If you're lucky enough to have a home whiskey still setup, then you've probably already dived into producing your first batch of your favorite spirits. Whiskey, brandy, vodka: it's all possible with the help of your own personal distillery. However, make sure you understand the legalities of home distilling, where you live, to avoid any run-ins with the law.
If you're new to making spirits then the temptation will be to get started straight away. But have you considered the safety aspects of home distilling? It doesn't take a lot of time to review safety but it could save your life. So in this article, we'll look at seven safety considerations.
How to safely operate a home distillery
It's important to never forget that you're actually distilling fuel that is explosive. Very explosive! So be sure to exercise great care and double check your setup before every use.
1. Keep an extinguisher nearby
This should be a no-brainer. If there is an explosion, there's likely to be fire. Don't rely on water to put out the fire where alcohol is involved. A good quality extinguisher is imperative.
2. Choose the distilling area wisely
It is wise to set up your home distiller in an area that has ample ventilation so that gases can easily escape without dangerous buildup.
3. Keep a watchful eye on the vapors
If the alcohol coming from the condenser is hot or vaporous turn off the heat and stop the production immediately. If your heat source has a flame then there is a good possibility that the vapors will ignite.
4. Check the hose location
Check the distillate collection hose and collection container aren't too close to the heat source as they could melt.
5. Check the joints
Building your own distillery can be a fun and rewarding hobby. If you decide to do it yourself, be sure to pressure test all the joints to make sure the system is entirely sealed. No liquid or gas should be able to escape. Although any reputable supplier will pre-check the seals, you never know if damage occurred during shipping so err on the cautious side and re-check them.
6. Never leave your post
Once you start the distilling process don't walk off for any reason. It is important to keep a close eye on the equipment to ensure there are no malfunctions or other problems that pop up.
7. Ensure your still has a pressure relief built in
Plugging up of the distiller's output is uncommon, but still possible. There should be very little pressure buildup during normal operation of the equipment. A pressure relief system built into the still will allow the gas to be released if pressure does build up. This is a potentially dangerous situation and you need to act quickly when it does happen by shutting off the heat. Also ensure there is ventilation to clear out the potentially explosive vapor.
Using a home still safely is vital. The above list should always be considered before starting - failure to do so could result in a serious injury or worse. Reading the user manual is another step you should take to make sure everything is set up correctly and safely.
Once you're setup safely, you can focus on the best part - making homemade moonshine that tastes amazing!