How to Make Ethanol Fuel

by Sara Melone

With the price of fossil fuels increasing all the time, many drivers are looking to alternative fuel sources to power their vehicles. One such alternative fuel is ethanol, which is widely produced in the United States and Brazil. In fact, much of the gasoline drivers put in their passenger vehicles today already contains at least a small percentage of ethanol fuel. Ethanol is made through a distillation process of sources like corn. With the right materials and ingredients, anyone can make ethanol fuel for less than half the cost of traditional gasoline.

Corn is the most commonly used source for ethanol fuel production.

Create a mash of the ethanol material. Cornmeal, soybeans or wheat are suitable to make ethanol and are readily available from most feed supply stores, or you can make your own grain feed if you grow any of these crops at home. Bring 100 gallons of water to a boil in a large mixing container and add 25 lbs. of ground cornmeal, crushed soybean or wheat. Add 6 oz. of yeast and 100 lbs. of sugar. Lightly cover the mixture to prevent contamination and leave the mixture to ferment in a warm place for about seven to 10 days until it stops bubbling.

A pressure cooker distiller should be equipped with a steam valve.

Distill the liquid mash through a professional ethanol distiller or make your own distiller using a pressure cooker or rice cooker equipped with a steam valve. Pour the fermented mash into the rice or pressure cooker, and turn on the heating element. Fit the steam valve with a tight-fitting trash bag or any type of flexible tubing that you can manipulate so that the opposite end will drain away from the cooker into a separate container. Cook the mash to 173 degrees and allow the alcohol to evaporate out of the mixture through the cooker's steam vent and condense inside the tubing or trash bag. As the condensation collects, the liquid alcohol will drain into the collection container.

Excess water should be removed to make a more pure ethanol product.

Dry the ethanol by removing the water content still present after distillation. Run the mixture through zeolite, which is designed to dry the ethanol and remove the water. Follow the package instructions for proper use.

Many gas stations already provide a mixture of E-85 ethanol and gasoline.

Use the ethanol as pure ethanol fuel, or you can create an ethanol and gasoline mixture known as E85. E85 is 85 percent ethanol combined with 15 percent gasoline, and is suitable for use in most modern vehicles. Convert the ethanol into commonly used E85 fuel by adding unleaded gasoline to the ethanol.


  • close Wear protective eyewear and exercise caution when distilling. The alcohol fumes may contain methanol, which can cause eye damage or blindness.

Items you will need

About the Author

Sara Melone is a mother of three and a graduate of UNH. With prior careers in insurance and finance, photography, as well as certifications in fitness and nutrition, Melone draws directly from past experience and varying interests. She contributes with equal passion to birth journals, investment blogs, and self-help websites.

More Articles

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera biocarburant image by photlook from