How to Build a Moonshine still at home

This page is designed to highlight to you all that it really is not hard to Build a Moonshine still and ultimately to start making your own Moonshine at home.

To Build a Moonshine still is not illegal as such, but using it to distill alcohol is illegal in most countries - specifically in the United States. However, if you are lucky enough to live in Italy, Austria or New Zealand, you can enjoy making your own distilled alcoholic beverages.

However that aside it's still my intention is to show you how to Build a Moonshine still.

What is distilling?

The process of distillation is actually very simple.

You are taking a chemical mixture (usually water with other chemical substances such as sugar, etc) and heating it up so that the lowest boiling point atoms leave the other chemical compounds behind.

For instance, if you take coca-cola and boil it very gently, the first item to evaporate will be the water.

The water leaves the sugar and other additives and moves into another compartment where it cools off and is condensed, creating pure water from coca-cola.

Using this method you can make whisky from beer, and brandy from wine.

It should be noted that all a still does is to separate the original liquid into two different compounds.

It’s simply speaking a way of separating components, nothing is added at all.

Items You Will Need to Build a Moonshine still

  • One large cooking pot (usually a pot that holds about one gallon of liquid will do the trick)
  • A mixing bowl with a round bottom. A flat bottom bowl will not work well, due to the fact that you would like the distillate to drip into the collecting jar.
  • One 8 oz drinking glass.
  • One magnet. The magnet is used to keep the collection glass from moving around the pot.
  • One small weight. This weight will be used to keep the round bottom bowl in place. You can use a brick, or a 5lb weight used for weight lifting (you should have something very heavy to keep any alcohol vapour from leaking out)
  • A cooking thermometer, which is used to measure the temperature of the liquid.
  • 1/2 gallon of red table wine.
  • A few ice cubes to cool the vapour.
  • Optional: One proof hydrometer (sometimes called Customs House Hydrometer). This device helps you test the proof of your alcohol.

How to Build a Moonshine still

Step 1

Place your large pot on your stove or burner securely.

Pour 2 quarts of your red table wine into your large pot.

Now place your 8 ounce collection glass in the center of your pot.

You will now place the magnet in the collection glass holding the glass in place once the ingredients start to heat up.

Step 2

Turn on your stove or burner on high, & wait for the contents to reach about 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Check your thermometer often.

Once at this temperature, turn the burner or stove to a very low temperature.

From this point on you will need to control the rise in temperature very slowly.

Step 3

Fill your small rounded bowl with a few ice cubes and place the bowl on top of the large pot.

Make sure that your bowl has a good seal over the pot. The better the seal, the better your results will be.

Add your brick or weigh to the bowl so that the seal is better at trapping any alcohol vapour.

Step 4

Bring the temperature of your pot up slowly over the course of about a half hour.

As your wine heats up slowly, specific chemical compounds will start boiling at different temperatures.

Methyl alcohol is the first to evaporate at 148.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ethyl alcohol evaporates at 173 degrees Fahrenheit and water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

As the alcohol reaches its boiling point it will turn into vapour and once it hits the above bowl, which is filled with ice cubes, it will cool down and condense.

As it condensates, it will slowly drip down into the collection glass.

For best results make sure that your collection glass is stable and that the cold bowl on top of it has a very tight seal.

Step 5

Make sure that the wine rises in temperature very slowly.

Do not allow the wine to boil. As the water approaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit, shut off the heat and remove the collection glass. You can then throw away the wine.

In the collection glass, you will find about 2 to 4 ounces of water for about every 2 quarts of wine you cook. You can use your hygrometer to test the proof of the alcohol.

Most build a moonshine still novices can easily get above 20% proof alcohol, however it does take a good setup and some skill to reach anywhere around 80 proof which is 40% alcohol by volume.


Can I stress that in no way is this article encouraging anyone to break the law when they build a moonshine still, and always be sure that if you then use the alcohol that it is fit for consumption.

Home page

All about making Whiskey at home

An introduction to making whiskey at home

How to make Whiskey - A guide

All about the different moonshine stills

Moonshine Whiskey - Illicit and potent

The Oak Barrel is so important

The Whiskey rebellion proved how important whiskey actually is!

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