How to Make Wood Alcohol Through Distillation

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All of your scrap wood and paper clippings can be turned into a fuel source that you can use around your home. Distilling wood is an excellent way to turn old scraps in to something useful again. Methanol or wood alcohol is the liquid chemical that wood gives off when it is distilled. It is used in antifreeze and it can be used to produce biodiesel as well.

    Obtain a heat source for your distilling. This could be a fire pit or a propane or natural gas burner. You can also use an electric burner.

    Mount a large pot over the temperature source. Put a thermometer in the pot to track the temperature of the wood and water mixture. The thermometer will be important for making sure the temperature of the mixture stays at the right level throughout the distillation.

    Obtain a condenser tube and drill a hole in the lid of your pot that is sized to the tube. A condenser tube is a metal tube that the alcohol travels through as it evaporates. Attach the condenser tube to your lid.

    Attach the other end of your condenser to an additional pot or bucket that will serve as your holding container. Ensure that this container is covered to prevent the loss of alcohol.

    Place your wood shavings in to the pot and fill with water. Heat it until you reach 78.3 degrees Celsius and keep it at that temperature. As the wood breaks down, it will release alcohol into the condenser tube and slowly drip down into your holding container. You can distill the alcohol again to improve its purity.

    Things You'll Need

    • A fire pit or propane burner
    • A large metal pot with a lid
    • Cooking thermometer
    • Metal tube
    • Wood and paper shavings
    • Metal container


    • Perform this procedure outdoors in a well-ventilated area. Wear protective gear and stand away from the pot while the wood is distilling.