Hawaii Moonshine Laws

The history of moonshine is as old as the world itself perhaps. Whether it is elicited and accepted at all times and everywhere – is a matter of politics, jurisdiction and rules. However, traditions go deep enough and tell the story of each nation. They also tell stories about moonshine. Okolehao is one example of an old drink that was and is well known in the state of Hawaii since 1790. It was outlawed twice in the state due to severe prohibitions but today it remains a highly desired by the community drink. Nowadays you need good reasoning and many reliable documents to prove the ingredients of the drink and to be able to sell it.

1. Is owning a still legal?

No, it is not legal to own a still in the state of Hawaii. Any person willing to use a still at home must obtain valid permit from the relevant authorities. However, in accordance with Hawaii Code Title 16, Chapter 281 – §281-3, the head of any family is allowed to produce for his family use and not for sale an amount of wyne not exceeding two hundred gallons a year, and an amount of bier not exceeding one hundred gallons a year.

2. Is it possible to get a “student permit” to distill alcohol as part of school science assignment?

According to Hawaii Code Volume 5 of 2009 there is a special license, which partially explains and covers any such participation. It is class 10 license that is given for 3 days length in order for educational events to be allowed distilling performances (Title 16 – Chapter 281 – 31). It is then up to every county within the state to make any further legislation in terms of prohibition. In order for a specific school to be able legally to perform such experiments, it has to have a permit for an alcohol fuel plant, for which the school representative must fill out an application and send it to the local authorities and/or agencies in concern. Also, adults must supervise the whole event. Everything concerning the event must be known preliminary, including the length, place, number of people etc. Usually these steps are applied to students in elementary or high school. The event cannot start before the permit is issued.

3. What kind of permit do I need to distill ethanol in Hawaii?

In order to distill ethanol you need a license, even for home production. First, you need to be at least 21 of age and, second, everything you are going to do with the substance must be explained and approved in documents, especially the concentration of the product and the amount of the ready substance. In 2006 Hawaii passed new law concerning ethanol production, making it necessary to combine it with gasoline for safety measures. It is since that year that Hawaii does not yet produce ethanol. It is also one of the reasons for the need of permits for import of ethanol into the state.

4. Is it legal to distill essential oils and water in Hawaii?

It is legal to distill essential oils and water; however, again, you need a specific permit in order to do so. And it cannot be made in home production. The Board of Water Supply is in its jurisdictional right to ask and take any form of legal action in order to control the process of this type of distillation.

Finally, we are not lawyers, this info is for your entertainment only, so be sure to consult a crafty moonshine laws lawyer before spending any monies on your own distillation plant!

hawaii“Remember, the distillation of ethyl-alcohols is illegal without a permit per federal moonshine laws and is inherently dangerous because of ethanol’s flammability (never operate a homemade still indoors). For more moonshine laws and other moonshine still permit information, visit: http://www.ttb.gov/spirits/faq.shtml.”







http://www.ttb.gov/spirits/index.shtml – Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Distilled Spirits


http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/liquor-control/ – Department of Liquor Control