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29624Re: [Distillers] Re: FIRE (cont.)

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  • Roderick Holmes
    May 3, 2005
      One other thing. Stabilizing at 168 F is too low. Harry may be right on about too many BTUs but just from what I have heard, if this was true, your distillate would not stop after collecting 8 oz or 16 oz. It would continue to come out.

      Your temperature should stabilize at 172-173 F.

      What my still does, it shoots up to around 178 F on full reflux (collection valve closed), then drops down to 173 F as soon as I start collecting. It then stays there for the next 3 to 4 hours with no other adjustments. If you are at 168 F and the distillation stops flowing, in my opinion, you have just the opposite problem, maybe not enough heat. If it was just the thermometer getting hit by the reflux, the temp reading may be off but reflux is normally constant if the heat is constant. The distillate should not stop.

      I would suggest you do the following:
      1. Open your collection valve all the way and see what your total collection rate is. This will be one indication of how much heat you are pumping in.
      2. Check the temperature of your cooling water on the output. It should be luke warm.
      3. Check the volume of your cooling water. Should be 500 to 1000 ml per minute on a valved reflux setup.

      Things to read from the above:
      -less than 30-60 ml per minute total distillate (with no reflux, collection valve wide open) probably not enough heat
      -at 500-1000 ml per minute cooling water: if the water is hot, too much heat.

      You get the idea. Try to get your still to reach equilibrium. Constant temperature, constant output on collection, constant flow of your cooling water, constant temperature of your cooling water output. Once everything is adjusted right, the only thing you may have to adjust is the collection rate as the valves tend not to be that stable, and maybe increase your heat at the end of the run to maintain reflux. As the temperature rises above 172-173, more heat is required to maintain temperature as there is more water in the wash and less ethanol.

      Here is to a better 2nd run!


      Roderick Holmes <pure95percent@...> wrote:
      I am just glad that you are OK.

      The first time I fired up my still, I forgot to turn on the cooling water. Had the wash spewing out of the column and had my whole house smelling like ethanol. My wife exclaimed, "I thought you said it would not smell !!! " My still was set up right across from the stove and oven in the house. Lucky nothing was cooking at the time.

      We all learn by our mistakes. If we survive them, we get something very valuable called "experience" !

      Regarding the correct amount of heat: In my opinion, the boiler should be bubbling a slow boil like when you simmer a pot of soup on the stove on a low flame. You can hear the boiler slowly bubbling but it is not a rapid or roaring boil like if the flame is on high. I use an electric element with a sutronics controller so I have it a bit easier than with propane.

      I also check the temperature of my cooling water to see that it is not too hot coming out (increase water flow if needed). My total output is around 50ml per minute. I collect at 10ml per minute and my stuff comes out clean at 95% plus. I initially tried collecting at lower heat with total output of around 30 ml per minute and collecting at 5 ml per minute. Result was about the same. I have found that if the reflux rate is around 4 to 1 I am ok for making sugar wash vodka. It is up to you an your taste and what you are making.



      slipslider2 <slipslider2@...> wrote:
      I am fine ... fortunately ... and I was reluctant to "tell my story"
      especially to you and Mike and Roderick. I am humbled by the
      experience and did not expect to receive much respect from the group
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