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Maiden Run - Valved Reflux Still - Asking Heat Advice

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  • pure95percent
    First off, Happy New Year and Thanks to all of you. I have been following all your posts and yesterday I finished my valved reflux still. I incorporated a lot
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 3, 2005
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      First off, Happy New Year and Thanks to all of you. I have been
      following all your posts and yesterday I finished my valved reflux
      still. I incorporated a lot of your advice and was able to come up
      with a few ideas of my own after being educated by your group.

      Here is my setup:
      5 Gal stainless soda boiler
      1500 watt internal heat element
      Surtronics Burst Fire Controller
      2" x 36" column filled with structured copper mesh
      2" x 18" offset condensor filled with 30' of 1/4 inch coil. Lots of
      water pressure so I am hooked up to the house tap water via hose bib.
      No pump. I have 120psi of pressure.

      Question: I am getting ready to run a sugar wash. I read that the 2"
      column can easily handle 1500 watts of power. Do I need to cut back
      on the power once I come up to temperature? I have the surtronics
      controller because I heard many of you saying you cut back to 800 or
      900 watts for collection once you come up to temperature. Is this
      necessary? My goal is 95% pure for vodka. Time is precious so I don't
      want to have to run longer than I have to but I don't want to
      sacrifice time for qualitity. I figure most of you have been here
      before so I thought I would ask the experts.

      Since I don't have a good way to measure wattage, how will I know how
      much heat is enough? Do we want a good rolling boil or a simmer?

      Thanks all for your assistance,
      Roderick
    • Kim
      Roderick, You will need to turn down the heat as as the still starts to make alcohol vapor....if you don t you might choke the column with too much
      Message 2 of 3 , Jan 3, 2005
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        Roderick,

        You will need to turn down the heat as as the still starts to make
        alcohol vapor....if you don't you might choke the column with too much
        reflux....the temp must remain constant while you collect the body of
        the run and close to the boiling point of alcohol or your ABV won't
        remain high.....you adjust your temperature by the amount of
        collection/reflux.....if you collect too fast the temp will
        rise.....then you have to stop collecting and wait for the column to
        stabelize again....

        the still pot doesn't really boil....remember you are not at the
        boiling temp for the water...just the alcohol

        .I run my still like this.

        I have a 48 inch reflux still with a water cooled cross flow condenser
        at the top. The take off is by the EL method using 1 valve for control.

        I poured the contents of the 5 gal homer bucket into the still boiler,
        being careful not to get the corn and wheat that had settled to the
        bottom. I left about a half gallon total in the bucket.

        I warmed up the still on high flame…I use propane. When I could feel
        the bottom of the column getting hot I turned down the heat and
        watched the thermometer at the top. The temperature shot up as usual
        a few minutes later. I left it in full reflux with all condensation
        returning to the column. The temperature rose quickly to about 179
        deg F and then gradually settled down to 173.5 deg F after about 15
        minutes. I collected about ¼ cup of heads at 1 drip per second.

        Now for the white dog. I collected about 2 quarts of 95% in about an
        hour. The temperature remained at 173.5 to 174 deg F. Then the
        temperature began to rise slightly and I immediately changed
        collection containers. I collected about 2/3 of a quart of tails
        until the temperature got up to 185 deg F and stopped collecting.

        good luck

        Kim


        --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "pure95percent"
        <pure95percent@y...> wrote:
        >
        > First off, Happy New Year and Thanks to all of you. I have been
        > following all your posts and yesterday I finished my valved reflux
        > still. I incorporated a lot of your advice and was able to come up
        > with a few ideas of my own after being educated by your group.
        >
        > Here is my setup:
        > 5 Gal stainless soda boiler
        > 1500 watt internal heat element
        > Surtronics Burst Fire Controller
        > 2" x 36" column filled with structured copper mesh
        > 2" x 18" offset condensor filled with 30' of 1/4 inch coil. Lots of
        > water pressure so I am hooked up to the house tap water via hose bib.
        > No pump. I have 120psi of pressure.
        >
        > Question: I am getting ready to run a sugar wash. I read that the 2"
        > column can easily handle 1500 watts of power. Do I need to cut back
        > on the power once I come up to temperature? I have the surtronics
        > controller because I heard many of you saying you cut back to 800 or
        > 900 watts for collection once you come up to temperature. Is this
        > necessary? My goal is 95% pure for vodka. Time is precious so I don't
        > want to have to run longer than I have to but I don't want to
        > sacrifice time for qualitity. I figure most of you have been here
        > before so I thought I would ask the experts.
        >
        > Since I don't have a good way to measure wattage, how will I know how
        > much heat is enough? Do we want a good rolling boil or a simmer?
        >
        > Thanks all for your assistance,
        > Roderick
      • rodmacd2000
        I believe that most of who perform a spirit run at 750 - 800 watts do so with a 1.5 column. A 2 column can handle 1300 - 1400 watts with no problem. Keep in
        Message 3 of 3 , Jan 4, 2005
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          I believe that most of who perform a spirit run at 750 - 800 watts do
          so with a 1.5" column. A 2" column can handle 1300 - 1400 watts with
          no problem.

          Keep in mind however that boiler power is only half of the story when
          high proof/quality are desired. The other half is the rate at which
          you draw off product (i.e. the reflux ratio you run at). Assuming a
          well-insulated boiler and (more important) packed column you should
          be able to draw off 10 oz/hour at 750 watts or 20 oz/hour at 1500
          watts.

          If your boiler can handle it you might replace your 1500 watt element
          with a 3000 watt one. Calibrate your Sutronics controller by
          distilling pure water with no reflux at various controller positions
          and measuring the rate of distilled water production at each setting.
          You can then graph the results with a spreadsheet if you want.

          I personally use a Sutronics controller with a 3000 watt 240 volt
          element and a 1.5" column. I heat my wash and perform stripping at
          about 2500 watts, equilibriate and draw off foreshots/heads before a
          product run at about 1200 watts. I then perform the long middle
          product run at 750 watts while drawing off 10 oz product/hour at the
          beginning and tapering to about 7 oz/hour before tails begin.

          My experience FWIW

          Rod

          --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "pure95percent"
          <pure95percent@y...> wrote:
          >
          > First off, Happy New Year and Thanks to all of you. I have been
          > following all your posts and yesterday I finished my valved reflux
          > still. I incorporated a lot of your advice and was able to come up
          > with a few ideas of my own after being educated by your group.
          >
          > Here is my setup:
          > 5 Gal stainless soda boiler
          > 1500 watt internal heat element
          > Surtronics Burst Fire Controller
          > 2" x 36" column filled with structured copper mesh
          > 2" x 18" offset condensor filled with 30' of 1/4 inch coil. Lots
          of
          > water pressure so I am hooked up to the house tap water via hose
          bib.
          > No pump. I have 120psi of pressure.
          >
          > Question: I am getting ready to run a sugar wash. I read that the
          2"
          > column can easily handle 1500 watts of power. Do I need to cut back
          > on the power once I come up to temperature? I have the surtronics
          > controller because I heard many of you saying you cut back to 800
          or
          > 900 watts for collection once you come up to temperature. Is this
          > necessary? My goal is 95% pure for vodka. Time is precious so I
          don't
          > want to have to run longer than I have to but I don't want to
          > sacrifice time for qualitity. I figure most of you have been here
          > before so I thought I would ask the experts.
          >
          > Since I don't have a good way to measure wattage, how will I know
          how
          > much heat is enough? Do we want a good rolling boil or a simmer?
          >
          > Thanks all for your assistance,
          > Roderick
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