then add the following essence. Simmer 35 g of juniper berries in 350 mL of 50% vodka for ten minutes with the lid on, let cool overnight, then filter through coffee filters. Use 5-10 mL of this essence per bottle of vodka.

                                    When doing any fermenting, take a lot of care to ensure that any items used are clean/sterile (soaking them in a water + bleach (10 mL per litre) ), or else the wash can start growing other things. Use a closed fermenter with an airlock too, to let the CO2 out without letting wild yeasts, bugs etc in. For more information about fermenting, see beer or wine homebrewing sites.

                                    7) Should I use sugar or grains/fruit ?

                                    It depends on what sort of still you have, and what you are trying to make. If you have a reflux or fractionating still, only use whatever is cheapest (usually sugar), as the refluxing will strip out all the flavours anyhow. If you have a pot still, and are after a bourban or whiskey, then you need to go the grain route, or mollasses if after a rum. If you are trying to make a neutral spirit for flavouring, go for sugar.

                                    Basic guidelines for using them are ..

                                    SUGAR. Wine yeast can use no more than 2.5lbs of sugar/1imp gal or 2.2lb/1U.S.gal or 1.25kg/5litres of must. This will produce 14%a.b.v. Honey and liquid malt extract are 80% sugar so you need 1.5kg/5l must or mash. Molasses is 50% sugar so you need 2.5kg/5l must or mash. Maple syrup is 32% sugar. Carob beans are 45% sugar. Sugar beets are 15% sugar Grain malt is 60% sugar (starch converted to sugars) so you need 1.5kg/5l mash. Cooked grain contains 60% convertible starch so you need 1.5kg/5l mash

                                    FRUIT - Grapes contain the ideal sugar, water, acid balance. A sugar content of 17-23% and a water content of about 80%. 8kg of grapes produces 5l of wine.
                                    Most common fruits (apples, plums, apricots) contain about 10% sugar and 85% water. Cherries and figs contain 15% sugar. A fruit mash could be 4kg fruit, (400g sugar content), 2l water (3l in pulp already), 800g additional sugar.
                                    Bananas are 17-24% sugar, 75% water. Acid content 0.3%. A banana mash could be 4kg of cooked bananas, 2l water (3l in pulp already),400g sugar. Add 3lemons/5l for correct pH.
                                    Dates are 70% sugar, 20% water. Add acid to a date mash.
                                    Raisins and sultanas have a water content of about 15% and a sugar content of 60%, grapes have a water content of 75% and a sugar content of about 20%, so using 1.5-2kg/5l of water appears about right if we want to reconstitute them.

                                    ACID - 5g of citric acid (1tsp)/5l must raises acidity by 0.1%. 3g of calcium carbonate powder lowers acidity by 0.1%. A pH of 5 is 0.4% acidity. Winemakers aim for 0.6% acidity. Most common fruits are about 0.6% acid content. For distilling, a higher acidity in the mash helps to suppress bacteria. A high tannin content doesn't matter as we are not making wine. Meaurements are logarithmic, so a pH of 4 is 10 times more acidic than a pH of 5.

                                    YEAST - Brewers (& possibly baker's yeast) can tolerate only 8% alcohol. A bottom fermenting lager yeast ferments out all the sugars better than a top fermenting ale yeast. A good wine yeast (Champagne, in the right conditions, can tolerate 15%a.b.v. (up to 18%a.b.v. in optimal conditions - no need to use expensive turbos). Wild yeasts vary, but some are very low - this is a risky path. Whisky distillers often use a combination of yeasts - initially a brewer's yeast because they believe it effects the flavor.

                                    8) Can I use fruit wine ?

                                    Sure, if you have it available. Again, using a pot still will result in a brandy/grappa/schnapps, whereas a reflux still will just strip it down to neutral spirit unless you reduce the amount of reflux occuring.

                                    9) How do I make a Turbo-all-sugar wash ?

                                    The first trick is to locate the "Turbo" yeasts - either try the New Zealand sites, or www.brewhaus.com. Then, dissolve 5-6 kg of sugar with 2-3 L of boiling water, top up to 25 L with cold water, wait until its cooled below 24 °C, and then stir the yeast in, and close the lid with an airlock. Keep at 24 °C until the SG has dropped below 1.010 Its then possible to add extra sugar (1 kg at a time, dissolved in a little water) each time the SG has dropped below 1.010. You should be able to add an extra 3-4 kg this way over a week. It should finish around 0.980 - 0.990

                                    10) How do I run a Pot Still ?

                                    See http://homedistiller.org/dtw.htm#use_pot for details. A pot still is fairly straight forward to use. Turn it on. Once the temperature is up to about 60 °C turn on the cooling water to the condensor. Make sure you throw away the first 1 00 mL per 20L wash, as this will contain any methanol that might be present. Segregate the distillate into 500 mL lots as it comes off. Only keep (for drinking) that which doesn't contain fusels (smell off) - probably below about 92 ° C, however you should keep distilling past here, untill about 96 ° C, as this fraction, although high in tails and not good for drinking this time, can be added back to the next wash and cleaned up OK then.

                                    11) How do I run a Reflux / Fractionating Still ?

                                    See http://homedistiller.org/dtw.htm#use_reflux for details +/or variations. It is best to first equilibriate the column under total reflux for 10 minutes or so. This will concentrate up the foreshots so that they can be removed first. Collect them one drip at a time, for approx 50 mL per 25L wash, and throw away. You can then collect the remaining run at a quicker rate. Adjust the reflux ratio (the ratio of how much of the total vapour is returned as reflux) by varying either the rate of collection or rate of cooling water (depending on still design) to maintain the purity you want. You can judge the purity by measuring the vapour temperature. Target around 78.2 - 78.4 °C . Towards the end of the run it will be hard to get a high enough reflux ratio to maintain the high purity / low temperature. When the temperature has nudged up to around 80 °C quit collecting for drinking, and collect the remainder as tails (for redistillation in the next run) up to around 96 °C .

                                    12) Can I use a Reflux Still to make Rum or Whisky ?

                                    Yes you can. To do so, you need to carefully monitor the various transitions between the foreshots, heads, middle run, and tails, and time the collection of the middle run precisely. The reflux still allows you to more precisely judge the changes between the various stages, and hence target them accurately. A typical rum or whisky would be obtained by discarding the foreshots, then collecting the heads, middle run, and then begin the tails, until the purity has dropped to around 58-60% (82 °C). By altering when to start collecting, and how late to time the final "cut", various flavour profiles will result. You'd collect it faster and at a slightly lower reflux ratio than for a neutral spirit, as you want the flavour present.

                                    13) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?

                                    You need a hydrometer. This is a wee float, with a scale inside it. The more alcohol that is present, the lighter the density of the liquid, so the hydrometer sinks a bit lower. You then just read off the scale how much alcohol is present. You need a seperate hydrometer for measuring the density of the mash, as this is generally > 1.0, whereas the spirit is < 1.0, and they can't accurately do both ends of the scale.

                                    14) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?

                                    That "rough moonshine edge" or "off-taste / wet cardboard smell" is due to impurities such as the higher order alcohols, known as cogeners or fusel oils. These will be present more when using a pot still, less if using a reflux still, and just about absent if using a fractionating column. So one way is to use a taller packed column and increase the amount of reflux occuring. They can also indicate that you've tried to collect too much of the alcohol, and have run into the "tails"; so finish collecting a little bit earlier next time. Soaking tainted alcohol with activated carbon for a week (or even months) will help remove some of this flavour - this is known as "polishing" the spirit. I'm also suspecting that you need a little bit of copper somewhere in the still where it can come in contact with the vapour. The copper helps catalyse some of the sulphur, esters & organic acids, reducing their odour & taste.

                                    15) Why do my spirits turn cloudy when diluted ?

                                    With neutral spirits, either you have pushed 'tails' into your product (eg collected too much product from the still - quit earlier next time), or you are using poor tap-water (high in calcium carbonate). If it happens when diluting your gin, sambuca or the like, its because there is too little alcohol/too much oil present and the oils are no longer dissolved. Either drink it cloudy or increase the % alcohol present.

                                    16) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?

                                    There are now many commercial flavourings available, which turn vodka or neutral alcohol into pretty decent gin or whiskey, or all manor of liqueurs. See the commercial sites, like Des Zines http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~topkiwi or Ray Toms http://moonshine.co.nz/ for details. Or you can soak it with oak chips and make whiskey, or soak fruits in it to make your own liqueurs. There are many websites describing how to make liqueurs - see http://homedistiller.org/liqueurs.htm or http://www.guntheranderson.com for a starting point.

                                    17) What web resources are there ?

                                    For more details, see :
                                    Tony Ackland's http://homedistiller.org
                                    Aaron Smiths's http://www.go.to/distillation
                                    Steve Spence's http://webconx.green-trust.org/ethanol.htm
                                    StillMaker's http://www.Moonshine-Still.com
                                    Biofuels Library http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library.html

                                    18) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?

                                    Both the NEW DISTILLERS and the DISTILLERS news groups are available via YahooGroups, at http://www.yahoogroups.com . NEW DISTILLERS is, as the name suggests, intended for those of you new to distilling and after simple, straight-forward answers to questions, whereas the DISTILLERS group discussions are a bit more advanced, throwing in bits of design philosophy, theory, and alternative ways of achieving the results. Both tend to overlap to some extent.

                                    19) Can I run my car on it ?

                                    You can run your car on alcohol over about 80% purity. Because any water present will seperate out in the presence of the gasoline (and become a problem), you either need to exclusively use the alcohol, or dry it right out (eg 99%+ purity) if using it to mix with gasoline. See Steve Spences site for more details, the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual, or the The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel. In addition, in the USA, you can get a "small fuel producer" permit, which allows small scale distilling for "motor fuel" purposes. A nice advantage is that they don't require denaturing for "fuel" used on the premises. The regulations are posted at http://webconx.green-trust.org/ethanol.htm

                                    20) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....

                                    To convert between SI & Imperial units, multiply the first unit by the conversion factor to get the second. Divide back to do it in reverse .eg 1L = 0.264 US gal, so 20 L = 20 x 0.264 = 5.28 US gal, and 20 US gal / 0.264 = 75.76 L

                                    1 L = 0.264 US gal = 0.221 UK gal
                                    1 L = 1.057 US qt = 0.880 UK qt
                                    1 kg = 2.204 lbm = 32.15 oz (troy) = 35.27 oz (av)
                                    deg F = ((9/5) x deg C )+ 32
                                    1m = 1000 mm = 39.37 inch = 3.28 ft = 1.09 yd

                                    21) What is a "Thumper" ?

                                    A "thumper" is an extra chamber sometimes fitted to a pot still. It can be as simple as a glass jar with two holes in the lid. The off-take from the still is fed into it, with the pipe running almost all the way to the bottom of the jar; the jar is half filled with liquid (water or mash or tails) so that the vapour from the still will bubble up through it; then the vapour coming off it is collected & cooled as per normal. It acts as a second distilling chamber using just the heat from the vapour, and lifts the purity from 50-60% to 70-80%, hence improving what might otherwise be a very mediocre design. Don't make the thumper too small, and start it off with liquid already high in alcohol.

                                    22) Can Methylated Spirits be made safe to Drink ?

                                    No. Methylated spirits (aka meths) is a mixture of ethanol and (poisonous) methanol, with a denturant added to make it foul tasting. There is no effective way of seperating them, be it by distilling, using carbon, or filtering through bread (old wives tale). Do not add meths to anything you ever intend to distill or drink, and don't try using it in any form - it will still be poisonous. Keep it for cleaning and starting the BBQ with. Likewise, you cant "clean up" antifreeze in your still.

                                    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                    http://homedistiller.org This page last modified 08/28/2003 20:19:50
                                  • Ackland, Tony (CALBRIS)
                                    NEW DISTILLERS Frequently Asked Questions (Feb 03) Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at www.yahoogroups.com Please email any
                                    Message 17 of 18 , Sep 27, 2004
                                    • 0 Attachment
                                      "NEW DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (Feb'03)

                                      Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at www.yahoogroups.com

                                      Please email any additions, corrections, clarifications required, etc regarding the FAQ to Tony Ackland (Tony.Ackland@...), however please direct any general questions to the newsgroup itself.

                                      *******************************************************************

                                      1) Is distilling hard to do ?
                                      2) Is it legal ?
                                      3) Will it make me blind ?
                                      4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and fractionating column ?
                                      5) How do I get or make a still ?
                                      6) How do I make a whisky / rum / vodka / gin ?
                                      7) Should I use sugar or grains ?
                                      8) Can I use fruit wine ?
                                      9) How do I make a Turbo-all-sugar wash ?
                                      10) How do I run a Pot still ?
                                      11) How do I run a Reflux still ?
                                      12) Can I use a reflux still to make rum or whisky ?
                                      13) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
                                      14) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?
                                      15) Why do my spirits turn cloudy when diluted ?
                                      16) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?
                                      17) What web resources are there ?
                                      18) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?
                                      19) Can I run my car on it ?
                                      20) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....
                                      21) What is a "Thumper" ?
                                      22) Can methylated spirits be made safe to drink ?

                                      **********************************************************************

                                      1) Is distilling hard to do ?

                                      Nope - if you can follow instructions enough to bake scones, then you can sucessfully distil. To distil well however, will require you to understand what you're doing, so read around and get a bit of information under your belt before you begin.

                                      2) Is it legal ?

                                      Probably not. It is only legal in New Zealand, and some European countries turn a blind eye to it, but elsewhere it is illegal, with punishment ranging from fines to imprisonment or floggings. This action against it is usually the result of either religous beliefs (right or wrong), but more generally due to the great revenue base it provides Governements through excise taxes. So if you are going to distil, just be aware of the potential legal ramifications.

                                      3) Will it make me blind ?

                                      Not if you're careful. This pervasive question is due to moonshine lore, which abounds with myths of blindness, but few actual documented cases. The concern is due to the presence of methanol (wood alcohol), an optic nerve poison, which can be present in small amounts when fermenting grains or fruits high in pectin. This methanol comes off first from the still, so it is easily segregated and discarded, and easily observed via changes in the vapour temperature. A simple rule of thumb for this is to throw away the first 50 mL you collect (per 20 L mash used). Probably the greatest risk to your health during distilling is the risk of fire - collecting a flammable liquid near a heat source. So keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

                                      The cases where you do hear about people poisoned by "illict spirits" have been the terrible situations where adulterants such as methanol, antifreeze, battery acid etc have been added to the spirits afterwards by unscrupulous sellers (for what misguided reasons ??). If you have had a healthy fermentation take place, it is infact very difficult to make methanol. The other problems have been lead poisoning when people have used lead-based products (ie lead solder) when constructing their still, instead of something more appropriate for food-grade vessels. The rules should infact be "dont buy spirits from an unknown supplier" - but its very safe to distill for yourself.

                                      4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and fractionating column ?

                                      A pot still simply collects and condenses the alcohol vapours that come off the boiling mash. This will result in an alcohol at about 40-60% purity, with plenty of flavour in it. If this distillate were put through the pot still again, it would increase in purity to around 70-85% purity, and lose a bit of its flavour.

                                      A reflux still does these multiple distillations in one single go, by having some packing in a column between the condensor & the pot, and allowing some of the vapour to condense and trickle back down through the packing. This "reflux" of liquid helps clean the rising vapour and increase the % purity. The taller the packed column, and the more reflux liquid, the purer the product will be. The advantage of doing this is that it will result in a clean vodka, with little flavour to it - ideal for mixing with flavours etc.

                                      A fractionating column is a pure form of the reflux still. It will condense all the vapour at the top of the packing, and return about 9/10 back down the column. The column will be quite tall - say 600-1200mm (2-4 foot), and packed with a material high in surface area, but which takes up little space (pot scrubbers are good for this). It will result in an alcohol 95%+ pure (the theoretical limit without using a vacuum is 96.48 %(by volume)), with no other tastes or impurities in it.

                                      5) How do I get or make a still ?

                                      If you're after a pot still, these are generally home made using what-ever you have at hand - say copper tubing and old water heaters or pressure cookers. You don't really need any plans for these - just follow any of the photos about.

                                      Reflux stills can be made from plans on the net, or bought from several manufacturers. For reflux still plans see
                                      The photos section at http://homedistiller.org/photos-ns.htm for "Offset head" designs, and http://homedistiller.org/photos-reflux.htm for general reflux stills.
                                      Alex's designs at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Distillers/files/OFTS/
                                      StillCookers http://us.geocities.com/stillcooker/
                                      Stillmakers "Build a World Class Distillation Apparatus" at http://www.Moonshine-Still.com (Free!) or
                                      Gert Strands : http://partyman.se/Engelsk/default.htm (US$5).
                                      Ian Smileys "Making Pure Corn Whisky" at http://www.home-distilling.com , with full design details.
                                      For an excellent book on all aspects of still design, see "The Compleat Distiller" at http://www.amphora-society.com
                                      See the list of "web resources" below for links to sites selling ready-made stills.
                                      For fuel alcohol stills see the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual at http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_motherearth/meToC.html, and the The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel by S.W. Mathewson at http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_manual/manual_ToC.html
                                      Regarding the choice of heating for the still - if you have 240V available it is usually easiest to control & safer (particularly with internal elements). Gas can be used, but more care is needed to keep the collection container further away and not letting it overfill.

                                      For more details on design, see http://homedistiller.org/designs.htm and http://homedistiller.org/refluxdesign.htm.

                                      6) How do I make a whisky / vodka / rum / gin ?

                                      Whiskey : Heat 4 kg cracked or crushed malt with 18 L of water to 63-65 °C, and hold there for 1-1.5 hours. Heat to 73-75 °C, then strain off and keep liquid, using 250 mL of hot water to rinse the grains. Cool to below 30 °C (should have an initial specific gravity of 1.050). Add hydrated yeast & leave to ferment (maintain at 26 °C) until airlock stops bubbling and final SG of around 1.010. Let settle for a day, then syphon carefully into a pot still. Discard the first 50 mL's, collect the next 2-3L of distillate or until you start noticing the tails coming through. Many people also have sucess starting with a beer-kit instead of using grains.

                                      Vodka : dissolve 5 kg of sugar & 60 g of nutrients in 20 L of water, cool to below 30C and add hydrated yeast. Leave to ferment at 25 °C until below an SG of around 0.990, then settle for a day. Syphon into a reflux or fractionating still, and collect as per usual.

                                      Rum : as per vodka, but use some brown sugar or mollasses, to give an initial specific gravity (SG) of around 1.060 - 1.070. Run through either a pot still, or a de-refluxed reflux still.

                                      Gin : make a very pure vodka, then add the following essence. Simmer 35 g of juniper berries in 350 mL of 50% vodka for ten minutes with the lid on, let cool overnight, then filter through coffee filters. Use 5-10 mL of this essence per bottle of vodka.

                                      When doing any fermenting, take a lot of care to ensure that any items used are clean/sterile (soaking them in a water + bleach (10 mL per litre) ), or else the wash can start growing other things. Use a closed fermenter with an airlock too, to let the CO2 out without letting wild yeasts, bugs etc in. For more information about fermenting, see beer or wine homebrewing sites.

                                      7) Should I use sugar or grains/fruit ?

                                      It depends on what sort of still you have, and what you are trying to make. If you have a reflux or fractionating still, only use whatever is cheapest (usually sugar), as the refluxing will strip out all the flavours anyhow. If you have a pot still, and are after a bourban or whiskey, then you need to go the grain route, or mollasses if after a rum. If you are trying to make a neutral spirit for flavouring, go for sugar.

                                      Basic guidelines for using them are ..

                                      SUGAR. Wine yeast can use no more than 2.5lbs of sugar/1imp gal or 2.2lb/1U.S.gal or 1.25kg/5litres of must. This will produce 14%a.b.v. Honey and liquid malt extract are 80% sugar so you need 1.5kg/5l must or mash. Molasses is 50% sugar so you need 2.5kg/5l must or mash. Maple syrup is 32% sugar. Carob beans are 45% sugar. Sugar beets are 15% sugar Grain malt is 60% sugar (starch converted to sugars) so you need 1.5kg/5l mash. Cooked grain contains 60% convertible starch so you need 1.5kg/5l mash

                                      FRUIT - Grapes contain the ideal sugar, water, acid balance. A sugar content of 17-23% and a water content of about 80%. 8kg of grapes produces 5l of wine.
                                      Most common fruits (apples, plums, apricots) contain about 10% sugar and 85% water. Cherries and figs contain 15% sugar. A fruit mash could be 4kg fruit, (400g sugar content), 2l water (3l in pulp already), 800g additional sugar.
                                      Bananas are 17-24% sugar, 75% water. Acid content 0.3%. A banana mash could be 4kg of cooked bananas, 2l water (3l in pulp already),400g sugar. Add 3lemons/5l for correct pH.
                                      Dates are 70% sugar, 20% water. Add acid to a date mash.
                                      Raisins and sultanas have a water content of about 15% and a sugar content of 60%, grapes have a water content of 75% and a sugar content of about 20%, so using 1.5-2kg/5l of water appears about right if we want to reconstitute them.

                                      ACID - 5g of citric acid (1tsp)/5l must raises acidity by 0.1%. 3g of calcium carbonate powder lowers acidity by 0.1%. A pH of 5 is 0.4% acidity. Winemakers aim for 0.6% acidity. Most common fruits are about 0.6% acid content. For distilling, a higher acidity in the mash helps to suppress bacteria. A high tannin content doesn't matter as we are not making wine. Meaurements are logarithmic, so a pH of 4 is 10 times more acidic than a pH of 5.

                                      YEAST - Brewers (& possibly baker's yeast) can tolerate only 8% alcohol. A bottom fermenting lager yeast ferments out all the sugars better than a top fermenting ale yeast. A good wine yeast (Champagne, in the right conditions, can tolerate 15%a.b.v. (up to 18%a.b.v. in optimal conditions - no need to use expensive turbos). Wild yeasts vary, but some are very low - this is a risky path. Whisky distillers often use a combination of yeasts - initially a brewer's yeast because they believe it effects the flavor.

                                      8) Can I use fruit wine ?

                                      Sure, if you have it available. Again, using a pot still will result in a brandy/grappa/schnapps, whereas a reflux still will just strip it down to neutral spirit.

                                      9) How do I make a Turbo-all-sugar wash ?

                                      The first trick is to locate the "Turbo" yeasts - either try the New Zealand sites, or www.brewhaus.com. Then, dissolve 5-6 kg of sugar with 2-3 L of boiling water, top up to 25 L with cold water, wait until its cooled below 24 °C, and then stir the yeast in, and close the lid with an airlock. Keep at 24 °C until the SG has dropped below 1.010 Its then possible to add extra sugar (1 kg at a time, dissolved in a little water) each time the SG has dropped below 1.010. You should be able to add an extra 3-4 kg this way over a week. It should finish around 0.980 - 0.990

                                      10) How do I run a Pot Still ?

                                      See http://homedistiller.org/dtw.htm#use_pot for details. A pot still is fairly straight forward to use. Turn it on. Once the temperature is up to about 60 °C turn on the cooling water to the condensor. Make sure you throw away the first 1 00 mL per 20L wash, as this will contain any methanol that might be present. Segregate the distillate into 500 mL lots as it comes off. Only keep (for drinking) that which doesn't contain fusels (smell off) - probably below about 92 ° C, however you should keep distilling past here, untill about 96 ° C, as this fraction, although high in tails and not good for drinking this time, can be added back to the next wash and cleaned up OK then.

                                      11) How do I run a Reflux / Fractionating Still ?

                                      See http://homedistiller.org/dtw.htm#use_reflux for details +/or variations. It is best to first equilibriate the column under total reflux for 10 minutes or so. This will concentrate up the foreshots so that they can be removed first. Collect them one drip at a time, for approx 50 mL per 25L wash, and throw away. You can then collect the remaining run at a quicker rate. Adjust the reflux ratio (the ratio of how much of the total vapour is returned as reflux) by varying either the rate of collection or rate of cooling water (depending on still design) to maintain the purity you want. You can judge the purity by measuring the vapour temperature. Target around 78.2 - 78.4 °C . Towards the end of the run it will be hard to get a high enough reflux ratio to maintain the high purity / low temperature. When the temperature has nudged up to around 80 °C quit collecting for drinking, and collect the remainder as tails (for redistillation in the next run) up to around 96 °C .

                                      12) Can I use a Reflux Still to make Rum or Whisky ?

                                      Yes you can. To do so, you need to carefully monitor the various transitions between the foreshots, heads, middle run, and tails, and time the collection of the middle run precisely. The reflux still allows you to more precisely judge the changes between the various stages, and hence target them accurately. A typical rum or whisky would be obtained by discarding the foreshots, then collecting the heads, middle run, and then begin the tails, until the purity has dropped to around 58-60% (82 °C). By altering when to start collecting, and how late to time the final "cut", various flavour profiles will result. You'd collect it faster and at a slightly lower reflux ratio than for a neutral spirit, as you want the flavour present.

                                      13) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?

                                      You need a hydrometer. This is a wee float, with a scale inside it. The more alcohol that is present, the lighter the density of the liquid, so the hydrometer sinks a bit lower. You then just read off the scale how much alcohol is present. You need a seperate hydrometer for measuring the density of the mash, as this is generally > 1.0, whereas the spirit is < 1.0, and they can't accurately do both ends of the scale.

                                      14) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?

                                      That "rough moonshine edge" or "off-taste / wet cardboard smell" is due to impurities such as the higher order alcohols, known as cogeners or fusel oils. These will be present more when using a pot still, less if using a reflux still, and just about absent if using a fractionating column. So one way is to use a taller packed column and increase the amount of reflux occuring. They can also indicate that you've tried to collect too much of the alcohol, and have run into the "tails"; so finish collecting a little bit earlier next time. Soaking tainted alcohol with activated carbon for a week (or even months) will help remove some of this flavour - this is known as "polishing" the spirit. I'm also suspecting that you need a little bit of copper somewhere in the still where it can come in contact with the vapour. The copper helps catalyse some of the sulphur, esters & organic acids, reducing their odour & taste.

                                      15) Why do my spirits turn cloudy when diluted ?

                                      With neutral spirits, either you have pushed 'tails' into your product (eg collected too much product from the still - quit earlier next time), or you are using poor tap-water (high in calcium carbonate). If it happens when diluting your gin, sambuca or the like, its because there is too little alcohol/too much oil present and the oils are no longer dissolved. Either drink it cloudy or increase the % alcohol present.

                                      16) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?

                                      There are now many commercial flavourings available, which turn vodka or neutral alcohol into pretty decent gin or whiskey, or all manor of liqueurs. See the commercial sites, like Des Zines http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~topkiwi or Ray Toms http://moonshine.co.nz/ for details. Or you can soak it with oak chips and make whiskey, or soak fruits in it to make your own liqueurs. There are many websites describing how to make liqueurs - see http://homedistiller.org/liqueurs.htm or http://www.guntheranderson.com for a starting point.

                                      17) What web resources are there ?

                                      For more details, see :
                                      Tony Ackland's http://homedistiller.org
                                      Aaron Smiths's http://www.go.to/distillation
                                      Steve Spence's http://webconx.green-trust.org/ethanol.htm
                                      StillMaker's http://www.Moonshine-Still.com
                                      Biofuels Library http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library.html

                                      18) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?

                                      Both the NEW DISTILLERS and the DISTILLERS news groups are available via YahooGroups, at http://www.yahoogroups.com . NEW DISTILLERS is, as the name suggests, intended for those of you new to distilling and after simple, straight-forward answers to questions, whereas the DISTILLERS group discussions are a bit more advanced, throwing in bits of design philosophy, theory, and alternative ways of achieving the results. Both tend to overlap to some extent.

                                      19) Can I run my car on it ?

                                      You can run your car on alcohol over about 80% purity. Because any water present will seperate out in the presence of the gasoline (and become a problem), you either need to exclusively use the alcohol, or dry it right out (eg 99%+ purity) if using it to mix with gasoline. See Steve Spences site for more details, the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual, or the The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel. In addition, in the USA, you can get a "small fuel producer" permit, which allows small scale distilling for "motor fuel" purposes. A nice advantage is that they don't require denaturing for "fuel" used on the premises. The regulations are posted at http://webconx.green-trust.org/ethanol.htm

                                      20) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....

                                      To convert between SI & Imperial units, multiply the first unit by the conversion factor to get the second. Divide back to do it in reverse .eg 1L = 0.264 US gal, so 20 L = 20 x 0.264 = 5.28 US gal, and 20 US gal / 0.264 = 75.76 L

                                      1 L = 0.264 US gal = 0.221 UK gal
                                      1 L = 1.057 US qt = 0.880 UK qt
                                      1 kg = 2.204 lbm = 32.15 oz (troy) = 35.27 oz (av)
                                      deg F = ((9/5) x deg C )+ 32
                                      1m = 1000 mm = 39.37 inch = 3.28 ft = 1.09 yd

                                      21) What is a "Thumper" ?

                                      A "thumper" is an extra chamber sometimes fitted to a pot still. It can be as simple as a glass jar with two holes in the lid. The off-take from the still is fed into it, with the pipe running almost all the way to the bottom of the jar; the jar is half filled with liquid (water or mash or tails) so that the vapour from the still will bubble up through it; then the vapour coming off it is collected & cooled as per normal. It acts as a second distilling chamber using just the heat from the vapour, and lifts the purity from 50-60% to 70-80%, hence improving what might otherwise be a very mediocre design. Don't make the thumper too small, and start it off with liquid already high in alcohol.

                                      22) Can Methylated Spirits be made safe to Drink ?

                                      No. Methylated spirits (aka meths) is a mixture of ethanol and (poisonous) methanol, with a denturant added to make it foul tasting. There is no effective way of seperating them, be it by distilling, using carbon, or filtering through bread (old wives tale). Do not add meths to anything you ever intend to distill or drink, and don't try using it in any form - it will still be poisonous. Keep it for cleaning and starting the BBQ with. Likewise, you cant "clean up" antifreeze in your still.



                                      Tony Ackland
                                      http://homedistiller.org

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