Making rubbing alcohol sounds like something you’d need a table full of beakers and glass tubes for, doesn’t it? Fortunately, it’s far easier than most think. Good thing, too!
After all, one of the worst things that can happen to a homesteader or survivalist is having few medical supplies. But if you love being prepared, then you’re going to love this easy recipe to product your own disinfectant. Let’s get to work making some rubbing alcohol.
Rubbing alcohol is a relatively cheap commodity and can be made relatively easily in a modern lab. However, making store quality disinfectant is a dangerous and EXPLOSIVE endeavor. Let’s take the road that leads to far less pain, shall we?
In this recipe, we will be making ethanol rubbing alcohol? Please realize that while this will create the same kind of alcohol found in beer, I implore you not to make the mistake so many blind moonshiners made! This is not for drinking.
Making ethanol has a variety of uses, outside of just medical. Ethanol can be further refined to make a cheap renewable energy source. This fuel can power some generators (with a little tweaking) and even be refined as a replacement for diesel. How cool is that?! Of course, that would require you to make large quantities of it, thus depleting your sugar supply rather quickly.
Alternatively, you could get your own sugar cane and harvest your own small crop. This would simply mean picking up a stalk of sugar cane from your local farmer supply (or online). You will be ready to harvest in about 7-8 months, depending on where you live, of course.
You will need the following:
- Roughly 2 pounds of white sugar (preferably not bleached).
- 1 gallon of water, purified if possible.
- 2 empty water jugs made of HDPE plastic (simply look at the mark on the bottom of the jug), or a glass drinking jug.
- 1 jar of simple baker’s yeast.
- About 2 ½ feet of coiled copper tubing (not as expensive as you might think).
- A bowl of cold water or ice big enough to hold your container (this is not a necessary step but it helps speed up the process).
- 1 thermometer.
- 1 funnel.
- Duct tape.
As with any process like this, make sure all of your items are sterilized and cleaned. Boiling water works just fine.
To get started, add 3 teaspoons of yeast into the first jug and simply pour in your 2 pounds of sugar. (Be sure to use your funnel.) There is no need to get messy. Now, take your thermometer and hold it under your running hot water from your tap. Simply adjust the knobs until your water reaches 115 degrees, and fill the jug to about 3 inches from the top. This gives the yeast a wider surface area to work with, as well as helps break down the sugars faster. Shake or stir well to ensure that all of the yeast is broken up into the solution.
The Fermentation Process
Now, put on the lid, making sure not to screw it on enough for an air seal to form, but enough to let the Co2 being created inside the container to escape. Set it in a warm dark place, preferably on the top shelf of a cupboard that isn’t used often. Allow it to ferment for at least 2 weeks. Although you may not enjoy the idea, you will have to give it the ol’ sniff test to judge for yourself if it is fermented enough. The longer you ferment the mixture the stronger your ethanol will be.
Let’s Make Some Ethanol
At the end of the 2-week period, simply remove the solution and pour it into the second container. Prepare a pot big enough to hold your gallon jug, with some room left over. Now, fill the pot with water to the point where it won’t boil over.
Take your jug lid and cut a precise and even hole in the middle, big enough for your tubing. Insert one end of the tubing into the lid and screw it on. From here, you duct tape it down snuggly so there is no chance of the vapors escaping your container.
Turn on your stove to a high point in order to bring it to a boil. Once boiling, turn it down to maintain a low bubble so your water doesn’t evaporate around the jug too quickly. It is best to keep a watchful eye on the water and refill as necessary.
Remember to do the same for the other end of the tubing when attaching it to your other container. Set your other container in your bowl of either very cold water or preferably ice. Adjust how it sits until you are comfortable it won’t fall over. Continue boiling until all of your sugar solution has evaporated and condensed into your second container. This will possibly take a day or so!
If you smell any vapors during this process, then simply add more tape until you are positive there is an airtight seal on both ends. The result should yield a clear liquid that burns blue and clear when lit. Congratulations: You’ve created your first batch of ethanol.
Seal it in an air-tight container, and then shelve for later use as your disinfectant.
I hope this tidbit of self-reliance has bolstered your confidence.
Have you ever made rubbing alcohol from scratch? Share your tips in the section below: