Make a cheap still

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A Brief Intro of Distillation

Cheap Pot Still

The definition of distillation is as follows:


The separation of the volatile parts of a substance from the more fixed; specifically, the operation of driving off gas or vapor from volatile liquids or solids, by heat in a retort or still, and the condensation of the products as far as possible by a cool receiver, alembic, or condenser; rectification; vaporization; condensation; as, the distillation of illuminating gas and coal, of alcohol from sour mash, or of boric acid in steam.

The separation of alcohol from liquids such as wine is made possible because the boiling point of alcohol is lower than that of water. Alcohol's boiling point is Boiling point. 78 °C or 172 °F where as water's is 100 °C or 212 °F. We can take advantage of this differential by carefully raising the temperature of the liquid (commonly called wash) to the point where the alcohol in the wash evaporates but not the water.

We then capture this alcohol vapor and direct it through a cold, arduous passage. This has the effect of condensing the vapor back into liquid form, which we capture as concentrated alcohol (hard alcohol).

An Overview Of The Design

In this tutorial we will be constructing a very inexpensive pot still. This simple still construction will enable you to make hard alcohol or booze, with minimal effort. This design is also a guideline, there are as many ways to make a still as there are ways make a car. Each design has strengths and weaknesses.

I choose to start out with money as the main deciding factor. I highly recommend that you only use copper or Stainless Steel in your still making. It just seems to be the safest thing to do. As far as aluminum goes, I have no idea. These stainless steel vegetable pots and bowls are cheap enough that it doesn’t really matter at all.

To help condense the liquid we use a 5 gallon bucket with cold water constantly circulating through it during the distillation process. I’ve also used a 10ft copper tube, it would probably work better if I had a longer one but this does seem to do the job.

What You'll Need

Materials Needed

  • 10ft 1/2 inch ID soft copper coil - ASIN B001ICJ3SO
  • 5 Gallon Bucket - ASIN B001H3IJN4
  • Scrap garden hose - ASIN B0002IKUE6
  • 1/2" Female copper adapter
  • 1/2" Male copper adapter
  • 1/2" copper butt splice
  • Silver Solder - ASIN B000BQK602
  • Flux - ASIN B001VXW5EO
  • Stainless Steel Vegetable Inset - ASIN B002C6RGHK
  • Stainless Steel Bowl - ASIN B0034NOPM4
  • Gasket material (Cork would probably be best) - ASIN B000LF2688
  • Silicone Sealant - ASIN B000WU25A6
  • Drill and Various Drill bits - ASIN B00008WFT3 - ASIN B0000TZZWE
  • Something alcoholic to distill
  • Many small clamps or Vise Grips
  • Coil bending springs - ASIN B00004T822
  • Sand paper ot steel wool - ASIN B00004Z48U
  • Propane torch - ASIN B000692UYE
  • Heat source, preferably an electric hot plate. - ASIN B000B2WOWE


  • This tutorial exists because I believe that all information and knowledge should be free.
  • You are responsible for following the laws where you live. Do not make this if it is illegal for you to do so.
  • You are responsible for your own safety. Distilling can be dangerous I make no claims as to the safety of this device.
  • You are responsible for your health. Consuming distilled substance can be harmful and or fatal, ingest with care and caution and above all moderation.

Preparing the Condensing Bucket

  • Drill 2 holes in the bucket the diameter should be slightly smaller than the garden hose.
    • Drill 1 about an inch from the bottom and 1 about 2 inches from the top of the bucket
  • Drill another hole 1/2 inch in diameter about 1 inch from the bottom 90 degrees from the other bottom hole.

Making The Lid Assembly

  • Drill a small pilot hole in the bottom of the bowl
    • Using successively larger bits enlargen the hole to 1/2 inch in diameter
  • Place the male copper fitting in the hole
  • Brush flux over the hole and fitting
  • Solder the fitting to the bowl using silver solder (DO NOT use lead based solder)
    • This isn't as easy as it sounds, soldering copper to stainless, I wasn't able to get a very good bond on this joint. It may be better in the future to come up with a fitting with a nut and gasket.

Predrilling The Lid Drilling The Lid Placing Fitting In Lid Lid Assembled

Making The Condensing Coil

  • Carefully shape the coil so that it fits within the confines of your 5 gallon bucket. Make sure to leave about 18 inches or so on the top of the coil straight.
  • Using the coil bending spring, carefully bend a large radius 90 degree curve pointing down.
    • This is where we will be installing the lid for the still
  • at the bottom of the coil leave 8 inches or so of it straight.
    • We will be placing this part of the coil through hole at the bottom of the bucket
  • Using the sandpaper or steel wool, clean the end of coil where the lid will be attached.
    • Also clean the ends of the butt splice and the female copper adapter
  • coat the end of the coil, splice and adapter you just cleaned with flux
  • Assemble the butt splice and female fitting to the end of the coil
  • Carefully heat the fitting and splice with the propane torch and apply solder to the fitting and splice.
    • Use SILVER solder (do NOT use any lead based solder)
  • Allow to cool

Condensor Coil Bending Condensor Coil Preparing Fitting On Coil Soldering Coil Fitting Soldered Coil Fitting

Assembling The Condensing Bucket

  • Place the coil in the bucket and thread the bottom of the coil through the hole at the bottom of the bucket
    • Try to make this a tight of fit as possible
  • Apply silicone the inside and outside of hole where the copper sticks our.
    • Be generous with the silicone, you don't want any leaks
  • Place the cut end of the garden hose through the bottom of the bucket.
    • This water will flow in through this hose.
  • Place a cut end of the garden hose through the top hole of the bucket
    • This will be the drain hole
  • silicone the hoses to the holes similar
  • Allow the silicone to completely cure before adding any water to the bucket.
    • After the silicone has completely cured place the drain hose in your sink or other suitable drain place
    • ttach the input hose to your faucet (you may need an adapter that will allow you to attach the hose)
  • turn on the water and test your seals
    • If they leak then drain all water, dry the leaky areas and apply more silicone.
      • Repeat as necessary

Coil In Bucket 01 Coil In Bucket 02 Coil In Bucket 03 Coil In Bucket 04 Coil In Bucket 05 Condensor Output Hose Water Drain Hose Inside Water Drain Hose Outside Water Input Hose Inside Water Input Hose Output Hose

Attaching The Lid to The Vessel

  • Pour 3 cups of water into the vegetable pot
  • Place gasket on lid of pot
  • clamp the lid to the pot
  • Screw the pot / lid assembly to the female fitting at the top of the coil

Tracing Gasket Finished Gasket Gasket On Boiler

Flame On - The Distillation Process

  • Turn on the water.
    • adjust so that it maintains a steady flow without overflowing.
  • Place hot plate under the pot and turn on.
  • Once the water begins to boil you should see liquid coming out of the other end of the copper tube.
    • This liquid is distilled water.
  • If you don't get any water then you may have leaks.
    • Use a paint brush to brush soapy water over all joints to track down any leaks and fix them.
  • That's all there is to it.
  • allow everything to cool then try adding some wine

Finished Ready To Distill Finished Product Proofing


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See Also

External Links