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Brewing - Freeze Distilling Moonshine. Is it safe?

Discussion in 'Alcohol' started by Pauly, Apr 4, 2010.

  1. Pauly

    Pauly Newbie

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    Lets say, I have been looking into brewing some moonshine as a little hobby.
    Making a still looks like too much work so im wondering if i can just
    freeze it and pour out the alcohol. Here is what I dream of doing :



    ----www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-moonshine~~



    Add sugar and water, boil to dissolve sugar.



    Get water to a safe temperature, add yeast.



    Wait 10-25 days then distill.



    Would it be safe to just freeze this stuff? or is boiling it required to
    kill off unsafe stuff?
     
  2. b3ni

    b3ni Newbie

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    I'd love to offer SWIY advice, but I'm not too sure what you're on about.

    At what point in the process does SWIY plan on boiling or/and freezing?

    SWIM hasn't known a single brew which requires freezing although, SWIMs open minded an open minded and no master brewer, he is a little skeptical about this.
     
  3. Pauly

    Pauly Newbie

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    I found out moonshine contains methanol which needs to be boiled out during the distilling process, because it has a lower boiling point than ethanol.
     
  4. Mammon

    Mammon Silver Member

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    O.K. you seem a bit confused here. Methanol is a by-product of the fermentation. It’s present in all fermented drinks to some degree. It does have a lower boiling point than ethanol and so I guess SWIY could boil the fermented liquid for a while to get rid of most of it. This is inefficient, though, and SWIY would lose a lot of good ethanol as well.

    Before you distil things SWIY ought to learn how to make standard fermented drinks like wines and beers. There are tons of sites on the net to tell SWIY how. The Jack Keller one has a lot of recipes.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2017
  5. rawbeer

    rawbeer Titanium Member

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    I wondered this very same thing a few years back and did some research - the answer is 'probably not safe'. Here's why:

    Freeze distillation can lead to unsafe concentrations of oils and other forms of alcohol (like the methanol you mentioned) in your drink. It is not as 'selective' as true distillation, with which one can eliminate methanol and such by distilling in a controlled temperature range.

    With a still, one can control the temperature so that the distillate is mostly potable ethanol (and the true challenge of distilling fine beverages like whisky, brandy, etc. is that one wants to retain a certain amount of these non-ethanol chemicals, because they impart much of the flavor and texture found in these drinks, along with barrel aging. So a truly great distiller retains safe quantities of fusel oils, esthers, and whatnot in the final product.)

    Freeze distilling is better suited to making a stronger wine or beer, like Canadian ice beer or wine (ice wine is not strictly made by freeze distilling but the science behind the process is similar) than to concentrating a spirit at 40% or so. At this point it becomes dangerous.

    I'd follow Mammon's advice - perfect fermentation first. If you start with a good 'beer' or 'mash' you're less likely to run into trouble down the road. Few people have died from making homemade beer or wine, compared to homemade booze which is notoriously dangerous.

    I would think the extra effort required to make a still is better than the risk of freeze-distilled booze. Freeze distilling basically offers you no quality control.
     
  6. Jatelka

    Jatelka Psychedelic Shepherdess Platinum Member & Advisor

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    I appreciate there's a great forum out there on home distillation, however, we have a policy that other forums are not linked to.

    Please include information here, credit the author and state the source is another forum
     
  7. Potter

    Potter Platinum Member & Advisor

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    Mammon: Don't boil booze with out a still, it's just wasteful.

    Methanol actually isn't toxic, it's byproduct is. The body would prefer to process the ethanol, so given enough ethanol and time, the methanol will be pissed away. When making beer and wine, the concentrations are safely balanced. There is NO good reason to be worried about methanol in normal fermented drinks.

    When one distills using a fractional process, that is, they separate out the output at different temperatures (removing heads and tails), they will be able to remove to concentrated methanol with the "heads".

    How ever, if one can't remove part of the fluid, then it is possible to end up with a toxic ratio. Freeze distillation and the kind in a closed hot system, those can be dangerous.

    HOWEVER! In light of recent evidence that the prohibition era FDA was deliberatly poisoning alcohol knowing ti would be re-sold, I a new round of data is in need of collecting on this subject.

    BTW "Jacking" as in "Apple Jack" was common in the New England colonies and is well worth trying, just take it in small amounts, and drink some ethanol from other sources too.
     
  8. deadheadale

    deadheadale Newbie

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    when you freeze your fermented mash and toss the ice chunks thats called your stripper run and is done so theyre is a higher alcohol to h2o ratio in the mash. but freeze distillation is far from perfect and most of the time pockets of ethyl will get trapped in the ice and tossed out. best thing to do is make a still its extremely easy just message me and i can show you how to make one out of household items. ive done it numerous times
     
  9. Erytheia

    Erytheia Silver Member

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    "Apple Jack" is more commonly referred to as "Scrumpy" back here in England. Traditionally made as something that'd be considered "moonshine" in the US, though there wasn't any prohibition involved in the motivation.

    Usually simply taking a cider and freeze-distilling it, though it's name is almost synonymous with a deceptively strong liquer. In modern days, most of what is sold as scrumpy (or what real cider-fanatics would consider scrumpy) is very strong cider brewed from unfiltered apple-juice and frequently sold in gallon-jugs arounds festivals or other relatively un-moderated markets.
     
  10. Charenton

    Charenton Newbie

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    Apple Jack and Scrumpy are two different things I think. I would say that using freezing is a recipe for disaster if you do not know what you are doing. There are many liquorists who produce herbal beverages using this technique, there is a school of thought that says distillation damages herbal qualities whilst freezing is superior to simple maceration.
     
  11. Erytheia

    Erytheia Silver Member

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    You may well be right, SWI-Charen'. SWIM has recently been bought a "scrumpy-cider" that was, basically, a flat, cloudy cider with huge ABV.

    The concept that SWIM mis-understood, however, is a very real and very potent "moonshine"-of-the-West-Country. Given that the term SWIM thought applied to the drink was wrong, she'd assume it was the liquer referred-to as apple-brandy.

    As previously, this is largely guesswork so take from the statement what-you-will. *shrug*

    Regardless of the previous pseudo-sensible-conversation, freeze-distillation is a very valid means of potentiating a homebrew, though not very sensible, no doubt. SWIM would assume it'd concentrate many undesirable elements of a home-brew, though it's had at-least a century of use in the UK (that is, at-least a century of use SWIM could find references for).
     
  12. Charenton

    Charenton Newbie

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    What was the ABV of SWIM's cloudy cider? SWIM is correct about undesirable elements. The historical references that SWIM found? Filtration using horse hair was common in days of yore, commercially freeze distillation is now possible due to the advances in filtration technology. Commercial Swiss distillers in the Val de Travers even use this technique now.
     
  13. Erytheia

    Erytheia Silver Member

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    The ABV of SWIM's brew was 9%..

    SWIM'll be a little more careful in future, she guesses..
     
  14. Dr.N

    Dr.N Newbie

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    Methanol alone is a poison because the liver converts it to formaldehyde which is not a happy thing.! But in the presence of ethanol in the system at the same time it gets sidelined by the liver in preference of ethanol. That provides time for it to be got rid of in various ways including breathing it out. So a small amount of meths in alcoholic drinks is not really a problem. Aspartam..... is 11 percent by weight. So adding artificial sweet mixers to your best moonshine is probably not a good move ! lol
    I have experimented with freezing wash and the distilling the concentrate. End result although faster through the still had no better outcome. And a drama finding freezer space to do it. As has been suggested I always ditch the first 50 cc from the still assuming that would contain the highest levels of meths. It would be interesting to see if a lab test could verify that .
     
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