How To Make Moonshine

Please note, that while this article outlines how to make moonshine the practice is still illegal in many places.

We do not encourage or condone illegal activity. We are only here to educate. Make your own smart decisions.

What Do You Need To Make Moonshine?

You don’t need a lot to make moonshine but you need some equipment and then some ingredients. 


  • A large (55 gallons or thereabouts) barrel – to be filled with water, so no leaks
  • 2 x water pumps (fish tank style, with electricity supply required)
  • Some plastic hoses (to connect the pumps to the still)
  • A beer keg (remove the ball valve)
  • A still
  • A propane burner
  • Clean plastic buckets with lids that allow bubbles through


  • 25 lbs. of sugar (cheap and cheerful is fine)
  • 4 oz of bread yeast
  • 2 x large cans of tomato paste
  • ½ cup of lemon juice
  • Some Epsom salt
  • Lots of water
How To Make Moonshine

Make Some Wash

  1. Take half the sugar and put it in 1 gallon of boiling water and stir until the sugar dissolves
  2. Add 4 gallons of tap water to bring the temperature down to 100 degrees (ish) Fahrenheit
  3. Add half the yeast, lemon and tomato paste and then a pinch of Epsom salt and stir them up thoroughly
  4. Pour into a 6 gallon bucket with a bubbler lid
  5. Repeat the process for a second bucket’s worth
  6. Seal both buckets (they’re going to bubble a lot – no bubbles means your bucket leaks or the yeast is dead)
  7. Leave them until they stop bubbling (will take several days).

Set Up The Still

  1. Make sure the keg has had the ball valve removed.
  2. Fill the large 55 gallon container with water and cut a hole in the top, place a plastic basket in there to allow the water pumps to float in it and thus they’re easy to get to.
  3. Connect one pump to the top of the still (either of the two fittings there) this is the “reflux” pump.
  4. We’d recommend you use a valve on the reflux pump’s hose as it’s the alcohol vapor escape line. 
  5. You then connect the other pump to the arm of the still and that doesn’t need a valve.
  6. You then need your burner and propane.
  7. Place the keg on top of the burner and fill it with the wash you’ve made. 
how to make moonshine old timey style
Photo Credit: Blue Ridge Institute

Get Distilling

  1. Switch on the propane burner and turn on the reflux pump – let the burner on “high” to start
  2. As the pipe gets hot, you can turn it down, you want to get to the lowest heat setting when the burner boils off just enough vapor for the top of the distilling tower to be constantly at work
  3. Then throw out the first 100 milliliters (4 ounces) of  moonshine – this will a.) taste vile and b.) be toxic, don’t drink it, throw it away

Note: There are then three distinct stages to moonshine production: “heads”, “good stuff” and “tails”. 

You can drink all three phases but you may find the “good stuff” to be the most palatable. 

Final Thoughts On How To Make Moonshine

It’s quite easy to learn how to make moonshine – you just need to take your time and be thorough about things. 

If you enjoyed this you might want to consider making other things at home like honey, edible weeds or even keeping chickens!

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