How to Build a Still

Beer enthusiasts and hobbyists alike build stills to brew and ferment home made beer or wine. While building a still is not illegal, it is illegal to use it for distilling alcohol in most countries except Austria, New Zealand and Italy, Russia, Romania and Bulgaria. This article will provide you with a step by step guide to building your own still.

Materials

  • 4 gallon size copper boiler
  • 18” diameter copper sheeting
  • 2” diameter x 36” long copper pipe
  • 1” diameter x 24” long copper tubing
  • Lead free solder
  • Glass thermometer
  • Stainless steel milk can
  • 1” x 1 ½” reducing coupler
  • 1 ½” x 2” reducing coupler
  • 1” diameter elbow joint
  • 3” nipple
  • 1” x 2 ½” nipple
  • 5-6 feet of 1” copper pipe coiled into a spiral shape
  • Standard spigot faucet
  • Large copper tub
  • 1 ½” copper elbow pipe
  • New bucket, glass gallon jug, or other container that is easily sealed
  • Siphon or piece of unused garden hose
  • Airlock
  • Rubber stopper to fit the opening made in the sealed container
  • Connecting ring to fit the boiler and 2” pipe together
  • Flour and water or silicon kit
  • Mixture to be fermented
  • Yeast
  • Lots of ice cold water

Tools

  • Saw
  • Solder gun
  • Heat source (propane or electric heater)
  • Drill

Assembling the boiler

  1. Saw the copper boiler into two halves.
  2. Lay the copper sheet face up on a flat work surface and place the open end of one boiler half directly on top of it.
  3. Cut a piece of sheeting with a diameter 1cm larger than the diameter of the open end of the boiler.
  4. Place boiler, flat side down, on the work surface.
  5. Cut a 2” diameter hole in the top of the boiler.
  6. Solder the connecting ring to the top of the boiler directly over the hole.

Assembling the column

  1. Drill a hole on top of the 1 ½” elbow connector large enough to solder it to the 3” nipple.
  2. Solder the 2” pipe to the connecting ring on top of the boiler.
  3. Solder the elbow connector to the top of the pipe using the 1 ½” reducing coupler.
  4. Solder the nipple in place. Insert thermometer into the nipple and secure it in place with a silicon kit.
  5. Solder the 1” reducing coupler to the other end of the elbow pipe. Solder 1” length of pipe to the coupler.
  6. Solder 1” elbow joint to the end of the pipe so the pipe’s opposite end points downwards. Solder the smaller nipple to this end of the elbow pipe.
  7. Solder the nipple to the coiled copper tubing placing a large metal container below the coils so their bottom part rests in it.
  8. Cut a hole low in the side of the metal container. It should be large enough to force the end of the tubing to meet up with the hole then solder the connection.
  9. Solder the spigot to the hole cut in the side of the metal container.
  10. Place the heat source beneath the copper boiler.

Assembling the fermenting container

  1. Place the mixture to be fermented in a clean, new container.
  2. Add yeast and seal the container. The container does not have to be permanently sealed but must be airtight.
  3. Cut a hole in the top of the container large enough for the rubber stopper.
  4. Place the rubber stopper in the hole and attach the airlock to it.
  5. Use a siphon when removing the fermented mixture from container. If this is not done, leftover yeast will contaminate the mixture and ruin distillation results.
  6. To begin the distillation process, fill the metal container with water and siphon the fermented mixture into the boiler.
  7. Turn the heat on.
  8. Place a clean container at the end of the spigot and then open it.

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Tips and warnings

  • It may be against the federal regulations of your area to use these instructions in constructing a still for alcohol distilling proposes. Consult the authorities in your area for regulatory laws and permits.
  • If you have been granted permission to distil alcohol, consider using a reflux still to enhance the distillation process.
  • When using gas as a heat source, see to it that the work area is well ventilated and beware of the resulting toxic fumes.