There’s a chance that the remains of yeast might burn when heated in a distillation still, eventually spoiling the taste and smell of your moonshine. Clarification of wash before distillation minimizes the risk of ruining organoleptic properties of the distillate. The most commonly used substances for clarification are bentonite (recommended), gelatin or hibiscus tea, but these are not always at hand. You can clarify sugar wash with a more accessible substance—citric acid.

Theory. Acidic conditions prevent yeast from working, making it fall out in a form of sediment at the bottom of the fermentation tank. It’s easier and safer to create acidic conditions at home by adding citric acid to the wash. But it’s crucial to return the ph-balance of the liquid to a neutral level before proceeding with distillation by extinguishing excess acid with baking soda or chalk. Otherwise, the moonshine will be acidic with vinegar aftertaste after distillation.

Clarification with citric acid can be used only for sugar wash due to the aggressive effect on the fragrance. If you want to keep the smell of moonshine don’t use this clarification method for grain and especially fruit wash.

Clarification Technology

Ingredients for 10 liters of wash:

  • Citric acid – 0.9 oz/25 grams (1 flat tablespoon)
  • Baking soda or pounded chalk – 1 tablespoon

The acid can be replaced with freshly squeezed lemon juice. One fruit of medium size contains up to o.2 oz/5-6 grams of acid.

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Decant the fermented wash by pouring it into another vessel without touching the sediment layer at the bottom.
  2. Degas the mash mechanically by stirring it with a stick or using a drill with a nozzle (only in a plastic container), until you get rid of the carbon dioxide smell. You can finish degassing with a drill in 3-7 minutes depending on the volume. The manual way takes several times longer.

Warning! You can clarify only fermented wash because the addition of acid will stop fermentation, making all sugar not recycled by yeast disappear. Pre-degassing increases clarification efficiency by 2-3 times.

  1. Dilute citric acid with the same amount of water. Mix them in a 1:1 ratio. Add this mixture to the wash, mix, and then seal tightly. Squeezed and strained undiluted lemon juice should be added immediately after that.
  2. Leave the vessel in a dark place with a room or cool temperature (it shouldn’t be sub-zero, though) for 5 hours.
  3. Decant the clarified wash through a tube or funnel.
  4. Add baking soda or chalk to the wash and mix. Leave the vessel open for 10 minutes.
  5. Distill the wash. It is preferable to perform the heating to 50-60°C with an open lid, stirring from time to time to remove carbon dioxide, which formed after baking soda or chalk reacted with citric acid.