Since our company , CellAntenna Corporation , is an Essential Service, providing cellular and public safety communication in many of the South Florida hospitals, we needed to find a supply of sanitizers to destroy on contact the Covid-19 virus on the tools and masks of our employees. Having no way of getting any sort of supply due to the panic buying of those that are selfish and wanting to hoard, I decided to find a way to improvise – sort of what MacGyver would do if faced with this situation.
The first thing I did was go to the CDC site and see what sanitizers work against the COVID-19 virus. They say that Hydrogen peroxide 3% or greater, Alcohol 65% or great, and Chlorine do a good job. Chlorine being quite toxic and affecting clothes etc, cannot be used as a good hand sanitizer, and is suspect as to what it will do over the longer term to some of our employee’s tools . So the only two possibilities for us were Hydrogen Peroxide and Alcohol, which would be normally easy to obtain at the local pharmacy. But again, due to the panic and hoarding , these items are rare to be found.
Where can I get at least an alternate supply of Alcohol ? Since I enjoy Scotch Whisky I looked at the bottles and noticed that Cask Strength whisky can get up there in Alcohol, hitting in some cases 68%. However, that’s the good stuff and no way I am going to let the COVID-19 bastard have to it!
I looked into the local wine shop , Total Wines in Coral Springs. They have stock of 151 proof or 75.5% alcohol. One is made by EVERCLEAR 151 (Click here) , and is still available at the writing of this article.
However, there is no guarantee that they will still have it.
That is when I started to look into a do it yourself alcohol, alcohol produced by a still. I wanted to see if in fact I can legally manufacture my own alcohol, for medicinal purposes of course ( Beverly Hillbillies Granny expression) . Although not legal during normal time, I doubt anyone will fault you if you decide to make your high proof moonshine for sanitization purposes during these times. I did call the city and they said no one is going to arrest anyone until this COVID-19 thing is over – but I need to invite them over if I am doing any real tastings 🙂
So if you really wanted to do this , here is how you would :
Buying a Still
If you want to become a Coral Springs Hillbilly, then you can alway buy a Still on EBAY or AMAZON for about $200 for a 20 l ( 5 gal) ( here is an Example click here) It is easy to assemble, not big enough to get you into any trouble and easy enough to start you off on your Hillbilly adventure in making some high proof alcohol. All of this needs to be done outside and if your BBQ has a side burner, you can be all set.
The Still comes with a Hydrometer that measures the percentage alcohol so you can make sure that you really have 65% or more alcohol.
Moonshine made easy
Once the unit arrives at your door, now you need to get the starter stock or MASH in order to distill it. The process is to take a beer for instance at 8 % alcohol boil off the alcohol and you get a higher percentage alcohol in the liquid that comes out. However if you start off with a higher percentage of alcohol in the liquid you are boiling then the higher the percentage of the alcohol and more of it, you will get.
I recommend that you start off using some cheap wine that has a 15% alcohol content. You can buy the cheapest wine at Total wines @ $6 for 1.5 liters. For $30 bucks you have 7.5 liters which will get you about a bottle ( 750 ml) of 65-70% Ethanol quickly . Alternately you can use Vodka ( some cheap stuff as well). Remember, the goal here is not to make the best MoonShine – which would be at a lower alcohol level – but a germicide which is at a high level that is undrinkable.
You can as well try to make your own sugar beer using 4 gallons of water, 10 pounds of sugar and 4 packets of yeast. You boil the water and dissolve the sugar. Then when the temperature of the brew is at 105 degrees or less you add the yeast, close up the system and wait 1 week until the stuff stops bubbling. This should get you the same alcohol content in the sugar beer as the wine , 15 % . Then you filter out the yeast, and distill the brew.
Distilling involves heating the beer or wine to a temperature around 190 degrees where the alcohol in the brew boils out. This below 212 degrees, which the the boiling point of water, so the stuff you collect at 190 is the alcohol. The still has a cooling chamber in it that use a bucket of water refreshed by your garden hose to keep the cooling temperature of the water to less than 80 degrees. The water circulates through the chamber cooling the alcohol vapor which results in condensation dripping into your jar. You test this liquid to make sure it is above 65% with the hydrometer that comes with the kit. The first 200 ml, you discard since it contains methanol and acetone , two chemicals that are caustic. However, the stuff you get from that point on until the alcohol drops below 65% is great for sanitization. Below 65% and above 45% is the drinkable stuff that theoretically can be mixed with some juice, berries etc . This is in theory of course since your main reason to make this stuff is for sanitization purposes. After 45% or lower, you can turn the still off, and toss the remaining beer.
If you cannot get the alcohol level passed 65% you can do a 2nd distillation when everything cools down. You take your collected alcohol and mix it with regular water 50 / 50 . Then you do distill this the same way as above. The alcohol content will be much higher now with the condensate.
However you need to be careful. Alcohol is flammable – so keep a fire extinguisher around, and try not to use any flame heat. NO SMOKING! As well, you need to be comfortable with a chemistry set. One last thing – sell the still when all of this is over. I am not sure if the city will come along and ask you to dispose of it, or the Federal government’s ATF department.