Fractional Freezing / how to concentrate alcohol without a still

Fractional Freezing refers to distillation by freezing, although technically it is a process of condensation and not of distillation, and is used in the production of spirits without stills by freezing an alcoholic beverage or fermented must. Thanks to the different freezing points of water and alcohol, the latter can be drained from the ice during the defrosting process. The first traces of cold distillation date back to the second half of the 18th century, although this simple production process has probably existed for thousands of years.
Colonialists in the northern United States stored their hard cider outdoors, freezing it, during the cold winter nights. Once the block of ice began to thaw during the day, they found that the liquid inside their barrels was much stronger. The colonialists called the ” distillation process ” through ice “jacking”, giving an early life to what is now the Applejack. Since the “jacking” process, unlike the normal distillation process, does not remove any potentially harmful substances from the wort, the normal distillation process is now mainly used to make Applejack.

How does Fractional Freezing work?

The principle behind the ice distillation process is the different freezing point of ethanol and water. While water freezes at a temperature of 32 ° F (0 ° C), ethanol has a much lower freezing temperature at -173.4 ° F (-114.1 ° C). The differences in the freezing points of the different liquids are more evident in the defrosting process. Then in freeze-drying, the liquid containing alcohol is completely frozen and then allowed to thaw slowly. In the defrosting process, ethanol and other flavor components defrost first and are drained from the frozen liquid.

Health Risks of Freeze Distillation

A fermented solution, usually contains a mixture of ethanol (drinking alcohol), methanol (toxic alcohol – the substance that makes you blind if you consume enough), Fusel alcohols (the substance of headache) and volatile oils (non-toxic but they add a bad taste to the liquor). In a normal still distillation process, methanol evaporates earlier, at a lower temperature than ethanol. These by-products in the distillation process are discarded and are no longer part of the final product. Since there is no evaporation in the freeze distillation process, these potentially harmful by-products remain in the final product. To be clear: the absolute amount of these substances is the same in cider as in applejack but the concentration is higher. Therefore, only the freezing distillation process, chemically known as Fractional Freezing, with commercially produced alcohol bases should be used. These can be apple cider, mead, wine or beer as they contain low levels of methanol and other harmful substances.

Legal status of frozen distillation

The legal status of Fractional Freezing in the United States and most other Western countries is somewhat controversial. In US federal law, any form of distillation is illegal. But even if we call it “distillation” in this article, Fractional Freezing is basically just a way to concentrate alcohol. It is therefore not explicitly illegal. But as with any kind of hobby distillation business just don’t sell the product to third parties. The government is not chasing anyone who occasionally produces bottles of liquor.

How to concentrate the alcohol present in the wine?

A spirit derived from a wine bottle contains the same amount of “bad” alcohols as the wine bottle itself. So, if you put your body at risk of drinking a bottle of wine, you can enjoy the stronger condensed derivative without any other safety concerns.
And because the ice distillation process does not filter out the byproducts, most of the flavor and color components will remain in the final product. Thus, the resulting drink will be stronger, more colorful and tastier.
1. Pour a bottle of wine (or another fermented) into a container. Do not close the container. Liquids expand during the freezing process and a closed container with a cap could break and ruin the freezer.
2. Place in the freezer at 0 ° F (-18 ° C)
3. Leave in the freezer for a whole day
You will now have a solid block of frozen ice;
4. Turn the container upside down into a larger container and, using a funnel, make sure the liquids can still escape.


5. Let it rest for 1-2 hours checking it from time to time and from time to time drain the liquid obtained. During the defrosting process, alcohol and other substances are drained from the ice. When the remaining ice is almost completely colorless, the alcohol has been extracted and the process is finished.