Mother's Alcohol Fuel Cookbook

Before you can distill alcohol fuel to power your vehicles and heat your home, you have to know how to mix up a "mash."

| May/June 1979

When this publication interviewed Lance Crombie,  the Minnesota "homemade alcohol" pioneer expressed his hope that our article would inspire 100 other folks to set about distillin' fuel-quality (NOT drinking! ) "alky" to heat their homes, power their tractors and autos, and so forth.

Well, judging from the thousands of letters and phone calls that have poured into our offices over the past few months, Lance's goal has been met and then some! People all over the country are beginning to experiment with alcohol fuel, aka "farmer's fuel," and an overwhelming majority of the backyard researchers who've contacted us want to know how to go about preparing a" mash" (the to-be-distilled fermented mixture).

Fermentation Basics

Just about any type of organic matter can be fermented and distilled to produce alcohol, though some substances are better suited to this purpose than are others. It's essential that the basis for your mash contain either fermentable sugar or a material (such as starch or—with the addition of an extra step or two—cellulose) that can be transformed into a ready-to-be-fermented sugar.

We chose corn for our initial mash experiments because it's readily available, an excellent "raw material" for alcohol production, is fairly inexpensive to buy or produce, and leaves a residue that can be used as animal feed after the distillation is complete.

Fermentation (the process by which raw corn becomes mash) is simply the action of microscopic yeast fungi upon a sugar solution. The tiny "plants'' consume the sweet substance (which is either added to the mixture in the form of cane sugar, or "freed" from the corn itself by sprouting, or both) and give off carbon dioxide gas and alcohol.

However, a fully fermented mash mixture ready for distillation is only between 20 and 25 proof, the equivalent of 10% to 12.5% ethanol. Distillation will then drive the alcohol vapors out of the solution and allow them to condense in a purer (less diluted with water) form. Of course, much of the liquid mash will be left behind. Depending upon the type of still used, this leftover mixture can either be run through the apparatus again or simply drained off. (In a really efficient still, most of the liquid left after one "run" will be water.)

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