Home Distillation of Alcohol (Homemade Alcohol to Drink)

Yeast Nutrients for Sugar Washes

The yeast nutrient is necessary because refined sugar has no additional nutrients in it. If you try using just sugar, water & yeast, with no nutrients, you will get very little alcohol. Not much will happen without nutrients present. The alcohol you do make will contain more of the undesirable byproducts, like aldehydes and higher order alcohols. To grow, yeast needs amino acids, minerals, and enzymes, so that it can form the proteins the new cells will need during its "budding" to form daughter cells. It provides the necessary potassium, nitrogen, and phosphates needed (that would in other brewing usually be provided by the malt). If it can't "bud" to form daughter cells, it will still be able to reproduce a couple of times, but it does so using up its own reserves. The resulting cells aren't quite so skilled at the job of making ethanol, and tend to do a couple of extra other things instead.

Use yeast nutrients at the rate of 3 grams per litre of wash (eg 60 g for 20 L). It is typically made of the following, and/or similar:
  • diammonium phosphate
  • magnesium sulphate
  • yeast (usually deceased,but imparts vitamins and minerals)
  • folic acid
  • niacin
  • calcium pantothenate, and
  • thiamine hydrochloride.
The "Great New Zealand Home Wine Making Book" suggests to ... "buy some ammonium sulphate or ammonium phosphate, and some pottassium phosphate or potassium sulphate and add 2g (1/2 teaspoon) of each to every 4.5 L. Another valuable addition is vitamin B1. You can buy these as tiny 3 milligram tablets from your local chemist or pharmacy and add one of these each 4.5 L" ...

This is why sometimes in some recipes you might see tomato paste or vegemite being touted as a "secret ingredient" that helps produce cleaner alcohol with less off-flavours to it. This is because they are acting as a primative mix of nutrients. It is far better however to use the prepackaged nutrient mixes, as these specifically target the needs of the yeast, based on quite a bit of laboratory testing & research. See the Turbo yeast and AllTech company web pages for more details about yeast and nutrients.
Jack writes ...
    Making sugar only washes isn't as straightforward as it seems- 2 pounds of sugar, a tablespoon of acid blend, a teaspoon of diammonium phosphate, and a gallon of water should never fail to ferment out completely- but half the time I try it (especially in large amounts) it doesn't work. The easiest way I found to prevent stuck sugar mashes is to just add SOMETHING that I find laying around the house. Only honey and maple syrup have failed as an "insurance additive" to otherwise pure sugar washes. Molasses, malt syrup, grains from beer making, cornmeal, whole wheat flour, and dry malt extract have all been tried, and all the batches with one or more of these materials prevents the ferment from sticking. I tend to use the malt extracts and grains the most- a half pound of malt syrup/dry malt extract, or a pound or two of the cheap crystal grains from the homebrew shop are enough for 5 gallons (20 liters).

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