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How to Make a Basic Pot Still

When discussing still's people often think of the old moonshiners from prohibition times hiding in the woods from the law, making illegal white lightning.  It's not often that someone now days would have a use for a still right? Wrong!  Although a still can be used for moonshine it has several other legal uses, such as ethenol/methenol fuel, remove salt from seawater (making it drinkable), and extracting essential oils from your favorite plants/flowers. There are two basic types of stills, a reflux still and a pot still.  In this article I am going to explain how to make a pot still.  Before you decided to start distilling at home it is very important that you research the laws for your area.  You wouldn't want any undo trouble for yourself. Okay the basic operation of a still is simply to take the steam from a boiling liquid and condense it back to a liquid state again. Although a pot still can be made with any type of cooking pot with a lid I recommend that you use a pressure cooker. A pressure cooker is preferable for a few reasons: the lid already has a hole in it for steam to escape, the lid is designed to lock on allowing steam to only exit through the steam hole, and most importantly it is designed with safety devices witch won’t allow it to pressurize and explode. From here on out I am going to assume you decided to use a pressure cooker. Now that you have your pressure cooker(/pot) we need to make a condenser to attach to it. You will need the following items:

Small submersible fish tank style water pump

  • 18” of 3” pvc

  • 3” pvc caps---two of them

  • ¼” soft copper pipe---about 5’

  • 3/8 tubing soft ---about 10’

  • Pvc glue

  • 1” hose clamps

  • Small tube of silicon caulk

  • Wine bottle cork

All of these items can be purchased from your local Lowes/ Homedepot or local hardware store.

Tools needed:

  • Drill

  • ¼” drill bit

  • Flat screw driver

  • Maglight C battery sized

  • Copper tubing cutter

  • Small hand held tubing bender

Okay now take your soft copper pipe, it usually comes in a small roll so unroll a few feet of it being extra careful not to kink it. Leaving one foot of pipe at the beginning start slowly rolling the pipe around the Maglight’s handle. Again be very careful not to kink the copper tubing. Roll the pipe around the lights handle at least ten times making a small coil. If you kink the tube you have to cut off the kink and start again, kinks are dangerous because they can create back pressure in your still. When you have your coil finished cut the rest of the copper pipe off leaving an extra foot of straight pipe at the end, just like at the beginning.

Now take one of the 3” pvc caps and drill a ¼” hole into the side of it, about an inch up from the edge. With the other 3” pvc cap drill the same size hole into the top of it just offset from the middle about an inch or so. Push one of the straight sections of the copper pipe into the hole on the side of the 1st 3” cap. Slide the copper coil into the 18” pvc pipe and fit the other pcv cap onto the free end of the copper tubing bend the tubing to match up with the hole using the hand held bender.. Before you push the caps onto the pvc pip make sure you put a fair amount of pvc glue onto the caps.

So now you have about one foot of copper pipe coming out of the top of the pvc then your coil inside the pvc and again about one foot of copper coming out the bottom of the pvc. Feel free to take a minute to pat yourself on the back cause you are almost done. Take the drill and drill 2 hole into the pvc that’s housing your coil. One just under the top cap and another right above the bottom cap being very careful not to drill through your copper pipe inside. Cut two 1” pieces of your leftover copper pipe and use the caulk to hold these pieces into the two holes you just drilled. When the caulk is dry (24 hours) use the same caulk to seal the other holes in your pvc where the coil top and bottom come out, wait to dry(24 hours).

Cut your 3/8 tubing in half connecting it onto the two 1” copper nipples in the side of the pvc pipe using two of the hose clamps to ensure it wont leak. On the other end of the bottom tube connect the submersible water pump, so when in use water can flow into the bottom of the 3” pvc and out the top. Bend the top of the copper pipe with the pipe bender to fit onto the steam exhaust hole on your pressure cooker. Drill the right size hole in each end of the wine bottle cork to fit the ¼” copper pipe on one end and the existing nipple on the pressure cooker on the other end.

Congratulations you have a still.

Next article will be on how to use your still to make ethenol/methenol fuel, remove salt from seawater (making it drinkable), and extracting essential oils from your favorite plants/flowers.

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Comments (13)
andrew junget

hi,

i have read that an aluminum pressure cooker shouldn't be used as a pot still for alcohol. is this true ? not looking forward to dying early.

andy

Neat.

unknown

TO: Andy

there is better things to use besides an aluminum pressure cooker for making "alcohol" BUT there is nothing wrong with this method i have one and my Mtn.Dew has never killed me! ;)

Great post!

Luap928

The last post that says that aluminum is safe has not done any research and has never taken a basic chemistry class. Aluminum is a reactive metal when you heat it with alcohol it leaches bad chemicals into your moonshine. The chemicals are one of the leading causes of Alzheimer's disease. I did an intership at a large distillery and I assure you using aluminum or any reactive metal in your still is a horrible idea. Frankly just because one guys MtnDew has "never killed him" doesnt mean the chemicals he's drinking arnt bad for him. And having made moonshine in a aluminum pressure cooker I can tell you from first hand knowledge it adds such a stench to the finial product that you wouldn't ever want to drink it. MtnDew in the previous post probably is using a sainless steal pot and doesnt know it.

Voted up. Very interesting

willie

I got a copper pot still as a present,and am not sure whether it is complete. It has an inch +half pipe protruding at the bottom on the side what

Chance

Do u have to use presure cooker can you use a stock pot and coped tubing to make white lighting

Ranked #1 in Making Alcohol

You can use a regular stock pot if you want, to seal the lid down tight just mix a little water and flower so you have some dough. roll it into about a 1/4 inch and use it to seal your lid to your pot. Then use those black clips used in offices as large paper clips and put about 10 of them on the stock pot lid to hold it down tight, and your all set. You want to use the dough cause it is food and wont leach any nasty chemicals into your final product.

I really enjoyed your article. Very instructive and helpful.

Very interesting - I make liquors but have never attempted a still. Thanks for sharing.

Using either aluminum or stainless steel pressure cooker should be fine, although copper as material to make still is still the best choice. Your copper tubing should work well.

Nicely done DIY whiskey still. It would be better if you showed some pictures nevertheless still very interesting. Voted up! 

Peae note PVC should NEVER be used ony any still were the alchohol is to be used for HUMAN CONSUMPTION the PVC compounds are proven to cause kidney tumours when internaly ingested which is why food and drink are forbiden to be stored,packaged or produced using it!!! 

Peae note PVC should NEVER be used ony any still were the alchohol is to be used for HUMAN CONSUMPTION the PVC compounds are proven to cause kidney tumours when internaly ingested which is why food and drink are forbiden to be stored,packaged or produced using it!!!

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