So you want to learn how to make moonshine?

By definition, moonshine is any illegally distilled alcoholic spirit. This means you can make moonshine using an assortment of ingredients. The most popular ingredients include corn, rye, and sugar. During distillation, moonshine distillate runs out from the moonshine still as a clear liquid. It’s typically bottled straight from the still or after polishing (filtering).

Moonshine Ingredients

Contrary to urban myths, dirty ingredients like that bottle of mystery liquid in your garage is not used in making moonshine. In this tutorial we’ll use the cleanest, more simplistic, and cheapest moonshine ingredients necessary. You will need:

  • 25L distilled water
  • 6-8kg sugar
  • 1 packet 48 Hours Turbo Yeast

Moonshine Equipment

This equipment can also be used to distill other types of alcoholic spirits in addition to making Moonshine.

  • 25L fermenting bucket with air lock
  • Pot or Column Still (larger than 30L)
  • Filtering Tower (filled with Activated Carbon)
  • Heat Source (hot plate, internal heating element, stove)
  • Water source (tap, river or bucket with pump)
  • Large spoon, alcoholmeter, hydrometer, cooking thermometer, test jar

Steps To Make Moonshine


Step 1: Fermenting

It’s very important to clean all equipment before starting. The smallest spec of contamination could lead to a bad batch of Moonshine. Dissolve the sugar in the fermentation bucket using 8 liters of hot water.

  • Add 17 liters of cold water and mix well. The overall temperature should be 80C, warm enough to dissolve the yeast. If it’s over 90C it could kill the yeast.
  • Dissolve packet of turbo yeast into the mix. Ensure the yeast particles have completely dissolved.
  • Seal the fermentation vessel and add the air lock. Fill the air lock half full with water to protect foreign matter from entering while allowing gases to escape.
  • Allow this to ferment at 20-30C (70-80F) for 3-10 days. The length of fermentation time depends on the amount of sugar used and air temperature.
  • The mash is ready for distillation when the level on the hydrometer reaches 990. It will contain 16-18% alcohol by volume and smell like a rat’s ass, but don’t worry. The only way to fail is if it was made with dirty hands, dirty water, or dirty equipment.

Step 2: Distilling

The fermented product is then distilled using a still. There are two types of stills that can be used to make moonshine – pot stills and column stills. Pot stills allow more impurities in the distilled product, giving the moonshine a richer flavor.

  • Fill the boiler up completely. It should fill to approximately 85% of the stills volume.
  • Put the boiler on the heat source and assemble the still. This assemble may include hooking up the cracking tower, condenser, and water supply.
  • Turn the heating source on high until the steams temperature reaches 78C/173F, the boiling temp of Ethanol alcohol.
  • Adjust the temperature accordingly.
  • Discard liquid which makes it through the still before your desired temperature.  This will ensure all the Methanol alcohol, which boils at 64C/148F is removed. This is usually the first cup (head) to run off the still.

Step 3: Polishing

Moonshine is typically bottled straight from the still or after filtering (called “polishing”). Polishing moonshine with activated carbon removes odors, colors, organic pollutants, toxic compounds, and fusil oils from your moonshine. Activated carbon is the same stuff the big distillers use to polish their spirits. Do not use activated carbon if you want to retain the moonshine’s flavor. To polish moonshine, ensure the activated carbon in your filtering tower is fresh or has been re-activated. Run moonshine thought the filtering tower 1-3 times as desired.

Aging & Flavoring

If you age moonshine, or add flavors after distillation it’s then considered more of a rum or whiskey.