Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

Stills and other things


I don’t like the taste of tap water – especially that provided by our local authority. Whatever they add to it to make it safe, also makes it unpalatable as far as I’m concerned. So for a long time, I’ve been distilling water for use in tea and coffee, rice making, and any food or beverage where water is a constituent part. I happened to mention this in an email to someone I regularly correspond to in America, and he wanted to know how difficult it was for me to get a permit to own operate the still. Apparently it’s illegal to even own a still in his state, let alone produce alcohol for consumption. Somewhat surprised (America supposedly being the land of the free) I did a little research, and was surprised at what I discovered.

Is Aotearoa New Zealand the only country in the world where I can legally distill my alcoholic beverages unfettered by government regulation or red tape?

I don’t need:

  • a permit to buy, sell or build a still
  • a licence or permit to own or operate a still
  • to report or record how much alcohol I produce
  • to pay excise duty or tax on the alcohol I produce
  • to have my still inspected

So long as I’m not going to distribute it commercially, (or produce illegal substances) what comes out of the still is of no interest to the authorities.

Regulations sometimes seem illogical and petty. While I can legally buy or sell all the paraphernalia and consumables for the production of all alcoholic beverages including beer, wine and spirits, the same can’t be said of tobacco products. It’s illegal to sell or even gift tobacco plants, but perfectly legal to sell or otherwise trade tobacco seeds. While there’s no limit in how much alcohol I produce for personal consumption, there is a limit of 15Kg per year for tobacco products, although there doesn’t appear to be any inspectorate capable of monitoring home production of tobacco.

I know that smoking causes long term health problems, but then so can excessive alcohol consumption, so why regulate home tobacco production, but not alcohol production?

While we’re on petty regulations, I’ve learnt that here in NZ you can be fined up to $1,000,000 or be imprisoned up to 10 years for carrying out a nuclear explosion. The law doesn’t make exceptions for testing nuclear weapons, so if you’re brought before the courts for detonating one, an excuse of “I was only trying it out” won’t get you a lighter sentence.

The USA is sending a naval vessel to NZ for the Royal New Zealand Navy’s 75th anniversary celebrations later this year. Thank goodness the Trump won’t be in power then. What do you think would be the likelihood that he would want to challenge our antinuclear laws by requesting the US send a nuclear powered or nuclear capable ship?

Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and discovered I am autistic at the age of sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

7 thoughts on “Stills and other things

  1. Thank goodness the Trump won’t be in power then.

    I see you’re counting your chickens before they’ve hatched. Although I hope you’re right, don’t be too sure about that.

    And the $1,000,000 fine for a nuke? That’s quite funny but oh so typical of someone thinking themselves making a real impact during their time in government bringing forth such a law.

    • The Nuclear-Test-Ban Act 1999 was passed to honour New Zealand’s commitment under the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, signed at New York on 24 September 1996. I doubt very much that a politician had a hand in drafting the law.

      On the other hand the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act 1987 was written to honour an election promise, so you can be sure politicians had a significant hand in its drafting.

      • Ah. So much I do not know. But I do know the ridiculousness of passing a law to fine someone who sets off a nuclear explosion.

        • There is the alternative sanction of up to ten years imprisonment…

          Perhaps it’s there to discourage underground testing or testing at very high altitudes 😊

          The location of the explosion doesn’t have to be in NZ – it could be anywhere in the world. The act applies if the person causing or encouraging the explosion is in NZ or is a NZ citizen. So if the US nuked Iran, then anyone in NZ who actively supported that action could be prosecuted under the act.

  2. NZ is the new land of the free. Interesting how different the laws can be in different countries.

    • Like in most parts of the world, our freedoms are being slowly whittled away in the name of protection from terrorism. So far we haven’t gone to the extremes that America has, and I hope that day never comes.

  3. We tax the heck out of alcohol and tobacco, so I think the government does not want to miss their taxes. Also, we use a lot of untaxed ethanol based products for everything from ice removal to wound cleaning. It is also used a great deal as a component of plastics and other industrial applications. In fact when I was hauling gas we used to haul trailer loads of ethanol because here in Canada it is mixed with gas to about 10% by volume to reduce emissions (the jury is out on whether that works in the long run but it does create havoc when one SUV fillup with ethanol uses as much grain as it takes to feed a family of 4 for a month in poor countries). The opportunities to use that ethanol for drinking is too much, so it is illegal in Canada to sell ethanol unless it is doped or “cut” with benzene. Benzene and ethanol have very similar vapor curves and it is almost impossible to get the benzene out unless….. you guessed it, one can use a still. So, with the millions of tons of ethanol floating around cheap needing only a still, the government made stills illegal or they would never see a dime of their alcohol cash cow.

    Funny story about the fine for detonating a nuclear weapon – what about repeat offenders? ha!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s