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You've always wanted to make hard liquor, haven't you? Well first you need to build a still. This is the recipe for a basic pot still with a 1m condenser.

- 1m of 1 inch copper tubing
- 2.5m of 1/2 inch copper tubing
- 10cm 1/4 inch copper tubing
- 1 old electric metal kettle (about 2-5L volume)
- Solder
- A collecting vessel like a glass jar/bottle
- 1 inch rubber bungs
- Brass garden hose attachment
- Few meters of 1/4 inch rubber hose
- Roll of plumbing teflon tape
- Kettle spout sized rubber bung/cork
- Plumbing 1/2 inch brass tube to flat sheet metal connector (basically, screws tube down onto a 'olive' of plastic for form a seal). You can get one from a plumbing supply shot for about $3.
- Few fibrous washers

- Blow torch
- Electric drill and drill bits


1. Drill a single slightly smaller than 1/2 inch hole in the centre of each of the rubber bungs
2. Drill 1/4 inch holes about 3cm from each end of the 1 inch tube. The holes should be on opposite sides of the tube.
3. Cut 1/4 inch tube into two 5cm lengths
4. Using solder and blow torch, solder the two 1/4 inch tubes into the two holes made in the 1 inch tubing so that they poke out at 180 deg to eachother
5. Solder brass hose attachment on to the end of one of the 1/4 inch tubes
6. Put one rubber bung into each end of the 1 inch tube
7. Force 1/2 inch tube through the holes in the bungs so that it goes in one and comes out the other. The bungs should seal tightly around the 1/2 inch tubes and seal tightly with the 1 inch tube.
You should now have a condenser on a very long bit of copper tubing. Vapour and distilled substances will only be going along the one continuous inner 1/2 inch tube. The outer 1 inch jacket is for water cooling. To use, connect hose to the hose connector and rubber tube to the top. Rubber tube runs away waste water. Hose provides flow of fresh cold water. Since only water goes through the jacket, it doesn't matter if you use poisonous solder or dirty pipe for the outer jacket. The inner 1/2 inch tube should be nice and clean though!

1. Block kettle spout using a cork/bung. It should be completely sealed as gas tight.
2. Run teflon tape around the lip of the kettle lid as many times as you can and still have the lid able to be squeezed on to the kettle. If you get this right, the lid will make an airtight seal with the kettle.
3. Block up any other holes in the kettle
4. Drill a 1/2 inch hole in the lid of the kettle (this might require a hole saw)
5. Screw sheet metal to tubing connector to the lid. Use a few of the fibrous washers if needed to make the it seal well.

1. Screw one of the 1/2 inch ends of the condenser into the sheet metal to tubing connector
2. Bend 1/2 inch tube of condenser so that it goes up for about 20cm then downwards on about a 45 deg angle.

To set up
Put kettle on top of a table. Put collecting bottle at the end of the condenser tubing. Connect garden hose to the bottom of the condenser with the hose attachment. Connect waste water rubber hose to the top of the condenser (to the 1/4 inch tube). Turn on hose till a slow flow of water comes from the waste water hose and the condenser feels cold to the touch. Put something to distill in the kettle. Then turn it on! Depending on the power of the kettle, you may need to repeatedly switch it on and off to keep it at the right temperature. If this gets boring, you might consider modifying your still so that it is computer controlled. See Using a computer to control your still (soon!)

Closing notes
Particularly cool things about this still are:
- It cost about $10-$30 to make
- It can distill fast or slow
- It's all electric so it's unlikely you'll set fire to distilled alcohol
- The tubing is all made of copper. This is good as it reacts with distilled liquid and vapour, removing some sulphur compounds that make your distillate taste harsh.

By the way, before you rush out and buy everything, you may be interested to read about the legality of distilling at home.

Well now you've built your still, check out how to distill home brew.

A simple still can be made with ordinary kitchen items for small-scale distilling.

Equipment needed:
  • A pot
  • A bowl to collect the distillate
  • Some means of suspending the collecting bowl (so it stays cooler) such as cheesecloth
  • A cover or round-bottomed bowl to cover the pot
  • Some ice-water
  • Something to distill
  • A stove or hotplate

To set up the still, place the undistilled liquid in the pot. Place the collecting bowl in the pot. Place the cover on upside-down (or use a round-bottomed bowl) and fill it with ice water. This is the condenser.

To distill, heat the pot until you hear the distillate dripping. If you are making hard liquor, turn down the heat for maximum alcohol yield. Open the still (careful -- hot, flammable steam) and check on it periodically. Empty the collector into a bottle. If you're making hard liquor, I recommend that you taste the liqour (careful -- drunken distilling is bad) and make sure that you haven't distilled all the alcohol out.

If you are distilling alcohol, you may want to set up a fan in the area and have a fire extinguisher handy. Even if the distillate isn't flammable, the vapors almost always are.

If you do something stupid, such as drive drunk, burn down your house, go blind from methanol poisioning, get busted or do anything else, you are responsible.

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