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I’m not sure which category to put this in. I’m sure a moderator will do it for me lol.
My father-in-law has given me his home alcohol making stuff. I have helped him make it in the past as far as distilling it. But as far as making the actual stuff in a 5gal jug, I’ve never done it. He speaks in broken english so it’s hard for him to give me instructions let alone me understand them. Anybody got any advice on how much fruit and sugar I got to mix up? Any help would be appreciated.
 

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If you google "copper still" you come up with a bunch of companies that make, sell and SUPPORT home distillers. I am not suggesting that you buy their stills, merely that you spend some time researching their websites. I believe you will find an awful lot of information including recipes and the BATF regulations that you do not want to run afoul of.

Here's one link with recipes: https://www.ngstillco.com/recipes/

There are others. Frankly I would be more afraid of the product's purity (distilling methanol instead of ethanol) than of the BATF, provided of course that one stays within the law.

Here's a question for all the old timers, ambulance drivers and such. Before the advent of dialysis what was the treatment for a wino with methanol poisoning? Why?
 

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If you google "copper still" you come up with a bunch of companies that make, sell and SUPPORT home distillers. I am not suggesting that you buy their stills, merely that you spend some time researching their websites. I believe you will find an awful lot of information including recipes and the BATF regulations that you do not want to run afoul of.

Here's one link with recipes: https://www.ngstillco.com/recipes/

There are others. Frankly I would be more afraid of the product's purity (distilling methanol instead of ethanol) than of the BATF, provided of course that one stays within the law.

Here's a question for all the old timers, ambulance drivers and such. Before the advent of dialysis what was the treatment for a wino with methanol poisoning? Why?
Wasn't it just ethanol? I think it has a higher affinity to alcohol dehydrogenase and therefore inhibits formate formation from the methanol.
 

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Wasn't it just ethanol? I think it has a higher affinity to alcohol dehydrogenase and therefore inhibits formate formation from the methanol.
Good for you sir! Dang, you're smart!

One of the only things I took away from biochemistry. Except for the headache.

My complements.
 
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I’m not sure which category to put this in. I’m sure a moderator will do it for me lol.
My father-in-law has given me his home alcohol making stuff. I have helped him make it in the past as far as distilling it. But as far as making the actual stuff in a 5gal jug, I’ve never done it. He speaks in broken english so it’s hard for him to give me instructions let alone me understand them. Anybody got any advice on how much fruit and sugar I got to mix up? Any help would be appreciated.
My point in posting the smarty pants reply about methanol poisoning and competitive inhibition was that (while I am sure there are home distillers out there who have been safely practicing their craft for generations) it is not risk-free. Here's a quote from a monograph on methanol contamination:

. . . it is more likely that the methanol might have been produced by contaminating microbes during traditional ethanol fermentation, which is often inoculated spontaneously by mixed microbes, with a potential to produce mixed alcohols. Methanol production in traditionally fermented beverages can be linked to the activities of pectinase producing yeast, fungi and bacteria. This study assessed some traditional fermented beverages and found that some beverages are prone to methanol contamination including cachaca, cholai, agave, arak, plum and grape wines.

Here's the link: Methanol contamination in traditionally fermented alcoholic beverages: the microbial dimension

How to avoid the problem? Careful distillation techniques, precise temperature monitoring, multiple distillations. On paper it seems simple because methanol boils off at a much lower temperature. In practice it may be hard for an amateur, particularly the first few dozen times. Heaven knows I enjoy a drink, and I love the idea of making my own premium booze, off the grid and outside government interference. But it's like reloading in the sense that it brings its own set of dangers, some of which may not be obvious at first glimpse.

Good luck, and cheers!
 

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Watch lots of the show Moonshiners. You actually pick up on a few things if you pay close attention, especially the earlier shows. They gloss over a few things on purpose, but you can pick up a nugget or two if you really listen across several shows.

Honest Tom is right. Methanol starts boiling off first in the foreshots as the still heats up and is usually a much smaller amount compared to the later ethanol once it hits the starting temperature for that to make it's way out. I think you can do a calculation based on the mash specific gravity (hydrometer reading prior to distilling) or something like that so you know what to expect for a total yield and figure out how much methanol to expect too. The less that ends up in the final spirit helps keep the hangover away (among other things). That said, I don't think there's a "home distilling" set of rules you can follow like they have for wine or beer making (which you can make all you feel like with no known penalties). The only thing that might slide in the middle there is if you are making gasohol for a farm or something like that. I think they need a license for that even. The rules for that came out like in the 90's I think. They like the taxes from distilling even one drop. That's why the ABC folks get so ornery if you go ahead and do it anyway, even if for your own consumption. Sad in a way.
 

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Watch lots of the show Moonshiners. You actually pick up on a few things if you pay close attention, especially the earlier shows. They gloss over a few things on purpose, but you can pick up a nugget or two if you really listen across several shows.

Honest Tom is right. Methanol starts boiling off first in the foreshots as the still heats up and is usually a much smaller amount compared to the later ethanol once it hits the starting temperature for that to make it's way out. I think you can do a calculation based on the mash specific gravity (hydrometer reading prior to distilling) or something like that so you know what to expect for a total yield and figure out how much methanol to expect too. The less that ends up in the final spirit helps keep the hangover away (among other things). That said, I don't think there's a "home distilling" set of rules you can follow like they have for wine or beer making (which you can make all you feel like with no known penalties). The only thing that might slide in the middle there is if you are making gasohol for a farm or something like that. I think they need a license for that even. The rules for that came out like in the 90's I think. They like the taxes from distilling even one drop. That's why the ABC folks get so ornery if you go ahead and do it anyway, even if for your own consumption. Sad in a way.
Makeing Moonshine is supposed to be illigal. In the way thay do it for sale on the show. Yet, they are filiming it. Do not under stand that.
 

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Methanol (bp 64 oC) is not a trivial separation from the ethanol/water azeotrope (95% ethanol bp 78.2 oC). Complete separation would require a careful fractional distillation with an efficient distillation column. With careful monitoring of temperature the methanol would distill as a forerun. Other wise a larger volume forerun that contains both methanol and the azeotrope would need to be collected to separate the methanol from the bulk of the ethanol. In either case careful monitoring of temperature and distillation rate would be required as fractions of the forerun are collected.

Concerning the production of ethanol it is preferable to avoid making methanol, and start the fermentation with a pure cultured yeast geared for the brewing/production of ethanol, and known not to yield methanol. The yeast should be started in high concentration in a small volume so that many actively reproducing yeast are introduced to the bulk of the material to be fermented. In this way any competing organisms have little chance to compete with the rapidly dividing "brewers yeast".

I am fond of brewing my own hard cider as it requires little effort in comparison to beer/ale. I start with freshly pressed cider, or cider that has been pastuerized or UV treated. Don't use cider with preservatives (potassium sorbate) as it will inhibit any fermentation.

A portion/cupful of cider is warmed to ~ 35 oC/95 oF, added yeast nutrient (a dead yeast) and yeast energizer (diammoniom phosphate and urea) , a packet of brewing yeast (all from from brewing supply outlets), then lightly capped in a jar in a warm dark place. Fermentation will begin and I vent the cap often to allow carbon dioxide to escape and relieve pressure. The bulk of the cider is allowed to warm overnight as the starter is actively fermenting.

A 5-gal carboy is cleaned and sterilized with soapy bleach, well rinsed, and equipped with an air lock. To the bulk of the cider yeast nutrient and energizer is also added then transfered to the carboy. Cider alone will generally ferment to ~ 5-7% ABV ethanol. Additional sugar may be dissolved in the bulk of the cider (sugar, brown sugar, honey) to increase the amount of alcohol produced in the ferment. If a large amount of sugar is added a yeast must be selected that tolerates high alcohol concentrations, or the yeast will get "drunk" and fermentation will stop yielding a very sweet cider. If all the sugar gets consumed the cider will be very "dry" like a dry wine.

I like a good strong cider and add ~ 1-lb of sugar/gallon, and use yeasts made to brew champagne or strong wines that can approach 20% ABV (Lalvin EC-1118 or Red Star Pastuer Champagne). The starter and the cider with the above amendments (enigizer nutrient sugar) added to the carboy, the airlock secured, and the batch allowed to ferment in a warm (75-85 oF) dark place. Don't add more than 4-gal to the carboy as considerable foaming will occur. If this get out of control the carboy can be placed in a bathtub of cold water until the fermentation subsides. The ferment is then monitored by the bubbles of CO2 observed leaving the airlock. When the bubbling stops either all the sugar is consumed (dry hard cider) or the yeast is drunk (sweet hard cider). The mixture will be very cloudy with considerable must/wort/yeast forming a layer on the bottom.

At his point I allow the yeast to settle and cider clear. Some people will "rack"/transfer by siphon the partially clear ferment into a 2nd carboy to finish the settling process. I am just patient and wait until the cider clears. The longer you wait the clearer it gets, plan on several weeks-month. You can still bottle partially cloudy cider and the remaining yeast will settle in the bottles. This sediment will get disturbed when pouring out the contents, but just results in a cloudy last glass full with care full pouring.

I bottle my cider into 750-mL bottles with re-useable caps, or 1/2-gal beer bottles. Smaller bottles are a PITA to clean. They should be clean/sterile and the cider is siphoned into them. It is handy to have a siphon made for this that brewing suppliers sell, it has a device on the end to avoid siphoning the must from the bottom of the carboy. If the cider is dry, a small amount of sugar can be added to each bottle to get a 2nd ferment and a sparking cider. Only use bottles designed to take pressure and don't add too much sugar. If one bottle bursts, it sets off a chain reaction.......

I won't get into distillation to make the real hard stuff. A good friend makes wine and distills that to make grappa. I've been doing orgainic chemistry for a long time and have distilled lots of things besides booze.

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I won't get into distillation to make the real hard stuff. A good friend makes wine and distills that to make grappa. I've been doing organic chemistry for a long time and have distilled lots of things besides booze.
And there's the rub isn't it. You actually have experience under laboratory conditions, which means instrumentation, standard conditions, precise record-keeping, and theoretical knowledge. You have done a public service in my opinion just by underscoring the complexity of the job at hand. Methanol is poison. Period. Its effects may be innocuous but cumulative.

I am all about people doing pretty much whatever they want but where public health is the bottom line, folks consuming poison thinking it's only really strong "white lightening," well I dunno.

Thank you.

Oh, here's everybody's favorite communist millionaire railing against the IRS and whiskey tax:

 
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