How to operate a still

The six steps to your first hooch

The recipe

Wash Volume:
Alcohol % by full fermentation:
Alcohol production:

18 liters
16 %
2.5 liter @ 95%
5 kg of white sugar
Aprox. 50 grams of yeast nutrients
(Distillers) yeast

Start with the reading of the operational safety guidlines

Check first the safety guidelines section & the Law!

This is very important, it should not become your last attempt!

1. Prepare a wash

I would like to suggest to start with a sugar based wash as this is less complicated to handle.
The basic sugare based recipe is as follows:

  • Dissolve 5 kilogrammes of sugar in 18 liters of tap water
  • Let it boil for 1 hour to eliminate chlorine
  • Add the yeast nutrients
2. Cool the wash down
  • You need to cool down the temperature to 25oC- 30oC, otherwise the yeast will not survive.
  • Add the yeast to the wash.

3. Let the mash ferment

  • Put the wash, which has yeast mixed with it, into a fermenting vessel. This can be a glass carboy, or a bucket with a lid. Do not forget to put an airlock onto the vessel. Carbon dioxide will have to be able to evade.
  • If possible, let the fermentation take place at a constant temperature of 25oC until the airlock stops bubbling. This is the sign that the sugar has been transformed into alcohol....
  • Let the the yeast sediment settle for a day. We would like to avoid to get it into the still as it will give a unpleasant flavour to the "moonshine".
4. Siphon the fermented wash into the still
  • Siphon the fermented wash carefully into the still. We are about to fire-up the still...
  • Again: make sure that you are about to operate the still in accordance with the Operational Safety Guidelines.
5. Fire-up the still
  • Bring up the wash to boiling temperature, but......
  • Start the cooling water through the condensors once you get to about 50oC - 60oC.
  • Once the first drops of distillate leave the condensor:-
    • Discard the first 50 mL's as it may contain some methanol and/or other impurities
    • Segregate the distillate into 500 mL containers as you collect it.
    • Collect the next 2-3L of distillate.
    • Stop distilling once the temperature gets to 96oC to avoid nasty flavours in your moonshine.
    • Set aside any distillate which smells harsh (tails/fusels). This can be added to the wash of the next run for re-distillation.
  • Turn off the power, the cooling water and open the lid (if you leave it sealed, it could create a vacuum inside the still & crush it.)
- Welcome to the joyfull world of moonshiners - You have just made your first batch of Hooch!!!

Let's make your Hooch drinkable

  • Reduce the strenght of the alcohol to a 30-50 % purity (otherwise the carbon does not work)
  • soak it with carbon for a week or two. You have now odourless alcohol.
  • Dilute the clean alcohol down to drinking strength (20-45%) and enjoy it...!!


You know - aging the alcohol will improve the taste considerably. You can also flavour the spirit by using commercial essences, oak chips, fruits.

Check out the recipe section


Do you want to see a ministill in action?
Click here!!


Important note: It is a federal felony to actually use this information to build your own still and produce alcohol. The information presented here is simply for informative, educational and game-use only. In no way is this document meant to persuade people to actually produce illegal alcohol. It is ill advised to do so, but if you must there are legal ways to do so. It is possible, in special cases, to get a permit to build an experimental still, work on solar power, or power an alcohol gassed automobile. If you decide you want more information, look in the library under fuel alcohol, distillery, or wine making.