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How To Store Moonshine Safely

Unless you plan on drinking your entire batch of moonshine fresh from the still, you’ll need to properly store it so you can enjoy it later. As long as you fermented the moonshine correctly, it can last for several years to come. However, improperly stored moonshine can spoil or ruin, leaving you with a wasted batch of white lightning. To learn more about how to safely store your moonshine, keep reading.

Plastic vs Glass

Due to its high alcohol content, some people assume that moonshine will burn through plastic, which is why they use glass jars instead. However, the truth is that moonshine will not burn through plastic. Plastic materials are designed to be resistant to powerful chemicals, and they can even withstand hydrofluoric acid. So, if you pour moonshine into a plastic bottle or jug, you don’t have to worry about it burning a hole through the bottom.

There are some disadvantages to storing moonshine in plastic, one of which is the possibility of accidentally melting the plastic by placing it next to a source of heat. While moonshine isn’t going to burn a hole in a plastic jug, an open flame certainly will. If you plan to store your moonshine in plastic jugs or containers, make sure they are placed in a cool area where there’s no open flames or heart sources nearby.

Stick With Glass For Long-Term Storage

Storing moonshine in plastic containers for long periods of time may result in a change of flavor. You may notice a vinyl-like flavor and aroma from moonshine that’s stored in a plastic container. If you are serious about moonshine and want to create the best possible beverage, stick with glass containers for long-term storage. It’s safer, heat resistant, and a better all-around choice when compared to plastic.

Avoid Sunlight

Another key tip for storing moonshine is to keep it away from direct sunlight. Whether your moonshine is stored in a glass or plastic container, the sun’s UV rays will penetrate through and literally cook the contents of the container. This naturally causes the moonshine to spoil at a faster pace. You can prevent this from happening by storing your moonshine in a dark, cool environment where there’s little-to-no sun exposure.

Properly storing your moonshine will preserve its flavor and alcohol content. Just remember to stick with glass containers for long-term storage and place your moonshine out of direct sunlight.

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How To Test Alcohol Content of Moonshine

Once you’ve brewed a batch of moonshine, you might be curious to know how much alcohol it contains. Unlike store-bought liquor, there’s no ABV label on homemade moonshine. And even small variables in the distillation process will affect the percentage of alcohol it contains. Thankfully, there are a few different ways to measure the alcohol volume in moonshine. Whether this is your first time brewing moonshine, or if you’ve been doing it for years, you should perform a quick test to determine how much alcohol it contains. To learn more about testing the alcohol content of moonshine, keep reading.

Shake Test

Arguably the easiest way to gauge the alcohol content of moonshine is to perform a shake test. Although it’s not an entirely accurate form of measurement, it will give you a rough idea as to how much alcohol the moonshine contains. To perform a shake test, fill a glass jar about 1/2 the way full of your moonshine. Now, here comes the important part: you need to closely examine the bubbles of your moonshine after shaking it. Moonshine with a high alcohol content will have large bubbles that dissipate within seconds, while moonshine with a low alcohol content will have small bubbles that last for several minutes.

The shake test is a quick and easy way to determine whether or not your moonshine is potent. Watered down moonshine will possess small bubbles that linger rather than dissipating. Pay close attention to the bubbles of your moonshine when performing a shake test. The shake test has been used for over a century to gauge the potency of moonshine, and even today it’s one of the most popular methods.

Alcoholometer

Of course, you’ll need a more technical method to accurately identify the alcohol content in moonshine. The shake test is great for a quick test, but it’s rudimentary at best. If you want a more accurate reading of the alcohol content in your moonshine, it’s recommended that you invest in a small device called an alcoholometer.

An alcoholometer works by measuring the density of your moonshine and comparing it to pure alcohol. You simply place the alcoholometer in a jar or batch of moonshine and turn the device on. Once it’s identified the density of your moonshine, it will display the ABV. An alcoholometer a simple yet highly effective device for identifying the alcohol content in moonshine.

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3 Tips To Create Better Moonshine

Distilling your own moonshine is a fun and rewarding activity with deep roots seeded into our nation’s history. The process of distilling moonshine has changed very little over the years, but distilling moonshine has never been easier thanks to the advancements of modern technology. Even people with no previous experience can throw up a still using some basic tools and materials and begin distilling their own moonshine. Keep reading to learn 3 important tips on how to create better moonshine.

#1 – Use Distilled and Not Tap Water

One of the most important tips I can give to moonshiners is to always use distilled water for making moonshine wash. It’s no secret that tap water contains a plethora of chemicals, some of which includes chlorine, chlorate, bromate and fluoride. Using tap water in your still will result in some of these potentially harmful and taste-changing chemicals to transfer over to the moonshine. Rather than taking the risk of ruining your batch of moonshine, invest in a couple jugs of distilled water. The cost of distilled water is a small price to pay for a smoother, cleaner batch of moonshine.

#2 – Discard First Batch

Another key tip is to discard your first batch of moonshine. Rather than drinking your first batch, pour it down the drain and begin a second one. Doing so will result in a higher quality beverage that’s more flavorful and contains a higher alcohol content. Of course, the first batch of moonshine from a still is also known to contain a greater amount of the toxic chemical known as methanol. Drinking too much methanol could result in serious, life-threatening health complications. To prevent this from occurring, toss out your first batch of moonshine.

Some people may not want to throw out an entire batch of moonshine, but this is necessary to remove the unwanted chemicals. Whether you are new to the hobby, or if you’ve been doing it for years, you should always pour out the first batch of moonshine from a still.

#3 – Store Moonshine In Glass Jars

A third important tip for creating better moonshine is to store your beverage in glass jars. Newcomers oftentimes use plastic jugs to store their moonshine simply because it’s cheaper. Although moonshine won’t melt the plastic, there’s a good chance that some of the plastic’s chemicals will transfer into the moonshine, affecting its flavor and aroma.

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The History of Moonshine

Moonshine has a long, rich history that goes back further than most people realize. Even throughout the prohibition era, there remained a strong following of moonshiners, and their clients, who took the risk to enjoy this fiery beverage. In this post, we’re going to take a look back at the history and heritage surrounding moonshine.

The word moonshine comes from the word “moonrakers,” which is used to describe English smugglers who transported and traded illegal goods. It’s believed that moonshining dates all the way back to the early American settlers. Some of the English settlers who first landed on America soil created and sold their own moonshine. At the time, however, moonshine was scarce and its popularity was relatively low.

The truth is that moonshine didn’t explode with popularity into the prohibition of alcohol took place in the 1920s. With federal agents shutting down bars and liquor stores, residents were forced to look elsewhere to fulfill their need. Even though there was a black market for liquor and beer, it didn’t have the same ‘kick’ as good old fashioned moonshine. People were eager to purchase shine and savvy businessmen were eager to sell it.

There were several key regions in the U.S. which played a role in the history of moonshine, one of which is the Appalachian Mountains. Residents here would build stills deep in the woods where the rugged terrain protected them from the prying eyes of law enforcement. Of course, transporting the moonshine into town was a whole different story. Moonshiners had to come up with inventive new ways to safely transport their goods without being detected. Some people stored their moonshine into a separate gas tank, while others stored it in water bottles.

In an effort to outrun law enforcement, moonshiners began to make performance adjustments and modifications to their vehicles. Boosting their cars’ performance gave them a better shot at outrunning law enforcement on the road. Moonshiners were able to transport their beverage with ease thanks to these performance upgrades. It’s a little known fact that this is essentially how stock car racing was invented.

The prohibition of alcohol didn’t come to a stop until 1966, when Mississippi (the last state following prohibition laws) was allowed to sell alcohol once again. Today, there are still federal laws governing the production and sell of moonshine. If you plan on producing your own batch, do your homework beforehand to ensure you are abiding by all federal laws.

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5 Surprising Uses For Moonshine

Most people create their own moonshine for the sole purpose of drinking it. After all, there’s nothing that compares to the sweet, rich flavor of apple pie moonshine. But there are other uses for moonshine that shouldn’t go unnoticed. While you may already know some of them, there are others which may surprise you…

#1 – Lighter Fluid

Looking to start your charcoal grill but don’t have any lighter fluid on hand? Rather than tossing toxic gasoline over the coals, try squiring some moonshine on it. Moonshine is a highly flammable substance that works incredibly well as a source of fuel. And since it’s made using all-natural ingredients, you don’t have to worry about tainting your food with harsh chemicals

#2 – Cleaning Agent

Of course, moonshine is also a safe, powerful cleaning agent. Whether it’s the shower, kitchen counter, tile or outdoor furniture, moonshine is the perfect all-natural cleaning agent. Simply spray some of your moonshine on a dirty surface and scrub it off with a basic dish sponge. The high alcohol content will instantly kill 99% of germs and bacteria it comes into contact with, leaving behind a fresh, clean surface.

#3 – Mouthwash

Yep, people have used moonshine to rinse their mouths for over a hundred years. As long as the taste doesn’t bother you (some people enjoy it), moonshine is an effective mouthwash that’s guaranteed to kill off any bad germs lingering inside your mouth. It’s recommended that you gargle about a 1/3 cup of the shine for 20-30 seconds before spitting it out. Doing so will result in a fresh, clean taste while killing bad germs and reducing the chance of halitosis (bad breath).

#4 – Antifreeze

Since moonshine never freezes, you can use it as an ‘antifreeze’ substance for certain tasks. For instance, outdoor generators running throughout the cold days of winter may require a bit of antifreeze to keep from icing up. Opting for moonshine rather than actual antifreeze will work just well if not better. Unlike mechanical antifreeze products, moonshine is completely natural and won’t cause damage to the environment or soil. This alone is reason enough why you should use moonshine for antifreeze.

#5 – Drinking!

Okay, this last use isn’t really surprising. Moonshine has long been a favorite beverage due to its strong bite and versatile flavor. Once you learn the ropes of making moonshine, you can modify the recipe according to your preference. Be sure to read through some of our previous blog posts for tips and tricks on how to make moonshine.

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Common Moonshine Myths Debunked

There are many different myths and misconceptions surrounding moonshine. And while you may already know some of them, chances are there are others that will surprise you. Whether you’re an amateur or experience ‘moonshiner,’ you should familiarize yourself with the common myths surrounding this hobby. In this post, we’re going to reveal some of the top myths.

Myth #1 – Moonshine Burns Through Plastic

I think just about everyone has heard someone saying that moonshine burns through plastic, which is why glass jars is the preferred container. Well, this is a myth that can officially be labeled ‘debunked,’ as moonshine does not burn through plastic. True plastic polymer materials are able to withstand the high-alcohol content of moonshine. The reason why so many people prefer to store their moonshine in glass jars is because glass is resistant to heat.

Myth #2 – Moonshine Can Power a Car

Another myth is that moonshine can power cars, trucks and other gasoline-powered automobiles. If you pour a jug of shine down your car’s gas tank, though, you’ll quickly realize this isn’t true. So, where did this myth originate? Well, moonshine is technically capable of powering engines when certain modifications are made. In order for it to run properly, you’d have to modify the combustion ratio, air/fuel ratio, compression, etc. Only then can you effectively use moonshine to power your vehicle.

Myth #3 – Moonshine Goes Bad After a Few Years

Some people toss out old moonshine once it reaches a certain age, believing that it’s spoiled and no longer good to drink. You’ll be pleased to know that this is a complete myth. Moonshine does not go bad when it’s properly stored. The trick to preserving and maintaining your moonshine is to keep it properly stored in an air-tight container. When moonshine — or any other type of beverage for that matter — is exposed to the air, dust, mold spores, bacteria and other impurities will inevitably makes their way inside. To prevent this from happening, store your moonshine in an air-tight container where it’s protected from such impurities.

Myth #4 – Creating Moonshine Is Difficult and Time Consuming

It’s a common assumption that moonshine is both difficult and time consuming to produce. The truth, however, is that nearly anyone can make their own moonshine using just a few basic ingredients and tools. The most technical step in the process is setting up a still, but once your still is set up you can produce delicious moonshine in no time at all.

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5 Fast Facts About Moonshine

moonshine-facts-01-300x204There’s a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding the moonshining trade. Whether you’re an amateur ‘shiner’ or if you’ve been doing it for decades, there are probably some things you didn’t know about this hobby/profession. In this post, we’re going to cover some fast facts about moonshine, separating the truth from the fiction.

Fact #1) The Term “Moonshine” Originated During The Early Colonial Days

Ever wonder how moonshine got its name? During the early days of America’s colonization by the British, smugglers referred to this homemade alcoholic beverage as “moonshine” because trades and operations were performed in the dark of night without nothing more than the moon’s light shining down. While other terms sprung up in reference to the beverage, moonshine is the single most popular and widely used term used to describe it.

Fact #2) It’s Also Called “White Lighting” In Reference To Its Colorless Appearance

Of course, another term that’s commonly used to describe moonshine is “white lighting.” In fact, there was even a 1973 action movie focused around moonshining titled “White Lightning,” which starred Burt Reynolds as Gator McKlusky. The term “white lightning” sprung up in reference to the beverage’s clear, colorless appearance. Pure, unadulterated moonshine looks strikingly similar to water; therefore, some people call it “white lightning.”

Fact #3) Spawned The Concept For Stock Car Racing

Yep, moonshine spawned the concept for modern-day stock car racing. Back in the early days of prohibition, bootleggers would modify their vehicles so they could outrun law enforcement. It wasn’t long before these bootleggers were racing each other to see who had the fastest car. The races became bigger and bigger until there was an actual organization — known as NASCAR — dedicated to stock car racing.

Fact #4) Can Be Made With a Variety of Different Fruits

Tired of drinking the same old grain-flavored moonshine? Rather than using a cornmeal-based mash for your shine, you should try producing it with some fruit. One of the great things about moonshine is that you can make it with a practically any type of fruit, some of which includes apples, peaches, strawberries and blackberries.

Fact #5) Contains ‘Roughly’ 80 Calories Per 1-Ounce Serving

A typical 1-ounce shot or serving of moonshine contains approximately 80 calories. Considering the fact that a single serving (can or bottle) of beer contains 140-150 calories, moonshine is actually a better choice. With that said, it’s recommended that you consume all alcoholic beverages in moderation, whether it’s beer, liquor or moonshine.

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Why Is Moonshine Traditionally Made With Corn?

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Inexpensive

One notable reason why so many moonshiners prefer to use corn is because of its inexpensive price. Purchasing a $1 bag of corn at the local farmer’s market could yield $100-$200 worth of moonshine back in the late 1800s. Now that’s a nice return on investment! Although the price of corn has risen over the years, it’s still a relatively inexpensive ingredient, especially when compared to some of the alternatives used to produce moonshine. It’s doubtful that a moonshiner will earn 100-200x more on their moonshine than what he or she paid for the corn, but it’s still a nice return that keeps people coming back to this industry.

Readily Available

Corn, as you probably know, is readily available throughout nearly all of North America. Certain rural regions may have a lower quantity than metro areas, but it’s a readily available commodity that’s easy to acquire. Many people refer to corn as “yellow gold” because it’s used to produce so many different products, only one of which is moonshine. For instance, the renewable biofuel known as ethanol is produced from corn. And because so many products and items are made from corn, moonshiners have little-to-problem acquiring it.

High Sugar Content

Moonshine is made by converting sugars into alcohol with the help of yeast. The grains are added and cooked to a certain temperature before the yeast is added. Once the yeast settles down into the mash, they begin to convert sugars into alcohol through the process of fermentation.

Corn is a popular ingredient for moonshine because of its exceptionally high sugar content. When compared to other grains, corn has a higher sugar content; thus, resulting in a higher alcohol per volume (APV) moonshine.

Nice Flavor

A fourth reason why corn is considered the “best” ingredient for moonshine is because of its flavor. When the mash is made right, corn-based moonshine possesses a light grainy flavor that most people enjoy. It’s mild and not pungent or overly bitter, which can’t be said for some batches of moonshine.

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Moonshine Terminology 101

moonshine-whiskey-01-300x200If you’re looking to get started in the fun and rewarding hobby of moonshining, there are some terms you need to know. Browsing through a guide on how to make moonshine is like trying to read a second language for newcomers. While you may catch some of the terms tossed around, there are others that will likely confuse you. In an effort to shed some light on this subject, we’ve compiled a list of common moonshine terms defined.

Mash

One term that you’re bound to see and hear during your moonshing adventures is “mash.” There are dozens of different moonshine recipes out there, but nearly all of them feature some type of mash. Basically, mash is the mixture of corn meal, hot water, malt and yeast. These ingredients are thoroughly mixed together to create a mash-like consistency (hence the name). Upon mixing these ingredients, the mash is left to sit and ferment.

Bathtub Gin

No, this isn’t a type of moonshine that you make in your bathtub. Instead, “bathtub gin” is a term which refers to cheap, low-quality spirits. The term first appeared during the 1920s, when amateur moonshiners topped off their bottles with water from the bathtub. Standard moonshine bottles wouldn’t fit in the sink, so moonshiners stuck them in the bathtub. The term isn’t used as much as it once was, but bathtub gin is still used when referring to low-quality shine.

Condenser

One of the key components of a moonshine still is the condenser. Without a functional, working condenser, you simply won’t be able to produce drinkable moonshine. So, how exactly does a condenser work? The objective of a condenser — as its name suggests — is to condense the moonshine vapor into liquid. Moonshine is heated to the point of evaporation, at which point the steam travels down a set of copper tubes. During its course of travel, the moonshine steam eventually reaches a part of the still known as the condenser. This critical stage transforms the moonshine steam back into drinkable liquid. Voila, you know have moonshine!

Methanol

Methanol is a highly toxic chemical that first-time moonshiners need to be aware of. When the right equipment and techniques are used to produce moonshine, methanol isn’t a concern. However, contamination from cleaning chemicals, agents, bacteria, mold, or non-copper metals may contribute to the production of methanol. And drinking this toxic chemical in large quantities can lead to a wide range of serious health problems.

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Why is my moonshine cloudy?

alcool brunMoonshine, when it’s made properly, should be clear as water. However, some people may experience a haze-like cloud when producing moonshine. This naturally raises concern among amateur and seasoned ‘shiners’ alike. After all, it’s no secret that traditional moonshine looks like water. So, what causes some batches of shine to have a cloudy tint? And is it safe to drink? To learn the answers to these questions and more, keep reading.

Minerals From Tap Water

One of the most common causes of cloudy moonshine is from minerals found in tap water. Although you can’t see them with the naked eye, tap water contains dozens of different minerals, chemicals and compounds. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows places a limit on the concentrations of certain impurities in tap water. Even if the levels are safe and well within the limits set by the EPA, they may still have an effect on your moonshine, essentially changing it from clear to a cloudy, murky tint.

If you believe mineral-rich tap water is causing your moonshine to turn cloudy, you should try swapping it out for distilled water. Distilled water is made in a similar way as moonshine; water is heated to the point where it evaporates, at which point the water vapor condenses back into liquid form. The final product is a clean, filtered water without minerals or other impurities. You can purchase distilled water from most grocery stores and supermarkets.

Too Hot

Another potential reason why your moonshine is cloudy is because you’re cooking it too high. Ideally, the temperature of your moonshine cook should fall somewhere in the 173-185 degree Fahrenheit range. Allowing your temperature to go beyond this range increases the chance of burning, which can affect both the flavor and tint of your shine. The bottom line is that you must keep your temps within the appropriate range to ensure your moonshine is clear and tastes right.

Corn Oils

Of course, there’s always a possibility of corn oils causing your moonshine to turn cloudy. Farmers oftentimes spray their corn crops with pesticides and/or growth hormones, some of which may carry over to your shine. Unfortunately, there’s no way to determine whether or not your corn is covered in oil. However, you can wash your corn before adding it into your moonshine mash to help clean off any hidden oils or compounds.