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  • dgill@myhost.ccsinc.com
    I am resurrecting an old pot still (for historical research, of course) and have a number of questions. Please visit http://DanGill.tripod.com/Still.htm for
    Message 1 of 4 , Jan 23, 2000
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      I am resurrecting an old pot still (for historical research, of course)
      and have a number of questions. Please visit
      http://DanGill.tripod.com/Still.htm for pictures and story.

      How do you remove burnt mash from the bottom of a copper still? Not that
      I ever expect to engage in that activity again, but the information may
      be useful to someone.

      This still runs ethanol from about 197� to 204� F. I assume the small
      piping increases the pressure in the vessel thus raising the vapor
      pressure. Most old pot stills have a "horn". What are the dynamics and
      advantages of this design. Any ideas why this still would have such a
      small vent?

      The still is copper but the cap is plated on the inside with a silvery
      metal - presumably tin. Is this a problem?

      When using the splash tank, the quality and proof seems quite good. I
      have no way to test other than burn and it burns with a clear blue flame
      leaving little residue. I have no idea how to tell when to start
      collecting, I just run out a cup or two and put it aside for other
      purposes. Are there other simple and traditional (low-tech) methods of
      judging quality and proof during the run? I stop collecting when the
      flow slows, the still temp goes above 206�, and the product starts to
      get a little cloudy. Would there be any advantage to doubling or
      re-running the product?

      The splash tank collects and condenses about 10-15% of the vapor. I
      assume this is mostly water and Impurities. Would it be advisable or
      helpful to put some stainless pot scrubbers at the top to give a hybrid
      system with some reflux action?

      The corn whiskey is "hot" but has a nice flavor. The eau de vie was good
      when run straight but is too strong when run through the splash tank.
      How do I tell how much to dilute to get down to 40-50% a/v. Would
      filtering through natural charcoal, or soaking in charcoal help?

      Can I distill commercial beer? I have heard that you should not run beer
      with hops in it. Why?

      That's enough for now. Thanks, Dan

      --
      May your smoke be sweet, your briskets tender and your butts always well
      rubbed.

      Homepage: http://DanGill.tripod.com/
      Barbecue, curing and smoking meat, Woodworking and more
    • Deb Brewer
      We are running the same set-up you have on a MUCH smaller scale. Haven t tried corn mash yet tho. The first stuff that comes out is the strongest. The only
      Message 2 of 4 , Jan 23, 2000
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        We are running the same set-up you have on a MUCH smaller scale. Haven't
        tried corn mash yet tho. The first stuff that comes out is the strongest.
        The only time we threw out the first 2 pints was the first 2 times we cooked
        with a new still. The product that comes out at the end starts to have
        increasing amounts of water in it and we cut ours off before it ever runs
        dry cuz the proof drops. I would suggest getting a proofer (hydrometer) so
        you can verify alcohol content. Those blue flames are pretty tho, ain't
        they?

        Deb :)

        -----Original Message-----
        From: dgill@... [mailto:dgill@...]
        Sent: Sunday, January 23, 2000 3:47 PM
        To: Distillers@onelist.com
        Subject: [Distillers] Questions


        From: dgill@...


        I am resurrecting an old pot still (for historical research, of course)
        and have a number of questions. Please visit
        http://DanGill.tripod.com/Still.htm for pictures and story.

        How do you remove burnt mash from the bottom of a copper still? Not that
        I ever expect to engage in that activity again, but the information may
        be useful to someone.

        This still runs ethanol from about 197� to 204� F. I assume the small
        piping increases the pressure in the vessel thus raising the vapor
        pressure. Most old pot stills have a "horn". What are the dynamics and
        advantages of this design. Any ideas why this still would have such a
        small vent?

        The still is copper but the cap is plated on the inside with a silvery
        metal - presumably tin. Is this a problem?

        When using the splash tank, the quality and proof seems quite good. I
        have no way to test other than burn and it burns with a clear blue flame
        leaving little residue. I have no idea how to tell when to start
        collecting, I just run out a cup or two and put it aside for other
        purposes. Are there other simple and traditional (low-tech) methods of
        judging quality and proof during the run? I stop collecting when the
        flow slows, the still temp goes above 206�, and the product starts to
        get a little cloudy. Would there be any advantage to doubling or
        re-running the product?

        The splash tank collects and condenses about 10-15% of the vapor. I
        assume this is mostly water and Impurities. Would it be advisable or
        helpful to put some stainless pot scrubbers at the top to give a hybrid
        system with some reflux action?

        The corn whiskey is "hot" but has a nice flavor. The eau de vie was good
        when run straight but is too strong when run through the splash tank.
        How do I tell how much to dilute to get down to 40-50% a/v. Would
        filtering through natural charcoal, or soaking in charcoal help?

        Can I distill commercial beer? I have heard that you should not run beer
        with hops in it. Why?

        That's enough for now. Thanks, Dan

        --
        May your smoke be sweet, your briskets tender and your butts always well
        rubbed.

        Homepage: http://DanGill.tripod.com/
        Barbecue, curing and smoking meat, Woodworking and more

        ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
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      • hansjd30@yahoo.com
        I tested my new tower (msg 1118 new distillers) for the first time on a friends boiler and used the 4 * 1500 watt jug elements (6000 watts) to bring the wash
        Message 3 of 4 , Nov 3, 2001
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          I tested my new tower (msg 1118 new distillers) for the first time on
          a friends boiler and used the 4 * 1500 watt jug elements (6000 watts)
          to bring the wash up to boiling point at which time we switched 2 off
          and used the other 2- (3000 watts) for the distillation.
          His boiler is 300 mm in dia, and I have marbles in the tower. At best
          we got 3 ltrs per hr. at the start of the collection I could see the
          odd wisp of vapour coming out of the condenser. It did not cause any
          problems, and we left both elements on, but I wonder if the tower was
          right on the edge of flooding? What do you think. I have nearly
          finished building my boiler made from a milk receiving can. It is
          400mm in dia and holds 100 Ltrs. (3 * 25 Ltr brewing barrels plus 1/4
          space for foam, expansion etc).I am installing 2 * 3000 watt double
          bladed hot water cylinder elements. i.e. each unit has 2 separate
          1500 elements. My question is this. If it was on the edge of flooding
          before? what will it do now with a larger surface area.
          I hope at some time to use s/s pot scrubbers. Where can I get enough
          pot scrubbers to fill the tower 150mm dia * 600mm long cheap enough.
          Does it make much difference if you use budget or 3M scrubbers.
          When testing I put a copper plate in the boiler and stripped some
          electrical wire and folded it back and forth over 250mm and inserted
          it in the 50 mm tube above the heat transfer plate in the tower and
          in the vapour stream before the condenser. I have been reading about
          copper pot scrubbers, Where do I find them, I don't think you mean
          goldilocks scrubbers.
          The final 91%abv was after carbon treatment certainly allot cleaner
          tasting than the bad tasting 75%abv I was getting from the old store
          bought still. I only realise this now after reaching this higher
          plane so to speak. I read that people getting no smell and no taste
          in their 90 plus abv.(It can't taste like water surely) Although the
          ethanol has very little smell It has what I would call not strong,
          but clean taste of alcohol or ethanol.When you take a sip, after
          about 10 mins your mouth feels dry. Does this make sense and has it
          come out right? Do people mean no bad tastes and smells.Without the
          benefit of tasting another's product I seem to be a bit in dark. Let
          me run this by you, once cut down to 51abv (filled the 20 ltr
          container to the brim, accually 22Ltrs I put 1/2 packet of primary
          carbon in for 2 days, then put the whole amount through one charge of
          carbon in a Z filter which I used for the first time.Took about 18
          hours.I have been told that carbon sucks up the ugles for 2 days
          then starts spitting them out again. Does this make sence?

          Your article the other day Tony was brilliant, probably something a
          lot of us newbys come to slowly understand but needed someone to tell
          us what we already thought we knew.
          "What you wanted to know about how to run a still but were too afraid
          to ask".
          I do have one question though, what could happen if you cut off the
          cooling water before the temperature gets down to 60 deg.
          One last question for this session, I would like to store the alcohol
          in glass. But how do you feel about storing it in stainless steel. I
          have 2 * s/s 60 ltr LPG cylinders I could use for this.
          Thanks in advance,
          Hans.
        • Tony & Elle Ackland
          ... Its not the surface area of the pot thats important, but the diameter of the column vs the amount of heat that you put into it. For example, a 300mm pot
          Message 4 of 4 , Nov 3, 2001
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            > My question is this. If it was on the edge of flooding
            > before? what will it do now with a larger surface area.

            Its not the surface area of the pot thats important, but the diameter of
            the column vs the amount of heat that you put into it. For example, a
            300mm pot and a 600mm pot will both give basically the same performance if
            they both have the same elements in them, but double the amount of heat and
            you might get into trouble.

            If you think it was almost flooding (eg the output was spluttering, or even
            stops & you start building up pressure in the pot), then either reduce the
            amount of heat slightly, or use a packing that takes up less space. Eg
            marbles fill up about 66% of the space, not leaving much room for the
            vapour & liquid, but scrubbers appear to take up about 20% of the space,
            leaving heaps more room.

            > I hope at some time to use s/s pot scrubbers. Where can I get enough
            > pot scrubbers to fill the tower 150mm dia * 600mm long cheap enough.
            > Does it make much difference if you use budget or 3M scrubbers.

            Try the bulk/budget shops - like "Bin Inn" or "Silly Solleys" or the
            "Warehouse" etc.
            The brand doesn't matter - as long as it wont rust, and is the sort that
            looks like little springs, not fine wool.
            You might have some problems due to the large (150mm) diameter of your
            column. You're approaching an industrial size, where you need to ensure
            that (a) the packing won't fall out, and (b) that the liquid and vapour
            distribute themselves evenly over it (as well as (c) - you'll need a hell
            of a lot of them. You might need to go to a more structured style of
            packing, or help support it & have redistribution plates. See the photos at
            http:\\homedistiller.org\photos-reflux.htm - "Phil's still" for how Phil
            has built a wee wire cage to hold his in place.

            > I have been reading about
            > copper pot scrubbers, Where do I find them, I don't think you mean
            > goldilocks scrubbers.

            Yeah - some are brass, which you're not after. If they're copper, they'll
            usually say so on the packaging.
            Woolworths supermarkets sells them - search for "scrubber" at
            www.woolworths.co.nz

            > The final 91%abv was after carbon treatment certainly allot cleaner
            > tasting than the bad tasting 75%abv I was getting from the old store
            > bought still. I only realise this now after reaching this higher
            > plane so to speak. I read that people getting no smell and no taste
            > in their 90 plus abv.(It can't taste like water surely) Although the
            > ethanol has very little smell It has what I would call not strong,
            > but clean taste of alcohol or ethanol.When you take a sip, after
            > about 10 mins your mouth feels dry. Does this make sense and has it
            > come out right?

            Yeah - sounds right. Its a hard thing to describe. Fantastic that you've
            got the good purity happening !! Well done.

            >I have been told that carbon sucks up the ugles for 2 days
            > then starts spitting them out again. Does this make sence?

            Nope - no reason for them to be "spat out". If the carbon is full up it
            won't take in any more, but it won't start unloading them. I leave it on
            carbon for months at a time.


            > Your article the other day Tony was brilliant, probably something a
            > lot of us newbys come to slowly understand but needed someone to tell
            > us what we already thought we knew.
            > "What you wanted to know about how to run a still but were too afraid
            > to ask".

            Thanks !

            > I do have one question though, what could happen if you cut off the
            > cooling water before the temperature gets down to 60 deg.

            Its just the small chance of some vapour getting out. No real risk - given
            that you'll probably be opening up the whole still to clean it soon anyhow,
            and you get a fair amount of vapour coming out then !

            > One last question for this session, I would like to store the alcohol
            > in glass. But how do you feel about storing it in stainless steel. I
            > have 2 * s/s 60 ltr LPG cylinders I could use for this.

            I don't really know. Like glass, you have to know the history of the
            vessel, and whats been in it. If theres the risk that there is still some
            petroleum fractions present (eg some of the waxes etc coated on the inside)
            then you woudnt want to risk it. Ethanol is an excellent solvent, and will
            disolve any residues left, passing them straight back on to you. But if
            the containers are virgin condition, then I don't see why not.

            > Thanks in advance,
            > Hans.

            Tony
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