Copper Stills VS Stainless Steel Stills

Copper Stills VS Stainless Steel Stills

What’s up fellow alcoholic readers and enthusiasts, here today we tackle facts of the two primary forms of moonshine stills - the Copper and the Stainless Steel.

If you’re reading this here there’s a good chance you’ve already seen the traditional copper moonshine still.

However, there’s also an increasingly popular form of stainless steel stills that can be seen on the market that we would be remiss to not research and provide you with knowledge on the subject, at the end of the day we are here to provide you with the best help on distilling.

Let’s take a second to go over a few of the most brought up pros and cons of each,

Copper
Steel

Better conductor of heat

Poorer conductor of heat

More expensive

Less expensive

Chemically removes sulfites from spirits

Does not remove sulfides

Harder to clean

Easier to clean

Naturally antimicrobial

Prone to mash ‘sticking’

If not kept clean and polished, can get dull colored over time

When well kept, easier to keep shiny


At first glance it can be hard to distinguish the superior form of metal, both have very good selling points. Compelling arguments can be made equally for both.

From a traditional standpoint, moonshine stills were made almost exclusively from copper. One of the main reasons for this is it is a much easier metal to work with than steel. This tied with the fact that the copper does a really good job of naturally removing sulfites that form during the fermentation process, it provides for a much cleaner, smoother spirit.

Copper also is a notoriously excellent heat conductor. Noted by its use in electrical wires, it has the ability to heat up and cool down rapidly, which can be useful in the heating up of your pot but also in the cooling and condensing of the gaseous ethanol through the worm coil.

However, copper is also a natural metal that has to be located and purified, a process that makes it more expensive than steel with the current copper price being approximately $2.83 per pound, nearly double the cost of stainless steel at around $1.49 per pound.

One of the previous benefits of chemically reacting to sulfites can also be a detriment over time, with copper becoming dull colored if not properly cared for - that being said it’s definitely a good idea no matter what still you have to thoroughly clean and scrub it after each use.

Stainless steel can be an attractive option because of the price, something the US has been effectively mass producing for a good long time. It’s also much stronger and tougher - steel is not easily manipulated or bent.

This also leads it to being a poorer conductor of heat, requiring more time to heat up and cool down, as well as sometimes harder to evenly distribute the heat which can lead to problems of mash sticking and potentially burning in the pot.

This being said, it is always a good idea to keep an eye on the temperature of your pot and manually make sure the heat is regulated well.

In essence, it's a battle between the old “if it ain't broke don't fix it” aspect of the classic copper stills and a “the future is now” adage of the stainless steel stills.

Personally, the bias here is stronger towards copper stills but the potential benefits of the stainless steel stills lead to some interesting options on the market for sure.

Perhaps if Popcorn Sutton himself had the opportunity he would have tried out the illustrious stainless steel himself, but from what we know he exclusively used copper.

All this in mind, pursue whatever option looks better to you, some stainless steel stills that looked promising can be found below, 

Ebay top choice

Amazon top choice

Thats all for now folks, hope you learned something and as always, happy stilling!

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