Will Moonshine Freeze? We have the answer! Check out 11 questions you want to know about moonshine. We get asked number five at least once a day!
Moonshine used to be thought of as an old-fashioned spirit that was made during prohibition, however that has completely changed. Moonshine is now a drink that more and more people want to try (and make!). However, there are still a lot of questions around this strong spirit.
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So here we go, the top 11 questions we get regularly about moonshine.
1. What is Moonshine Made of?
Making moonshine is an interesting hobby because it does allow for lots of creativity. While the traditional recipe calls for cracked corn and malted barley, you can make moonshine out of almost anything.
Some popular options are fruits, grains and even sugar! With all the endless options comes endless opportunities to try something different and continue to enjoy making new combinations.
At How to Moonshine, we put out new recipes regularly for our followers so you will never get bored making the same old recipe.
We also have a recipe calculator so you can make your own recipe with the grain you have on hand.
2. Why is Moonshine Illegal?
It should be noted, the legality of moonshine will vary from country to country and arguably even state to state in the US.
Moonshine itself is not illegal as there are many commercial moonshines available for purchase. It is actually illegal in some areas to make and sell moonshine without a proper permit.
Moonshine is not illegal in all countries. In the United States, making moonshine was a popular pastime for early settlers in the United States, especially in areas where it is easy to grow grain.
As many of these settlers produced an excess of grain, fermenting it just made sense. Of course, the whiskey they produced was a great bonus.
In fact, at one time whiskey was actually used as a form of currency. Of course, this was just another incentive for early pioneers to make moonshine.
3.When Did Moonshine Become Illegal?
The Whiskey Tax
Unfortunately, the government decided they wanted their cut of the profits. Deep in debt from the American Revolution, placing taxes on alcohol seemed like a great way to generate some debt relief.
Understandably, the farmers were not on board, especially considering they had just finished battling the British to get away from the British tax tariffs.
The result was a whiskey rebellion in which many rebels lost their lives trying to preserve their rights to make moonshine.
The 1862 Revenue Act
Making moonshine became illegal when the 1862 Revenue Act was passed on July 1st, 1862. This act imposed taxes on alcohol produced in the United States and also imported distilled spirits.
So, long story short, making moonshine is illegal because the US government wants to collect taxes on all alcohol.
4. How Much Moonshine Can You Make Legally?
This is a hard question to answer correctly because the laws are different from country to country and even state to state.
New Zealand is the only country in the Western world where it is completely legal to make your own moonshine. However, some other countries allow distillation with restrictions.
In the United States, distilling requires a federal permit in order to make alcohol for sale or personal use. In order to obtain this permit your distillation equipment must be inspected and you have to pay a fee.
However, there is no limit to the size of still you operate. You also do not have to store your still in a separate area from your home, such as a shed.
It should be understood that this permit is designed for distilleries and not the average Joe who wants to make some shine.
Keep in mind that in most states you are allowed to own a distiller. This is because a distiller performs many other functions other than making alcohol such as distilling water, making perfume and even making essential oils.
If you want to make your own ethanol, you can purchase what is known as a ‘fuel alcohol permit’. It is cheaper and easier to obtain than a federal permit.
Check out How to Make Ethanol For Fuel
In the United States, federal law will always trump state law. This means if you live in a state where making moonshine is legal you can still get in trouble.
For example, in Missouri, it is legal to produce up to 200 gallons per year per household of moonshine for personal use and not for sale.
Despite the fact that it is legal in the state to make moonshine, it is still illegal in the country. This makes almost no sense, but can still get you in trouble.
This can also go the other way. It is legal to own a still federally, but in the state of Florida it is illegal to own a still without a federal permit.
The important lesson here is to know the local and federal laws in your area so you can protect yourself.
Check out Home Distilling Laws By State
5. How Much Moonshine Can You Drink?
The amount of moonshine you can drink will vary, depending on your BMI (body mass index) as well as the amount of alcohol you regularly consume, which can increase your tolerance for alcohol consumption.
Of course, those who ask this question are often actually asking how much, or rather, how little moonshine you need to consume in order to become intoxicated.
Drinking moonshine is something you should do with caution. Unlike most commercially produced alcohol (with a few exceptions) moonshine is famous for its very high ABV (alcohol by volume) which means there is a higher percentage of alcohol in the moonshine. This will result in feeling the effects of alcohol sooner and with smaller amounts.
While a commercial vodka would have 40% ABV, moonshine can be distilled to between 60 and 80% ABV. This means each drink would be equal to a drink and a half or two drinks of a commercial liquor.
While many practice caution when sipping moonshine straight, it is also important to remember to exercise extreme caution when making moonshine recipes where the strength of the alcohol in the recipe may not be tasted and so it is not as obviously known.
With this in mind, it is important to not only sip with caution but also to make sure that others do as well.
Even more dangerous than overconsumption is the potential consumption of methanol when making moonshine.
It is important to educate yourself on the proper procedures for making moonshine including how to fraction to remove the methanol from your shine.
Check out: How to Keep the Methanol out of Moonshine
6. Why is Moonshine So Strong?
Moonshine is strong because it is often distilled multiple times. In your average pot still, you will produce a corn whiskey with 40% ABV. This is similar to the ABV in most commercial liquors.
However, when making your own moonshine, you can do multiple distillations. With each distillation, the amount of water or other liquid in your final product will go down and the amount of alcohol in your mixture will increase.
With three distillations, many corn whiskeys can produce an ABV between 60 to 80%. This process is illustrated in an interesting way on the traditional moonshine jug. The XXX which is often seen and linked with moonshine is linked with the number of distillations. Moonshiners will add an X each time they run their shine.
7. Will Moonshine Freeze?
Anyone who has ever stored vodka in their freezer will tell you that alcohol will not freeze. As moonshine contains alcohol (often in larger amounts!) it will not freeze.
8. Can you Make Moonshine Without a Still?
Yes! You can absolutely make moonshine without a still. However, there is a very good reason we do not recommend it.
You can actually make moonshine using nothing more than a chest freezer and a large bucket. This is a process known as freeze distillation.
The traditional distillation process heats and then condenses a moonshine mash to separate the different ingredients in the mash. This is done by heating the mash and when the different ingredients reach their boiling points you can effectively separate them.
This is an important step because when making moonshine you will produce the desired ethanol, but also produce many unwanted by-products as well, such as methanol.
With freeze distillation you are able to separate the ethanol from water because the water will freeze but you cannot effectively remove the by-products. This means you may be consuming methanol in your moonshine, which is extremely dangerous.
9. How Much Corn Do I Need for a 5 Gallon Mash?
Many of the questions we get asked involve the proper amounts of ingredients to make a proper moonshine mash.
For this reason, we have created our Moonshine Recipe Calculator. This is an easy-to-use tool for making a simple moonshine recipe. All you need to do is input one ingredient measurement, for example, the amount of moonshine you want to make and the ingredient amounts will populate for you automatically.
Check out the Moonshine Recipe Calculator
10. Where Can I Buy Moonshine Grain?
You can purchase high quality moonshine grain from us! We carry high quality crushed corn, mealed corn as well as malted barley. We also carry a Popcorn Sutton Recipe Kit. We will be continuing to expand our line, including recipe kits, in the near future.
Check out our Grain for Making Moonshine
11 What is the Best Still for a Beginner?
Of course, this is a matter of opinion. But in our humble opinion, the best still for a beginner is our Moonshine Cherry Air Still.
Making Moonshine can be a complicated process, but the Moonshine Cherry makes distillation easy.
With its press and play technology, you can set your temperature and let the still do all the work. Its small size and simple design make this still extremely user friendly and simple to set up and operate.
Of course, the Moonshine Cherry isn’t right for every beginner. With its internal heating and cooling system fractioning your moonshine is not a simple process. We would recommend making sugar shine with the Moonshine Cherry, which only needs the first 10% tossed.
The choice between a pot and column still will come down to your desired final product, as well as your personal preference.
Here is a handy guide: Pot vs.Column Still: Which is Right for You?