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 F.A.Q.   
FAQ's - Frequently Asked Questions.... and Answers
The FAQ's are and will always be, a work-in-progress. This section of this website is frequently updated to provide answers to the questions our customers are asking. Please visit this page frequently to learn more about this hobby.


What is fermentation?
Is fermentation legal?
What is distillation?
Is home distillation legal?
What is involved in getting a licence to do home distillation?
What should I do to get the best results from fermentation?
Is Turbo Yeast different to wine or beer yeasts?
Is there an advantage in making my own home-made liquor?
Is it complicated to make my own liquor?
Is there a disadvantage in making my own liquor?
Are the mixing instructions for all essences the same?
Is there a "waiting period" after I mix the essence with the liquor base before it is ready for use?
How does the cost of home-made liqueurs compare with the prices of liqueurs sold in liquor stores?
What is an hydrometer?
What is an alcoholmeter?
What is the "bad alcohol" that can be dangerous?
What is the "good stuff"?
How do I avoid drinking Methyl Alcohol?
Can the alcohol base (after fermentation) be kept for some time?
How much liquor does one bottle of essence make?
How much alcohol can one bag of activated carbon purify?
Can activated carbon be used more than once?
How is activated carbon re-activated after use?
Is a water filter suitable for alcohol filtration?
Is a wine filter suitable for purifying alcohol?
How do I use my Essential Extractor to distill water?
Why does my distilled water have an unpleasant taste?
Can a water distiller produce quality alcohol?
Can the alcohol distilled in a water-distiller be improved?
Why does my distilled alcohol turn milky?

What is fermentation?
Fermentation is a natural microbiological process whereby yeast converts sugar into alcohol. Under ideal conditions, fermentation can produce up to 20+% alcohol.




Is fermentation legal?
Since it is a natural biological process, the fermentation process obeys nature's laws, not the laws of man. In Canada, home fermentation of wine and beer is perfectly legal for personal consumption. We are not knowledgable about the laws of all the countries in the world so we cannot say exactly where it may, or may not, be permitted.




What is distillation?
Distillation is the concentration of a substance by evaporation and subsequent condensation to yield a refined and concentrated product. Distillation is the process used to extract essential oils in the manufacture of perfumes and essences. Distillation can also be used to produce very pure water or alcohol which might be used as a fuel or an exceptionally pure alcohol to make alcoholic beverages.





Is home distillation legal?
The answer depends upon your location and what is being distilled. Generally, distillling water or extracting essential oils by distillation is unregulated.
Some countries permit the home distillation of alcohol for liquor without a licence. In Canada it is not permitted. Some countries permit home distillation by licensed operators for the production of alcohol as a fuel.





What is involved in getting a licence to do home distillation?
Frankly, we cannot answer that question. In Canada, each province or territory makes its own legislation regarding liquor in addition to federal legislation. No two provinces are alike. We have not researched the requirements in the various jurisdictions. We have no information on the requirements in other countries.





What should I do to get the best results from fermentation?
Firstly, follow the instructions that came with the yeast!!!

Then, make sure that the fermenting mash is at the correct temperature. The yeast becomes intolerant of alcohol at higher temperatures. At low temperatures, the fermentation will be exceedingly slow, or may even stop.

Fermentation should be done in a primary fementer that seals with a rubber gasket and is fitted with an airlock. In the presence of oxygen, yeast will multiply rapidly but will produce very little alcohol. If oxygen is excluded, the yeast will convert the sugar into alcohol. So, if you want to make alcohol, don't peek! Don't open the lid until fermentation is complete.





Is Turbo Yeast different to wine or beer yeasts?
Yes!!! Very, very different.

Click on "Turbo Yeasts" on the left side of this page to get more information.





Is there an advantage in making my own home-made liquor?
Yes! There are several advantages...... some that are not so obvious.

Until you've tried it, you may be surprised to find that your home-made liquor is probably better than what you presently buy in a liquor store!

You will save money! You can make your own liquor for a small fraction of the price you pay in a liquor store.

Unless you live in a large metropolitan area, your liquor store probably doesn't carry the wide selection of liquors that you can make with our Prestige essences.
Making your own liquor not only saves you money but is a fascinating and fun hobby.





Is it complicated to make my own liquor?
It's very, very easy.

You can make professional-quality liqueurs from your very first attempt. We supply European Connection Liqueur Kits that are used to make the alcohol base. If you follow the simple instructions, add water and sugar, you'll have an unflavoured liqueur base of 20+% alcohol, ready for you to add your favourite essence, sugar and, if required, cream.

Voila! Your home-made liqueurs will be as good as commercial liqueurs, perhaps even better!





Is there a disadvantage in making my own liquor?
None at all if you're making liquor from the "base" that you've produced by fermentation.

If you make liquor by illicit distillation, you risk legal penalties.





Are the mixing instructions for all essences the same?
No. If you're making whisky, rum or vodka, etc. you will not need to add sugar to the product. However, if you're making a regular liqueur, you will need to add sugar (not the same quantity for each liqueur). Of course, if you're making a cream liqueur, then you'll also have to add cream to make the liqueur.

All bottles of essences have mixing directions on the label. In addition, we will soon be making available our online "Mixing Wizard" to guide you through the mixing process.





Is there a "waiting period" after I mix the essence with the liquor base before it is ready for use?
No. The product is ready for immediate consumption but it will improve if kept for 24 hours.





How does the cost of home-made liqueurs compare with the prices of liqueurs sold in liquor stores?
Liquor store prices (in Canada) for liqueurs are usually $18 to $26 (plus taxes) per bottle.

Using our European Connection Liqueur Kit and Prestige essences, it will cost between $3.50 and $4.50 per bottle to make your own liqueurs.

Makes you think, doesn't it?





What is an hydrometer?
An hydrometer is an instrument used to determine the relative density of a fluid. For example, to measure the relative density of a sugar/water mixture before and after fermentation. The scale is usually in S.G. (Specific Gravity) units where 1.000 is the S.G. of pure water. Some hydrometers also have a scale to indicate the potential percentage alcohol that can be achieved if all of the sugar in the mash is converted into alcohol.

A reading of less than 1.000 is usually an indication that the sugar in the mash has been converted to alcohol. It is NOT an indication of the percentage alcohol in the wash. It could be used to indicate the concentration of alcohol but ONLY in a mixture of pure water and pure alcohol.





What is an alcoholmeter?
An alcoholmeter is an instrument based on the same principle as an hydrometer but the scale shows percentage alcohol and not Specific Gravity.

It reads correctly ONLY when used in a mixture of pure water and pure alcohol.
If used with the wash resulting from fermentation, it will NOT read correctly as there are other substances in the wash (unfermented sugar, yeast nutrients, etc.) that will cause the density of the wash to be elevated and the percentage alcohol shown on the alcoholmeter will be below the actual percentage alcohol of the wash.





What is the "bad alcohol" that can be dangerous?
That's Methyl Alcohol (Methanol) and is not to be consumed.





What is the "good stuff"?
That's Ethyl Alcohol (Ethanol).





How do I avoid drinking Methyl Alcohol?
Most fermentations used in liquor production yield very small quantities of Methyl Alcohol and very much larger quantities of Ethyl Alcohol. When this is consumed, the much larger amount of Ethyl Alcohol protects the body from the adverse effects of the very small amount of Methyl Alcohol.

It is possible to separate the Methyl Alcohol from the Ethyl Alcohol by distillation.
Ethyl Alcohol boils at 78.3 degrees Celsius at sea-level and Methyl Alcohol boils at 65.2 degrees Celsius at sea-level. Thus, when distilling, the first distillate coming from the condenser will be largely Methyl Alcohol and should be discarded. The Ethyl Alcohol that follows will be fit for consumption.





Can the alcohol base (after fermentation) be kept for some time?
Once fermentation is completed (no more bubbling), you should allow the wash to clear, then siphon off the clear liquid and discard the sediment (lees).
The clear wash can be kept indefinitely if a sealed bottle. You can remove just the quantity you want and add any of our essences.





How much liquor does one bottle of essence make?
Each bottle of essence is sufficient to flavour one bottle (750ml / 26 fl oz) of liquor.





How much alcohol can one bag of activated carbon purify?
The answer depends on the degree of contamination before filtration begins.
We supply all of our activated carbons in bags that contain 1.7 litres. This is the quantity required to fill our Industrial Quality filter.
We recommend that you do NOT collect all of the filtrate in one large container. Instead, collect the filtrate in a series of sequentially-numbered plastic pop bottles. When filtration is completed, use bottle # 1 as your control and compare others with it. When you determine a drop-off in quality, that will indicate that the carbon was then saturated with impurities. Any alcohol of a poor quality can be added to the next batch for filtration.





Can activated carbon be used more than once?
That depends on the particular characteristics of the specific carbon. Generally, hard carbons, such as those made from stone coal or coconut shells, can be re-activated and this allows them to be used over and over. That helps to keeps costs down.
Softer carbons, such as those made from peat or wood are not suitable for re-activation as the granules would become pulverised during the re-activation process.





How is activated carbon re-activated after use?
The used carbon (must be a hard carbon such as stone coal) is boiled in water for 15 - 20 minutes until it no longer smells. It is then drained in a very fine sieve and then dried on a roasting pan or dish.
Once dry, the carbon is heated in an electric (not gas) oven and held at 150 C (300 F) for 2 - 3 hours. Once it cools, it is ready for re-use. During re-activation, flammable vapours and unpleasant smells will be driven out of the carbon. Be sure that no source of ignition is present. Open the windows and use an exhaust fan, if available.





Is a water filter suitable for alcohol filtration?
Generally, water filters are not ideal for filtering alcohol. They rely on the pressure of the water supply to force the water through activated carbon but, unless you have a means of pressurising your alcohol through the filter, it will not be very effective.




What measurement is a "cl" or "dl"?
The abreviation "cl" and "dl" stand for centilitre and decilitre respectively. Although Canada is (nominally) metricated, those particular measurements are not used but the litre and millilitre are commonly used.
1 Litre (L) = 1000 millilitres (ml)
1 centilitre (cl) = 10 millilitres (ml)
1 decilitre (dl) = 100 millilitres (ml)
A more comprehensive set of conversion tables will be added to our website in the near future.



Is a wine filter suitable for purifying alcohol?
No! Wine filters using filter pads to remove solids from the wine but they are NOT suitable for removing odours and flavours.





How do I use my Essential Extractor to distill water?
Add 20 - 25 litres of water to the kettle.
Attach the column, but do not fill the column with Raschig rings.
Insert the bung with thermometer.
Connect the cold water supply to the inlet at the bottom of the condenser.
Connect a discharge hose to the warm water outlet at the top of the condenser and lead the discharged water to a drain.
Turn your heat-source to high and when steam (very hot! - beware!) comes out of the condenser, run cold water through the condenser.
The condensate will be pure distilled water.
Stop distillation whilst there is still at least 5 litres of water in the kettle.



Why does my distilled water have an unpleasant taste?
Assuming that your Essential Extractor was clean before you began the distillation, the only reason for any odour or flavour in distilled water must have come from the original undistilled water.
We have experienced this ourselves and we finally tracked down the culprit. We were filling the kettle using a regular garden hose and the hose was tainting the water. This off-odour and unpleasant flavour was eliminated when we stopped using the garden hose and switched to a hose made of food-grade plastic.



Can a water distiller produce quality alcohol?
No!
It can certainly distill alcohol but it is designed to efficiently produce pure water. Thus, there is no reflux and the quality of alcohol will be significantly degraded.





How much alcohol can be filtered before the activated carbon is saturated?
There is no simple answer to this question as the degree of purity (or contamination) of YOUR alcohol is unknown. If it's very clean, the carbon will filter lots before it is saturated but if your alcohol is relatively dirty, the carbon will become saturated much sooner.

We recommend that when you filter a batch of alcohol, you do NOT collect all of the filtrate in one large container.

It is preferable to collect the filtrate in sequentially-numbered one-litre pop bottles and, since the first one filled will contain alcohol that passed through new carbon, it must be as good as it gets. Keep this bottle as a control for all future comparisons.

When you've done your filtration, compare the odour and taste of the contents of bottle one with bottle two, then bottle three, bottle four etc, etc until you notice a drop-off in quality.

Everything collected before that point is clean but everything thereafter needs re-filtering through fresh carbon.

This will give you a very good idea of how much alcohol you can clean up with a pack of carbon.



Can the alcohol distilled in a water-distiller be improved?
Yes, indeed!
If it is filtered through an activated carbon filter, it will be improved by 100% to 150%.





Why does my distilled alcohol turn milky?
Your alcohol has been contaminated with congeners (fusel alcohols) during distillation. This occurs when you continue collecting distillate even after the "tails" are being condensed.
These oily-like substances are soluble in highly-concentrated alcohol and are then invisible but if the alcohol is then diluted, these substances are no longer entirely soluble in the dilute solution and form an emulsion that makes the alcohol appear milky.
Re-distillation is the way to remedy this problem.

Alternatively, the water used in your fermentation or dilution of distilled alcohol, may be very hard and some of the chemicals may precipitate out and form the milky or cloudy appearance.
The remedy is to use better-quality water such as water purified by the reverse-osmosis method and which can be bought at many grocery stores or specialised water stores.





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