World's Simplest Still

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The World's Simplest Still

The World's Simplest (and safest) Still

This page is by no means intended to encourage anyone to break the laws of their country! It is presented as a simple science experiment to demonstrate a common chemical and industrial process at your home, without purchasing any special equipment. And if you really want to make moonshine at home for drinking, this method is a very poor and time consuming way to go about it--it's not worth your time. And once you take a whiff of your results, you won't WANT to drink it--it won't smell very good. Check our distilling links at the bottom of the page for more information.
What is Distilling? The distillation process is actually pretty simple. As you slowly heat a mix of different chemicals, the ones with the lowest boiling point boil off first, leaving the others behind. The part of a still called the "condenser" cools the evaporated vapor, making it condense back into a liquid. This is how gasoline is made from crude oil, and how whiskey is made from beer and brandy from wine...which is what we did here.

http://www.matchrockets.com/water/still.html

3/7/2011

DON'T DRINK IT! You can safely dip your finger in it and taste it with your tongue. like acetone and denatured alcohol.matchrockets. DON'T DRINK IT! PLEASE.alcohol vapor and liquid are flammable and can explode on contact with open flames. BUT. But still. of distillate produced by distilling 1/2 a gallon of wine would have exactly the same effect on you as drinking the 1/2 gallon of wine itself. So. I can't imagine how anyone could possibly get this stuff past their nose into their mouths! It smells HORRIBLE. you are on your own.com/water/still. there's no more methanol in the distillate than there was in the wine in the first place..but to reiterate. and promise them that you'll add some poison to any alcohol you make to render it toxic for drinking. let's get down to it! For this experiment. A Wok or round-bottomed mixing bowl--no flat bottoms. and it is one of the first things that boils off in the still. The reason people get hurt with home stills is because of drinking just these first runnings. there is one important factor to keep in mind! Distillation does NOT make any new chemicals or poisons during the process. you want it round so the   http://www. In that case. More complex stills intended for producing larger quantities of drinking or fuel alcohol can be VERY dangerous. be sure to thoroughly research the design and process using our distillation links below! Is the "Brandy" made on this page safe? Probably not. Tobacco and Firearms.World's Simplest Still Page 2 of 6 Is it legal? In a word. you'll need: A large cooking pot--a 'dutch oven' size is about right -. The design presented here eliminates any explosion or fire hazard. please Email Us. plus the experiment guide for distilling wine into brandy.html 3/7/2011 . Almost every chemistry set in the world provides the apparatus for distillation. and dump it down the drain! Or take it outside. it simply separates the chemicals that are already there in the wine. OK. there is no US law against performing chemistry experiments that involve the distillation of alcohol. please note that as far as we can tell. put it in an old coffee can. THE FIRST RUNNINGS FROM A STILL ARE NON-DRINKABLE. Personally. SO. The key is DON'T DRINK THE RESULTS. drinking the 2 oz. NO! The only countries we could find in which it legal to distill alcohol for drinking at home are New Zealand. and carefully light it on fire.. the entire still can explode from high pressure and kill you. Austria and Italy. and for darn sure DON'T SELL THEM! Measure the alcohol content of your brandy..it holds a gallon or so. in the USA it IS legal to build a still and make alcohol for motor fuel. or the last runnings. HOWEVER. If you intend to build a real home still instead of our simple chemistry demonstration. and you would have to be a fool to drink it! Commercial distillers' procedures make an effort to get rid of the methyl alcohol. Is it safe? The simple "still" presented the page is very safe--UNLESS YOU DRINK THE RESULTS. Also. If there is no pressure relief valve on a common still and the condenser tube gets plugged up from improper technique. So. Methyl Alcohol is toxic (it can make you go blind!). If anyone has more information about home alcohol distillation laws in different countries that we can include on this site. but this simple project certainly does not get rid of it all.. you simply have to apply for a license with the Federal Beareu of Alcohol.

Collection glass with magnet inside http://www. wok.  A Weight--To keep the wok tightly pressed down against the pot and avoid alcohol vaopr leakage. Optional.Pot. Handy. Somewhere between a quart and 3 quarts works fine.com/water/still.matchrockets. A brick or 2 would work too.  Magnet--To keep the collection glass from moving around the pot.  Cheap Wine--We used wine-in-the-box. Available from homebrew beer and wine suppliers for about $15. The basic parts -. in the exact middle.World's Simplest Still Page 3 of 6 distillate will drip off into the collector jar. I used a 4 lb steel weight. Needs to be about 130-212 degree F in range. but not essential.'  Thermometer--for measuring the liquid temperature.html 3/7/2011 . or more. a red version to contrast with the clear distilled result! About 1/2 gallon needed. Put the collection glass in the wine pot.  Small drinking glass--an 8 ounce drinking glass works great. Must be submersible. put the magnet in the collection glass (see below for info about why we used the magnet). Also called a 'Customs House Hydrometer. If you are using a magnet.  Snow or Ice Cubes--This cools the vapor quickly so it will condense and drip into the collector glass. glass and wine! (magnet in glass not visible) Setup Pour some wine into the pot. but nice:  Proof Hydrometer--For measuring the alcohol content of your results.

If you were really into it. This is what it looks like when its running As the wine heats up. If everything went well. We had problems with bubbles forming under the glass and pushing it to the side of the pot.com/water/still.World's Simplest Still Page 4 of 6 Start heating the wine with the burner on high.5 deg F. and place on top of the wine pot. very low! Fill the wok with ice or snow. over the course of about 30 minutes. When the temperature gets to about 120 deg F. It's time to remove the distillate collection glass. The best we've ever got with this simple project is 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume).matchrockets. and condenses. The alcohol vapor rises.very. As the temperature starts approaching the boiling point of water. Now you want to bring the temperature up very slowly. there's no danger of pressure buildup and explosion like there is with a regular still. Adding the weight on top will help it get a good seal--which is critical to your success. Ethyl alcohol soon follows at 173 deg F. If it boils. while not letting any vapor out. hits the very cold inverted bowl. wait for the alcohol to cool to room temperature before measuring.html 3/7/2011 . you should have 2-4 ounces of alcohol from a half gallon of wine. Since the wok is just sitting on top of the pot. most of the alcohol will be gone from the wine. and dump the hot wine down the drain. diluting the alcohol. you'll get water dripping into your collection glass. it would be useful to drill a hole in the wok and insert a rubber grommet through which you could insert a thermometer. http://www. The condensate runs to the center. turn the burner down to low -. Don't drink the alcohol! But it is safe to dip your pinky in and taste it. and had to add the magnet to stick it down to the center of the steel pot. The keys to making you 'run' are BRING THE TEMPERATURE UP SLOWLY and DO NOT LET THE WINE BOIL. and drips down into the collection glass. If you have a hydrometer. Methyl alcohol boils at 148. different chemicals with different boiling points start to evaporate from it.

equipment. http://www.World's Simplest Still Page 5 of 6 hydrometer reading showing about 80 proof Distilling Links http://www. http://www.home-distilling.html 3/7/2011 . and an excellent and inexpensive e-book you can download.books. http://www.com/indexnz. really cool glass still.tons of free information! An extremely thorough site.EXPERIMENT SAFETY INFORMATION .real stills.htm -.stillspirits.matchrockets. New Zealand.!!! -. These folks from Sweden are REALLY into it! http://homedistiller.good books on home distilling.home-distillation.com/ -.lots of free information.Pretty Darn Safe -This experiment is quite safe. !!! . and there's not enough alcohol involved to make a fire hazard.com/index.gin-vodka.org/ -. The 'still' can never build up pressure.information and equipment . JUST DON'T DRINK THE RESULTS! http://www.com/water/still.com/ -.htm -.

If you think we have used a copyrighted image. THIS PAGE LAST UPDATED 4/2/03 http://www. Every experiment on these pages must be done with adult supervision only!!! If you are already an adult. so PAY ATTENTION to the hazards of what you are doing! Wear safety goggles and gloves. We'll try to provide safety warnings. whether you are age 6 or age 100! Email us for details. please let us know and we will remove it.com/water/still.World's Simplest Still Page 6 of 6 We will gladly accept.html 3/7/2011 . review and consider your science experiment submissions for inclusion on this site. Many of these experiments and many of the books we sell are from another era when safety was not a consideration. but cannot be held responsible for your own safety. Don't be stupid--YOU are supposed to be the adult here! | home | message board | FIRE | WATER | ETHER | EARTH | AIR | about us | products | All text and photos on this site are ©2003 by Forcefield All images that we borrowed are believed to be in the public domain.matchrockets. we recommend getting a friend to help so you don't do anything childish and hurt yourself.

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