​​Birdwatchers Sugar Wash Recipe.

If you want to go straight to the calculator, click here: Calculator.

Basic equipment:

  • You need a vessel (or fermentor) to throw all your ingredients in. Stainless steel or glass is best, if not use food grade plastic.
  • Aquarium heater to keep it nice and worm (and consistent). If you have a nice constant warm room, that’ll work too.
  • Hydrometer (used to measure the specific gravity of liquids), IE how much sugar to water you’ve got.
  • Thermometer (ideally digital).
  • Something to stir it all with. You can use a large spoon or stirrer, else a drill with a mixing attachment.

Ingredients (to make 50 litre wash for example). For other quantities, or to use imperial quantities, go to the Calculator.

  • 500g tomato paste.
  • Juice of approx. two lemons.
  • Up to 11.25 kg sugar.
  • 141g fresh dry yeast.
  • ¼ tsp Epsom Salts.
  • Water (tap water is okay, but fresh, spring, or distilled water is best).


  • Take careful notes from start to finish for future reference. As you bake more and more batches, you can tweak the recipe to suit your conditions.
  • Make sure everything is very clean and sterile. Contamination can cause off-flavours.
  • Mix about 80% of the water with 80% of the sugar along with all the tomato paste, lemon juice and salts. Mix thoroughly until everything is dissolved.
  • Measure the SG (specific gravity) using your hydrometer. If the SG is too low, gradually add more sugar. If the SG too high, gradually add more water. The whole time aiming for an SG of 1.060 to 1.090. Most aim for below 1.070.
  • You should now have your total volume of mixed ingredients at your ideal SG.
  • Use the aquarium heater to raise the temperature of the wash to your goal temperature of between 26ºC (79ºF) and 30ºC (86ºF) – commonly 28ºC (82ºF).
  • Once the wash is up to temperature, carefully sprinkle the yeast over surface, and leave it there on top
  • Use an airlock (bubbler). Otherwise place the cover loosely on top to let CO2 escape, and keeping flying nasties out.
  • Check the SG and temperature daily if you like. This is not necessary, but will let you know how it is progressing.
  • After a total of 5-14 days SG should be around 0.990. If not, wait until it stops bubbling. Then take note of the SG for reference.
  • Ideally, let it sit for at least a few days (a week or more if possible) to let the solids settle before distillation.
  • Distill as you like.

To suggest changes, meet us at the Birdwatchers forum at

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