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Why Copper is Used in Stills


If you consider purchasing or building a whiskey still be mindful of the materials it is or it will be built out of. Safety is still the top priority, the still should make you an alcohol that is free of toxic contaminants and substances. Then, your still should be able to withstand changes in temperature and perform it’s expected distilling duties with safety.

Stainless steel and copper are the most commonly used materials in distilling spirits although the latter is sworn to be the best choice by most hobby and commercial distillers. Copper has been used to construct stills since the moonshining tradition started in the Appalachian hills and this has thrived up to the modern age of producing alcohol.

There are a good number of reasons why copper is preferably used to construct stills:

  • Copper has been known to have excellent anti-corrosive properties which can defy and hold out harsh and changing weather conditions especially when distilling outdoors.
  • This metal is resilient but exceptionally ductile and malleable making it easy to be shaped and suitable in constructing alembics and customized still designs. 
  • Unlike stainless steel that is relatively a poor conductor, copper is a much effective material in heat transfer. It evenly distributes heat and efficiently cools down the vapor. 
  • Several scientific researches have been recorded to prove the antimicrobial ability of copper. Certain studies have consistently attested to such antimicrobial effects of copper compared to stainless steel.
  • Copper absorbs sulfur compounds and yeast cells produced during fermentation and prevents the production of ethyl carbonate, a toxic chemical formed from cyanides. These stuffs are totally undesirable in the distilled alcohol.
  • Although the fermented mash is not microbiologically perfect, copper will help improve the quality and aroma of the final distillate.

It could be said that copper stills are  the most ideal equipment in distilling spirits. They’re safe, effective and classic beauties, no wonder why a lot of distillers drool over copper stills.





Posted by Jason Stone on

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  • Can you please furnish details of the ideal physical & chemical composition of copper used for Distilling purpose. Early response would be highly appreciated.

    Surrinder Kumar on

  • Hi,
    I need to distill 62 gallons per week of Glycerin to bring it from 95% pure to 99.9% purity, or food grade. This Glycerin is a byproduct of making biodiesel and we need to market the Glycerin to those that use it, so therefore the need to purify it. This is not much volume, but it is the most we would ever produce and do not plan to expand.

    Our first choice is a used still where someone has upgraded their production. Hopefully you may have such a still available. Are your stills vacuum stills or not? Seemingly, a vacuum still is the direction we are leaning.

    I look forward to hearing from you.
    J. Wayne Watson
    Scottsdale, AZ

    J Wayne Watson on

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