How to make a simple moonshine still at home

Written by gail cohen
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How to make a simple moonshine still at home
Brewing a jug of moonshine has romantic roots. (Distillery still image by zimous from

The recipe sounds simple enough: Mix yeast and molasses with water and let the mixture ferment until it becomes a bubbling cauldron of high-powered booze that is guaranteed to leave drinkers hungover the following morning. Technicalities aside, brewing a jug of moonshine has romantic roots. From rural Tennessee stills to law-flaunting Prohibition hooch runners, homemade mash has filled the world's alcohol gaps when, for one reason or another, availability, cash and laws have injected themselves between people and their favourite brew. Always looking to circumvent these roadblocks, brewers found unique ways to get their fixes. The most practical has been a do-it-yourself approach to mixing up private-label stock.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Old Crockpot or steamer with lid
  • 5 feet copper tubing
  • Carpentry tools
  • Large plastic milk bottle with lid
  • Jug or other storage container
  • Waterproof sealant
  • Paper coffee filters
  • Charcoal
  • Moonshine recipes

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  1. 1

    Check local, state, federal and national statutes to make sure you won't break any laws by building a still to prepare your blend. Most states have prohibitions against making alcoholic beverages that exceed a specific proof, so adhere to those restrictions.

  2. 2

    Drill a hole in the Crockpot lid, and feed one end of the copper tubing into the pot via the hole.

  3. 3

    Fasten the plastic top to the milk bottle.

  4. 4

    Carve out a large hole to be used for feeding ice into the container. Puncture the bottle top and feed the tubing into the bottle, then out the side of the bottle--approximately 2 inches from the bottom.

  5. 5

    Feed the end of the tubing into the jug where you plan to keep your homemade brew.

  6. 6

    Use waterproof seal to fill any gaps around the tubing where it feeds into both lids.

  7. 7

    Blow into the tubing to make sure there are no obstructions, then fill the steamer/Crockpot with your ingredients (see Resources). Fill 2/3 of the milk bottle with ice cubes.

  8. 8

    Cook the blend between 78.3 and 93.3 degrees C. If you don't plan to monitor the distilling process closely, rig up your still outside on a stone surface--and away from all flammable materials--in case the brew runs over or catches fire.

  9. 9

    Discard the first few ounces to avoid ingesting impurities the still produces when it begins to brew the beverage.

  10. 10

    Add ice to the milk bottle throughout the distilling process so the plastic doesn't melt.

  11. 11

    Sample the brew frequently for taste and quality.

  12. 12

    Turn off the still (wear gloves) when you start to taste nothing but water, and dump the residue. Add a fresh batch of ingredients and make the next batch.

  13. 13

    When the beverage is cool, put a piece of charcoal between paper coffee filters arranged in a large strainer or funnel and purify the liquor.

Tips and warnings

  • Moonshine pros recommend running the finished beverage through the still a second time before straining it through the coffee filters and charcoal.
  • Don't seal the jug tightly after it's been filled. The moonshine will produce gas from the fermentation process.

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