When it comes to home distilling, the hobby can be really fun, but you also need to make sure that you’re taking the proper precautions so that you have a tasty and safe product. With any given still setup, there are inherent dangers involved; there’s a heating element, flammable vapor, and moonshine byproducts – methanol and ethanol – which can be dangerous if they’re exposed to heat or consumed improperly.
At one point or another, you’ve probably heard that distilling is inherently dangerous and might be wondering if that statement holds any water.
The truth is the distillation process can be dangerous if you aren’t following the proper precautions, using bad equipment or don’t follow the proper steps. With any craft of hobby, there is the potential for harm, but home distillers are no more in danger than a home mechanic might be of a car falling on their head. If you use the right equipment and the proven process, you really have nothing to worry about. The home distilling safety guide below will help.
Fires or Explosion
The distillation process naturally produces alcohol vapor and two key byproducts: methanol and ethanol. Both of which are potentially flammable. Exposed to an open flame or dangerously high temperatures, and you could end up with an unwanted fire. Explosions are pretty rare and at no point should pressure in your still setup be high enough to actually explode. As long as you’ve got the proper equipment and a safe setup, the chances of combustion or explosions is rare.
One way to avoid any chance of fire altogether is to use an electric heating element. Electric heating elements create heat without the use of an open flame making it much, much safer to utilize in a copper still setup.
The other prominent danger during the distilling process actually comes after you’re done brewing. If you drink improperly made moonshine, there’s a chance that you can suffer health problems as a result. The good news is that if you follow any home distilling instructions, you can easily avoid drinking bad moonshine.
The distillation process produces alcohol in the form of ethanol. As a certain boiling point, your mash will create an alcoholic vapor which is captured in the distilling column and finally condensed in the kettle. As your mash is heating up, the first chemical component – methanol – which has a lower boiling temperature actually condenses first. This is why, you’re supposed to throw out the first part of your batch. As your mash gets hotter, the methanol boils off and then you start creating ethanol vapor, which is what you want to make.
Methanol is the chemical that has given moonshine a bad rap and the source of the “moonshine will make you go blind rumor.”
So, to answer the question. No, in general, home distilling is not dangerous. Hillbilly Stills has helped countless home distillers set up their still safely to avoid an accidents. We also distill ourselves. As long as you’re using the proper equipment and are following proper instructions for making moonshine, you’ll be able to home distill safely and securely.
For more information on home distilling or to find home distilling products, visit HillbillyStills.com.