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New Distillers FAQ

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  • Ackland, Tony (CALNZAS)
    New Distillers FAQ ****************************************************************** NEW DISTILLERS Frequently Asked Questions (last modified July 00)
    Message 1 of 29 , Aug 2 12:41 PM
    • 0 Attachment
      New Distillers FAQ
      ******************************************************************
      "NEW DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (last modified July'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 ?
      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 ?
      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.

      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/ethanol%20usa%20regs.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 29 , Oct 3, 2000
      • 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.
      • Ackland, Tony (CALNZAS)
        New Distillers FAQ ****************************************************************** NEW DISTILLERS Frequently Asked Questions (Dec 00) Posted near the 1st
        Message 3 of 29 , Dec 4, 2000
        • 0 Attachment
          New Distillers FAQ
          ******************************************************************
          "NEW DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (Dec'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 Frequently Asked Questions (Sept 00) Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at www.egroups.com Please email any
          Message 4 of 29 , Jan 5, 2001
          • 0 Attachment
            "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 5 of 29 , 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.
            • janpam ooms
              Can anyone tell me where to buy nutrients and the proper yeasts for distilling in Australia. Thank you. Jan. ...
              Message 6 of 29 , Mar 28, 2001
              • 0 Attachment
                Can anyone tell me where to buy nutrients and the proper yeasts for
                distilling in Australia. Thank you. Jan.


                >From: Tony & Elle Ackland <Tony.Ackland@...>
                >Reply-To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                >To: 'New Distillers newsgroup' <new_distillers@yahoogroups.com>
                >CC: 'Distillers newsgroup' <Distillers@yahoogroups.com>
                >Subject: [new_distillers] New Distillers FAQ
                >Date: Sun, 4 Mar 2001 12:26:41 +1300
                >
                >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.
                >

                _________________________________________________________________________
                Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com
              • Lynne
                ... Jan, I don t know if anyone replied to you offline, but just in case they didn t ... you could start looking for a source from this link:
                Message 7 of 29 , Apr 1, 2001
                • 0 Attachment
                  At 05:00 AM 3/29/01 +1000, you wrote:
                  >Can anyone tell me where to buy nutrients and the proper yeasts for
                  >distilling in Australia. Thank you. Jan.
                  >
                  Jan,

                  I don't know if anyone replied to you offline, but just in case they didn't ...
                  you could start looking for a source from this link:
                  http://www.stillspirits.com/storelocation.htm

                  Cheers,
                  Lynne
                • janpam ooms
                  Thanks Lynne,i will try them too,but i like to experiment with some different combinations of yeast and nutrients.I am also going to have a try on this mixture
                  Message 8 of 29 , Apr 2, 2001
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Thanks Lynne,i will try them too,but i like to experiment with some
                    different combinations of yeast and nutrients.I am also going to have a try
                    on this mixture of bakers yeast and tomatoe paste to get this so called
                    good, triple distilled vodka Thanks again. jan


                    >From: Lynne <ellemm@...>
                    >Reply-To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                    >To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                    >Subject: Re: [new_distillers] New Distillers FAQ
                    >Date: Mon, 02 Apr 2001 10:56:34 +1200
                    >
                    >At 05:00 AM 3/29/01 +1000, you wrote:
                    > >Can anyone tell me where to buy nutrients and the proper yeasts for
                    > >distilling in Australia. Thank you. Jan.
                    > >
                    >Jan,
                    >
                    >I don't know if anyone replied to you offline, but just in case they didn't
                    >...
                    >you could start looking for a source from this link:
                    >http://www.stillspirits.com/storelocation.htm
                    >
                    >Cheers,
                    >Lynne
                    >

                    _________________________________________________________________________
                    Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com
                  • Tony & Elle Ackland
                    New Distillers FAQ ****************************************************************** NEW DISTILLERS Frequently Asked Questions (Sept 00) Posted near the 1st
                    Message 9 of 29 , 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 10 of 29 , 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 11 of 29 , 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 12 of 29 , 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 13 of 29 , 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 14 of 29 , 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 15 of 29 , 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 16 of 29 , 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@...
                                  • fhebert8@bellsouth.net
                                    ... (solid alcohol), camp fuel,,
                                    Message 17 of 29 , May 9, 2002
                                    • 0 Attachment
                                      >I am trying to find the process for making sterno,
                                      (solid alcohol), camp fuel,,
                                    • gringotony
                                      ... Is this worth the effort - I think you can buy sterno cheaper than you can make it. And I think also that the days are gone when the rummies used to
                                      Message 18 of 29 , May 9, 2002
                                      • 0 Attachment
                                        --- In new_distillers@y..., <fhebert8@b...> wrote:
                                        >
                                        > >I am trying to find the process for making sterno,
                                        > (solid alcohol), camp fuel,,

                                        Is this worth the effort - I think you can buy sterno cheaper than
                                        you can make it. And I think also that the days are gone when the
                                        rummies used to strain it through a sock and drink it!
                                      • 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 19 of 29 , 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@...
                                        • Jim Long
                                          Tony & Elle Ackland wrote: NEW DISTILLERS Frequently Asked Questions (June 02) Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at
                                          Message 20 of 29 , Aug 22 8:57 AM
                                          • 0 Attachment

                                             

                                             Tony & Elle Ackland wrote:

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

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

                                            BRAVO !!  I have been a member of this group only about a month and a half, and have read all the new postings and alot of the old postings. I think this Post has to be about the best! As I am completely new to all of this and this post has answered alot of the thoughts that I have had.

                                             As a complete beginer in the art of distillation I can honestly say that this post is guite informative for the individual that wants to learn.

                                             Thanks for all the information on the art,and for the wealth of knowledge that you all share.

                                             Harley

                                             



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                                          • MCZAR101@AOL.COM
                                            I HAVE TO DITTO THAT....THANK GOD FOR FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND THE NET....
                                            Message 21 of 29 , Aug 22 9:30 AM
                                            • 0 Attachment
                                              <PRE>I HAVE TO DITTO THAT....THANK GOD FOR FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND THE NET....
                                            • bokakob
                                              Thank you for your continuous efforts supporting this group. I find your advice and critisizm being invaluable. Thanks again. AND I AM RIGHT IN THIS!!! Cheers,
                                              Message 22 of 29 , Aug 22 11:23 AM
                                              • 0 Attachment
                                                Thank you for your continuous efforts supporting this group. I find
                                                your advice and critisizm being invaluable. Thanks again.

                                                AND I AM RIGHT IN THIS!!!

                                                Cheers, Alex...



                                                --- In new_distillers@y..., Tony & Elle Ackland <Tony.Ackland@c...>
                                                wrote:
                                                > "NEW DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (June'02)
                                                >
                                              • 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 23 of 29 , 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 24 of 29 , 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!

                                                  • 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 25 of 29 , Feb 14, 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.
                                                      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 26 of 29 , 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 27 of 29 , 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 28 of 29 , 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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                                                          • Tony Ackland
                                                            New Distillers FAQ ****************************************************************** NEW DISTILLERS Frequently Asked Questions (Feb 03) Posted near the 1st
                                                            Message 29 of 29 , Apr 27, 2005
                                                            • 0 Attachment
                                                              New Distillers FAQ
                                                              ******************************************************************
                                                              "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.
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