Moonshine Proof [What It's All About and 3 Ways to Test & Determine Proof] | Homebrew Academy (2023)

Have you ever wondered what the proof of your made-at-home-moonshine is? Is it finally STRONG ENOUGH for you to enjoy or perhaps you need to give a little more time?

Today, we’ll talk about the different ways to proof your moonshine. And don’t worry, it isn’t as complicated as you think.

Ready to impress your homebrewing buddies with your new skill of making moonshine and proof it? Keep reading and let’s get started.

Alcohol Proof

Alcohol proof is a different way to determine the alcohol content of your alcohol. It’s unlike the standard measure you’re used to, which is the ABV percentage of alcohol.

If you’re ever wondering how much alcohol content is in your alcohol, you should check its proof. Back in the days, where science and technology weren’t too advanced, making moonshine was pretty much art.

From its distillation to the fermentation process, only time can make wonders out of it. Admittedly, distilling alcohol was pretty challenging. What more determining its proof?

People had to rely on what we call “the old ways.” And this means setting their alcohol on fire, literally.

Back then, it’s an easy tell-tale sign to know if liquor has enough proof if it goes up in flames. And if it doesn’t, well it needs more time to brew.

Besides setting their liquors on fire, people back then also made them explode. People would soak gun powder on their liquor to check its proof. If it combusts, then well and good!

Despite the change in times, and with the advent of science technology, these old ways still find their value up to now.

How to Determine Alcohol Proof

There are different ways for you to measure proof and have an accurate reading. Each way is pretty easy to do, you wouldn’t have a hard time doing it on your own.

For today, we’ve got three tests to share with you:

  • Gun Powder Test
  • Shake Test
  • Hydrometer Test

Gun Powder Test

Like we’ve mentioned, people back then would mix gun powder and moonshine. If it combusts, then the liquid has at least 100% proof! A cup or two of that liquid will seriously bring you the moon because it’s pretty strong.

If you compare a 100 percentage proof to today’s alcohol measure, that’s approximately 57.1% alcohol by volume. You gotta slow it down when you’re drinking this liquid.

Doing the gun powder test is pretty easy… You can do it at home, as long as you exercise the necessary precautions.

Materials You Need

  • Gun powder
  • Moonshine
  • Lighter or match
  • Bowls or a clear container
  • Spoon
  • Dropper
  • Gloves and safety goggles


Once you’ve got all your materials together, it’s time to get started. Now don’t worry, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

Step 1: Scoop one spoon of gun powder and place it in your bowl.

(Video) Learn This Simple Trick To Test The Proof of Moonshine

Step 2: Using your dropper, place 10 drops of moonshine on your container. Make sure the powder and liquid mix well.

Step 3: Light the liquid and watch it combust

Those are three easy steps you can do at home to measure proof of moonshine.

This centuries-old proofing system has been around for so long, we’re not surprised it’s still one of the favorite go-to’s of many.

Shake Test

Another age-old way to know the proof or alcohol strength of your liquid is through the shake test. One of the many reasons why many people turn to this test is because of how simple and easy it is.

You could already tell by now that this test involves a lot of vigorous mason jar shaking. And true enough, IT DOES. You’ll need to shake your jars to get those air bubbles up to check if it has enough proof.

You’re probably wondering whether this test comes out with the most accurate reading. After all, there isn’t much to it besides a jar, shaking it, and watching out for large or small bubbles.

LARGER BUBBLES are always preferred to smaller bubbles in this test.

Well, believe it or not, this test is pretty accurate. However, you’ll need some experience to arrive at accurate results.

There’s some technique and skill involved with it, which only time and practice can give you.

If you think the gun test was easy, wait ’til you get started with this one. You’ll BARELY need 10 minutes for this one.

Materials You Need

  • Clear test jar
  • Moonshine
  • Will power and strength


From what you might have noticed from the instructions, you pretty much don’t need to do a lot with the shake test.

Step 1: Get a clear jar and fill it with your moonshine. In the alternative, you can use the current container where your moonshine is contained. Just make sure it’s clear so you can easily see the results.

Step 2: Shake the container vigorously for AT LEAST 10 seconds. This is vital for bubbles to appear on the container.

Step 3: Observe the bubbles that formed and how fast/slow it disappears. Watch out for large bubbles that disappear quickly. This means you’ve at least got 150 proof.

If instead what comes out are small air bubbles that disappear slowly, your moonshine still needs to go through some distillation process and still has a lower alcohol content.

Hydrometer Test

Today, a lot of people rely on the hydrometer test for proofing moonshine. The hydrometer test is easy to do and provides the MOST ACCURATE results out there.

(Video) The Science Behind Proofing Moonshine

Hydrometers work like magic, despite being a creation of science. If you don’t know what it looks like, they resemble your classic-looking thermometers that have mercury inside.

Now, do that there are two types of hydrometers. You’ve got the brewing hydrometer and the proofing hydrometer (sometimes also known as the spirit hydrometer). Which between the two should you use?

If you ask us, we prefer a proofing hydrometer to brewing hydrometers. Why? Well…

  • A proofing hydrometer can measure up to 100% alcohol by volume! That’s pretty high and can cover a lot of your bases.
  • Whereas a brewing hydrometer can only measure up to 20% for a simple moonshine mash. However, it finds its use for specific gravity reading in determining the potential alcohol content of your moonshine.

For us, you might as well go for a hydrometer you can use at all stages of your distillation.

Materials You Need

  • Brewing or proofing hydrometer
  • Clear glass cylinder
  • Moonshine


If you’re ready to get started, so are we. We’re very excited to help you find the proof of your brewing moonshine using the hydrometer test.

Step 1: Get your glass cylinder and moonshine. Fill your cylinder with moonshine, but leave AT LEAST 1/4 SPACE on the top.

Step 2: Get your hydrometer. It’s up to you whether you want to use a proofing hydrometer or a brewing hydrometer.

Step 3: Place your hydrometer inside the cylinder and wait for it to come up and float.

Fast Fact: if you’re using a brewing hydrometer, you can take a specific gravity reading to determine both the potential alcohol content or alcohol content of your drink.

Step 4: Once the hydrometer floats, read the alcohol content of your proofing moonshine. However, do note that sometimes the reading on each hydrometer varies. It’s usually affected by a combination of several factors like lower temperature.

And voila, that’s it, Thank you science.

Why they don’t just inlcude these in every still kit, idk. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


What Proof is Moonshine?

Without going into specific details just yet, proof moonshine is a pretty strong concoction. It has high alcohol content, a glass or two is more than what you probably need.

On average, a proof moonshine could range somewhere between 100 to 150 proof.

When you convert that alcohol by volume, 150 proof is equivalent to 75% alcohol by volume. Now that’s high! You’re practically taking a shot of fire!

Now, do note that the actual alcohol content of a proofing moonshine depends on several factors, like temperature. That being the case, you can’t expect moonshine to be all the same.

Is there 200 Proof Moonshine?

Contrary to what other people think, 200 proof moonshine exists.

It’s probably the STRONGEST concentration, the HIGHEST PROOF of moonshine, and the HIGHEST PERCENTAGE of alcohol you’ll find out there.

Though it doesn’t take the usual distilling process and simple tools to make this one. Instead, there’s a lot of complexities that go on to get this really strong drink.

Would you dare drink a 200 proof moonshine? You’d probably say yes if you’re a daredevil.

Drinking 200 proof moonshine is NOT OKAY. You’re practically drinking ethyl alcohol. Remember, 200 proof moonshine has 100% alcohol content contained on it.

(Video) Moonshine Making 101 -Beginner Moonshine and Fuel Making - Off Grid living

Drinking it pure would seriously burn your throat. That being said, be careful with moonshines that have 150 plus final alcohol content.

On average, 100 to 120 proof is pretty much the level people can comfortably drink their moonshine.

Any more than that? That’s something else.

Can You Drink 180 Proof Moonshine?

We generally advise against drinking 150 and above proof moonshine. The proof is too strong, even if it’s diluted 50/50 with other liquids. The higher proof it is doesn’t make it fun to drink.

Just to give you an idea, you could use a 120 proof brandy as gasoline for your fuel. That’s as if your car is already running and has heated up to a running temperature.

Can you imagine what a 180 proof can do to you? You’re practically drinking pure ethanol, and that’s got to hurt.

Your tongue will probably feel weird right after, and it’ll be all over the place. Worse, your tongue will probably feel burnt.

Honestly, if you ask us, drinking 180 proof moonshine isn’t a good way to enjoy your concoction. Even if you mix it with other drinks like water or soft drinks, it’s still pretty strong.


If you’re a fan of making moonshine at home, we’re sure you’ll also be a fan of checking its proof.

Figuring out your moonshine proof sounds like a fun and exciting thing to do. It’s so easy, you can try to proof yourself!

We hope you enjoyed this article. Feel free to give a like and share it with your friends and family. They’ll learn how to proof their new favorite alcoholic beverage.

Moonshine Proof [What It's All About and 3 Ways to Test & Determine Proof] | Homebrew Academy (3)

Karl S

Lead marketer, brewer, dad, and husband. Pretty much an all-round awesome guy.

(Video) New Distillation Process Doubles Moonshine's Proof And Price | Moonshiners


What proof is real moonshine? ›

What is the Proof of Moonshine? Moonshine has a minimum alcohol content of 150 proof (75 percent ABV) and the maximum alcohol content is 190 proof (95 percent ABV).

How does the moonshine shake test work? ›

The shake test involves placing some moonshine in a mason jar and giving it a vigorous shake. If the spirit has large bubbles that disappear quickly, it would indicate that the batch is higher proof. If the spirit has small bubbles which disappear slowly, it would indicate a lower proof.

What is the highest proof moonshine? ›

Ole Smoky Blue Flame Moonshine 128 Proof.

How do you measure proof? ›

This terminology began in the the UK however in the US, currently the term Proof is determined by multiplying the alcohol % by volume (ABV) X 2. Thus an alcohol product labeled as 80 Proof is 40% alcohol by volume. An Alcohol product that is 50% ABV would be labeled at 100 Proof.

What is the flame test for moonshine? ›

No matter if your moonshine smells or not weird, this test needs to be done: put some moonshine in a spoon and light it on fire. If your alcohol is: a) Red: there is lead in it, so do not drink it. b) Yellow: you risk getting blind, so not drink it.

Can you drink 180 proof moonshine? ›

Honestly, if you ask us, drinking 180 proof moonshine isn't a good way to enjoy your concoction. Even if you mix it with other drinks like water or soft drinks, it's still pretty strong.

Can you drink 200 proof alcohol? ›

No. The consumption of this product will lead to liver failure, coma, or death. Also, you might be exposing yourself to cancer, which you don't want.

What percent is real moonshine? ›

Alcohol Proof In Moonshine

For example, if the ABV of a liquor is 30%, then its proof is 60. Typically, moonshine has an ABV of 40%. However, the ABV of moonshine can be even higher, reaching levels of anywhere from 60%-80%!

How much mash do I put in a 5 gallon still? ›

For a 5 gallon mash: (201)

5 gallons soft, filtered water. 7 lbs (3.2kg) cracked corn. 6-8 pieces/kernel is the proper crack.

How much do you have to discard when distilling? ›

Additionally, commercial distillers have determined that simply discarding a standard amount per batch, based on batch size, is enough to keep things safe. The rule of thumb is to discard 1/3 of a pint jar for every 5 gallons of wash being distilled.

How much moonshine will 1 gallon of mash make? ›

For the instant gratification seekers in the crowd, here's the short answer: A 1 gallon run will yield 3-6 cups of alcohol.

Does 100 proof moonshine burn? ›

100 proof is the fire

What those old soldiers might have been testing for, had they known it at the time, was bottled alcohol served at 50 percent strength or more. Any alcohol listed above 100 proof – 50 percent ABV – is straight up flammable and would therefore not hinder the ability of gunpowder to fire.

What is 200 proof alcohol used for? ›

Decon's Pure Ethanol 200 Proof is 100% absolute (undenatured) Ethyl Alcohol that meets USP and multi-compendial specs including EP, BP, JP. Used as a cleaner, solvent, or as a reagent.

How strong is 100 proof moonshine? ›

It's handcrafted in small batches, made from American corn and tripled distilled for a clean tasting 100 Proof (50% ALC./VOL.) spirit.

What kind of hydrometer do I need for moonshine? ›

A proofing hydrometer can measure up to 200-proof or 100% ABV. Our proofing hydrometer is a 0-200 Proof and Tralle tester that will work ideally for your moonshine. You will want to check it out and use it to proof your moonshine for the most accurate testing.

How can I test my alcohol purity at home? ›

Alcohol purity is simple to test. Just let the alcohol come to room temperature and then use a hydrometer to measure the alcohol content. You can buy a hydrometer from a local scientific equipment supply house or from B/R. The hydrometer test is very sensitive to temperature.

What do the bubbles mean in moonshine? ›

Moonshine with a high alcohol content will have large bubbles that dissipate within seconds, while moonshine with a low alcohol content will have small bubbles that last for several minutes. The shake test is a quick and easy way to determine whether or not your moonshine is potent.

What does a blue flame mean in moonshine? ›

Evidence of our high quality, high proof moonshine is all in the color of the flame – if it burns blue, it's true. PROOF. 128. ABV.

What does it mean when moonshine burns blue? ›

Did you know if the proof of a clear moonshine is high it will burn blue with a tad of orange on the top? That's because it's extinguishing the oxygen in the air. If it's low in proof it wont burn blue or hardly at all.

What color is real moonshine? ›

Proof (US)At least 80°
ColourClear to off-white depending on ingredients
IngredientsGrain (mashing), sugar (fermented water)
Related productsBourbon whiskey, corn whiskey, Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey, rye whiskey, Tennessee whiskey
1 more row

How do you check the alcohol content in moonshine? ›

An alcoholometer works by measuring the density of your moonshine and comparing it to pure alcohol. You simply place the alcoholometer in a jar or batch of moonshine and turn the device on. Once it's identified the density of your moonshine, it will display the ABV.

How do you determine alcohol proof? ›

3: In the United States, the system — established around 1848 — is a bit simpler: “Proof” is straight up two times alcohol by volume. So a vodka, say, that is 40 percent ABV is 80 proof and one that is 45 percent ABV is 90 proof. A “proof spirit” is 100 proof (50 percent ABV) or higher.

How can you tell if homemade moonshine is safe? ›

One way to test the purity of a moonshine liquor is to pour some in a metal spoon and set it on fire. If it burns with a blue flame, it is more likely safe to drink. If it produces a yellow or red flame, it is an indication of the presence of lead.

How can you test alcohol proof without a hydrometer? ›

Buy a refractometer online to measure alcohol content.

Refractometers are cylindrical devices that measure the concentration of sugar in water based on how light refracts through the solution. Look at home-brewing websites to see what refractometers they have available to purchase.

What do bubbles mean in moonshine? ›

If the moonshine has large bubbles that dissolve quickly it indicates the moonshine has a high alcohol content. If the moonshine has smaller bubbles that dissolve slowly, it indicates a lower alcohol content.

What percent is pure moonshine? ›

Moonshine is usually distilled to 40% ABV, and seldom above 66% based on 48 samples. For example, conventional pot stills commonly produce 40% ABV, and top out between 60 and 80% ABV after multiple distillations.

What is the highest proof alcohol? ›

But it can also go as high as 192 proof before becoming “rocket fuel.” The absolute strongest bottle of alcohol you can legally buy and then drink in the United States is Spirytus vodka, the Polish vodka weighs in at 96 percent alcohol (192 proof), stronger by just a bit than Everclear's 190 proof labeling.

How many days do you let moonshine ferment? ›

The quickest you can properly make moonshine is about two weeks. However, you really should let mash ferment for at least a week itself, so the best moonshine will usually take closer to a month to complete.

Should moonshine be refrigerated? ›

Typically moonshine doesn't require refrigeration for storage. Storing your moonshine in the fridge will not damage it. Direct sunlight, heat and oxygen are going to be the biggest issues you will face. So you need to keep your bottle closed and in the dark if you can.

Can bacteria grow in moonshine? ›

For example, toxic bacteria can still grow in a moonshine still which can make you sick. But any poorly made alcoholic spirits can carry bacteria.

How do you test a hydrometer for accuracy? ›

To do this, take a sample of distilled water at the temperature of the hydrometer's calibration. If the hydrometer reading is 1.000, your instrument is correctly calibrated. If it is too high, you can use a file to shave off some of the glass from the bottom of the hydrometer until it hits 1.000.

How do you know when moonshine fermentation is complete without hydrometer? ›

If there are still bubbles in the airlock after 14 days let it sit for another few days, or at least until there is no bubbling for at least a minute or two. Once there is no activity in the airlock, fermentation is complete.


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