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Why Is The First Run Of Moonshine Poison? (Correct answer)

What are the dangers of drinking moonshine and methanol?

  • These dangerous bacteria may also produce the toxin that causes botulism, a type of food poisoning. When the process isn’t monitored correctly, a potentially good batch of moonshine can turn deadly. Blindness, yet another consequence of ingesting methanol, is one of the more drastic dangers of drinking moonshine.


Can moonshine be poisonous?

After fermentation, moonshine is distilled to concentrate the ethanol and other volatile flavor ingredients. Moonshine can therefore be more potent than legal beverages, and a batch of moonshine can quickly turn toxic, Andrews said.

Why does moonshine make methanol?

It turns out that the methanol is formed in an unrelated process— from the methyl ester (red circle) in pectin. Pectin is found in fruit, so when berries, etc. are used as the sugar source, methanol is formed. Traditionally, moonshine is made from corn, which has pectin.

What is the first cut of moonshine called?

Foreshots – “the low boiling point compounds that come out of the still first. They contain acetone, methanol, various esters and aldehydes, and other volitiles. Foreshots are to be considered poisonous and should be discarded.”

Can homemade moonshine make you sick?

Even contaminated homebrewed beer can’t make you sick, he said. “There are no known pathogens that can survive in beer because of the alcohol and low pH,” Glass said. “So you can’t really get photogenically sick from drinking bad homebrew. It could taste bad, but it’s not going to hurt you.”

Can you drink moonshine straight?

Definitely! Moonshine is traditionally sipped straight, right out of the jar. You can also drink it in shots.

Why was moonshine made illegal?

So why is moonshine still illegal? Because the liquor is worth more to the government than beer or wine. Uncle Sam takes an excise tax of $2.14 for each 750-milliliter bottle of 80-proof spirits, compared with 21 cents for a bottle of wine (of 14 percent alcohol or less) and 5 cents for a can of beer.

What is the proof of illegal moonshine?

That’s because alcohol begins to attract moisture from the air at concentrations higher than 96% ABV, immediately diluting your moonshine. It’s worth noting that in most parts of the United States, it is illegal to distill moonshine above 160 proof (80% ABV) and it cannot be bottled at more than 125 proof (62.5% ABV).

Why is moonshine called white lightning?

White lightning, a white whiskey made surreptitiously and illegally, was once produced in great quantities in South Carolina. It got its name from its color and the kick it delivers when consumed.

Can you drink the heads of moonshine?

These contain the most volatile alcohols and should not be ingested, as they contain methanol and other undesirables. Commercial distillers always discard the foreshots and never consume them.

What do you call someone who runs moonshine?

Runner – A person who hauls moonshine. Singlings – Un-proofed whiskey that has gone through one distilling and will be distilled again.

Can you go blind from moonshine?

If you’re drinking moonshine, yes. Although alcohol that’s properly manufactured and regulated does not by itself cause blindness, people sometimes do go blind from drinking bootleg beverages. One common concern with moonshine is lead poisoning, which has been linked to blindness.

How is methanol typically removed from moonshine?

How to Remove Methanol from Moonshine. Again, methanol boils at a lower temperature than ethanol and will concentrate at the beginning of distillation runs. Additionally, commercial distillers have determined that simply discarding a standard amount per batch, based on batch size, is enough to keep things safe.

Does fermenting sugar produce methanol?

Methanol is produced during fermentation by the hydrolysis of naturally occurring pectin in the wort. The volume of ethanol produced during fermentation is dependent on the strains of yeast used.

How much does a gallon of moonshine cost?

The selling price is around $25 a gallon if sold in bulk, or $40 for retail price. “They can make as much as $10,000 a month,” the task force said.

Throw Away the First Cut: Popcorn Sutton & the Chemistry of Moonshine

This is a delight if you’re in the mood for some Americana, as well as a chemical lesson that could or might not be relevant. Nobody embodies Americana quite like Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, who became famous both for his prowess in the production of moonshine and for his contempt for the federal government during his lifetime. The combination of these factors put Sutton in constant conflict with the police, particularly when it came to moonshining and bootlegging(1), but he managed to avoid prison until 2009, when he was found guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm and a large amount of untaxed alcohol.

Popcorn Sutton and his still, courtesy of Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton.

You’re familiar with the phrase.

Distillation is a method of producing alcohol.

Moonshine’s Gone Legit But It Still Is Dangerous

Photograph by Scott Olson / Getty Images Home-distilled moonshine, formerly a closely guarded secret of Appalachian backwoods, is still in existence to this day. In fact, it is now officially legal. “White lightning,” as it is referred as, was originally considered an illegal and dangerous chemical by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, but it is now approved for sale and controlled by the federal government in select states in the United States. Several other states, including Alabama, Georgia, and Kentucky, have followed suit.

Many believe that over a million illegal moonshine stills are currently operating throughout the United States, making the manufacture of clear, high-potency drink more ubiquitous and pervasive than at any other time in history.

What Is Moonshine?

When you make moonshine, you’re fermenting a sugar source to generate ethanol, which is also called as “hooch” or “homebrew.” The traditional method of making moonshine is to boil maize and sugar together. A distillation procedure is used to remove the alcohol from the mash after it has been fermented. One significant distinction between moonshine and other alcoholic beverages such as whiskey or bourbon is that moonshine is not matured. It is the end product of this process that creates an alcoholic beverage with a high proportion of alcohol, often several times larger than 100 proof (50 percent), such as white whiskey.

That is, the ability to purchase commercially made, all-copper moonshine stills on the internet has removed a significant amount of the danger associated with the moonshine distillation process.

Despite these advancements, this does not imply that all moonshine is safe to consume in large quantities. Plenty

Impact of Moonshine

Once upon a time, moonshine was a significant financial component of the Appalachian economy, serving as a source of money during difficult economic times and in places where poverty was prevalent. Moonshine, like every other product manufactured in the United States, underwent peaks and troughs in the supply and demand cycle. When the price of sugar increased in the United States beginning in the 1950s, the moonshine industry suffered a severe downturn. The spirit appeared to be slipping away as the United States witnessed a surge in the use of marijuana and prescription medications, which reached epidemic levels in the region.

With the current trend toward increasing costs at the liquor shop, particularly for foreign spirits, moonshining has re-entered the public consciousness.

Tennessee was established the same year.

Potential Dangers

Because illegal moonshine is manufactured in improvised stills, it remains a potentially lethal substance. It has the potential to be hazardous on two levels: during the distillation process and when it is consumed.

Distilling Process

The distillation process itself generates flammable alcohol vapors, which are released during the operation. The presence of flammable vapors is one of the primary reasons that moonshine stills are nearly always situated outside, despite the fact that this makes them more visible to law authorities. The danger of vaporous explosions is too large to be contained within the building. When it comes to eating the liquid, if the end result has a proof more than 100, the moonshine itself is incredibly flammable and may be quite hazardous.


However, while the flammability of the distilling process and the product itself is a concern, more people have died from drinking moonshine than have perished in still explosions owing to the poisons in the brew, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Despite the fact that the majority of stills in use today are of the all-copper form, there are still a significant number of old-fashioned handcrafted stills extant. Traditionally, antique stills have used automobile radiators in the distillation process, and they are more likely to contain lead soldering, which can contaminate the moonshine.

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Methanol tainting may develop in bigger quantities of distilled moonshine, and it is especially common in older batches.

The greater the batch size, the greater the amount of methanol. Most moonshine producers nowadays are aware of the need of pouring out the initial drippings from the condenser, commonly known as the mash tun.

How to Test for Purity

According to folklore, one method of determining the purity of moonshine is to pour some onto a metal spoon and light it on fire. Although lead is not harmful when burned with a blue flame, it is harmful when burned with a yellow or red flame, leading the ancient adage, “Lead burns red and makes you dead.” The spoon burning approach, on the other hand, is not fully dependable. Other poisons that may be present in the brew, such as methanol, which burns with a bright blue flame that is difficult to notice, are not detected by this method.

Public health experts are afraid that moonshine poisoning in unwell people may go unnoticed since most healthcare practitioners regard it to be an outmoded practice from years ago.

History of Moonshine

As far as historians can tell, the practice of manufacturing alcohol has been present since the dawn of civilization. Moonshine, in particular, is said to have been brought into the United States by Scotch-Irish immigrants in the late 1700s, notably in the southern Appalachian region. According to Appalachian anthropologists, the Scotch-Irish immigrants who relocated to the region in the late 1700s and early 1800s carried with them their practice of home brewing as well as their formula for high-potency hooch, which was popular during the time period.

As a result, it may be kept concealed from prying eyes such as the police or hungry neighbors “Jason Sumich, Department of Anthropology, Appalachian State University, believes this is correct.

The side of the antique clay jars was frequently marked with the letters “XXX.” According to legend, each “X” denoted the number of times the drink had been poured.

The Dangers Of Moonshine

Because of the drinking culture that has grown in this century, liquor stores and bars have stocked their shelves with a broad selection of speciality liquors, beers, and wines to satisfy the needs of its customers. One of the newest crazes is the return of moonshine production and consumption. The government previously prohibited the booze of the Prohibition era due to a lack of controls and the fact that its brewers were evading taxes. So, what has changed in the last several years?

How Moonshine Got Its Name

A valid argument might be made to support the claim that the “Moonshine” that you see on the shelves of a liquor store is not in fact moonshine. The distillers gave the whiskey its name during the period of prohibition, when alcoholic beverages were prohibited. People could only make it if they worked in the middle of the night under the light of the moon. This helped to conceal the smoke that would be emitted by the boiling liquor and made it more difficult for local law police to locate them.

The fact is that legitimate moonshiners continue to operate in order to avoid taxes and generate a profit while operating outside of the regulatory framework of the federal government.

Methanol: The Toxic Side Of Moonshine

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably heard horror stories about the hazards of illegally brewed booze like moonshine. Methanol, on the other hand, is the genuine perpetrator of these true stories. Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol, is produced as a byproduct of the distillation procedure. In addition to serving as a primary element in gasoline, insecticides, paint thinners, and other products, the use of methanol should not be taken lightly.

The Explosive Power Of Moonshine

During the fermentation process of any alcoholic beverage, methanol and ethanol, which are both considered to be safe for consumption, are released. Both are very combustible and have the potential to explode if not properly sealed and ventilated throughout the distillation process. In the event of an ethanol gas leak in the still, which is used to manufacture moonshine, a single spark might ignite the ethanol gas, resulting in an explosion. A tank that is boiling off the hazardous alcohol might quickly collapse if there is no ventilation.” Derek Grout was inspecting a collecting tank of his state-of-the-art copper-pot still, which was housed in an aluminum shed surrounded by postcard orchards in Columbia County, New York.

Then, with a chuckle, he said, “I’m just relieved that we didn’t kill ourselves.” ” However, don’t refer to it as moonshine.

Consuming Methanol In Moonshine

When you take your first taste of methanol, you won’t be able to recognize its potentially hazardous nature. People will just become more inebriated as a result of this. Although not immediately dangerous, methanol’s toxic effects on the human body can be severe once it has been broken down by the body. A single drop of methanol (10 milliliters (ml) in the eye is all it takes to permanently damage the optic nerve and cause partial or total blindness. Methanol in concentrations of 30 mL or more is deadly.

Methanol, even in little amounts spread across several beverages, can cause lasting injury or death if consumed in excess of 10 milliliters (ml).

Drinking Moonshine

Drinking moonshine can be hazardous to one’s health due to the absence of regulation and the lack of a reliable method of testing for methanol. Stay away from novice distillers or folks you don’t feel comfortable around. It has the potential to mean the difference between life and death. Contact a healthcare professional right away if you would like additional information about treatment alternatives.

Cooper Smith
  • Cooper Smith graduated with honors from Full Sail University with a Bachelor’s degree in Writing for Entertainment. Even though he was first drawn to a career in television, he became aware of a problem in his neighborhood and felt motivated to do more. Now, he employs his expertise to reach out to those who may be in need of assistance and to raise public awareness of the difficulties that our society is now grappling with. Cooper enjoys exploring new places when he is not seated in front of a computer.

6 Common Distilling Myths and the Facts Behind Them

When it comes to distilling and distilled spirits, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions.

Many are completely innocuous, while others might cost businesses millions of dollars or even cause illness and death. Here are six commonly held beliefs, as well as the actual facts that support them.


Another popular distillation myth revolves around the use of whiskey stones in the process. It is theoretically possible to place the stones in your freezer, then add them to your drink, where they will serve to cold the beverage without diluting it. It turns out, however, that they are not particularly good at their jobs. Ice cools by converting from a solid to a liquid state, a process that draws heat from the beverage it is placed in. Moreover, it is a process that your whiskey stones will not be able to duplicate (until your whiskey reaches 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit or higher!) Plus, according to scientists, adding water can improve the taste of the drink as well!


There has been a great deal of talk regarding how each dent and knock on a still will affect the quality of the spirit. While this may pose a concern, it does not appear to have a significant impact on the situation. When it comes to the distillation process, there are several variables to consider, and a little change in surface area caused by a couple of dent should have little effect on the final product’s quality.


Isn’t it true that older whiskey is usually better and so deserves higher prices? So, in order to address this topic, let’s take a small step back and consider how whiskey obtains its flavor. Technically speaking, whiskey distillation takes only a few days and may be served immediately after distillation. Although it would be entirely transparent, it would have a mild flavor that reminded me of malted barley combined with rubbing alcohol. This isn’t exactly what we consider to be whiskey. This sort of environment, together with the whiskey’s traditional smoky taste and golden-brown color, contribute to the whiskey’s classic smokey flavor and golden-brown hue.

At the same time, the wood begins to contribute to the overall taste of the dish.

Just because a whiskey has been matured for a longer period of time does not always imply that it tastes better.

According to Dave Pickerell, the


Another widely held belief is that moonshine may induce blindness. Is it possible to get blind after drinking moonshine? Both yes and no. Certainly, if it’s prepared poorly and/or in ancient lead pipes, it has the potential to cause blindness.


m ethanol (methyl alcohol) is extremely hazardous and can be found in large concentrations in moonshine if the distillation process is not done properly (see below). The methyl alcohol is broken down by our liver producing formaldehyde and formaldehyde esters. And it is the formic acid that has the potential to harm our eyes. As a result, when moonshine with high quantities of methanol is distilled incorrectly, it might result in blindness.

Lead Poisoning

The third method in which moonshine might potentially cause blindness is if it is made using lead-based ingredients or equipment. Lead pipes and other devices (such as radiators) can induce lead poisoning if they are used. Although we are aware of the risks of lead, this remains a significant concern…………………………………………………. According to a recent Washington Post story, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that “moonshine continues to be a source of high-dose lead exposure among adults.” Individuals who make moonshine in their houses run the danger of developing serious health problems as a result of using inappropriate practices.

However, when it comes to moonshine from larger distilleries, there is no more risk than when it comes to other spirits.


Is it necessary to seek long and low for your favorite gluten-free vodka if you have a gluten intolerance or allergy? Does it make sense for you to check with the bartender before ordering that cocktail? Is it necessary to go over the ingredient list with a fine-toothed comb before purchasing something? No, not in the traditional sense. Intuitively, it makes sense for gluten-free individuals to be wary of anything that contains wheat. While the fundamental materials (wheat, potatoes, etc.) are heated with water until they’re broken down and drained into a fermented liquid, the vodka distillation process involves passing the liquid through a still to extract the alcohol.

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It is true that better-tasting vodka is more likely to have been distilled more than once. Is it true that distilling vodka more and more produces better and better-tasting vodka as time goes on? No, not at all. Every time vodka is distilled, there are fewer and fewer contaminants in the finished product. As a result, you might claim that it becomes “cleaner” and “smoother” with each distillation. However, over-distilling vodka can have the same effect as maturing whiskey for an excessive amount of time.

If a vodka manufacturer boasts that their vodka has been distilled hundreds of times, it may also be attempting to conceal the low-quality raw materials from which it is obtained.

Both are attempts to overcompensate for a poor quality product and conceal it.

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About Paul Hughes, OSU Fermentation Science Instructor

Paul Hughes, Ph.D., has joined the faculty of Oregon State University in order to start a distilled spirits department. Paul possesses a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration on innovation, and he travels the world teaching, training, and consulting on various topics. Two textbooks (one on beer, one on whiskey) as well as more than 60 peer-reviewed and conference articles have been published by him, and he has been granted four patents. At the five-day Distillery Startup Workshop, Paul teaches real tools and practices that students may use to effectively start and operate their own artisan distillery business.

Can moonshine make you blind? – Truth vs. Myth

Moonshine Blindness is a condition that occurs when there is too much moonlight in the sky. One of the most often asked concerns we receive from those who are new to the distilling industry is, “Is it true that moonshine may cause you to become blind?” While it is true that moonshine will not cause you to become blind, excessive amounts of methanol will. So long as you do not completely botch the batch, you should not wind up with methanol concentrations that are high enough to cause harm (other than give you a bad hangover).

Let’s take a few minutes to disentangle the truth from the fiction around the hazards of moonshine so that you can be 100 percent certain that methanol blindness will not occur in your lifetime.

Methanol Toxicity

Methanol (also known as methyl alcohol) is the noxious substance that has produced a slew of health problems and contributed to the widespread belief that moonshine is responsible for the phenomenon of night blindness. So, what is the mechanism through which methanol causes blindness? Methanol, in its purest form, is extremely hazardous. During the liver’s processing of methanol, enzymes break it down into a variety of distinct chemicals, including formic acid and formaldehyde. It is believed that the formic acid is harmful to the optic nerve and is the major cause of moonshine blindness, whilst the formaldehyde is toxic to the rest of your neurological system and causes a variety of health problems.

How does Methanol end up in my wash?

Methanol is an organic chemical that may be found in naturally occurring quantities in various fruits and vegetables, among other things. This compound can also be created as a by-product by the yeast during the fermentation process, which occurs most frequently in fruit washes with a high pectin concentration (you can use apectic enzymeto try and remove as much of the pectin as possible). Because methanol is a naturally occurring molecule, however, it may be found in both beer and wine, which contributes to the urban legend about moonshine’s hazards.

It is clear from the examples above that if you are distilling a fruit-based wash, it has the potential to contain far more methanol.

If wine/beer have methanol in them also, why do people make such a big deal out of moonshine?

The main difference is that methanol in beer or wine is equally distributed throughout the batch, whereas distillers are effectively concentrating the majority of the methanol in their batch into the first few milliliters that come out of the still after it has been distilled. Because the boiling point of methanol (148.5° F) is significantly lower than the boiling point of ethanol (173.1° F), it boils off at the beginning of the run and leaves everything behind, in the same way that the boiling point of ethanol boils off in the middle of the run and leaves everything else behind.

The initial few drippings from your still are referred to as “foreshots.” As a result, most distillers just pour the first 50 milliliters of wash per 5 gallons of wash down the sink (or set it aside to clean with).

So, if my wash alone doesn’t have much methanol in it, why should I care so much about it?

Methanol is one of the primary components of alcoholic drinks that contributes to the development of severe hangovers. Consider the following example:-Have you ever noticed how awful red wine hangovers can be? Now look up at the methanol concentrations that I stated before……………….. – Notice how the hangovers from high-quality vodka aren’t nearly as awful as they could be? Because they are obsessed with quality, it is likely that they are doing an excellent job of eliminating all of the undesirable elements.

A word of caution: There was once a batch of gin that was really excellent and resulted in virtually no hangover the next day. But believe me when I say that you may absolutely drink too much of it….

How to Test Moonshine?

The process of making moonshine alcohol is a pleasant hobby that can involve the entire family (or simply a “father and son” or “father, son and grandchild” activity), or it might involve a small group of friends. The process of making your own moonshine alcohol may expose you to an entire community of individuals who share your love for the same thing. It is a rewarding experience that does not cause harm, is entertaining, and does not involve a large financial commitment. Nonetheless, if you want to get the most enjoyment out of your homemade moonshine, you must pay close attention to the way it is prepared and tested to see whether or not it is any good.

Copper is not only a classic method of creating moonshine, but it also has other advantages, such as absorbing sulfur-containing compounds, decreasing bacterial contamination, and reducing oxidation.

The History of Poisoned Alcohol Includes an Unlikely Culprit: The U.S. Government

This week, there were two bizarre outbreaks of death by drinking that grabbed headlines: scores of people died in Mozambique after drinking potentially poisoned beer, while another huge group died in India after drinking tainted whiskey. The concept of ” poisoned ” or contaminated unlicensed alcohol may strike American readers as something that only people in other parts of the world need to be concerned about. However, the United States has a long history of deaths from poisoned alcohol — and that’s not even counting the thousands of deaths per year that can be traced to alcohol poisoning from supposedly safe, legal drinks even today.

Methanol (wood alcohol) is found in a variety of industrial goods, such as formaldehyde and gasoline, and is both cheaper and stronger than ethanol (the alcohol you drink).

Whether it is marketed to drinkers with the intent of bringing them to a halt

Moonshine Poisoning Is Still a Massive, Deadly Problem Worldwide

Photo courtesy of vonindivia Flickr Moonshine’s standing in the First World—specifically, in the United States—has deteriorated from being a ubiquitous substance during Prohibition to somewhat of a laughing stock. We could conceive of it as a treasured regional product of Appalachia, or as a strong, old-timey whiskey brewed in backyards by elderly guys in the deep South, among other things. However, in many places of the world, moonshine—an unregulated alcoholic beverage brewed under dubious conditions—isn’t only a quirk of hill-dwelling culture: it’s also a serious problem.

In India, it is referred to as arrack, which means “country liquor.” Moonshine production has not yet followed in the footsteps of other once-dangerous technologies, and users continue to face a high level of risk.

This concerning tendency has continued to be visible in the several high-profile mass poisonings that have occurred in recent years as a result of a variety of factors, including


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Is It Safe to Drink Moonshine?

During a raid on a bootlegging operation in Tennessee in 1929, officials posed next to a partially demolished distillery, which was producing a mediocre white moonshine at the time. (Photo courtesy of Bettmann/Getty Images.) Despite the fact that a glass of clear moonshine looks just like a glass of water, this unlawful alcoholic beverage is famed for its power — as well as the dangers involved with consuming it. What exactly is moonshine? According to experts, moonshine is any sort of distilled whiskey that is produced without the involvement of the government.

Moonshine is produced and consumed by people all over the world, particularly in countries where alcohol is outlawed or where legal alcohol is unreasonably costly or difficult to procure.

So, how does this happen, and what can you do to prevent it?

Potent potables

Fermentation creates two types of alcohol: ethanol and methanol, which is also known as wood alcohol. Ethanol is the most often produced form of alcohol. According to studies published by the American Chemical Society, methanol is liberated from pectin and is consequently more plentiful in fermented fruits. Despite the fact that ethanol is widely regarded to be safe for use, both ethanol and methanol depress the central nervous system and impair brain function. ethanol Alcohol poisoning, even from “safe” alcohol, can result from excessive consumption, impacting heart rate and respiration and potentially resulting in coma and death, according to the Mayo Clinic’s Alcohol Poisoning page.

methanol is metabolized in the human body to formaldehyde, which is the same molecule found in embalming fluid, and then to formic acid, which is very poisonous to cells, according to Andrews, who spoke with Live Science.

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Poison for profit

In certain circumstances, the toxicity of moonshine is due to avarice on the part of the distiller. If makers want to boost the amount of their moonshine, they either don’t remove the methanol or add a cheap, hazardous alcohol such as isopropyl, which is present in rubbing alcohol, according to Kosar. Despite the fact that this strategy may increase earnings, it considerably increases the likelihood that the drink will be deadly. According to Kosar, “alarmingly frequently, there are accounts — typically originating in regions of Asia — about individuals going out and purchasing unlawful alcoholic beverages and then throwing a party, and then hours into the party, people simply start fainting and having convulsions.” Drinking alcohol with high concentrations of methanol can also cause blindness: According to a 1922 story in The New York Times, methanol was responsible for 130 deaths and 22 incidents of blindness in just six months during Prohibition, according to a report by the United States National Committee for the Prevention of Blindness (NCPB).

Even when moonshine does not include any harmful ingredients,

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Using a Pot Still: Where To Make Your Cuts

Because there is a Quick and Dirty Cheat Sheet at the bottom of this blog, if you need to get anything done quickly, just scroll down until you reach the bottom of this page. Just keep in mind that manufacturing moonshine with a pot still is a skill that will only improve with time and experience. The temperatures listed here are excellent guides, but the more you distill, the better you’ll be able to determine when to make your cuts depending on your own personal preferences in flavor and scent.

A cut is essentially the point at which you begin and end the process of collecting your distillate.

It is also beneficial to name and number each jar because this will assist you at the end of the procedure when you are combining the ingredients together.


The first substance to emerge from the still is the undesirable substance. Foreshots include methanol and other toxins that you do not want to be present in your finished goods. Not only do foreshots contain relatively little ethanol, but they’re also the source of the headache you experience when you’re hungover, as previously stated. In other words, this is what you want to collect—and then toss away. To collect the foreshots, you’ll need to wait until your vapor temperature hits around 175°F (80°C), and Rick suggests collecting at least 4oz each 5 gallon of distillate that you’re distilling.

Once again, this is the bare minimum that we propose for collection and disposal.


The heads are the next step, which you may keep for mixing or re-distilling at a later time. When the heads begin to appear, the vapor temperature will be more than 175°F (80°C), and this will continue until the vapor temperature is around 196°F (91°C). Heads are normally approximately 80 percent abv (160 proof) or higher in alcohol concentration. They contain a lot of evidence, but they’re not nearly as smooth as the hearts, which will be served next.


This is where the action is at its most effective. Hearts, also known as your Middle Run, start off at roughly 80 percent alcohol by volume (160 proof) before dropping to 60-65 percent alcohol by volume, or even 40 percent alcohol by volume if you want it stronger.

Hearts provide you with the fresh flavor you’re seeking for. You’ll begin collecting hearts when the vapor temperature is around 196°F (91°C) and end when the vapor temperature is approximately 203°F (95°C).


In distillation, tails are the last part of the distillate, consisting of anything that comes out after the temperature of the vapor rises to 203 degrees Fahrenheit (95 degrees Celsius) – 207 degrees Fahrenheit (98 degrees Celsius) The use of tails for blending is popular, although Rick does not suggest it for palatable alcohol owing to the combination of lower alcohol level and increased congener content in tails used “as-is.” It is possible, however, to combine the tails with the heads that aren’t being used and re-distill the mixture to produce neutral spirits.

Again, the temperatures listed here are excellent guidelines for beginners, but the more you distill, the more you’ll be able to determine when to make your cuts based on your own personal preferences in flavor and aroma.

More Distilling Info For Beginners

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How to “Cut” your Alcohol Distilling Run

Alcohol distillation is a centuries-old process that is both an art and a science, according to some scholars. It’s simple, but not as simple as simply turning on the computer and sitting back to watch it work. In order to produce the safest and finest tasting spirit possible, conscientious distillers understand that they must monitor temperature control when distilling, as well as the finished product – the distillate. When it comes to creating a high-quality result, one of the professionals’ secrets is their meticulous and accurate “cutting” during the still’s run.

It is necessary to “cut” the alcohol stream flowing from the condenser coil when moving between jars that contain distillate and those that are empty.

The Four Stages of Your Moonshine Run

Some old wives’ tales claim that moonshine would “make you go blind.” You may have heard something similar. Despite the fact that this is an exaggeration, it is true that moonshine that has not been properly prepared might make you sick. Read our guide on how to distill whiskey and moonshine to acquire a better understanding of the safety precautions you should take at every stage of the process. Keep an eye out for the different types of alcohols that are created during the various phases of your moonshine production so that you can avoid establishing a bad reputation for your moonshine by selling it to those who think it’s harmful.

Even if you need to use numerous containers for each stage of the run, this is OK.

The Foreshots

At each stage of the race, different types of alcohol are vaporized and sucked into a collection cup at the finish line. Fine, high-quality moonshine is made from ethanol, which boils at a temperature of 175 degrees Fahrenheit when heated to a boiling point. The boiling point of other chemicals and alcohols, such as methanol, is much lower, and the resulting condensed liquid will gather in your cup or jar after being condensed in the coil. These compounds are extremely toxic. The presence of these contaminants in your moonshine (or whatever alcohol you’re distilling) will not only degrade the flavor of your product, but they may also make people very unwell.

If you reach this temperature, the ethanol in the wash will begin to evaporate, and you may be confident that the distillate collected before this point includes the majority of the methanol and other hazardous chemicals. Following the creation of

The Heads

You will be distilling actual spirits as the temperature continues to rise. Even though the temperature in the still’s pot is rising to between 175 and 185 degrees Fahrenheit, the distillate will still contain significant amounts of non-ethanol chemicals that can be used to give your final product a bit more “bite” and flavor if used in conjunction with other ingredients such as spices. This may be great for a product such as whiskey or Scotch, because the complexity of those alcoholic beverages is derived from the mixing of several trace compounds.

The temperature range for the second cut you will make in your run will be between 185 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Hearts

The distillate with the highest concentration of ethanol is the most desirable section of the run. This phase of your run is referred to as the “hearts” section. Many professionals and long-time distillers agree that this is the section of the run that takes place between around 190 degrees Fahrenheit and approximately 200 or 205 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. Without a doubt, it is dependent on the still. Despite the fact that ethanol has a boiling point of 175 degrees Fahrenheit, the mash in your still does not contain pure ethanol.

The hearts will most likely account for about 30 percent or so of the overall amount of your booze run’s ultimate tally.

It is preferable to mix some hearts into your tails rather than some tails into your hearts.

The Tails

When the temperature of the run hits around 205 degrees Fahrenheit, it is possible that more steam will enter your distillate. There may also be other compounds present in the distillate that burn at a higher temperature than ethanol, which might impart a flavor to this component of the distillate that isn’t precisely what you were looking for. This section of the run is referred to as the “tails,” and it can account for as much as 20-30 percent of your entire distance. Remove the tails and set them aside for further distillation.

It is safe to cut off the heat source for your still after the temperature in the pot of your still hits 212 degrees.

The temperature inside the column should remain stable for a short period of time, after which the temperature at the top of the column (the “onion head”) should rapidly decrease, signaling the end of your run. You can continue to gather whatever distillate is produced by the process.

The “Feints”

Fients are the containers containing heads and tails that you have set aside for later use in the process. In this case, you may either add them to the wash with your next run or distill them separately from the rest of the brew. It is possible to distill the feints in a smaller-size still after each alcohol run if you do not want to combine different recipes or tastes from separate mashes. After collecting feints for several runs, some people perform an all-feints run in a bigger still; this is known as the “queen’s share” of feint collection.

When it comes to learning the particular qualities of your still that will inform you when to cut your alcohol run, it may take some time and trial and error.

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