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How do I polish?

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  • woof117
    I m new to the hobby and I have about ten liters of weak vodka (about 130%) I made with a pot still and wish to boost it up. How do I go about polishing it
    Message 1 of 5 , Mar 29, 2004
      I'm new to the hobby and I have about ten liters of weak vodka
      (about 130%) I made with a pot still and wish to boost it up. How
      do I go about
      polishing it with my new reflux still, do I ad water to the boiler
      with
      the vodka if so how much? What temp should I run it at? Is there
      anything else I should do? All help appriciated VERY much...
      Thanks......
    • Rutger Amons
      Should we be able to read and understand this actually? Rutger
      Message 2 of 5 , Mar 29, 2004
        Should we be able to read and understand this actually?

        Rutger

        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: K&J [mailto:macandjo@...]
        > Sent: Tuesday, March 30, 2004 6:55 PM
        > To: Distillers@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: Re: [Distillers] How do I polish?
        >
        >
        > -------Original Message------- From: Distillers@yahoogroups.com Date: 03/29/04 12:16:11 To:
        > Distillers@yahoogroups.com Subject: [Distillers] How do I polish? I'm new to the hobby and I have about ten liters of
        > weak vodka (about 130%) I made with a pot still and wish to boost it up. How do I go about polishing it with my new
        > reflux still, do I ad water to the boiler with the vodka if so how much? What temp should I run it at? Is there anything
        > else I should do? All help appriciated VERY much... Thanks...... Distillers list archives :
        > http://archive.nnytech.net/ FAQ and other information at http://homedistiller.org Yahoo! Groups Links Read
        > the attached FAQ and visit http://homedistiller.org should answer
        > most of your questions the term polishing usually relates to carbon
        > filtering what you are wanting to do is to redistill to improve purity. For
        > that simply cover the elements in your boiler with water then add you
        > alcohol...see below the method for running a reflux still. Hope this helps Cheers Ken Mc From:
        > Distillers@yahoogroups.com Date: 11/02/03 18:27:47 To: Distillers@yahoogroups.com; new_Distillers@yahoogroups.com Cc:
        > biofuel@yahoogroups.com; dbd@... Subject: [Distillers] New Distillers Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) "NEW
        > DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (last modified Feb'03) Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS
        > newsgroup at www
        > yahoogroups.com Please email any additions, corrections, clarifications required, etc
        > regarding the FAQ to Tony Ackland (Tony.Ackland@...),
        > however please direct any general questions to the newsgroup itself.
        > ******************************************************************* 1) Is distilling hard to do ? 2) Is it legal ? 3)
        > Will it make me blind ? 4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and fractionating
        > column ? 5) How do I get or make a still ? 6) How do I make a whisky / rum / vodka / gin ? 7) Should I use sugar or
        > grains ? 8) Can I use fruit wine ? 9) How do I make a Turbo-all-sugar wash ? 10) How do I run a Pot still ? 11) How do I
        > run a Reflux still ? 12) Can I use a reflux still to make rum or whisky ? 13) How do I measure the strength of it &
        > dilute it ? 14) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ? 15) Why do my spirits turn cloudy when diluted ? 16) How do I
        > flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ? 17) What web resources are there ? 18) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS
        > news group ? 19) Can I run my car on it ? 20) How do I convert between gallons and litres and .... 21) What is a
        > "Thumper" ? 22) Can methylated spirits be made safe to drink ?
        > ********************************************************************** 1) Is distilling hard to do ? Nope - if you
        > can follow instructions enough to bake scones, then you can
        > sucessfully distil. To distil well however, will require you to understand
        > what you're doing, so read around and get a bit of information under your
        > belt before you begin. 2) Is it legal ? Probably not. It is only legal in New Zealand, and some European countries
        > turn a blind eye to it, but elsewhere it is illegal, with punishment ranging
        > from fines to imprisonment or floggings. This action against it is usually
        > the result of either religous beliefs (right or wrong), but more generally
        > due to the great revenue base it provides Governements through excise taxes.
        > So if you are going to distil, just be aware of the potential legal
        > ramifications. 3) Will it make me blind ? Not if you're careful. This pervasive question is due to moonshine lore,
        > which abounds with myths of blindness, but few actual documented cases. The
        > concern is due to the presence of methanol (wood alcohol), an optic nerve
        > poison, which can be present in small amounts when fermenting grains or
        > fruits high in pectin. This methanol comes off first from the still, so it
        > is easily segregated and discarded, and easily observed via changes in the
        > vapour temperature. A simple rule of thumb for this is to throw away the
        > first 50 mL you collect (per 20 L mash used). Probably the greatest risk to
        > your health during distilling is the risk of fire - collecting a flammable
        > liquid near a heat source. So keep a fire extinguisher nearby. The cases where you do hear about people poisoned by
        > "illict spirits" have
        > been the terrible situations where adulterants such as methanol, antifreeze,
        > battery acid etc have been added to the spirits afterwards by unscrupulous
        > sellers (for what misguided reasons ??). If you have had a healthy
        > fermentation take place, it is infact very difficult to make methanol. The
        > other problems have been lead poisoning when people have used lead-based
        > products (ie lead solder) when constructing their still, instead of
        > something more appropriate for food-grade vessels. The rules should infact
        > be "dont buy spirits from an unknown supplier" - but its very safe to
        > distill for yourself. 4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and fractionating
        > column ? A pot still simply collects and condenses the alcohol vapours that come off
        > the boiling mash. This will result in an alcohol at about 40-60% purity,
        > with plenty of flavour in it. If this distillate were put through the pot
        > still again, it would increase in purity to around 70-85% purity, and lose a
        > bit of its flavour. A reflux still does these multiple distillations in one single go, by having
        > some packing in a column between the condensor & the pot, and allowing some
        > of the vapour to condense and trickle back down through the packing. This
        > reflux" of liquid helps clean the rising vapour and increase the % purity.
        > The taller the packed column, and the more reflux liquid, the purer the
        > product will be. The advantage of doing this is that it will result in a
        > clean vodka, with little flavour to it - ideal for mixing with flavours etc. A fractionating column is a pure form of
        > the reflux still. It will condense
        > all the vapour at the top of the packing, and return about 9/10 back down
        > the column. The column will be quite tall - say 600-1200mm (2-4 foot), and
        > packed with a material high in surface area, but which takes up little space
        > (pot scrubbers are good for this). It will result in an alcohol 95%+ pure
        > (the theoretical limit without using a vacuum is 96.48 %(by volume)), with
        > no other tastes or impurities in it. 5) How do I get or make a still ? If you're after a pot still, these are
        > generally home made using what-ever
        > you have at hand - say copper tubing and old water heaters or pressure
        > cookers. You don't really need any plans for these - just follow any of the
        > photos about. Reflux stills can be made from plans on the net, or bought from several
        > manufacturers. For reflux still plans see The photos section at http://homedistiller.org/photos-ns.htm for "Offset
        > head" designs, and http://homedistiller.org/photos-reflux.htm for general
        > reflux stills. Alex's designs at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Distillers/files/OFTS/ StillCookers
        > http://us.geocities.com/stillcooker/ Stillmakers "Build a World Class Distillation Apparatus" at http://www
        > Moonshine-Still.com (Free!) or Gert Strands : http://partyman.se/Engelsk/default.htm (US$5). Ian Smileys "Making Pure
        > Corn Whisky" at http://www.home-distilling.com ,
        > with full design details. For an excellent book on all aspects of still design, see "The Compleat
        > Distiller" at http://www.amphora-society.com. See the list of "web resources" below for links to sites selling ready-made
        > stills. For fuel alcohol stills see the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual at
        > http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_motherearth/meToC.html,
        > and the The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel by S.W.
        > Mathewson at http://journeytoforever
        > org/biofuel_library/ethanol_manual/manual_ToC.html Regarding the choice of heating for the still - if you have 240V available
        > it is usually easiest to control & safer (particularly with internal
        > elements). Gas can be used, but more care is needed to keep the collection
        > container further away and not letting it overfill. For more details on design, see http://homedistiller.org/designs.htm and
        > http://homedistiller.org/refluxdesign.htm. 6) How do I make a whisky / vodka / rum / gin ? Whiskey : Heat 4 kg
        > cracked or crushed malt with 18 L of water to 63-65 �C,
        > and hold there for 1-1.5 hours. Heat to 73-75 �C, then strain off and keep
        > liquid, using 250 mL of hot water to rinse the grains. Cool to below 30 �C
        > (should have an initial specific gravity of 1.050). Add hydrated yeast &
        > leave to ferment (maintain at 26 �C) until airlock stops bubbling and final
        > SG of around 1.010. Let settle for a day, then syphon carefully into a pot
        > still. Discard the first 50 mL's, collect the next 2-3L of distillate or
        > until you start noticing the tails coming through. Many people also have
        > sucess starting with a beer-kit instead of using grains. Vodka : dissolve 5 kg of sugar & 60 g of nutrients in 20 L of
        > water, cool to
        > below 30C and add hydrated yeast. Leave to ferment at 25 �C until below an
        > SG of around 0.990, then settle for a day. Syphon into a reflux or
        > fractionating still, and collect as per usual. Rum : as per vodka, but use some brown sugar or mollasses, to give an
        > initial specific gravity (SG) of around 1.060 - 1.070. Run through either a
        > pot still, or a de-refluxed reflux still. Gin : make a very pure vodka, then add the following essence. Simmer 35 g of
        > juniper berries in 350 mL of 50% vodka for ten minutes with the lid on, let
        > cool overnight, then filter through coffee filters. Use 5-10 mL of this
        > essence per bottle of vodka. When doing any fermenting, take a lot of care to ensure that any items used
        > are clean/sterile (soaking them in a water + bleach (10 mL per litre) ), or
        > else the wash can start growing other things. Use a closed fermenter with an
        > airlock too, to let the CO2 out without letting wild yeasts, bugs etc in.
        > For more information about fermenting, see beer or wine homebrewing sites. 7) Should I use sugar or grains/fruit ? It
        > depends on what sort of still you have, and what you are trying to make.
        > If you have a reflux or fractionating still, only use whatever is cheapest
        > (usually sugar), as the refluxing will strip out all the flavours anyhow. If
        > you have a pot still, and are after a bourban or whiskey, then you need to
        > go the grain route, or mollasses if after a rum. If you are trying to make a
        > neutral spirit for flavouring, go for sugar. Basic guidelines for using them are .. SUGAR. Wine yeast can use no more
        > than 2.5lbs of sugar/1imp gal or 2.2lb/1U
        > S.gal or 1.25kg/5litres of must. This will produce 14%a.b.v. Honey and
        > liquid malt extract are 80% sugar so you need 1.5kg/5l must or mash.
        > Molasses is 50% sugar so you need 2.5kg/5l must or mash. Maple syrup is 32%
        > sugar. Carob beans are 45% sugar. Sugar beets are 15% sugar Grain malt is
        > 60% sugar (starch converted to sugars) so you need 1.5kg/5l mash. Cooked
        > grain contains 60% convertible starch so you need 1.5kg/5l mash FRUIT - Grapes contain the ideal sugar, water, acid
        > balance. A sugar content
        > of 17-23% and a water content of about 80%. 8kg of grapes produces 5l of
        > wine. Most common fruits (apples, plums, apricots) contain about 10% sugar and 85%
        > water. Cherries and figs contain 15% sugar. A fruit mash could be 4kg fruit,
        > (400g sugar content), 2l water (3l in pulp already), 800g additional sugar. Bananas are 17-24% sugar, 75% water. Acid
        > content 0.3%. A banana mash could
        > be 4kg of cooked bananas, 2l water (3l in pulp already),400g sugar. Add
        > 3lemons/5l for correct pH. Dates are 70% sugar, 20% water. Add acid to a date mash. Raisins and sultanas have a water
        > content of about 15% and a sugar content
        > of 60%, grapes have a water content of 75% and a sugar content of about 20%,
        > so using 1.5-2kg/5l of water appears about right if we want to reconstitute
        > them. ACID - 5g of citric acid (1tsp)/5l must raises acidity by 0.1%. 3g of
        > calcium carbonate powder lowers acidity by 0.1%. A pH of 5 is 0.4% acidity.
        > Winemakers aim for 0.6% acidity. Most common fruits are about 0.6% acid
        > content. For distilling, a higher acidity in the mash helps to suppress
        > bacteria. A high tannin content doesn't matter as we are not making wine.
        > Meaurements are logarithmic, so a pH of 4 is 10 times more acidic than a pH
        > of 5. YEAST - Brewers (& possibly baker's yeast) can tolerate only 8% alcohol. A
        > bottom fermenting lager yeast ferments out all the sugars better than a top
        > fermenting ale yeast. A good wine yeast (Champagne, in the right conditions,
        > can tolerate 15%a.b.v. (up to 18%a.b.v. in optimal conditions - no need to
        > use expensive turbos). Wild yeasts vary, but some are very low - this is a
        > risky path. Whisky distillers often use a combination of yeasts - initially
        > a brewer's yeast because they believe it effects the flavor. 8) Can I use fruit wine ? Sure, if you have it
        > available. Again, using a pot still will result in a
        > brandy/grappa/schnapps, whereas a reflux still will just strip it down to
        > neutral spirit. 9) How do I make a Turbo-all-sugar wash ? The first trick is to locate the "Turbo" yeasts - either
        > try the New Zealand
        > sites, or www.brewhaus.com. Then, dissolve 5-6 kg of sugar with 2-3 L of
        > boiling water, top up to 25 L with cold water, wait until its cooled below
        > 24 �C, and then stir the yeast in, and close the lid with an airlock. Keep
        > at 24 �C until the SG has dropped below 1.010 Its then possible to add extra
        > sugar (1 kg at a time, dissolved in a little water) each time the SG has
        > dropped below 1.010. You should be able to add an extra 3-4 kg this way over
        > a week. It should finish around 0.980 - 0.990 10) How do I run a Pot Still ? See
        > http://homedistiller.org/dtw.htm#use_pot for details. A pot still is
        > fairly straight forward to use. Turn it on. Once the temperature is up to
        > about 60 �C turn on the cooling water to the condensor. Make sure you throw
        > away the first 1 00 mL per 20L wash, as this will contain any methanol that
        > might be present. Segregate the distillate into 500 mL lots as it comes off.
        > Only keep (for drinking) that which doesn't contain fusels (smell off) -
        > probably below about 92 � C, however you should keep distilling past here,
        > untill about 96 � C, as this fraction, although high in tails and not good
        > for drinking this time, can be added back to the next wash and cleaned up OK
        > then. 11) How do I run a Reflux / Fractionating Still ? See http://homedistiller.org/dtw.htm#use_reflux for details
        > +/or variations.
        > It is best to first equilibriate the column under total reflux for 10
        > minutes or so. This will concentrate up the foreshots so that they can be
        > removed first. Collect them one drip at a time, for approx 50 mL per 25L
        > wash, and throw away. You can then collect the remaining run at a quicker
        > rate. Adjust the reflux ratio (the ratio of how much of the total vapour is
        > returned as reflux) by varying either the rate of collection or rate of
        > cooling water (depending on still design) to maintain the purity you want.
        > You can judge the purity by measuring the vapour temperature. Target around
        > 78.2 - 78.4 �C . Towards the end of the run it will be hard to get a high
        > enough reflux ratio to maintain the high purity / low temperature. When the
        > temperature has nudged up to around 80 �C quit collecting for drinking, and
        > collect the remainder as tails (for redistillation in the next run) up to
        > around 96 �C . 12) Can I use a Reflux Still to make Rum or Whisky ? Yes you can. To do so, you need to carefully
        > monitor the various transitions
        > between the foreshots, heads, middle run, and tails, and time the collection
        > of the middle run precisely. The reflux still allows you to more precisely
        > judge the changes between the various stages, and hence target them
        > accurately. A typical rum or whisky would be obtained by discarding the
        > foreshots, then collecting the heads, middle run, and then begin the tails,
        > until the purity has dropped to around 58-60% (82 �C). By altering when to
        > start collecting, and how late to time the final "cut", various flavour
        > profiles will result. You'd collect it faster and at a slightly lower reflux
        > ratio than for a neutral spirit, as you want the flavour present. 13) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
        > You need a hydrometer. This is a wee float, with a scale inside it. The more
        > alcohol that is present, the lighter the density of the liquid, so the
        > hydrometer sinks a bit lower. You then just read off the scale how much
        > alcohol is present. You need a seperate hydrometer for measuring the density
        > of the mash, as this is generally > 1.0, whereas the spirit is < 1.0, and
        > they can't accurately do both ends of the scale. 14) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ? That "rough moonshine
        > edge" or "off-taste / wet cardboard smell" is due to
        > impurities such as the higher order alcohols, known as cogeners or fusel
        > oils. These will be present more when using a pot still, less if using a
        > reflux still, and just about absent if using a fractionating column. So one
        > way is to use a taller packed column and increase the amount of reflux
        > occuring. They can also indicate that you've tried to collect too much of
        > the alcohol, and have run into the "tails"; so finish collecting a little
        > bit earlier next time. Soaking tainted alcohol with activated carbon for a
        > week (or even months) will help remove some of this flavour - this is known
        > as "polishing" the spirit. I'm also suspecting that you need a little bit of
        > copper somewhere in the still where it can come in contact with the vapour.
        > The copper helps catalyse some of the sulphur, esters & organic acids,
        > reducing their odour & taste. 15) Why do my spirits turn cloudy when diluted ? With neutral spirits, either you have
        > pushed 'tails' into your product (eg
        > collected too much product from the still - quit earlier next time), or you
        > are using poor tap-water (high in calcium carbonate). If it happens when
        > diluting your gin, sambuca or the like, its because there is too little
        > alcohol/too much oil present and the oils are no longer dissolved. Either
        > drink it cloudy or increase the % alcohol present. 16) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ? There
        > are now many commercial flavourings available, which turn vodka or
        > neutral alcohol into pretty decent gin or whiskey, or all manor of liqueurs.
        > See the commercial sites, like Des Zines http://homepages.ihug.co
        > nz/~topkiwi or Ray Toms http://moonshine.co.nz/ for details. Or you can soak
        > it with oak chips and make whiskey, or soak fruits in it to make your own
        > liqueurs. There are many websites describing how to make liqueurs - see
        > http://homedistiller.org/liqueurs.htm or http://www.guntheranderson.com for
        > a starting point. 17) What web resources are there ? For more details, see : Tony Ackland's http://homedistiller.org
        > Aaron Smiths's http://www.go.to/distillation Steve Spence's http://webconx.green-trust.org/ethanol.htm StillMaker's
        > http://www.Moonshine-Still.com Biofuels Library http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library.html 18) How do I contact
        > the NEW DISTILLERS news group ? Both the NEW DISTILLERS and the DISTILLERS news groups are available via
        > YahooGroups, at http://www.yahoogroups.com . NEW DISTILLERS is, as the name
        > suggests, intended for those of you new to distilling and after simple,
        > straight-forward answers to questions, whereas the DISTILLERS group
        > discussions are a bit more advanced, throwing in bits of design philosophy,
        > theory, and alternative ways of achieving the results. Both tend to overlap
        > to some extent. 19) Can I run my car on it ? You can run your car on alcohol over about 80% purity. Because any water
        > present will seperate out in the presence of the gasoline (and become a
        > problem), you either need to exclusively use the alcohol, or dry it right
        > out (eg 99%+ purity) if using it to mix with gasoline. See Steve Spences
        > site for more details, the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual, or the The
        > Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel. In addition, in the
        > USA, you can get a "small fuel producer" permit, which allows small scale
        > distilling for "motor fuel" purposes. A nice advantage is that they don't
        > require denaturing for "fuel" used on the premises. The regulations are
        > posted at http://webconx.green-trust.org/ethanol.htm 20) How do I convert between gallons and litres and .... To
        > convert between SI & Imperial units, multiply the first unit by the
        > conversion factor to get the second. Divide back to do it in reverse .eg 1L
        > = 0.264 US gal, so 20 L = 20 x 0.264 = 5.28 US gal, and 20 US gal / 0.264 =
        > 75.76 L 1 L = 0.264 US gal = 0.221 UK gal 1 L = 1.057 US qt = 0.880 UK qt 1 kg = 2.204 lbm = 32.15 oz (troy) = 35.27 oz
        > (av) deg F = ((9/5) x deg C )+ 32 1m = 1000 mm = 39.37 inch = 3.28 ft = 1.09 yd 21) What is a "Thumper" ? A "thumper"
        > is an extra chamber sometimes fitted to a pot still. It can be
        > as simple as a glass jar with two holes in the lid. The off-take from the
        > still is fed into it, with the pipe running almost all the way to the bottom
        > of the jar; the jar is half filled with liquid (water or mash or tails) so
        > that the vapour from the still will bubble up through it; then the vapour
        > coming off it is collected & cooled as per normal. It acts as a second
        > distilling chamber using just the heat from the vapour, and lifts the purity
        > from 50-60% to 70-80%, hence improving what might otherwise be a very
        > mediocre design. Don't make the thumper too small, and start it off with
        > liquid already high in alcohol. 22) Can Methylated Spirits be made safe to Drink ? No. Methylated spirits (aka meths)
        > is a mixture of ethanol and (poisonous)
        > methanol, with a denturant added to make it foul tasting. There is no
        > effective way of seperating them, be it by distilling, using carbon, or
        > filtering through bread (old wives tale). Do not add meths to anything you
        > ever intend to distill or drink, and don't try using it in any form - it
        > will still be poisonous. Keep it for cleaning and starting the BBQ with.
        > Likewise, you cant "clean up" antifreeze in your still. ------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor
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        > ---------------------------------------------------------------------~-> To unsubscribe from this group send a blank email to
        > distillers-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com Distillers list archives : http://archive.nnytech.net/ FAQ and other information
        > at http://homedistiller.org Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/ . .
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >
        > Distillers list archives : http://archive.nnytech.net/
        > FAQ and other information at http://homedistiller.org
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >
      • Austin Smith
        130%? Wowsers. [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        Message 3 of 5 , Mar 29, 2004
          130%? Wowsers.

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • woof117
          ... in one single go, by having some packing in a column between the condensor & the pot, and allowing some of the vapour to condense and trickle back
          Message 4 of 5 , Mar 29, 2004
            --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Rutger Amons"
            <rutger@a...> wrote:
            > Should we be able to read and understand this actually?
            >
            > Rutger

            Only if you can read english. I said I was new at this........

            > > -----Original Message-----
            > > From: K&J [mailto:macandjo@p...]
            > > Sent: Tuesday, March 30, 2004 6:55 PM
            > > To: Distillers@yahoogroups.com
            > > Subject: Re: [Distillers] How do I polish?
            > >
            > >
            > > -------Original Message------- From:
            Distillers@yahoogroups.com Date: 03/29/04 12:16:11 To:
            > > Distillers@yahoogroups.com Subject: [Distillers] How do I
            polish? I'm new to the hobby and I have about ten liters of
            > > weak vodka (about 130%) I made with a pot still and wish to
            boost it up. How do I go about polishing it with my new
            > > reflux still, do I ad water to the boiler with the vodka if so how
            much? What temp should I run it at? Is there anything
            > > else I should do? All help appriciated VERY much...
            Thanks...... Distillers list archives :
            > > http://archive.nnytech.net/ FAQ and other information at
            http://homedistiller.org Yahoo! Groups Links Read
            > > the attached FAQ and visit http://homedistiller.org should
            answer
            > > most of your questions the term polishing usually relates to
            carbon
            > > filtering what you are wanting to do is to redistill to improve
            purity. For
            > > that simply cover the elements in your boiler with water then
            add you
            > > alcohol...see below the method for running a reflux still.
            Hope this helps Cheers Ken Mc From:
            > > Distillers@yahoogroups.com Date: 11/02/03 18:27:47 To:
            Distillers@yahoogroups.com;
            new_Distillers@yahoogroups.com Cc:
            > > biofuel@yahoogroups.com; dbd@h... Subject: [Distillers]
            New Distillers Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) "NEW
            > > DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (last modified
            Feb'03) Posted near the 1st of each month, to the
            NEW_DISTILLERS
            > > newsgroup at www
            > > yahoogroups.com Please email any additions, corrections,
            clarifications required, etc
            > > regarding the FAQ to Tony Ackland (Tony.Ackland@c...),
            > > however please direct any general questions to the
            newsgroup itself.
            > >
            *******************************************************************
            1) Is distilling hard to do ? 2) Is it legal ? 3)
            > > Will it make me blind ? 4) Whats the difference between a pot
            still, reflux still, and fractionating
            > > column ? 5) How do I get or make a still ? 6) How do I make
            a whisky / rum / vodka / gin ? 7) Should I use sugar or
            > > grains ? 8) Can I use fruit wine ? 9) How do I make a
            Turbo-all-sugar wash ? 10) How do I run a Pot still ? 11) How do
            I
            > > run a Reflux still ? 12) Can I use a reflux still to make rum or
            whisky ? 13) How do I measure the strength of it &
            > > dilute it ? 14) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ? 15) Why do
            my spirits turn cloudy when diluted ? 16) How do I
            > > flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ? 17) What web
            resources are there ? 18) How do I contact the NEW
            DISTILLERS
            > > news group ? 19) Can I run my car on it ? 20) How do I
            convert between gallons and litres and .... 21) What is a
            > > "Thumper" ? 22) Can methylated spirits be made safe to
            drink ?
            > >
            **********************************************************************
            1) Is distilling hard to do ? Nope - if you
            > > can follow instructions enough to bake scones, then you can
            > > sucessfully distil. To distil well however, will require you to
            understand
            > > what you're doing, so read around and get a bit of information
            under your
            > > belt before you begin. 2) Is it legal ? Probably not. It is only
            legal in New Zealand, and some European countries
            > > turn a blind eye to it, but elsewhere it is illegal, with
            punishment ranging
            > > from fines to imprisonment or floggings. This action against
            it is usually
            > > the result of either religous beliefs (right or wrong), but more
            generally
            > > due to the great revenue base it provides Governements
            through excise taxes.
            > > So if you are going to distil, just be aware of the potential
            legal
            > > ramifications. 3) Will it make me blind ? Not if you're
            careful. This pervasive question is due to moonshine lore,
            > > which abounds with myths of blindness, but few actual
            documented cases. The
            > > concern is due to the presence of methanol (wood alcohol),
            an optic nerve
            > > poison, which can be present in small amounts when
            fermenting grains or
            > > fruits high in pectin. This methanol comes off first from the
            still, so it
            > > is easily segregated and discarded, and easily observed via
            changes in the
            > > vapour temperature. A simple rule of thumb for this is to
            throw away the
            > > first 50 mL you collect (per 20 L mash used). Probably the
            greatest risk to
            > > your health during distilling is the risk of fire - collecting a
            flammable
            > > liquid near a heat source. So keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
            The cases where you do hear about people poisoned by
            > > "illict spirits" have
            > > been the terrible situations where adulterants such as
            methanol, antifreeze,
            > > battery acid etc have been added to the spirits afterwards by
            unscrupulous
            > > sellers (for what misguided reasons ??). If you have had a
            healthy
            > > fermentation take place, it is infact very difficult to make
            methanol. The
            > > other problems have been lead poisoning when people have
            used lead-based
            > > products (ie lead solder) when constructing their still, instead
            of
            > > something more appropriate for food-grade vessels. The
            rules should infact
            > > be "dont buy spirits from an unknown supplier" - but its very
            safe to
            > > distill for yourself. 4) Whats the difference between a pot
            still, reflux still, and fractionating
            > > column ? A pot still simply collects and condenses the
            alcohol vapours that come off
            > > the boiling mash. This will result in an alcohol at about
            40-60% purity,
            > > with plenty of flavour in it. If this distillate were put through the
            pot
            > > still again, it would increase in purity to around 70-85% purity,
            and lose a
            > > bit of its flavour. A reflux still does these multiple distillations =

            in one single go, by having
            > > some packing in a column between the condensor & the pot,
            and allowing some
            > > of the vapour to condense and trickle back down through the
            packing. This
            > > reflux" of liquid helps clean the rising vapour and increase
            the % purity.
            > > The taller the packed column, and the more reflux liquid, the
            purer the
            > > product will be. The advantage of doing this is that it will
            result in a
            > > clean vodka, with little flavour to it - ideal for mixing with
            flavours etc. A fractionating column is a pure form of
            > > the reflux still. It will condense
            > > all the vapour at the top of the packing, and return about 9/10
            back down
            > > the column. The column will be quite tall - say 600-1200mm
            (2-4 foot), and
            > > packed with a material high in surface area, but which takes
            up little space
            > > (pot scrubbers are good for this). It will result in an alcohol
            95%+ pure
            > > (the theoretical limit without using a vacuum is 96.48 %(by
            volume)), with
            > > no other tastes or impurities in it. 5) How do I get or make a
            still ? If you're after a pot still, these are
            > > generally home made using what-ever
            > > you have at hand - say copper tubing and old water heaters
            or pressure
            > > cookers. You don't really need any plans for these - just
            follow any of the
            > > photos about. Reflux stills can be made from plans on the
            net, or bought from several
            > > manufacturers. For reflux still plans see The photos section
            at http://homedistiller.org/photos-ns.htm for "Offset
            > > head" designs, and http://homedistiller.org/photos-reflux.htm
            for general
            > > reflux stills. Alex's designs at
            http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Distillers/files/OFTS/ StillCookers
            > > http://us.geocities.com/stillcooker/ Stillmakers "Build a World
            Class Distillation Apparatus" at http://www
            > > Moonshine-Still.com (Free!) or Gert Strands :
            http://partyman.se/Engelsk/default.htm (US$5). Ian Smileys
            "Making Pure
            > > Corn Whisky" at http://www.home-distilling.com ,
            > > with full design details. For an excellent book on all aspects
            of still design, see "The Compleat
            > > Distiller" at http://www.amphora-society.com. See the list of
            "web resources" below for links to sites selling ready-made
            > > stills. For fuel alcohol stills see the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel
            manual at
            > >
            http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_motherearth/m
            eToC.html,
            > > and the The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of
            Alcohol Fuel by S.W.
            > > Mathewson at http://journeytoforever
            > > org/biofuel_library/ethanol_manual/manual_ToC.html
            Regarding the choice of heating for the still - if you have 240V
            available
            > > it is usually easiest to control & safer (particularly with
            internal
            > > elements). Gas can be used, but more care is needed to
            keep the collection
            > > container further away and not letting it overfill. For more
            details on design, see http://homedistiller.org/designs.htm and
            > > http://homedistiller.org/refluxdesign.htm. 6) How do I make
            a whisky / vodka / rum / gin ? Whiskey : Heat 4 kg
            > > cracked or crushed malt with 18 L of water to 63-65 °C,
            > > and hold there for 1-1.5 hours. Heat to 73-75 °C, then strain
            off and keep
            > > liquid, using 250 mL of hot water to rinse the grains. Cool to
            below 30 °C
            > > (should have an initial specific gravity of 1.050). Add hydrated
            yeast &
            > > leave to ferment (maintain at 26 °C) until airlock stops
            bubbling and final
            > > SG of around 1.010. Let settle for a day, then syphon carefully
            into a pot
            > > still. Discard the first 50 mL's, collect the next 2-3L of
            distillate or
            > > until you start noticing the tails coming through. Many people
            also have
            > > sucess starting with a beer-kit instead of using grains.
            Vodka : dissolve 5 kg of sugar & 60 g of nutrients in 20 L of
            > > water, cool to
            > > below 30C and add hydrated yeast. Leave to ferment at 25 °C
            until below an
            > > SG of around 0.990, then settle for a day. Syphon into a reflux
            or
            > > fractionating still, and collect as per usual. Rum : as per
            vodka, but use some brown sugar or mollasses, to give an
            > > initial specific gravity (SG) of around 1.060 - 1.070. Run
            through either a
            > > pot still, or a de-refluxed reflux still. Gin : make a very pure
            vodka, then add the following essence. Simmer 35 g of
            > > juniper berries in 350 mL of 50% vodka for ten minutes with
            the lid on, let
            > > cool overnight, then filter through coffee filters. Use 5-10 mL
            of this
            > > essence per bottle of vodka. When doing any fermenting,
            take a lot of care to ensure that any items used
            > > are clean/sterile (soaking them in a water + bleach (10 mL
            per litre) ), or
            > > else the wash can start growing other things. Use a closed
            fermenter with an
            > > airlock too, to let the CO2 out without letting wild yeasts, bugs
            etc in.
            > > For more information about fermenting, see beer or wine
            homebrewing sites. 7) Should I use sugar or grains/fruit ? It
            > > depends on what sort of still you have, and what you are
            trying to make.
            > > If you have a reflux or fractionating still, only use whatever is
            cheapest
            > > (usually sugar), as the refluxing will strip out all the flavours
            anyhow. If
            > > you have a pot still, and are after a bourban or whiskey, then
            you need to
            > > go the grain route, or mollasses if after a rum. If you are trying
            to make a
            > > neutral spirit for flavouring, go for sugar. Basic guidelines
            for using them are .. SUGAR. Wine yeast can use no more
            > > than 2.5lbs of sugar/1imp gal or 2.2lb/1U
            > > S.gal or 1.25kg/5litres of must. This will produce 14%a.b.v.
            Honey and
            > > liquid malt extract are 80% sugar so you need 1.5kg/5l must
            or mash.
            > > Molasses is 50% sugar so you need 2.5kg/5l must or mash.
            Maple syrup is 32%
            > > sugar. Carob beans are 45% sugar. Sugar beets are 15%
            sugar Grain malt is
            > > 60% sugar (starch converted to sugars) so you need 1.5kg/5l
            mash. Cooked
            > > grain contains 60% convertible starch so you need 1.5kg/5l
            mash FRUIT - Grapes contain the ideal sugar, water, acid
            > > balance. A sugar content
            > > of 17-23% and a water content of about 80%. 8kg of grapes
            produces 5l of
            > > wine. Most common fruits (apples, plums, apricots) contain
            about 10% sugar and 85%
            > > water. Cherries and figs contain 15% sugar. A fruit mash
            could be 4kg fruit,
            > > (400g sugar content), 2l water (3l in pulp already), 800g
            additional sugar. Bananas are 17-24% sugar, 75% water. Acid
            > > content 0.3%. A banana mash could
            > > be 4kg of cooked bananas, 2l water (3l in pulp already),400g
            sugar. Add
            > > 3lemons/5l for correct pH. Dates are 70% sugar, 20% water.
            Add acid to a date mash. Raisins and sultanas have a water
            > > content of about 15% and a sugar content
            > > of 60%, grapes have a water content of 75% and a sugar
            content of about 20%,
            > > so using 1.5-2kg/5l of water appears about right if we want to
            reconstitute
            > > them. ACID - 5g of citric acid (1tsp)/5l must raises acidity by
            0.1%. 3g of
            > > calcium carbonate powder lowers acidity by 0.1%. A pH of 5
            is 0.4% acidity.
            > > Winemakers aim for 0.6% acidity. Most common fruits are
            about 0.6% acid
            > > content. For distilling, a higher acidity in the mash helps to
            suppress
            > > bacteria. A high tannin content doesn't matter as we are not
            making wine.
            > > Meaurements are logarithmic, so a pH of 4 is 10 times more
            acidic than a pH
            > > of 5. YEAST - Brewers (& possibly baker's yeast) can
            tolerate only 8% alcohol. A
            > > bottom fermenting lager yeast ferments out all the sugars
            better than a top
            > > fermenting ale yeast. A good wine yeast (Champagne, in the
            right conditions,
            > > can tolerate 15%a.b.v. (up to 18%a.b.v. in optimal conditions
            - no need to
            > > use expensive turbos). Wild yeasts vary, but some are very
            low - this is a
            > > risky path. Whisky distillers often use a combination of
            yeasts - initially
            > > a brewer's yeast because they believe it effects the flavor. 8)
            Can I use fruit wine ? Sure, if you have it
            > > available. Again, using a pot still will result in a
            > > brandy/grappa/schnapps, whereas a reflux still will just strip
            it down to
            > > neutral spirit. 9) How do I make a Turbo-all-sugar wash ?
            The first trick is to locate the "Turbo" yeasts - either
            > > try the New Zealand
            > > sites, or www.brewhaus.com. Then, dissolve 5-6 kg of sugar
            with 2-3 L of
            > > boiling water, top up to 25 L with cold water, wait until its
            cooled below
            > > 24 °C, and then stir the yeast in, and close the lid with an
            airlock. Keep
            > > at 24 °C until the SG has dropped below 1.010 Its then
            possible to add extra
            > > sugar (1 kg at a time, dissolved in a little water) each time the
            SG has
            > > dropped below 1.010. You should be able to add an extra 3-4
            kg this way over
            > > a week. It should finish around 0.980 - 0.990 10) How do I
            run a Pot Still ? See
            > > http://homedistiller.org/dtw.htm#use_pot for details. A pot still
            is
            > > fairly straight forward to use. Turn it on. Once the temperature
            is up to
            > > about 60 °C turn on the cooling water to the condensor. Make
            sure you throw
            > > away the first 1 00 mL per 20L wash, as this will contain any
            methanol that
            > > might be present. Segregate the distillate into 500 mL lots as
            it comes off.
            > > Only keep (for drinking) that which doesn't contain fusels
            (smell off) -
            > > probably below about 92 ° C, however you should keep
            distilling past here,
            > > untill about 96 ° C, as this fraction, although high in tails and
            not good
            > > for drinking this time, can be added back to the next wash
            and cleaned up OK
            > > then. 11) How do I run a Reflux / Fractionating Still ? See
            http://homedistiller.org/dtw.htm#use_reflux for details
            > > +/or variations.
            > > It is best to first equilibriate the column under total reflux for
            10
            > > minutes or so. This will concentrate up the foreshots so that
            they can be
            > > removed first. Collect them one drip at a time, for approx 50
            mL per 25L
            > > wash, and throw away. You can then collect the remaining
            run at a quicker
            > > rate. Adjust the reflux ratio (the ratio of how much of the total
            vapour is
            > > returned as reflux) by varying either the rate of collection or
            rate of
            > > cooling water (depending on still design) to maintain the
            purity you want.
            > > You can judge the purity by measuring the vapour
            temperature. Target around
            > > 78.2 - 78.4 °C . Towards the end of the run it will be hard to
            get a high
            > > enough reflux ratio to maintain the high purity / low
            temperature. When the
            > > temperature has nudged up to around 80 °C quit collecting
            for drinking, and
            > > collect the remainder as tails (for redistillation in the next run)
            up to
            > > around 96 °C . 12) Can I use a Reflux Still to make Rum or
            Whisky ? Yes you can. To do so, you need to carefully
            > > monitor the various transitions
            > > between the foreshots, heads, middle run, and tails, and
            time the collection
            > > of the middle run precisely. The reflux still allows you to more
            precisely
            > > judge the changes between the various stages, and hence
            target them
            > > accurately. A typical rum or whisky would be obtained by
            discarding the
            > > foreshots, then collecting the heads, middle run, and then
            begin the tails,
            > > until the purity has dropped to around 58-60% (82 °C). By
            altering when to
            > > start collecting, and how late to time the final "cut", various
            flavour
            > > profiles will result. You'd collect it faster and at a slightly
            lower reflux
            > > ratio than for a neutral spirit, as you want the flavour present.
            13) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
            > > You need a hydrometer. This is a wee float, with a scale
            inside it. The more
            > > alcohol that is present, the lighter the density of the liquid, so
            the
            > > hydrometer sinks a bit lower. You then just read off the scale
            how much
            > > alcohol is present. You need a seperate hydrometer for
            measuring the density
            > > of the mash, as this is generally > 1.0, whereas the spirit is <
            1.0, and
            > > they can't accurately do both ends of the scale. 14) How do I
            get rid of that "off-taste" ? That "rough moonshine
            > > edge" or "off-taste / wet cardboard smell" is due to
            > > impurities such as the higher order alcohols, known as
            cogeners or fusel
            > > oils. These will be present more when using a pot still, less
            if using a
            > > reflux still, and just about absent if using a fractionating
            column. So one
            > > way is to use a taller packed column and increase the
            amount of reflux
            > > occuring. They can also indicate that you've tried to collect too
            much of
            > > the alcohol, and have run into the "tails"; so finish collecting a
            little
            > > bit earlier next time. Soaking tainted alcohol with activated
            carbon for a
            > > week (or even months) will help remove some of this flavour
            - this is known
            > > as "polishing" the spirit. I'm also suspecting that you need a
            little bit of
            > > copper somewhere in the still where it can come in contact
            with the vapour.
            > > The copper helps catalyse some of the sulphur, esters &
            organic acids,
            > > reducing their odour & taste. 15) Why do my spirits turn
            cloudy when diluted ? With neutral spirits, either you have
            > > pushed 'tails' into your product (eg
            > > collected too much product from the still - quit earlier next
            time), or you
            > > are using poor tap-water (high in calcium carbonate). If it
            happens when
            > > diluting your gin, sambuca or the like, its because there is
            too little
            > > alcohol/too much oil present and the oils are no longer
            dissolved. Either
            > > drink it cloudy or increase the % alcohol present. 16) How
            do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ? There
            > > are now many commercial flavourings available, which turn
            vodka or
            > > neutral alcohol into pretty decent gin or whiskey, or all manor
            of liqueurs.
            > > See the commercial sites, like Des Zines
            http://homepages.ihug.co
            > > nz/~topkiwi or Ray Toms http://moonshine.co.nz/ for details.
            Or you can soak
            > > it with oak chips and make whiskey, or soak fruits in it to
            make your own
            > > liqueurs. There are many websites describing how to make
            liqueurs - see
            > > http://homedistiller.org/liqueurs.htm or
            http://www.guntheranderson.com for
            > > a starting point. 17) What web resources are there ? For
            more details, see : Tony Ackland's http://homedistiller.org
            > > Aaron Smiths's http://www.go.to/distillation Steve Spence's
            http://webconx.green-trust.org/ethanol.htm StillMaker's
            > > http://www.Moonshine-Still.com Biofuels Library
            http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library.html 18) How do I
            contact
            > > the NEW DISTILLERS news group ? Both the NEW
            DISTILLERS and the DISTILLERS news groups are available via
            > > YahooGroups, at http://www.yahoogroups.com . NEW
            DISTILLERS is, as the name
            > > suggests, intended for those of you new to distilling and after
            simple,
            > > straight-forward answers to questions, whereas the
            DISTILLERS group
            > > discussions are a bit more advanced, throwing in bits of
            design philosophy,
            > > theory, and alternative ways of achieving the results. Both
            tend to overlap
            > > to some extent. 19) Can I run my car on it ? You can run
            your car on alcohol over about 80% purity. Because any water
            > > present will seperate out in the presence of the gasoline
            (and become a
            > > problem), you either need to exclusively use the alcohol, or
            dry it right
            > > out (eg 99%+ purity) if using it to mix with gasoline. See Steve
            Spences
            > > site for more details, the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual,
            or the The
            > > Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel. In
            addition, in the
            > > USA, you can get a "small fuel producer" permit, which
            allows small scale
            > > distilling for "motor fuel" purposes. A nice advantage is that
            they don't
            > > require denaturing for "fuel" used on the premises. The
            regulations are
            > > posted at http://webconx.green-trust.org/ethanol.htm 20)
            How do I convert between gallons and litres and .... To
            > > convert between SI & Imperial units, multiply the first unit by
            the
            > > conversion factor to get the second. Divide back to do it in
            reverse .eg 1L
            > > = 0.264 US gal, so 20 L = 20 x 0.264 = 5.28 US gal, and 20
            US gal / 0.264 =
            > > 75.76 L 1 L = 0.264 US gal = 0.221 UK gal 1 L = 1.057 US qt
            = 0.880 UK qt 1 kg = 2.204 lbm = 32.15 oz (troy) = 35.27 oz
            > > (av) deg F = ((9/5) x deg C )+ 32 1m = 1000 mm = 39.37 inch
            = 3.28 ft = 1.09 yd 21) What is a "Thumper" ? A "thumper"
            > > is an extra chamber sometimes fitted to a pot still. It can be
            > > as simple as a glass jar with two holes in the lid. The off-take
            from the
            > > still is fed into it, with the pipe running almost all the way to
            the bottom
            > > of the jar; the jar is half filled with liquid (water or mash or
            tails) so
            > > that the vapour from the still will bubble up through it; then the
            vapour
            > > coming off it is collected & cooled as per normal. It acts as a
            second
            > > distilling chamber using just the heat from the vapour, and
            lifts the purity
            > > from 50-60% to 70-80%, hence improving what might
            otherwise be a very
            > > mediocre design. Don't make the thumper too small, and
            start it off with
            > > liquid already high in alcohol. 22) Can Methylated Spirits be
            made safe to Drink ? No. Methylated spirits (aka meths)
            > > is a mixture of ethanol and (poisonous)
            > > methanol, with a denturant added to make it foul tasting.
            There is no
            > > effective way of seperating them, be it by distilling, using
            carbon, or
            > > filtering through bread (old wives tale). Do not add meths to
            anything you
            > > ever intend to distill or drink, and don't try using it in any form -
            it
            > > will still be poisonous. Keep it for cleaning and starting the
            BBQ with.
            > > Likewise, you cant "clean up" antifreeze in your still.
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            > > ---------------------------------------------------------------------~-=
            > To
            unsubscribe from this group send a blank email to
            > > distillers-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com Distillers list
            archives : http://archive.nnytech.net/ FAQ and other information
            > > at http://homedistiller.org Your use of Yahoo! Groups is
            subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/ . .
            > >
            > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > > Distillers list archives : http://archive.nnytech.net/
            > > FAQ and other information at http://homedistiller.org
            > > Yahoo! Groups Links
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >
          • K&J
            ... From: Distillers@yahoogroups.com Date: 03/29/04 12:16:11 To: Distillers@yahoogroups.com Subject: [Distillers] How do I polish? I m new to the hobby and I
            Message 5 of 5 , Mar 30, 2004
              -------Original Message-------

              From: Distillers@yahoogroups.com
              Date: 03/29/04 12:16:11
              To: Distillers@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [Distillers] How do I polish?

              I'm new to the hobby and I have about ten liters of weak vodka
              (about 130%) I made with a pot still and wish to boost it up. How
              do I go about
              polishing it with my new reflux still, do I ad water to the boiler
              with
              the vodka if so how much? What temp should I run it at? Is there
              anything else I should do? All help appriciated VERY much...
              Thanks......



              Distillers list archives : http://archive.nnytech.net/
              FAQ and other information at http://homedistiller.org
              Yahoo! Groups Links







              Read the attached FAQ and visit http://homedistiller.org should answer
              most of your questions the term polishing usually relates to carbon
              filtering what you are wanting to do is to redistill to improve purity. For
              that simply cover the elements in your boiler with water then add you
              alcohol...see below the method for running a reflux still.

              Hope this helps

              Cheers Ken Mc




              From: Distillers@yahoogroups.com
              Date: 11/02/03 18:27:47
              To: Distillers@yahoogroups.com; new_Distillers@yahoogroups.com
              Cc: biofuel@yahoogroups.com; dbd@...
              Subject: [Distillers] New Distillers Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


              "NEW DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (last modified Feb'03)

              Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at www
              yahoogroups.com

              Please email any additions, corrections, clarifications required, etc
              regarding the FAQ to Tony Ackland (Tony.Ackland@...),
              however please direct any general questions to the newsgroup itself.

              *******************************************************************

              1) Is distilling hard to do ?
              2) Is it legal ?
              3) Will it make me blind ?
              4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and fractionating
              column ?
              5) How do I get or make a still ?
              6) How do I make a whisky / rum / vodka / gin ?
              7) Should I use sugar or grains ?
              8) Can I use fruit wine ?
              9) How do I make a Turbo-all-sugar wash ?
              10) How do I run a Pot still ?
              11) How do I run a Reflux still ?
              12) Can I use a reflux still to make rum or whisky ?
              13) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
              14) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?
              15) Why do my spirits turn cloudy when diluted ?
              16) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?
              17) What web resources are there ?
              18) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?
              19) Can I run my car on it ?
              20) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....
              21) What is a "Thumper" ?
              22) Can methylated spirits be made safe to drink ?

              **********************************************************************

              1) Is distilling hard to do ?

              Nope - if you can follow instructions enough to bake scones, then you can
              sucessfully distil. To distil well however, will require you to understand
              what you're doing, so read around and get a bit of information under your
              belt before you begin.

              2) Is it legal ?

              Probably not. It is only legal in New Zealand, and some European countries
              turn a blind eye to it, but elsewhere it is illegal, with punishment ranging
              from fines to imprisonment or floggings. This action against it is usually
              the result of either religous beliefs (right or wrong), but more generally
              due to the great revenue base it provides Governements through excise taxes.
              So if you are going to distil, just be aware of the potential legal
              ramifications.

              3) Will it make me blind ?

              Not if you're careful. This pervasive question is due to moonshine lore,
              which abounds with myths of blindness, but few actual documented cases. The
              concern is due to the presence of methanol (wood alcohol), an optic nerve
              poison, which can be present in small amounts when fermenting grains or
              fruits high in pectin. This methanol comes off first from the still, so it
              is easily segregated and discarded, and easily observed via changes in the
              vapour temperature. A simple rule of thumb for this is to throw away the
              first 50 mL you collect (per 20 L mash used). Probably the greatest risk to
              your health during distilling is the risk of fire - collecting a flammable
              liquid near a heat source. So keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

              The cases where you do hear about people poisoned by "illict spirits" have
              been the terrible situations where adulterants such as methanol, antifreeze,
              battery acid etc have been added to the spirits afterwards by unscrupulous
              sellers (for what misguided reasons ??). If you have had a healthy
              fermentation take place, it is infact very difficult to make methanol. The
              other problems have been lead poisoning when people have used lead-based
              products (ie lead solder) when constructing their still, instead of
              something more appropriate for food-grade vessels. The rules should infact
              be "dont buy spirits from an unknown supplier" - but its very safe to
              distill for yourself.

              4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and fractionating
              column ?

              A pot still simply collects and condenses the alcohol vapours that come off
              the boiling mash. This will result in an alcohol at about 40-60% purity,
              with plenty of flavour in it. If this distillate were put through the pot
              still again, it would increase in purity to around 70-85% purity, and lose a
              bit of its flavour.

              A reflux still does these multiple distillations in one single go, by having
              some packing in a column between the condensor & the pot, and allowing some
              of the vapour to condense and trickle back down through the packing. This
              reflux" of liquid helps clean the rising vapour and increase the % purity.
              The taller the packed column, and the more reflux liquid, the purer the
              product will be. The advantage of doing this is that it will result in a
              clean vodka, with little flavour to it - ideal for mixing with flavours etc.

              A fractionating column is a pure form of the reflux still. It will condense
              all the vapour at the top of the packing, and return about 9/10 back down
              the column. The column will be quite tall - say 600-1200mm (2-4 foot), and
              packed with a material high in surface area, but which takes up little space
              (pot scrubbers are good for this). It will result in an alcohol 95%+ pure
              (the theoretical limit without using a vacuum is 96.48 %(by volume)), with
              no other tastes or impurities in it.

              5) How do I get or make a still ?

              If you're after a pot still, these are generally home made using what-ever
              you have at hand - say copper tubing and old water heaters or pressure
              cookers. You don't really need any plans for these - just follow any of the
              photos about.

              Reflux stills can be made from plans on the net, or bought from several
              manufacturers. For reflux still plans see
              The photos section at http://homedistiller.org/photos-ns.htm for "Offset
              head" designs, and http://homedistiller.org/photos-reflux.htm for general
              reflux stills.
              Alex's designs at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Distillers/files/OFTS/
              StillCookers http://us.geocities.com/stillcooker/
              Stillmakers "Build a World Class Distillation Apparatus" at http://www
              Moonshine-Still.com (Free!) or
              Gert Strands : http://partyman.se/Engelsk/default.htm (US$5).
              Ian Smileys "Making Pure Corn Whisky" at http://www.home-distilling.com ,
              with full design details.
              For an excellent book on all aspects of still design, see "The Compleat
              Distiller" at http://www.amphora-society.com.
              See the list of "web resources" below for links to sites selling ready-made
              stills.
              For fuel alcohol stills see the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual at
              http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_motherearth/meToC.html,
              and the The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel by S.W.
              Mathewson at http://journeytoforever
              org/biofuel_library/ethanol_manual/manual_ToC.html
              Regarding the choice of heating for the still - if you have 240V available
              it is usually easiest to control & safer (particularly with internal
              elements). Gas can be used, but more care is needed to keep the collection
              container further away and not letting it overfill.

              For more details on design, see http://homedistiller.org/designs.htm and
              http://homedistiller.org/refluxdesign.htm.

              6) How do I make a whisky / vodka / rum / gin ?

              Whiskey : Heat 4 kg cracked or crushed malt with 18 L of water to 63-65 °C,
              and hold there for 1-1.5 hours. Heat to 73-75 °C, then strain off and keep
              liquid, using 250 mL of hot water to rinse the grains. Cool to below 30 °C
              (should have an initial specific gravity of 1.050). Add hydrated yeast &
              leave to ferment (maintain at 26 °C) until airlock stops bubbling and final
              SG of around 1.010. Let settle for a day, then syphon carefully into a pot
              still. Discard the first 50 mL's, collect the next 2-3L of distillate or
              until you start noticing the tails coming through. Many people also have
              sucess starting with a beer-kit instead of using grains.

              Vodka : dissolve 5 kg of sugar & 60 g of nutrients in 20 L of water, cool to
              below 30C and add hydrated yeast. Leave to ferment at 25 °C until below an
              SG of around 0.990, then settle for a day. Syphon into a reflux or
              fractionating still, and collect as per usual.

              Rum : as per vodka, but use some brown sugar or mollasses, to give an
              initial specific gravity (SG) of around 1.060 - 1.070. Run through either a
              pot still, or a de-refluxed reflux still.

              Gin : make a very pure vodka, then add the following essence. Simmer 35 g of
              juniper berries in 350 mL of 50% vodka for ten minutes with the lid on, let
              cool overnight, then filter through coffee filters. Use 5-10 mL of this
              essence per bottle of vodka.

              When doing any fermenting, take a lot of care to ensure that any items used
              are clean/sterile (soaking them in a water + bleach (10 mL per litre) ), or
              else the wash can start growing other things. Use a closed fermenter with an
              airlock too, to let the CO2 out without letting wild yeasts, bugs etc in.
              For more information about fermenting, see beer or wine homebrewing sites.

              7) Should I use sugar or grains/fruit ?

              It depends on what sort of still you have, and what you are trying to make.
              If you have a reflux or fractionating still, only use whatever is cheapest
              (usually sugar), as the refluxing will strip out all the flavours anyhow. If
              you have a pot still, and are after a bourban or whiskey, then you need to
              go the grain route, or mollasses if after a rum. If you are trying to make a
              neutral spirit for flavouring, go for sugar.

              Basic guidelines for using them are ..

              SUGAR. Wine yeast can use no more than 2.5lbs of sugar/1imp gal or 2.2lb/1U
              S.gal or 1.25kg/5litres of must. This will produce 14%a.b.v. Honey and
              liquid malt extract are 80% sugar so you need 1.5kg/5l must or mash.
              Molasses is 50% sugar so you need 2.5kg/5l must or mash. Maple syrup is 32%
              sugar. Carob beans are 45% sugar. Sugar beets are 15% sugar Grain malt is
              60% sugar (starch converted to sugars) so you need 1.5kg/5l mash. Cooked
              grain contains 60% convertible starch so you need 1.5kg/5l mash

              FRUIT - Grapes contain the ideal sugar, water, acid balance. A sugar content
              of 17-23% and a water content of about 80%. 8kg of grapes produces 5l of
              wine.
              Most common fruits (apples, plums, apricots) contain about 10% sugar and 85%
              water. Cherries and figs contain 15% sugar. A fruit mash could be 4kg fruit,
              (400g sugar content), 2l water (3l in pulp already), 800g additional sugar.
              Bananas are 17-24% sugar, 75% water. Acid content 0.3%. A banana mash could
              be 4kg of cooked bananas, 2l water (3l in pulp already),400g sugar. Add
              3lemons/5l for correct pH.
              Dates are 70% sugar, 20% water. Add acid to a date mash.
              Raisins and sultanas have a water content of about 15% and a sugar content
              of 60%, grapes have a water content of 75% and a sugar content of about 20%,
              so using 1.5-2kg/5l of water appears about right if we want to reconstitute
              them.

              ACID - 5g of citric acid (1tsp)/5l must raises acidity by 0.1%. 3g of
              calcium carbonate powder lowers acidity by 0.1%. A pH of 5 is 0.4% acidity.
              Winemakers aim for 0.6% acidity. Most common fruits are about 0.6% acid
              content. For distilling, a higher acidity in the mash helps to suppress
              bacteria. A high tannin content doesn't matter as we are not making wine.
              Meaurements are logarithmic, so a pH of 4 is 10 times more acidic than a pH
              of 5.

              YEAST - Brewers (& possibly baker's yeast) can tolerate only 8% alcohol. A
              bottom fermenting lager yeast ferments out all the sugars better than a top
              fermenting ale yeast. A good wine yeast (Champagne, in the right conditions,
              can tolerate 15%a.b.v. (up to 18%a.b.v. in optimal conditions - no need to
              use expensive turbos). Wild yeasts vary, but some are very low - this is a
              risky path. Whisky distillers often use a combination of yeasts - initially
              a brewer's yeast because they believe it effects the flavor.

              8) Can I use fruit wine ?

              Sure, if you have it available. Again, using a pot still will result in a
              brandy/grappa/schnapps, whereas a reflux still will just strip it down to
              neutral spirit.

              9) How do I make a Turbo-all-sugar wash ?

              The first trick is to locate the "Turbo" yeasts - either try the New Zealand
              sites, or www.brewhaus.com. Then, dissolve 5-6 kg of sugar with 2-3 L of
              boiling water, top up to 25 L with cold water, wait until its cooled below
              24 °C, and then stir the yeast in, and close the lid with an airlock. Keep
              at 24 °C until the SG has dropped below 1.010 Its then possible to add extra
              sugar (1 kg at a time, dissolved in a little water) each time the SG has
              dropped below 1.010. You should be able to add an extra 3-4 kg this way over
              a week. It should finish around 0.980 - 0.990

              10) How do I run a Pot Still ?

              See http://homedistiller.org/dtw.htm#use_pot for details. A pot still is
              fairly straight forward to use. Turn it on. Once the temperature is up to
              about 60 °C turn on the cooling water to the condensor. Make sure you throw
              away the first 1 00 mL per 20L wash, as this will contain any methanol that
              might be present. Segregate the distillate into 500 mL lots as it comes off.
              Only keep (for drinking) that which doesn't contain fusels (smell off) -
              probably below about 92 ° C, however you should keep distilling past here,
              untill about 96 ° C, as this fraction, although high in tails and not good
              for drinking this time, can be added back to the next wash and cleaned up OK
              then.

              11) How do I run a Reflux / Fractionating Still ?

              See http://homedistiller.org/dtw.htm#use_reflux for details +/or variations.
              It is best to first equilibriate the column under total reflux for 10
              minutes or so. This will concentrate up the foreshots so that they can be
              removed first. Collect them one drip at a time, for approx 50 mL per 25L
              wash, and throw away. You can then collect the remaining run at a quicker
              rate. Adjust the reflux ratio (the ratio of how much of the total vapour is
              returned as reflux) by varying either the rate of collection or rate of
              cooling water (depending on still design) to maintain the purity you want.
              You can judge the purity by measuring the vapour temperature. Target around
              78.2 - 78.4 °C . Towards the end of the run it will be hard to get a high
              enough reflux ratio to maintain the high purity / low temperature. When the
              temperature has nudged up to around 80 °C quit collecting for drinking, and
              collect the remainder as tails (for redistillation in the next run) up to
              around 96 °C .

              12) Can I use a Reflux Still to make Rum or Whisky ?

              Yes you can. To do so, you need to carefully monitor the various transitions
              between the foreshots, heads, middle run, and tails, and time the collection
              of the middle run precisely. The reflux still allows you to more precisely
              judge the changes between the various stages, and hence target them
              accurately. A typical rum or whisky would be obtained by discarding the
              foreshots, then collecting the heads, middle run, and then begin the tails,
              until the purity has dropped to around 58-60% (82 °C). By altering when to
              start collecting, and how late to time the final "cut", various flavour
              profiles will result. You'd collect it faster and at a slightly lower reflux
              ratio than for a neutral spirit, as you want the flavour present.

              13) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?

              You need a hydrometer. This is a wee float, with a scale inside it. The more
              alcohol that is present, the lighter the density of the liquid, so the
              hydrometer sinks a bit lower. You then just read off the scale how much
              alcohol is present. You need a seperate hydrometer for measuring the density
              of the mash, as this is generally > 1.0, whereas the spirit is < 1.0, and
              they can't accurately do both ends of the scale.

              14) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?

              That "rough moonshine edge" or "off-taste / wet cardboard smell" is due to
              impurities such as the higher order alcohols, known as cogeners or fusel
              oils. These will be present more when using a pot still, less if using a
              reflux still, and just about absent if using a fractionating column. So one
              way is to use a taller packed column and increase the amount of reflux
              occuring. They can also indicate that you've tried to collect too much of
              the alcohol, and have run into the "tails"; so finish collecting a little
              bit earlier next time. Soaking tainted alcohol with activated carbon for a
              week (or even months) will help remove some of this flavour - this is known
              as "polishing" the spirit. I'm also suspecting that you need a little bit of
              copper somewhere in the still where it can come in contact with the vapour.
              The copper helps catalyse some of the sulphur, esters & organic acids,
              reducing their odour & taste.

              15) Why do my spirits turn cloudy when diluted ?

              With neutral spirits, either you have pushed 'tails' into your product (eg
              collected too much product from the still - quit earlier next time), or you
              are using poor tap-water (high in calcium carbonate). If it happens when
              diluting your gin, sambuca or the like, its because there is too little
              alcohol/too much oil present and the oils are no longer dissolved. Either
              drink it cloudy or increase the % alcohol present.

              16) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?

              There are now many commercial flavourings available, which turn vodka or
              neutral alcohol into pretty decent gin or whiskey, or all manor of liqueurs.
              See the commercial sites, like Des Zines http://homepages.ihug.co
              nz/~topkiwi or Ray Toms http://moonshine.co.nz/ for details. Or you can soak
              it with oak chips and make whiskey, or soak fruits in it to make your own
              liqueurs. There are many websites describing how to make liqueurs - see
              http://homedistiller.org/liqueurs.htm or http://www.guntheranderson.com for
              a starting point.

              17) What web resources are there ?

              For more details, see :
              Tony Ackland's http://homedistiller.org
              Aaron Smiths's http://www.go.to/distillation
              Steve Spence's http://webconx.green-trust.org/ethanol.htm
              StillMaker's http://www.Moonshine-Still.com
              Biofuels Library http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library.html

              18) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?

              Both the NEW DISTILLERS and the DISTILLERS news groups are available via
              YahooGroups, at http://www.yahoogroups.com . NEW DISTILLERS is, as the name
              suggests, intended for those of you new to distilling and after simple,
              straight-forward answers to questions, whereas the DISTILLERS group
              discussions are a bit more advanced, throwing in bits of design philosophy,
              theory, and alternative ways of achieving the results. Both tend to overlap
              to some extent.

              19) Can I run my car on it ?

              You can run your car on alcohol over about 80% purity. Because any water
              present will seperate out in the presence of the gasoline (and become a
              problem), you either need to exclusively use the alcohol, or dry it right
              out (eg 99%+ purity) if using it to mix with gasoline. See Steve Spences
              site for more details, the Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel manual, or the The
              Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel. In addition, in the
              USA, you can get a "small fuel producer" permit, which allows small scale
              distilling for "motor fuel" purposes. A nice advantage is that they don't
              require denaturing for "fuel" used on the premises. The regulations are
              posted at http://webconx.green-trust.org/ethanol.htm

              20) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....

              To convert between SI & Imperial units, multiply the first unit by the
              conversion factor to get the second. Divide back to do it in reverse .eg 1L
              = 0.264 US gal, so 20 L = 20 x 0.264 = 5.28 US gal, and 20 US gal / 0.264 =
              75.76 L

              1 L = 0.264 US gal = 0.221 UK gal
              1 L = 1.057 US qt = 0.880 UK qt
              1 kg = 2.204 lbm = 32.15 oz (troy) = 35.27 oz (av)
              deg F = ((9/5) x deg C )+ 32
              1m = 1000 mm = 39.37 inch = 3.28 ft = 1.09 yd

              21) What is a "Thumper" ?

              A "thumper" is an extra chamber sometimes fitted to a pot still. It can be
              as simple as a glass jar with two holes in the lid. The off-take from the
              still is fed into it, with the pipe running almost all the way to the bottom
              of the jar; the jar is half filled with liquid (water or mash or tails) so
              that the vapour from the still will bubble up through it; then the vapour
              coming off it is collected & cooled as per normal. It acts as a second
              distilling chamber using just the heat from the vapour, and lifts the purity
              from 50-60% to 70-80%, hence improving what might otherwise be a very
              mediocre design. Don't make the thumper too small, and start it off with
              liquid already high in alcohol.

              22) Can Methylated Spirits be made safe to Drink ?

              No. Methylated spirits (aka meths) is a mixture of ethanol and (poisonous)
              methanol, with a denturant added to make it foul tasting. There is no
              effective way of seperating them, be it by distilling, using carbon, or
              filtering through bread (old wives tale). Do not add meths to anything you
              ever intend to distill or drink, and don't try using it in any form - it
              will still be poisonous. Keep it for cleaning and starting the BBQ with.
              Likewise, you cant "clean up" antifreeze in your still.

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