How Culinary Solvent is Made

Culinary Solvent is distilled, bottled, offered for sale, and shipped by The Northern Maine Distilling Company located in Brewer, Maine. Culinary Solvent is distilled using a one of a kind array of 50-gallon stainless steel and copper pot stills making it the best food grade alcohol available. 

We're not another broker-distributor of someone else's alcohol.  And we're not the cheapest gallon on the block either.  Culinary Solvent is only available through our online store, all orders ship direct from the distillery via Fedex, UPS, or freight.  Use this page to learn more about the steps we take at the distillery to make Culinary Solvent for you.

Ingredients - 100% Corn Recipe

Culinary Solvent is distilled from a 100% Corn recipe.  Our certified organic corn recipe uses non-GMO corn.  Learn more about our Certified Organic Alcohol.

Why Corn? 

We tested out many different alcohol bases including cane, grape, wheat, rice, barley, oats, potatoes, and sugar beets before settling on a recipe of 100% corn.  It was discovered after many trials and tests that corn simply outperformed the other ingredient bases when it came to neutral odor and taste.  While wholly possible to create alcohol from any material that ferments, only corn can deliver consistent neutral profiles for both taste and smell.  

We also offer Certified Organic Alcohol distilled from non-GMO organic corn.  We are a certified organic processor & handler by

....and "Do you offer other bases (grape, cane, wheat)"?

We are aware that other bases are available for making our ethyl alcohol.  I've shared my thoughts on the other bases here.  At this time, we have no plans to offer other alcohol distilled from non-corn recipes.

First Stage Distillation to 192 Proof

Yeast convert the natural sugars in the corn into ethanol without need for added enzymes.  The ethanol is distilled using a column still outputting 96.2% ethyl alcohol.  The remaining 3.8% consists mostly of water and fusel oils.

Dehydration to 200 Proof (99.97% ABV)

The remaining water is dehydrated out of solution using a ceramic filter known as a molecular sieve.  No benzene or other chemicals are ever used to dehydrate Culinary Solvent to 200 Proof ethyl alcohol.  Only alcohol dehydrated using a molecular sieve are considered safe for recipes for consumption or topical application to the skin.  

About Molecular Sieves for Dehydrating Ethanol

Alcohol and water cannot be separated by distillation past 96% Alcohol.  In order to remove the last 4% of water from the alcohol solution, a special process outside of distilling must be employed.  Both chemical and mechanical processes can be employed to dehydrate alcohol to 200 proof, but only mechanical methods using molecular sieves are approved for food safe applications.  Molecular Sieves are specially engineered ceramic filters that literally trap the water molecules out of solution from the surrounding ethanol.  The results are pure 200 proof ethyl alcohol without use of benzene or other chemicals.

For more information on how molecular sieves work, checkout this informative video about molecular sieve design, function, manufacturing and water retention abilities.

Final Stage Rectification

After dehydration to 200 proof ethyl alcohol, Culinary Solvent is redistilled one final time using our array of micro batch 50-gallon pot stills.  We run many small stills simultaneously when performing a "rectification run".

Why Small Batch Size Matters  

Unlike continuous industrial processes, small limited batch sizes allow for precise capture of the "hearts" of each the distillation run.  It would be cheaper and faster to us to run one big still vs many small stills, however going small gives us precise control over the distillation output.  Many small stills require more investment and time per distillation run, however the payout is supremely pure ethyl alcohol.

Every distillation run consists of 3 parts: "the heads" leaves the still first, "the hearts" leave the still in the middle of the run, and "the tails" which come out of the still last.  Distillation in a a pot still is an "analog process", which means there is no clearly defined point where the "heads cut" stops and the "hearts cut" begins.  It is the task of our distilling team with their expertise and training to determine when the time is right in the process to stop collecting heads and to begin collecting hearts. The same is true with the "tails cut".

The heart the distillation run is where the purest ethyl alcohol resides.  Our distillation recipe takes generous heads and tails cuts leaving behind just the purest hearts to be bottled as Culinary Solvent.

The unique design and setup of the distillery permits for many small stills to run in parallel.  After distillation, each batch is gauged for proof and undergoes a last stage of filtration before bottling and labeling.