Moonshine Proof [What It’s All About and 3 Ways to Test & Determine Proof]

by Karl | Updated: May 24, 2021

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

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

Instructions

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.

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

Instructions

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.

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
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Instructions

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)_/¯

FAQ’s

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 volume? 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.

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.

Conclusion

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.

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