Sciencemadness Discussion Board

UK Distilation legal advice?

Arcus - 27-4-2020 at 02:23

I have recently needed to use some EtOH as a solvent (as it is commonly needed). I started a batch of fermentation a few months ago and it's now time to distil it. I have all the correct ground joint glassware required (from other experiments) - but after having a look through the site I think I may need a licence. I will be dealing with like 100ml of ethanol max, from the 2L batch. Is distilling alcohol in these small amounts still illegal?

fusso - 27-4-2020 at 02:46

If it's legal: just do it.
If it's illegal: it's not crime if you aren't caught.

[Edited on 200427 by fusso]

Arcus - 27-4-2020 at 02:48

Hmmm, not sure if that's a good bit of advice ;)

fusso - 27-4-2020 at 02:52

Thats why I crossed it out;)

RedDwarf - 27-4-2020 at 03:57

As far as I'm aware distillation of any quantity without a licence is technically illegal, but so is possessing a still so everyone with an rbf and a condenser could be considered as infringing the law. I've never heard of a home chemist being done for distillation of alcohol for lab use and I'm sure that there are many who have (who me guv?).

Refinery - 10-5-2020 at 00:03

Any amount and any distilling of potable alcohol is illegal without license. This is the legal advice.

The fact is, the law is due to tax purposes, and tax crimes are of course the worst, as you know. But, from an ethical aspect, distilling alcohol not meant for consumption does not infringe this principle, hence at least where I live, hunting home distillers (that use 3 meter high boka columns and 50 gallon boilers) was pretty much left in the late 80's. The police even made a humoristic announcement that they actually managed to catch a home distiller after many years of not facing a single one case, and this guy got caught because he was caught DUI and possession, so there's that.

If they catch you, they'll do it because you do something much more serious with your chemistry set, like energetics or drugs. They're not interested in your personal alcohol management.

If you want to play safe and pretend nothing happened, add denaturing agent to your ethanol. When they launch a nation-wide investigation on your 100mL batch of tax-free alcohol empire, they are quick to find out it was never potable.

G-Coupled - 10-5-2020 at 00:10

Just add a few drops of Pyridine to it - and taa-daa! Old school denatured alcohol. :cool:

Shame no bright purple color, though.