How To Make A Moonshine Still

Feature | Moonshine tool in the camp | How To Make A Moonshine Still

Learn how to make a moonshine still and why you need to for use at home or for survival!

In this article:

  1. Why Is a DIY Moonshine Still Worth Your Time?
  2. What You Need for a Moonshine Still Construction
  3. Homemade Moonshine Still Directions

How to Make a Moonshine Still Step-by-Step

What is a Moonshine Still? A moonshine still is a device you use to distill liquid mixture by a process of heating, then cooling, thus separating or purifying the liquid through the vapor collected.

Why Is a DIY Moonshine Still Worth Your Time?

A moonshine is actually what you call the liquor produced at a time when it was illegal to do so. A moonshine still, then, will not only produce distilled water but liquor too, which is handy in survival situations.

While we have the process of purifying water in mind in making this still apparatus, it doesn’t hurt to know you can make high-proof liquor with it, too. Liquor, which may be handy for preserving food, medical purposes, and a little sip every now and then when the going gets tough in an SHTF scenario.

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What You Need for a Moonshine Still Construction:

Moonshine tools | How To Make A Moonshine Still
Before we get started though, do note this is not an electric moonshine still. Without further ado, here’s what a homemade still kit consists of:

  • Aluminum pot with an aluminum lid (we used a tamale steamer from a place that rhymes with Target…Doh!)
  • 5-Gallon bucket
  • Drill
  • 1/8 inch drill bit
  • 3/8 inch drill bit
  • Cooking Thermometer
  • Teflon Tape
  • Hot glue gun with high-temperature hot glue sticks
  • Metal File
  • 3/8-inch to 3/8-inch compression adapter (found in the plumbing section)
  • 20 ft. Refrigerator coil
  • Ice
  • A stove or other consistent heat source (when using the still you need to keep whatever you are boiling at a very even temp)

Homemade Moonshine Still Directions

Now, seriously, let’s get this moonshine still going!

Step 1: Start with the Cover

Drill a hole in the lid | How To Make A Moonshine Still
Drill a 1/8 inch hole into the lid of the aluminum pot for your still. Throw the lid over a piece of scrap wood to make it easier and drill a hole a few inches back from the edge of the lid.

Step 2: Prepare Thermometer

Wrap the thermometer with Teflon tape | How To Make A Moonshine Still
Wrap the thermometer with Teflon tape. Originally, we were just going to wrap the thermometer with Teflon tape to create an airtight seal. But, we decided we wanted to secure this thing in place even more with some hot glue (rated for high temps).

You can probably get away with just using hot glue at the end of the day and ditching the Teflon.

Step 3: Set Up Cover and Thermometer

Teflon-coated thermometer | How To Make A Moonshine Still
Slide the thermometer in the hole.

Place in the top of the lid | How To Make A Moonshine Still
Thread your cooking thermometer through the hole so it sits nice and flush on the top of the lid.

Step 4. Secure Thermometer

High-temperature hot glue | How To Make A Moonshine Still
Secure the thermometer with hot glue. For those concerned that hot glue is a bad choice for this project (since it will be in direct contact with hot steam), it’s important to note that high-temperature hot glue sticks have a melting point well above the melting point of water (100 °C).

This is also true for the melting point of “other liquids” (78 °C). There are other adhesives you can use, including high temp silicone and even high temp resins. Just make sure whatever you use is rated for heat well beyond what steam your liquid will be creating.

Step 5: Drill Another Hole

Drill a hole | How To Make A Moonshine Still
Drill a 3/8 inch hole in the pot lid. Begin by drilling another 1/8 inch hole in the lid.

This will act as a starter hole for the much bigger 3/8 inch drill bit. Put it roughly opposite from the thermometer across the lid.

Drill a hole in the pot lid | How To Make A Moonshine Still
Drill a 3/8 inch hole with the 3/8 inch drill bit.

Hole in the lid | How To Make A Moonshine Still

Step 6: File

Grind the burrs down | How To Make A Moonshine Still
If there are any burrs, this can cause some problems when inserting the compression fitting. Take a file and grind the burrs down until they are gone.

RELATED: How To Build A Salt Water Distiller | Survival Life Guide

Step 7: Set Up Compression Fitting

Insert a compression fitting into the lid | How To Make A Moonshine Still
Insert a compression fitting into the lid of the still. Insert the male threaded nut of the compression fitting into the hole by twisting it through from the bottom of the lid.

The fit won’t be perfect, but don’t worry if it jiggles around a little bit.

Place the fittings | How To Make A Moonshine Still

Step 8: Seal Fitting

Seal the fitting with hot glue | How To Make A Moonshine Still
Seal the fitting with hot glue. This seal needs to be airtight to prevent steam from leaking through it.

It’s time to bust out that trusty glue gun again! Make sure you put hot glue on the other side as well, working well around the seams.

Step 9: Attach the Copper Coil to the Lid

Holds a nut that came in compression fitting | How To Make A Moonshine Still
Take the female-threaded nut that came with your compression fitting, then attach it to one end of the refrigerator coil.

Ferrule | How To Make A Moonshine Still
This end of your compression fitting has a part called a “ferrule” that comes with it. It’s a small circular ring that looks kind of like a grommet. The ferrule helps create a tight connection between the female and male ends of your compression nut.

Copper coil to the lid | How To Make A Moonshine Still
Screw the female-threaded nut onto the male-threaded nut protruding from the lid of your still.

Attach coil to the lid | How To Make A Moonshine Still

Step 10: Drill a Hole into the Bucket

Drill hole in the bucket | How To Make A Moonshine Still
Drill a 3/8 inch hole in the bucket. Use a 1/8 inch drill bit to begin a pilot hole in the 5-gallon bucket. Put it about two inches above the base.

 Drill hole in the bucket | How To Make A Moonshine Still
With a 3/8 inch drill bit, drill a 3/8 inch hole where the pilot hole is.

Hole in the bucket | How To Make A Moonshine Still

Step 11: Insert Second Compression Fitting

Insert compression fitting into the bucket | How To Make A Moonshine Still
Insert second compression fitting into the bucket. Screw the male-threaded nut of the other compression fitting into the bucket.

Step 12: Make the Seal Watertight

Seal watertight with the hot glue gun | How To Make A Moonshine Still
Make the seal watertight with the hot glue gun. Just like you did with the lid, seal this dude nice and tight with the glue.

Step 13: Tighten Refrigerator Coil

Cylindrical to help you reshape | How To Make A Moonshine Still
If needed, tighten the refrigerator coil. If your coil is currently too big to fit snugly in whatever bucket you are using, you want to close down the coils first.

Use something cylindrical to help you reshape it, like this coffee that can be grabbed from the kitchen. Anything with a cylindrical shape will do the trick.

Work fairly gently so you don’t ding up your tubing, pressing down on the coil rings to collapse the system to fit. Lastly, attach the coil to the bucket to finish up your DIY moonshine still.

Cylindrical | How To Make A Moonshine Still
Check out the rest of this project and the full instructions here from DIY Projects!

 

Watch this comprehensive video tutorial on how to make a moonshine still courtesy of Jake Foster:

Now you know how to build your own moonshine still, you’ll have an alternative in case you run out of water heating options. Sure, a homemade still will require a handsome amount of materials, but having one at your disposal will definitely come in handy.

Are you planning to build your own moonshine still? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Up Next: 25 Ways To Get Clean Drinking Water In An Emergency

How To Make A Moonshine Still

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 15, 2018, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

Comments

comments

58 Responses to :
How To Make A Moonshine Still

  1. Joe says:

    Judging from the orange color and the white block lettering saying “Let’s Do This” on the side, I’m going to assume that is a Home Depot 5 gallon bucket.
    These buckets are not made out of food grade plastics and therefore should NOT be used in connection with anything you plan on ingesting, be it food, liquid or otherwise.

    1. JoeHURR says:

      The bucket holds the water used to cool the liquor, not the liquor yourself. Way to go Einstein.

      1. Jim says:

        Plastic molecules will leach into the fluid whether it is liquor or water, hot or cold.

        1. prsmith says:

          Not in that configuration. The steam/liquid product is contained in the copper coil and never comes in contact with the ice bucket or its contents. That configuration is totally safe (if you plan on drinking it – GET EDUCATION or you might end up dead/in prison.

        2. Robert says:

          Will the plastic molecules leach through the copper tubing?

          1. Rich Gross says:

            NO

    2. mikeinsa says:

      You are correct. However, the copper coil goes into the bucket and ice or very cold water is added to condense the vapor. The bucket is a cooling receptacle.

      However, I have been advised NOT to use aluminum pots as the alcohol will cause pitting and could lead to off flavors. Stainless and copper are the only choices. They are pricey when new. Look online for restaurant supply.

      I will be adding my take on still making soon. Maybe this weekend. This will be my second still. It will be somewhat more professional than the last.

      1. Farmer says:

        While I agree that you need food grade to touch edibles, the orange bucket is only used to cool the coil and never touches the liquid. But I will go on record as saying “I hate hot glue”.

    3. USGunner says:

      Joe, I was the plant manager at Leaktite corp, Leominster Mass. We made ALL the Home Depot orange buckets nationwide, and yes, they are ALL made from food grade HDPE.

    4. Vladilyich says:

      The bucket hold ice that’s used to cool the coils. NOT to hold any ‘shine.

    5. ozark says:

      the liquid is in the copper tubing not in the bucket

    6. Jimbo says:

      Hope you did more homework on stills by now but liquid dont touch the bucket just ice to cool the vapers to liquid the liquid runs out the Cooper coil don’t touch bucket at all not sure what some these people think but bucket is just to hold I’ve or cold water to turn vaper to liquid if anyone has questions comment and I’ll try help you I did my homework on stills before started stilling some these people should too

    7. Farmer says:

      While I agree that you need food grade to touch edibles, the orange bucket is only used to cool the coil and never touches the liquid. But I will go on record as saying “I hate hot glue”.

  2. Jim Stepp says:

    Would really be nice if the link to the rest of the project worked. “Error 404 Not Found” When the link is clicked. Any help guys? And thanks

    1. Lauren J says:

      We’re working on the solution! Should be up momentarily. Thanks for letting us know about the issue, Jim. Should be fixed now!

      1. UK John says:

        Eh eh. Fancy having a go at this. Plenty how tos online. Ruddy show on discovery. Not sure on high proof or the fact you end up wearing dungarees with an iq enough to make shine and breathe, but eh,,, let’s get blasted.

  3. Jim Stepp says:

    I still can not get a link to the full instructions. The link now takes you to the DIY site, however, can not locate the still project. Any chance of just getting the complete instructions here or sent via email to a person to peruse? Thanks Jim

  4. Jeremy says:

    Aluminum puts and leaks metaloids and brass contains poisonous metaloids this could be dangerous. Always use copper or stainless steel! Learn befor e you teach

  5. KRISTI says:

    Ice……??? What are the chances of having ice in a SHTF situation??

    1. Anonymous says:

      That happens when it is cold outside

      1. prsmith says:

        And does not happen the other 6 to 9 months out of the year. ‘Cold’ water also works – put a drain valve at the bottom so you can change it when it gets warm.

    2. Vladilyich says:

      Cold water from a stream or lake.

  6. Allie says:

    You need to either change the title of this post or change the item listed because you are going to kill someone by using an aluminum pot to distill moonshine. Aluminum leaches toxic chemicals when you cook high alcohol content in them. The safest materials to use as your cooking pot are copper, glass, or stainless steel. Not aluminum or stainless steel coated.

    1. prsmith says:

      Moonshine is illegal, alcohol is not. Make sure you denature your alcohol unless you are a.) educated in the process and b.) licensed.

      1. prsmith says:

        I agree that the title could lead to a bit of legal challenge.

  7. Tom lance says:

    If you are interested in making moonshine you should checkout
    http://www.distillingliquor.com/2014/12/28/how-to-make-moonshine-2/

  8. Paul` Wells says:

    This is the kind of post that gets people hurt. Alcohol vapor will leech heavy metals and other toxins out of aluminum and slowly poison anyone drinking your product. All brass produced in the U.S. today has a small lead content to make it more machinable, another heavy metal toxin leeched out by alcohol. Hot glue will melt and leak alcohol vapor ruining your yield and creating a fire hazard.

    You can safely distill at home with minimal equipment but not with a rig like this.

    1. Estelle says:

      can you tell me how

      1. prsmith says:

        Lots of articles and videos (Youtube) available, Estelle. If things go bad, alcohol will be an in-demand product but do your homework. If you’re really, really interested, get hold of ALCOHOL CAN BE A GAS! by David Blume. You could find yourself in a whole new career field.

    2. Farmer says:

      Hey, it’s the SHTF times. EOTWAWKI …. what’s a little lead poisoning? Reminds me of the do-gooders who took the cigarettes out of military life rafts because “they were dangerous to your health” … and sharks aren’t or floating around in the ocean for 60 days?

  9. Baddogg5 says:

    Do not drink whatever comes out of this
    now if your looking to make some molatov cocktails well by all means

    1. Farmer says:

      Righto … the first few ounces could contain methanol … not too good to drink. Throw out the first bit of the first run. And remember that alcohol is a fuel and quite explosive at that…. make sure your collecting flask is away from the heat source. On second thought, put the whole rig some distance from the place you don’t want to burn down.

  10. Temp for alchol to run is 178 degrees is best temp no where close to 212

  11. Frederick Douglas says:

    It is against federal law to build a still!!! So unless you have no problem going to prison have at it.

    1. Bob says:

      Try typing stills for sale into a search engine. Lots of manufacturers out there selling them on the web.

      1. Farmer says:

        Heck, Amazon has stills for sale … and some nice ones too.

    2. Keith W says:

      It’s not illegal to own/build a still. However, the illegal part comes into play when you try to SELL the product, without a license AND without paying taxes. The Feds want their cut.

  12. Redneck says:

    First, all lots of folks here need to educate themselves! i have lived in south Alabama all my life! i am very familiar with moonshine and how its made!
    #1. you7 Don’t use Aluminum or brass! they will poison you! just as brewing shine using Radiator from a car or truck as a coil! IT WILL GIVE YOU LEAD POISONING AND KILL YOU!!
    #2. it is not illegal to build a still! It is not illegal to use a still!! it is very legal to produce Liguire from a still in your home or property as long as it is for personal consumption and in limited quantity!! IT IS! illegal to distill liquor for sale or distribution without a license!!
    AND THEY CALL US FOLK IN ALABAMA IGNORANT!

    1. Keith W says:

      Most of us SOUTHERNERS know that, or at least those of us that are old enough to remember, research before opening your mouth.

  13. Jim says:

    I built the same device in 1976 while working in a foreign country where alcohol was banned by religion!
    Used a large pressure cooker,copper coil attached to the lid in the same manner. The coil was placed in a sink and covered with ice. condensed liquid was captured in a bottle. Used sugar and yeast to make the base. The liquid came out around 160 proof. Had to cut it in order to drink it! It was called Sadeke!! WE would add different fruits to it to get different flavors. For Gin we added juniper berries!!

    1. Pappy says:

      how much sugar and yeast

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  15. Dan says:

    Um only a moron would use a plastic bucket for a thumper. The mist coming out of the cooker HAS to be at a minimum temp of 175 degrees (any hotter and you ruin the product and any colder and it wont turn into mist), and that is far hot enough to melt the plastic. Second the “cap” must be SEALED to the cooker or all the steam is going to escape and you are left with nothing. Third the thumper MUST have a constant run of cold water. You cannot use ice as it will melt nor can you just fill the thumper with water and expect it to be cold enough to cause the mist to condense into a liquid. Fourth you CANNOT use steel for this, it MUST ALL BE COPPER as steel, even stainless; ruins the product and gives it a metal taste. And finally the most important is the first quart is called the head, and you CANNOT drink that as it will kill you. That has to be thrown away or be used to start your car with. Then you have to have something like cheese cloth to put over the funnel and something like charcoal to let the end product run through. Otherwise its going to be, as my moonshiner grandfather used to say “this is the meanest cough syrup I have ever run into, and no the taste does not get better with the second drink, in fact it gets worse.”

    These directions will do nothing but hurt someone or kill someone. So why did you bother to even post them? And yes I know what I am talking about as my family on my fathers side have been making moonshine for over 200 years in Alabama and Georgia and southeastern Tenn. So I do think I know a little more then you do on this subject.

    1. Farmer says:

      It doesn’t sound like you either read the article or you are trying to impress people with your hillbilly distilling “knowledge”. There is no thumper in the plans…. only the boiler and condenser. But, nice try.

  16. Sebastian Corser says:

    I have a large stainless steel pot that I’m planning on using for my still. Would I be able to use a high temp RTV (RTV106) for sealing the lid to the pot or will it potentially be dangerous to use. And if so what would be recommended to use? I’d like something that I can easily cut or scrape off when I’m done and reapply for the next batch

  17. Anonymous says:

    Distilling in any thing that isn’t stainless or copper can be poisoness or deadly

  18. Farmer says:

    Wow …. and I thought the article was about distilling river water to make it safe to drink.

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