Filtering equipment and supplies

Many times, your fermented brews will clear naturally with time. Store them in a glass carboy for example, and eventually solids will settle to the bottom and you can siphon or carefully pour off the cleared brew. 

This however takes time...sometimes many weeks! In order to speed the process, fining agents or filters can be used. This is more important with wine than with a wash which you will be distilling, but the cleaner the wash, the better quality you stand to achieve! See below for how to buy stone carbon as well as how to use clearing agents.

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Fining and Clearing Agents

Once your fermentation has finished, you want the clearest possible wash or mash to distill. Fining agents, such as Bentonite, Kieselsol or Irish moss will help speed the clearing action and let you distill sooner. Most come with instructions on how to use them, usually a tablespoon or two of each mixed into some of the liquid and allowed to settle out (a few hours to a day or so). Also, be sure to strain out solids such as grains before adding to your still. Solids can fall to the bottom and burn or scorch...not good for your still or your alcohol!

Using carbon to filter alcohol

After distillation, many alcohols will taste a bit harsh at first. This is due to the high proof or high alcohol content, but also because there are a certain amount of other compounds in the fresh distillate, including other alcohols and fusel oils. Activated carbon can be used to 'clean' the taste.

That's why many wines are aged for a year or more to 'smooth' this harshness before bottling. With liquor however, most often vodka or moonshine, activated carbon can speed the 'smoothing' process by removing some of the off flavours for you quickly.

If using an activated carbon, buy stone carbon, not others meant for aquarium or air filtration. These will not work as well for alcohol, and may indeed add more contaminants than they remove!

You can simply add the carbon to a container with your alcohol and shake it up a few times a day for a couple days. Then filter your alcohol through some coffee filters to remove it. 

Or you can make your own filter with tubular water pipe and pass the alcohol through the pipe. This is better, faster and more efficient. There is a design for such a filter in the book "How to Master Moonshine" by R.W. Marshall, as well as instructions for how to re-use your stone carbon.