The Prohibition Kit

Craft & Design
The Prohibition Kit

The Prohibition KitDesigned by Francesco Morackini, the Prohibition kit is composed of four perfectly legal objects: a watering can, a fondue stove, a cooking pot, and a fruit bowl. But once combined together, they create a still to produce your own homemade schnaps.

Distilling alcohol without a license is illegal in most countries in the world… Because of its legislative issue, the Prohibition kit is deliberately a provocative project. I want to question the people about the value and purpose of everyday products surrounding us. I propose another point of view to observe them. When are innocent products becoming illegal? What can those products do for us, or what do they do to us?

The kit presents us with a question–when should having the tools that lets you do something illegal be in itself illegal? This is a question that’s at the core of what it is to be a maker, because with the right tools you can do anything, and tools don’t just serve a single purpose. Take lock picks for instance, or better yet, the 3D printer. When you can make a gun with a 3D printer, and owning the gun is illegal, should the printer itself be illegal? Most people would say “No!” but the question of where you draw that line in an interesting one.

How to use the kit

30 thoughts on “The Prohibition Kit

  1. Rahere says:

    One aspect which cannot be left unaddressed is the elephant in the room of moonshine, namely the accidental production of the highly toxic methanol, otherwise known as wood alcohol.
    The moral axiom could far more directly have been addressed the the discussion of the kitchen knife.

    1. caoimhin says:

      Yes, but it wouldn’t have been addressed so artistically.
      Street sweeper bristles make good lock picks but it doesn’t get across the message so eloquently. This list of objects that illustrate this point is almost endless: Tide, gasoline, staple guns, antifreeze, chainsaws, hammers, text editors, etc.

      I like the copper finish.

    2. Dax says:

      Distilllation itself does not create methanol.

      1. RJHinPDX says:

        No, it concentrates the methanol that is present in small amounts in any fermented product. That’s why distilled products can be toxic.

    3. Christian Restifo (@restifo) says:

      Actual methanol production from fermentation is very low. (Some items, such as fruits, can tend to produce more than other fermentables.)

      The amount is so small, in fact, that you’d need to properly distill a massive amount to get a toxic dose:

      There’s about 2-3 mg/L of MeOH produced for a standard grain based fermentation. Up that to 10 mg to be conservative since fruits can have more due to pectins.

      The lethal dose of methanol is about 30 mL. The density of MeOH is 0.792 g/cu. cm, so the toxic dose is about 38 grams. That means you’d need about 3800 liters, or roughly 1000 gallons, of fermented liquid to distill to get a toxic dose….assuming 100% efficiency (not possible).

      Distilled toxics are typically toxic because people intentionally adulterate the products to reduce costs, add a “kick”, and so forth. Just look at the recent deaths in India from illicit booze that was tainted.

      The toxic warning is often tossed around by authorities when the real issue is tax revenue for them.

  2. Matt says:

    I wish there was a parts list for some of these, especially the watering can. Beautiful design, I would love to have all these pieces in my kitchen

  3. flecko says:

    Yeah…silly question, where can any of these be purchased? I’d love to have a set!

  4. Joe says:

    The copper does add a nice touch however I am surprised to see this after the hoopla over the 3D printed gun…. I mean ” some kid could try this at home”…

    1. Alasdair Allan says:

      That was sort of the point. Where is the line between blaming the tools, and blaming the maker?

      1. Leon says:

        The line is when Congress and the President bans the tools, or restricts them so severely that they become marginal. Imagine the day when you need a permit to own a 3d printer, and approval to print objects or you have to have DRM that questions and controls your every print, with penalties so harsh you don’t dare violate them. And when we have to listen, yet again, to the mantra of “what do you need that for?” When shameless publicity hounds like Rep. Steven Israel use fear of tools and technology to push their own careers we will get the heat so he can shamelessly claim to work for “public safety”.

        Steve Israel has changed his position with some back pedaling but sooner or later it will be some new bogeyman that needs to be regulated or banned to protect the public.

        Just substitute the word “firearm” and “magazine” with “alcohol” or “drugs” or “unlicensed dvd” or whatever noun or adjective creates the most fear and the most people are the most ignorant about and it becomes a plan for action. As long are there are humans there will be some that will act irresponsibly, or criminally or do the wrong thing at the wrong time. Deal with those people and don’t confuse the tool for that human action. The rest of us should not pay for that with restrictions from fools and legislation that prohibits without benefit. Sure some things should be controlled, like Predator Drones and hellfire missiles, but getting bent over quad copters is over reacting. Let us build, play and create, and if we get skinned knees and a bruised thumb along the way, that is part of learning and life.

  5. Bod says:

    Stills aren’t illegal. You can go to many sites and buy water distillers. You can find the same ones on some sites that sell alcohol distillers. You can get a license to distill alcohol for personal use.

  6. Alan S. Blue says:

    The art is nice, but that set as-is can’t be cheap.

    4 Piece Stainless Steel Pot Set for $36.
    Camp Stove for $21.
    0.25″ Copper Tube 10 feet for $10. (High purity copper)

    Some tapping, silver-soldering required.

    But an idea for the starting place of the spout would be nice.

  7. Bart Patrzalek says:

    Yes you can ban specific tools and what not but without banning every single tool out there the banned ones can be made with what is legal. Same goes for 3D printers, unless you ban all technology a ban like that would be useless. I don’t see what the huge debate is over with 3d printing guns. After all you still need ammo and that is or should be controlled better. And you can make a gun without a 3d printer that will actually work better, most parts can be bought on ebay without any restrictions. Its only the lower receiver that is the problem since technically that’s the only part you need a licence for. Yet there is companies that sell the blank part that you machine yourself using simple tools or you could start from scratch yourself and it still wouldn’t be too difficult to end up with a working piece. I don’t think we need better gun control or to make any other things illegal that aren’t outlawed right now. We should take all that wasted money on enforcement and use it to better fund our education system because after all its the people that use these things. A gun is not going to fire itself, a still won’t produce alcohol on its own….

  8. asciimation says:

    I live in one of the few countries (NZ) where it’s legal to make/own/buy/use a still:


  9. Erich says:

    People died only a few weeks ago from homemade Grappa here in Australia.

    In a journal article by Carla Da Porto and Roverto Zironi it is stated “Among the alcoholic beverages, grappa is the richest in `impurities’ content (2000 mg% a.a.) and the wine lees addition would seem to have improved its hygienic characteristic”.

    In short, if you don’t add enough lees to the grape marc, and you have insufficient fractional distillation, you will have higher levels of methanol in grappa, with sometimes lethal results.

    At the very least, slow and steady distillation, along with discarding the “head” and the “tail”, should be adhered to for safety.

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Alasdair Allan is a scientist, author, hacker and tinkerer, who is spending a lot of his time thinking about the Internet of Things. In the past he has mesh networked the Moscone Center, caused a U.S. Senate hearing, and contributed to the detection of what was—at the time—the most distant object yet discovered.

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