Why is home distillation illegal in many countries, while homebrewing is legal?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by not, Dec 17, 2014.

  1. not

    not New Member

    First of all, I think home distillation should be legal as long as it's for private use.

    But, I thought of a good rationale for homebrewing / winemaking / etc. to be legal while distillation remains illegal.

    Homebrewing and winemaking can happen by accident. Indeed, it very likely will happen by accident in any case where a sugary liquid is exposed to the air, or to fruit, or grain, or any number of other sources of wild yeast and bacteria. Spontaneous fermentation happens. Is it reasonable to ask your citizens to discard the results of a natural process that takes place in their home, simply because the result includes alcohol? Most reasonable people (and all True Scotsmen) would say no.

    A similar rationale can be applied to freeze concentration, which is also generally viewed as legal.

    But, distillation is not a natural process. It is an intentional man-made process which implies an intent to manufacture an alcoholic beverage.

    So, that's where they're drawing the line. Is it reasonable? I say no, but I can see how some True Scotsmen might say yes. Similar to how the line is drawn between allowing poppies to grow in your yard, and harvesting opium from those poppies (no comment on whether or not I think that ought to be legal).
  2. passedpawn

    passedpawn New Member

    I think distilling is still illegal due to the flammability of the product and the fact that noxious components are part of the process. It's also possible that taxes and corporate politics are involved, but since that would also apply to homebrewing, it's less of an argument now.

    I doubt that the organic nature of brewing has anything to do with its legality. Pot is still (mostly) illegal, and it's as natural as the grass in my front lawn.
  3. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member

    That was going to be my point. I don't think it has anyhting to do with natural or not.

    Private distillation on a large scale can cause food shortages. That's what I feel it boils down to. A farmer can grow his crop and sell it for a little, or he can turn it into liquor and sell it for a lot. It's human nature to want more.

    I could be way off on that, but I've been thinking of it a lot lately.
  4. meatheadinc

    meatheadinc Super Moderator

    ethanol is a poison
    ethanol is flammable
    beer and wine are not made at a proof that is "too" dangerous

    The distillation process can be dangerous in itself if done incorrectly (think fire etc)
    bad cuts can concentrate fractions and if recycled could be concentrated to a dangerous level ( again only if undertaken incorrectly)

    For vodka Neutral production, ethanol is produced at 95% (190 proof)
    Alcohol consumed above 70%abv can cause necrosis of the tissue in the mouth and throat etc.
    High proof alcohol can easily cause poisoning
    There are problems with storage of alcohol ( flammable)
    Ageing strength is usally 60% upward.
    Alcohol at 40% (80proof) is still flammable under the right circumstances
    Production and storage of by products -- foreshots - spent grain

    Yes tax revenue may be a factor, but distilling is a lot more dangerous than beer brewing and the practice should not be taken lightly and in my belief safety is a big factor in the legalisation [/QUOTE]
  5. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member

    You can mishandle chicken. That can kill people, but that's not illegal. Well, it is to an extent.

    I just don't see an inherent danger that can be negated through proper action as being grounds for a prohibition.

    Prohibitions are dangerous, often more so than what they are prohibiting.
  6. sudsmcgee

    sudsmcgee New Member

    Yet I can buy a gallon of gasoline and burn it as I see fit? Is alcohol somehow magically not flammable when it's commercially made? The laws have little to do with safety.
  7. meatheadinc

    meatheadinc Super Moderator

    Commercial operations are highly regulated for safety including Location, zoning, storage, transport, fire safety waste disposal etc.

    I am for home distillation and have been involved in the hobby for some time.
    Working in Regulation and compliance, I can offer some insight into the stupidity and pedantic nature of government regulation. ... (the reason I have no hair)

    I believe that forums like this are, or will be monitored by authorities, and constructive posts detailing procedures and practices for safe operation can be beneficial to the cause.

    Safety discussion and mitigation can also help to appease (educate) the poor ( incorrect)pubic perception of the hobby eg. exploding stills, poisoning.

    Taxation may be an aspect of legalisation/ Decriminalisation but so is safety of yourself and the public. For progress on the matter, all aspects should be addressed
  8. Tiberius

    Tiberius New Member

    Could it have something to do with the fact that distilled (concentrated) alcohol takes up less space and has less mass than the equivalent beer/wine? (e.g. 12 oz beer = 5 oz. wine = 1.5 oz spirit) Say home distilling were legal, perhaps they wouldn't trust home distillers to not transport and sell, since it would be easier to conceal? Not that this is the stance I come from, but just a thought.
  9. Firetender

    Firetender New Member

    If it had anything to do with “Safety”, then it would be illegal for my wife to cook lunch in the kitchen, my machine shop would sit idle, I couldn’t use my chainsaw for firewood…….. Nope, it’s all about taxes, and the lobby that represents the large commercial distilleries. Once the public became aware of the superior quality of “craft made” spirits, the complexion of commercially distilled spirits would be forced to change……. $ $ $ $ $ . In the end, it’s all about the money.
  10. masonsjax

    masonsjax New Member

    If you think the prohibition on home distilling has anything to do with anything besides money, you are mistaken. There are a million ways to accidentally injure/kill yourself and everyone around you, most of them easier than using a still and most of them perfectly legal. The legal system is embarrassingly broken and could use a reboot.
  11. Frodo

    Frodo old fart


    flamable liquid, mixing, pouring yes sir, distilling could be dangerous

    oh...excuse me, i meant mixing fuel for my chain saw,, could be dangerous.

    i guess I better use common since and be carefull.

    oh oh....when I change out a fuel pump on a truck. drop the tank, and pull the pump. do i need a lisence?

    maybe i outta disconnect the battery, common since strikes again.

    if you burn your self up
    it aint nothing but nature getting rid of the stupid, i think its called evo-lution

    gubment is like p- wussey, big is sloppy little is better
  12. ozarks-Irishman

    ozarks-Irishman New Member

    Money, money, that's the reason, lost revenue due to lost taxes. Fortunately, some states take a more liberal outlook. Missouri allows distilling for private consumption, despite being federally forbidden. I figure they got their hands full enough with drug prevention to bother a home distillery...that's my story and I'm stickin with it.
  13. meatheadinc

    meatheadinc Super Moderator

    hope no one thinks this is safe.

    distillation in plastic bags with electric element :eek::mad:


    making a wash, and inserting elements

    and this idiot even states that's its for sale.