How to Ferment Sugar Wash Effectively

Using a sugar wash is one of the simplest ways to make moonshine.  Fermenting sugar water is especially preferable if you are still learning how to moonshine.   Sugar wash is affordable and fermenting sugar wash is very easy. 

The right fermentation technique is essential because it plays a big role in achieving the alcohol strength of your spirit. If your sugar wash isn’t fermented correctly, your spirits won’t have a high alcohol level. 

Fermentation is a constant process that your wash must undergo before it is subjected to distillation.  In short, the fermentation process is essential from turning ingredients into ethanol after which heat is applied so the liquid will evaporate to get the distillation process started. 

Why Some Believe That You Don’t Need a Fermenter

Many believe that a still is all it takes to come up with moonshine. The spread of this myth may be due to the way early moonshine makers perform fermentation. In the early years, fermentation is usually done in stills boiler.

In essence, fermentation is a very significant process because without subjecting your wash to this process, your wash will end up as a flop. Performing it in a modern fermenter is also the best way to do it.

The Best Moonshine Still Kit to Get Right Now

Many moonshiners love to build their own pot stills. You can also get a complete moonshine kit online.  These online moonshine kits are often much better equipped for brewing compared to DIY stills and they make brewing a breeze since everything you need is already included in the kit. 

If you are looking for a great moonshine still kit to buy right now then we recommend you have a look at the 5 Gallon Stainless Steel Stove Top Moonshine Still Kit.

The 5 Gallon Stainless Steel Stove Top Moonshine Still Kit

This 5-gallon stainless steel moonshine still kit is an ideal set for beginner moonshine distillers because it comes as a full set with everything you need to get started. 

The kit is mainly made of high-quality stainless steel that will never rust or discolor where copper distillation kits require lots of polishing to keep them gleaming.  The set includes a stovetop fermentation barrel and distillation tower as well as other accessories such as a false barrel bottom and coils.  Copper coils would have been better for the distillation tower because copper naturally removes sulfate from your still.  The stainless steel coils will still be effective for producing quality spirits if you are still new to brewing your own moonshine.

This set is quite affordable because it comes as a full kit that can be used to process 4kg of corn at a time to produce 3 – 4 liters of spirits.  The kit can be used on any type of stovetop which makes it very convenient for home use.

The set is an ideal pick if you want to make your own moonshine or if you want to ferment sugar wash effectively without all the fuss.


Main materials – 304 Food grade stainless steel

Size – 32 x 32 x 46cm (75cm assembly height)

Still type – Stovetop still with fermentation barrel and distillation tower

Barrel capacity – 5 gallons

Coil materials – Stainless steel

Suited for – Make moonshine as well as other types of alcoholic beverages

Included – Fermentation barrel with false bottom and distillation tower, water pump, filter bag, two 1.5m silicone tubes, 3-in-1 alcohol meter, thread seal tape, 250ml measuring cylinder, temperature sticker, and airlock and silicone stopper.


  •         The moonshine kit includes everything you need for DIY home brewing
  •         You can use it on any type of stove top including gas, induction and electric
  •         It is ideal for brewing 3 – 4 liters of spirits at a time
  •         The fermentation barrel comes with a false bottom that keeps your produce off the base
  •         The entire kit is made of high quality stainless steel that never rusts or discolors
  •         The kit has a compact vertical design
  •         A water pump is included to continuously add chilled water to the distillation tower
  •         The set also includes an alcohol meter


  •         Copper coils in the distillation tower would have been better
  •         It can be hard to remove spent grain from your fermentation barrel

A Standard Sugar Wash Recipe

Sugar wash can be made using different recipes.  Sugar wash is one of the most affordable ways to make a wash for fermentation.  Here is what you need for a standard sugar wash.

  •         8 kg white or raw sugar
  •         25 l water
  •         Yeast

Fermenting these will yield a strong brew of 18-20% alcohol as long as the correct type of yeast is used.   All you need to do to start the process is to mix your water, sugar and yeast.  For the first 60 minutes it won’t seem like much is happening.  In this time, yeast will start to feed off the sugar and grow.  As the sugar grows it converts into ethanol and carbon dioxide.  When the nutrients and sugar in your mixture is depleted, the alcohol percentage will rise and the fermentation process will be completed. 

The fermentation process, when it comes to making moonshine, is the step that requires the longest time. But then, it is a very easy step because it can happen on its own without any inputs from the moonshiner.

Yeast Types Can Affect Your Fermentation Duration

The amount of time needed to complete the fermentation process depends on the kind of the yeast that you pitch in the fermenter. Once you are already seasoned with making moonshine, you will also notice that there are differences in fermentation times among the same kind of yeast from different makers.

Selecting moonshine yeast with the highest tolerance to alcohol is the key to achieving good alcohol concentration.

Out of many varieties, turbo yeast is the best pick because it has a high alcohol tolerance and can act as fast as possible under optimal temperature. Some of the most recommended brands of turbo yeast are the Still Spirits in Samuel Willard’s that can accomplish fermentation in approximately 48 hours and even less than that.

Willard's brand is available in 24-hour as well as 48-hour strains. Fermenting wash in a short period of 24 hours is possible using this brand of yeast if you decrease the formula to 6 kilograms sugar to 25 liters of water. This will work perfectly if the temperature is extremely optimal.

Using the 24-hour and 48-hour strain will take a total of 5 days fermentation time given that the formula used in the standard recipe of 8kg to 25 liters water.

Over that period, the effects of the yeast taper off and the alcohol concentration shoot up. Some home brewers prefer the 48-hour strain because the flavor is more enhanced. However, in the absence of this strain, the 24-hour variety is absolutely a great alternative.

If you cannot find turbo yeast, there are plenty of options where you can choose from that can also work great for fermenting your sugar wash. You can visit local home brewer shops and ask what varieties of yeast are available in their store. From this, you can consult which of these is the best alternative for making moonshine.

A lot of winemaking yeast such as Lalvin EC-1118 has a high tolerance for alcohol and can be used as a great replacement. The only drawback of using this kind is that the taste of the finished product can be a little bit different and the fermentation process can be longer.

A Tip for Using Wine Yeast

If you cannot find turbo yeast and choose to use wine yeast, you will have to supplement the wine yeast with nutrients. 

Turbo yeast originally comes with nutrient packets while wine yeast comes in plain packets. This is because wine yeast contains squashed grapes that include all the necessary components to help the yeast survive.

A Tip for using Bread-making yeast

If you choose to use bread-making yeast, you must remember to add nutrient packets as well and be mindful of the fermentation time which can take up to two weeks. You may also modify the formula to 4 kilograms of sugar to 25 liters of water if you want to apply this kind of yeast.

An Alternative to Nutrient Packets

If you cannot get hold of nutrient packets, you can also crush a handful of sultanas and pitch these in the fermenter.  These sultanas will offer the needed nutrients for yeast to feed on so your yeast doesn’t die when you are fermenting your sugar wash.

The Right Way to Use Yeast for Fermentation

You can pre-mix your sugar and water.  When this is all mixed up, you can easily add your yeast to the liquid.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when using your yeast.

Liquids Should Not Be Cooled

You must ensure that it has been out of the refrigerator even before you start with creating your wash or the yeast may be shocked with the change in temperature when you add the yeast to the mixture.

The Best Ways to Add Active Dry Yeast

If you are using dried active yeast, you have the option to just pitch it in the fermenter or dilute it with a cup of water for approximately 15 minutes before you mix it with your wash. Yet, you must remember that the water should have equal temperature with your wash to avoid disturbing the yeast.

Once the yeast has been mixed with the wash, you may close the lid and add water in the airlock to tightly seal the container.  Some yeast varieties yield more if you keep the lid loose for an hour so that the carbon dioxide can escape the fermenter. The rationale behind this is that the yeast can act faster in an environment full of oxygen.

After this, you can seal the fermenter completely and this time the remaining carbon dioxide will escape the container through the airlock.

So How Long Does The Fermentation Process Take?

You will notice an increased activity a few hours after you pitch in the yeast because the yeast is setting and rehydrating itself and getting ready to take action. At this stage, you will also see that the airlock is bubbling constantly until all the sugars contained in the wash have been fermented.

Typically, the process may take 3 to 14 days depending on the type of yeast that you use. Out of all varieties, baker’s yeast has the longest fermentation time which is why this yeast is not recommended at all.

Once all the sugars have been fermented, there will be no more alcohol production, no more food for the yeast and carbon dioxide as well which makes the wash ready for distillation.

If you used a good quality yeast, used the right ingredients and monitored your fermentation process correctly you should now have a proper sugar wash that you can use for making moonshine.