Go Green – Make your own moonshine

Moonshine alcohol saved many thirsty Americans from the wrath of prohibition in the 1920’s. But could the distilled spirit help save us from our current energy crunch too?

Hooch, White Lightnin’, Mountain Dew, Moonshine, or whatever the name may be, they are all the same basic thing. Ethanol.

Ethanol (ethyl alcohol) is the basic alcohol found in all alcoholic beverages. It can be easily made by anyone with a heat source, some copper tubing, water, field corn, and some baker’s yeast. There are ethanol stills that can be made as small as kitchen crock-pots, or as big as 55 gallon drums.

When ethanol is in its purest form it is very flammable, which makes it a viable alternate fuel source. In 1840, it was already taking off in America as a lamp fuel. But when the Civil War came around, a tax was implemented on industrial alcohols such as ethanol. This made it no longer cost effective.

However, the industrial alcohol tax was repealed in 1906. When Henry Ford realized the fuel source had become much cheaper, he adapted his business plans.

Starting in 1908, all Ford Model T’s could have their engines converted to run off of ethanol.

In 1920, as America was adjusting to prohibition, the ethanol fuel dealers were accused of selling their product as a beverage. This killed the industrial alcohol industry until more recent years.

E85 ethanol, used in modern Flex-Fuel vehicles, is a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent  gasoline.

E85 fuel does not produce as much energy as gasoline does, but it does burn cleaner. A gasoline vehicle that normally gets 30 mpg would only get 20 mpg running on E85.

Ok, so it is not as powerful as gasoline, but it is cheaper to make. In a large moonshine still, ethanol can be made for as little as a dollar per gallon.

It does cost both money and time to convert your vehicle to run on a biofuel like ethanol, but there are kits being made to make the conversions more efficient.

There are even home ethanol distilleries being manufactured. E-Fuel’s MicroFueler allows households to make their own fuel. E-Fuels home fueling system, selling for well over $10,000, is a groundbreaking piece of technology.

E-Fuel’s newest product does not use corn to produce fuel like moonshine stills. Instead, its MicroFusion Reactor will turn almost any organic waste into fuel for your vehicle.

It is easy to see the environmental advantage of this technology. However, until the technology becomes a bit less costly, a few 55 gallon drums producing corn or grain ethanol seem like a viable alternative.

As for drinking the biofuel hooch, it can be done with the proper know-how, but is it worth it? If the temperature inside the still is not right, methanol is produced. Methanol is the stuff that makes people blind or even dead.

So you might want to keep that plan on the backburner.