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The Survival Podcast

EPISODE:      755
DATE:      October 4, 2011



Did you know that you can legally and inexpensively make your own alcohol based fuels at home. Today Steven Harris joins us to discuss doing just that!
We start off with the easiest method by using sugar and move onto ways to cut the cost to almost nothing such as getting left over bread, cola syrup, old doughnuts, etc as feed sources for your yeast.
Steven is also giving away five free copies of Alcohol Can Be A Gas by David Blume which the absolute bible on making your own alcohol based fuels. You can enter that contest at
Making alcohol based fuels is actually very easy and in fact Steven describes it as the “second oldest profession known to man”. If anchorite Sumerians could make beer from spoiled barley gruel surly anyone can learn to basically do the same thing today.

Join Us Today As We Discuss…

* What exactly is alcohol based fuel made up of
* Can it be run safely in modern engines
* What are the best sources of material for making your own alcohol fuels
* How can you make your own fuel tomorrow in your own home with less than a 250 dollar start cost
* What is the difference between ethanol and methanol
* The good, bad and ugly of using corn as a fuel stock
* A laundry list of just about everything that you can use to make alcohol fuels with
* How to get a free permit for making alcohol fuel
* How you could make your own consumable alcohol if the SHTF – currently illegal
* The stuff a brewer has to worry about that a fuel maker can totally ignore
<intro/housekeeping 0:00 - 5:40>

Jack Spirko: With that, we have the house keeping wrapped up.  It is my great pleasure introduce, again one of our most popular guests of all time Mr Steven Harris. Hey Steven, welcome to The Survival Podcast yet again.

Steven Harris: Jack I am thrilled be here. I just love your show, love your audience and I got so many of my people who've told me that they have just fallen in love with your show, and listen to it everyday now.

Jack Spirko: I  appreciate that and I appreciate you coming back we really probably more feedback from your episodes then just about anybody else that has been on the show. Your defiantly a top 5 all time, as far as audience embracement. I think it is because you bring us real stuff that we can actually do. I think that is a big part of people listening to the TSP for, is not just how to think or whats going on out there but what they can actually do in there own lives. So today you are hear to talk to us about making alcohol fuels. Leading off here, is it a reasonable thing for the lone person sitting in there house to think that they can actually make a difference in there fuel requirements doing this?



Steven Harris: Yeah, as my friend David Blum the author of book "Alcohol Can Be a Gas" says, "Making alcohol is so old it is the second oldest profession in the world"

Jack Spirko: <Laughs> I guess next to prostitution.

Steven Harris: Prostitution would be the first oldest profession in the world and making alcohol would be the second oldest profession. This goes back to 8000 years ago of the times of the Egyptians, of making basic beers. Making alcohol fuel is pretty straight forward. Basically you can do it 2 ways. You take starch based products such as corn, wheat, rye, or barley. You mix it with an enzyme which in this case would be malted barley and that converts the starches over to sugars, which is our goal. You ferment the sugars and you make alcohol. Of course we can cheat all that in the modern world by taking sugar and adding yeast, I mean get Red Star® baking yeast, in a 5 gallon container. It will make a 14% solution of ethanol alcohol. Or you can use molasses, which you can by on the surplus market. You can get Coke syrup surplus which is flushed down the drain in many bottling plants. Is a great source of sugar, that is not good for us, but the yeast just love it. They turn it into alcohol. There are a whole other variety of source that I'll get into with you, that are free sources for getting feed stock. That you can make all the alcohol fuel that you could possibly want.



Jack Spirko: You are just making me think. As a brewer we often use corn sugar, in powered form, for carbonation because it ferments quickly and cleanly. We might even do a all malt beer that we are very proud of and still a lot of us will use a half a cup of corn sugar at bottling time. That is very cheap as well. We can get into the in's and out's of whether corn make since for bio fuels in a bit. There are tons of soars of cheap sugar out there. If you have cheap sugar, with a little bit of enzymes added to make sure the yeast are healthy and get done with what there doing. Fermentation is as simple as letting things happen. As a brewer there is a whole plethora of things we were talking about off line, that I have to worry about. If you are going to make this stuff to dump into a car you don't really care.


Steven Harris: You got to worry about your bucket being perfectly sanitized and not being open to air for too long, because there is yeast in the air. Those yeast will get into your bucket. They'll compete with your alcohol producing yeast and they'll through off your flavor. You got to be a the right temperature. We don't care, we through in starch, we heat it up, we throw in the enzyme, we get our sugars, we cool it down, we throw in the yeast, close up the bucket, put a fermentation lock on it, and let it start bubbling. Whether there is some bad yeast in there, it doesn't matter because we going to distill the whole... We are not going to drink the wash. That is called the wash. We're not going to drink the wash, but we are going to distill the wash and get the alcohol out of it. No matter what you read about rums and vodkas and all the other stuff. Everything distilled is vodka. whisky, rum, bourbon, are nothing but vodka but into chard barrels for many years. Between 3 and 9 years. They get their color and there flavor from the chard wood, in the generally oak barrels.



Jack Spirko: It is really an interesting process how that works. They put these things in these great big chard barrels as temperature changes the alcohol and the vodka if you want to call it, the alcohol beverage is forces into the pores of the wood and back out, many many times over that aging period. The type of oak the source grain. Jack Daniels is a sour mash. Which means they take some sour, 3% of the old mash and add it to the new mash. There are all these different that create the different flavors. In the end the process is fermented gain, into alcohol and it is always the same. It is just what you do with it during and after the process that changes its flavor and nuance.


Steven Harris: Correct. Everything being distilled is going to be basically pure alcohol. which is going to be generically termed as vodka. There are more details we what we call the heads and the tails, what comes out first what comes out of the middle and what last. For the purpose of making a whisky or a vodka to drink your concerned with that is coming out first, which you through away. If you are making an alcohol fuel you are not concerned with what comes out first, middle, and last because it all burns.

Jack Spirko: Correct. You mentioned 14% and there some distillers yeast that your can get from midwest supply, that will handle alcohol tolerances up over 20%.

Steven Harris: 24%, the record right now is about 24%. but it might take 7 to 14 days to reach that. The easiest thing for people starting to use, is just to use Red Star oven bread yeast. That will get you to 14% in 7 to 10 days, if your bucket is around 80 - 85 degrees fahrenheit. Then you can graduate into the more exotic yeast. You can go down to your local champagne yeast, which i think is E1118 but it says "high alcohol champagne yeasts". That will get you to 18%. Then you can get into some of the more exotics, which are called turbo yeasts. Those through in nutrient and other things for the yeast such that it will do its job 48 hours instead of 7 days to 10 days. What you can do now, is you can get off of the grocery store shelf. It will start you off with your first batch, with 10 pounds of sugar and a 5 gallon pale with 4 gallons and 1 quart of water. So 4.25 gallons of water. A couple packages of Red Star yeast, through a lid on it, put a fermentation lock on it, available from your local brewery store and let it start bubbling.



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