Distilling using the Air Still

This unit can be used in 4 areas:

  • Essential Oil Extraction
  • Water Distillation
  • Alcohol Distillation
  • Alcohol for Bio fuel

Essential Oil Extraction

The vast majority of Essential Oil is produced by distillation. There are many different processes used, however. In all of them water is heated to produce steam, which carries the most volatile chemical of the aromatic material with it. The heat from the steam causes globules of oil in the plant to burst and then evaporates. The essential oil vapour and the steam then pass out of the top of the still into a cooled pipe where the vapours are then condensed back to liquids. At this point, the essential oil separates from the water and floats to the top.

To use this unit for this purpose we suggest you put the plant material, into the steel chamber with the water (about 3litres) and replace the lid. After about one hour the distillate will start to drip through into the PET container. If you are looking for a strong mixture it will be more concentrated at the start of the process. How much you produce will be down to the amount of product you have put in and the strength you are looking for.

Water Distillation

To use the still for distilled water simply fill the container with water up to the 4 litre indentation on the inside. Use any of the sachets (like the tea bag) of charcoal or carbon cartridges included to filter through. The whole process for 4 litres will take up to 8 hours.

Step – 2a: Alcohol Distillation

Only use Pure Turbo Yeast with Turbo Carbon for fermentation and SS Airstill Lo ResTurbo Clear as the Finings. Your fermented and cleared base known as the “wash” should be absolutely clear and this should always be siphoned off any sediment at the first opportunity into a clean container.

If the wash is not completely clear this can cause the machine to have to heat up more than it should do and can cause the lid to lift. If this happens it’s because the liquid still has black carbon particles resting inside it. Either add more finings before proceeding or wait for it to clear. Distillers Conditioner (included) will also help. No other Turbo yeast is recommended to be used with this Still.

Firstly place all the Ceramic Boil Enhancers in the bottom of the stainless steel chamber then add the “wash” filling up to the 4 litre mark, which can be seen, indented on the inside. Add one capful of the Distillers Conditioner to the still. The lid should be replaced and switched on. Place the smaller collector or a large jug under the black spout.

It will take about an hour to heat up before any liquid will start to drip. Collect the first 50ml and discard or store for cleaning, this contains methanol and is not suitable for drinking. Continue collecting the alcohol for a further 60-90 minutes (a total of 2-2.5 hours from start to finish) or until you have collected 700ml (the alcohol strength will be approx 55%ABV). It doesn’t matter if it’s a bit more but no more than 750ml as this will not only be low in alcohol but also contain impurities that will lessen the quality of the alcohol.

Step – 3a: Filtering the Spirit Using the Carbon Filter

Take the 700ml and dilute this by adding 300ml of water (this will make it 40%ABV). This should then be fed through the second container with the spouted bottom to purify the alcohol. This can be done a second time (with a new cartridge, of course, to clean up any remaining smells). To set this up you will need to screw in a carbon cartridge (fitted over the screw with the washers either side) into the bottom of the container.

Run the cartridge under hot water for 45 seconds. This will activate the carbon. Place this into the top of the largest container and leave it resting. Now pour the alcohol into the top. this will then run through the carbon filter (4-6 hours) into the bottom container. If it takes longer than this, don’t worry as it’s removing any impurities in the spirit.

We recommend the carbon cartridge is replaced each time you use the still although if you are running continuously you can use it once more, although the quality will suffer.

Once you have finished switch the machine off at the mains and allow cooling before you remove the lid and empty the remaining contents. Clean the machine with clean hot water. A still cleaning agent is available separately and should be used from time to time. You should also remember that it is essential you clean the tubes in the lid.

This can best be done by turning the lid upside down and pouring water into the hole in the middle of the lid. When the tubes are full, turn the lid the right way up and this will then drip through the black outlet spout. This should be done after every use. This is important as a build up of black carbon will cause the lid to dance. This should also be repeated from time to time with the special still cleaning solution. This should be mixed with hot water and left in the pipes for 2 hours. Rinse afterwards. The Ceramic Saddles should be cleaned from time to time by immersing in Coca Cola for 20mins and then rinsing afterwards. This just cleans any build up on them.

If you do happen to forget to switch off the machine at the right time and you collect a lot more than the 700ml simply discard the dregs, put the collected alcohol back into the still, add the equivalent amount of warm water and start again. Of course there’s no need to discard the first 50ml again.

Download the full Airstill Instructions here


Spirit and liqueur flavours can then be added to the distilled alcohol. Needless to say we only recommend ‘Still Spirits’ flavourings for the very best quality.

Step – 4a: Mixing the Spirit and Liqueur Flavouring

Making spirits is as easy as adding the essence bottle or sachet to the required amount of alcohol and shaking to mix. This is good to drink immediately though it will improve dramatically with aging.

The Spirits range includes the Still Spirits Classic Sachets which makes up 1 litre of your favourite spirit. (The empty sachet can be cut down and glued to the bottle to make a useful label). To make fruit flavoured vodka go to the Vodka Shots 1 litre range.

The Top Shelf’ bottles make up 2.25 litres of spirit. Which is two 1.125 litre (40oz) bottles or three 750ml (26oz) bottles.

Liqueurs and Schnapps flavouring requires the use of one of the three Powder Bases, which is mixed with alcohol then flavouring added then water to top up to 1.125 litre (40oz). The amount of alcohol, base type and water required depends on the liqueur being mixed. The instructions are printed on the individual bottles.

The Cream Liqueurs require the Cream Base Powder which is dissolved in 250ml of water then 500ml of alcohol added and then the bottle of flavouring, and finally topping up with water to make 1.125 litre (40oz).

TIP Either beat the cream powder with an electric beater to get it fully dissolved or hand mix with a fork or whisk then pour through a sieve to take out the remaining lumps.

For the ultimate whisky connoisseur’s we have the Whiskey Profile Kit offering the home distiller the opportunity of making some of the world’s top whiskys by mixing a variety of the fifteen different essences to produce each unique flavour. A recipe book is included with lots of favourites or you can experiment and make your own unique brand.


All of the spirit and liqueur mixes can be used without actually distilling your own alcohol by mixing them with the vodka you can buy at the supermarket. For example you can make two 1.125L (40oz) bottles of Irish Cream from one 1litre (26oz) bottle of cheap vodka.

Operating videos showing the Air Still and T500 Still


Please note that in certain countries alcohol distillation is illegal and you will require a licence. Ask for advice or contact your local Customs and Excise Department. We would point out it is illegal to manufacture spirits in the UK without a distiller’s licence which is required under the provisions of section 12 of the Alcoholic Liquor Duties Act 1979 and this includes manufacture for “own/domestic use”.

Public Notice 39 – “Spirits production in the UK” dated January 2012 provides further information about HM Revenue and Custom’s requirements.

If you require further assistance then please contact the National Advice Service on Telephone 0845 010 9000 or www.hmrc.gov.uk. Where you can obtain or view public notice 39.

Alcohol for Bio fuel

On 30th June 2007 the UK government made it legal for people to produce up to 2500 litres without the need to pay duty or to hold a permit. To make your own bio fuel you will need to double distil the alcohol you make to increase the ABV. You should check with car manufacturers as to the level you can add.