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Old 12/22/04, 01:47 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 21
STILL / moonshine : Questions

Hi all,

Not that i'm going to do this but I was reading the foxfire book and they had a large section about it. Leaves me with some questions though.

1. They keep talking about "bead" but never describe what that means?

2. When you boil the "beer" as they call it does the alchol evaporate first and thus run through the condensor. At some point the water part of the "beer" would boil as well right?


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Old 12/22/04, 02:18 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: WV
Posts: 529
Don't know bout the "bead", but the "good stuff" starts to boil off at 172 degrees according to the guy that makes my "cough medicine"
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Old 12/22/04, 03:08 PM
Blu3duk's Avatar  
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: central idaho republic
Posts: 1,843
The "slurry" also known as mash added into the still will buble and out first comes ether, then as the heat gets above 140 degrees and the alcohols begins to separate from the water, at about 170 degrees [varies with elevation] the liquid will started to go gaseous, and into the worm the vapor goes.

Now depending upon how many gallons your still is will determine about how long before all the alchol is worked out of the mash.... my friends still is a copper sheet that once held 15 gallons and he cut it down to about 6 which takes about 3 hours give or take upon outside temperature, humidity and such. I have used a double boiler of a gallon glass jug that will work out in about 45 minutes to 90 minutes depending upon the heat source and day. When its done you can tell the difference by nothing coming out of it, the big copper still just keeps getting hotter and hotter, and you have to want it and test the specific gravity of the output to know when it it getting lower proof.

The copper still makes a uniform 100 proof on the first run if everything is right, and gets down to 80 as it works just about everything out, it can go higher but usually does not without running it through again.... not really built for running in engines. The double boilers will run out at about 120 proof nearly every run, which is getting close to the kill zone if you sniff it, but still not high enough to run a vehicle.

And if run in a vehicle you need to add some upper end lubricant otherwise your valves will not seat right. diesel 5% will cover this problem, as would Marvels Mystry oil, but is to spendy.

A knife blade stuck in the liquid and lite with a match will burn blue and leave the blade cool at 100 proof, the higher the flame the higher the proof. Ive seen 80 burn a little but that is 60% water.

In the end it is practice that gets you to know how long it takesto run your still out, and how much you get out of a run, the copper still usually gave us about 1.5 gallons of 100 proof, and the DB gives about a 10 cup coffee pot part full [why use a gallon jug if you cant fill it.

Mash contains anywhere from 10% to 17% by volume of alcohol, bread yeast wont get you a high yeild, and wine yeasts are sometimes hard to get just one or two packages of for higher experimentation. 10% to 17% is 200 proof, and you cannot achieve a 200 proof without freezing at about 40 below zero, which requires some spendy refridgeration equipment or living some place that requires more than 200 proof to stay warm!

Anyhow figure 15% will get 30% of a gallon of 100 proof and that 5 gallons will give 150% of a gallon of 100 proof or 1.5 gallons, so that is another gauge to know when you are about to change from alcohol to water or lesser proof starting to come put of your still.

The above information is for research purposes only and any liability comes not from the author or from HT website.

Upon the plains of hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions, who when on the dawn of victory paused to rest, and there resting died.
- John Dretschmer
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Old 12/22/04, 09:06 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,282
the bead is when you put the finished shine in a jar with a lid and give it a shake and a few bubbles will come to the top. that is the bead. in good shine the bead or bubble will be half above the liquid and half below
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Old 12/23/04, 02:01 AM
comfortablynumb's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Dysfunction Junction, SW PA
Posts: 4,808
depending on what you are mashing, you ned to be aware that the first few oz that drips out as the mash nears 177 degrees is methanol, and will blind or kill you. Methanol is a type of alcohol that comes from the fermentation of CELLULOSE. wood, stems, skins, pectin, grain hulls ect. its a small % of your total but important to seperate unless you are makig fuel, then its not an issue.
if you make shine from pure cane sugar and yeast this "rum" type has almost no methanol becuase of the lack of cellulose, BUT its always a safty measure to toos that first few oz out anyway...

water will boil at 212 degrees, ethanol will boil at 172 by the book. watching the gauge in the mash, the stuff that comes out before the mash gets to 175 to 178, you ignore and toss out as a general rule. if you can keep the tank at a constant 178F, the booze will flow till the mash is exausted and then it will slow to a drip, and will keep on dripping water. if you have a condenser rectifier it may stop altogether.

it is a good idea, as the hoch dribbles out of the pipe to have it dribble into a coffee can full of activated charcoal with a hole in the bottom, which the filtered ethanol will drip into a conatainer.

now, this removes the nasty bitter fusel oils and some trace alcohols that get traped in there too.
this makes a nice, clean, safe ethanol. if you build the thing right you will get a high% run first time..... simple stills you will have to redistill it to remove the water.

anyhthing over 100 proof is pretty hot to drink and actualy enjoy. (have a slug of 151 rum and see).

of course you are going to dump it in the car so this is all a moot point.... right?

note; distilling at higher temps with the right mash mix is how you get brandy.... make a nice wine and distill it, you get a good brandy. distilling will concentrate the alcohol and the flavor.
buy a simple galss hydrometer to test the alcohol% and the bead isnt something you need to learn to judge by. A good one is about 30 bucks.

Last edited by comfortablynumb; 12/23/04 at 02:04 AM.
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Old 12/23/04, 06:40 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: The Netherlands, EU
Posts: 57
Hi Dave98,

You might want to visit this site to make sure that you know what you are doing making and or drinking your own alcohol can be dangerous (besides being illigal in most countries).

For specific questions you could visit one of the distilling newsgroups for example: (alt.alcohol.home-distillation)

Good luck,
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Old 12/23/04, 10:25 AM
In Remembrance
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,844
Local legend is this county once had an active moonshining group. Some families were known to specialize in it. Was told if it was a ten gallon run, two in the middle were set aside. One went to the local county judge and the other to the county sheriff. Don't know about the judge, by the sheriff had a brother who was a barber and sold a lot of hair tonic.
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