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Moonshine Still Safety Measures – homemade still & how NOT to moonshine

Posted on: October 18th, 2014 by Gweedo Decker

Operating moonshine still, particularly a homemade still may seem easy and harmless; but the procedure is still a serious and sensitive one. Safety, your and that of the still and as well as of the surroundings, is very important. In order for you to be successful in your distillation venture, safety is a key ‘ingredient’. In the following paragraphs, let me take you through a short trip regarding the safety measures to consider.

Historical homemade copper still, figure 1

Historical homemade copper still, figure 1

First of all, ‘attention’ is very necessary. You need to be very attentive and active while going through the steps mentioned in this tutorial. The procedure may require you to work with heat, steam, gas, electricity, and explosive vapors. Thus, you need to be very careful while working and you may want to wear safety goggles and gloves. In one of the steps, you need to insert and remove thermometers from the boiler, in that event, be sure to wear gloves.

Many experienced moonshiners are faced with situations they never planned for. Your homemade still has a tendency to turn into a big fire ball. In this case, as the human logic prescribes, you must use the still outdoors because the fire will be much easier to extinguish and will cause less harm to you and the surroundings. As logical as it is, make sure you keep a fire extinguisher at hand, in case your distillation experiment turns into a fire drill.

DO NOT MAKE MOONSHINE TORCHES, LOL. Vapors containing ethanol are highly explosive. You will want to make sure that the still column doesn’t have any leaks.

How not to Moonshine !!!!, fig 1

How not to Moonshine !!!!, fig 1

A good way to do this is to run a batch of water through it. If you find any leaks, seal them there and then, after all a homemade still cannot be perfect in the first go, can it be? Well, what if the leaks develop during the distillation process? The situation might seem troublesome but it isn’t. Again you need to seal the leaks using flour paste. However, this is not a permanent fix. If the leaks persist, then shut down the operation and seal them using some solder. With that, make sure that you never leave the still unattended. This can cause things to go wrong without any one present at the location to control them. Finally, experienced moonshiners recommend the usage of all copper vessels. The reason is very obvious. Plastic melts and glass explodes into a grenade. Yes, if you use a plastic collection vessel, then the temperature and the strength of the shine may cause it to melt, which is a big failure as you will be deprived of the product and may also cause several fires. Finally, the ethanol will dissolve the plastic and leach nasty chemicals into your product, yuck. The most dangerous thing here is that strong moonshines burn with an invisible flame, which is of course deadlier than a visible flame.

Long story short; safety is very important and if not taken care of, can lead to disasters and may harm you and your hard-earned homemade still. For more information, you can also visit: http://www.ttb.gov/spirits/faq.shtml.

Note: Remember, the distillation of ethyl-alcohols is illegal without a permit per federal moonshine laws and is inherently dangerous because of ethanol’s flammability (never operate a homemade still indoors). For more moonshine laws and other moonshine still permit information, visit: http://www.ttb.gov/spirits/faq.shtml.  Sorry, ya even need a license for personal use due to TTB federal distillation moonshine laws.

For more info on your own homemade copper still plans for home, see http://stilltutorial.com