Moonshine is described as being an extremely strong, homemade alcoholic drink. It has developed a cult following over the years throughout parts of North America. Generally, Moonshine is manufactured using very small-scale stills in remote locations. This is because moonshine producers want to avoid the legal ramifications of obtaining a commercial still license. If you are addicted to moonshine, please seek treatment for alcohol addiction.
Stills are constructed of either copper or steel, and a water filled barrel with copper tubing used as a condenser. This kind of still is widely used because of its simple construction and history within the moonshining community. Today, there are various do-it-yourself still models online for sale. However, these new moonshine methods can be potentially dangerous. When fermenting yeast and sugar together methanol can be a byproduct and pollute the moonshine with toxic levels of the gas.
Moonshine is made drinkable by the removal of what is called 'foreshot'. Foreshot denotes the first couple ounces of alcohol that spills from the condenser at the beginning of production. These first few drips contain most, but hopefully all, of the methanol in the corn mash. It also holds small amounts of other toxic compounds such as acetone and aldehydes.
Another reason moonshine production is dangerous is the ever present risk of an explosion. Any alcohol that is at least 80 proof, defined as being 40% alcohol by volume, can ignite. This is particularly true during the distillation process when vaporized alcohol can seep into the air if there is not good ventilation. Moonshine is also sometimes combined with lye or beading oil to increase its potency. This is extremely hazardous, however, as this poisonous mixture has been shown to cause blindness or even death.
The method moonshiners employ to test the worth of their batch is to pour a small amount onto a spoon and set it on fire. Safe moonshine will burn with a blue flame while a contaminated batch will burn yellow. Although this test does potentially reveal the presence of toxic lead, it does not uncover the potential presence of methanol which burns invisibly.
Moonshining was an established practice very early on in American history. After the American Revolution, the United States was struggling to pay for the expenses of a long war. The idea they came up with was to implement a new federal tax on liquor. Having just fought a war to get away from oppressive British taxes, the people were not very excited with this new tariff. Moonshining came about when people chose to start producing their own whiskey, disregarding the new federal tax. Fight your alcohol addiction.
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For early moonshiners, producing and selling their own alcohol was not just for excitement. Some survived by turning a bad year of farming corn into lucrative whiskey making. The extra income made their callous frontier lives more bearable. Revenuers, who were commissioned federal agents, were routinely attacked, tarred and feathered when they showed up in town to collect taxes.
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