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Calculating my stills purity

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  • porscheguy902
    Hello all, i was wondering what the calculation is to see excatly what percent alcohol my still will collect from the wash. Recently i collected 68% heads that
    Message 1 of 8 , Jan 1, 2006
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      Hello all, i was wondering what the calculation is to see excatly what
      percent alcohol my still will collect from the wash. Recently i
      collected 68% heads that i discarded (methanol) and the next was 62%,
      then 55%, then 50% then 40%, then 35%. i sepeated my distalate in this
      fashion, first 250ml discard, then in 750ml fractions. My wash was
      10.5%. Its a reflux still that can be used as a pot still as well. A
      29L pony keg with a 12"x 1" copper reflux colum that i packed with
      copper scrubbers. my condenser angles down at a 45 degree . it is 22"
      a 1/2" pipe with a 1" water jacket. i have it configured so i can
      unscrew my reflux colum and just use the condenser on the keg for a
      pot still. according to the homedistiller.org site, my 10.5% wash
      should have collected a 56.4% vapour and i collected a higher level
      than that. I probly have given way to much info, but i figured the
      more the better. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I plan on
      running some 14.7% potato vodka wash through it tomorrow.
      thanks- huckelberry
    • Harry
      ... what ... 62%, ... this ... A ... 22 ... Ok, we need to clear up a couple of things. 1) Reflux is evaporated and recondensed liquid that returns back
      Message 2 of 8 , Jan 1, 2006
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        --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "porscheguy902"
        <porscheguy902@y...> wrote:
        >
        > Hello all, i was wondering what the calculation is to see excatly
        what
        > percent alcohol my still will collect from the wash. Recently i
        > collected 68% heads that i discarded (methanol) and the next was
        62%,
        > then 55%, then 50% then 40%, then 35%. i sepeated my distalate in
        this
        > fashion, first 250ml discard, then in 750ml fractions. My wash was
        > 10.5%. Its a reflux still that can be used as a pot still as well.
        A
        > 29L pony keg with a 12"x 1" copper reflux colum that i packed with
        > copper scrubbers. my condenser angles down at a 45 degree . it is
        22"
        > a 1/2" pipe with a 1" water jacket. i have it configured so i can
        > unscrew my reflux colum and just use the condenser on the keg for a
        > pot still. according to the homedistiller.org site, my 10.5% wash
        > should have collected a 56.4% vapour and i collected a higher level
        > than that. I probly have given way to much info, but i figured the
        > more the better. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I plan on
        > running some 14.7% potato vodka wash through it tomorrow.
        > thanks- huckelberry
        >



        Ok, we need to clear up a couple of things.

        1) 'Reflux' is evaporated and recondensed liquid that returns back
        down the column. Think of water condensation from the warm air in
        your house running down a cold window pane. You get the idea?
        That's reflux.

        2) A true reflux still has a mechanism for controlling the amount
        of reflux returned to the column for reboiling. This is usually via
        overhead condenser, dam/weir and valve control.

        3) You do not have a reflux still as such. You have a potstill
        with a small packed column that will produce 'some' uncontrolled
        reflux via the copper packing and losing heat to the atmosphere.

        Almost all potstills with columns/towers/swan-necks produce 'some'
        reflux. Some of the larger commercial ones 'try' to control the
        reflux via external water jackets (not very successfully, I might
        add).



        Now that we've got that sorted out, let's look at your design.

        A 1" x 12" 'column' on a 29 litre boiler is virtually useless. It
        would be more suited to a pot of ~5 litres capacity, IOW SMALL runs,
        to suit the small column.

        Look at the volume of the column.
        Vol = Pi x Radius squared x Height
        In your case, Vol = 3.1416 x 0.25" x 12" gives 9.4 cubic inches.

        This volume will do almost no separation nor reflux, and will run
        strictly as a standard potstill. You would only get refluxing if
        the power input is somewhere below about 600 watts. That would make
        for a very slow distillation of a 20 litre wash (read days).
        Running at higher power will give you exactly the results you are
        now getting, in terms of abv% and volume collected from the wash.

        So, how to improve on that?
        1) Double the column diameter: This alone will give you a column
        volume thus:
        3.1416 x 1" x 12" gives 37 cubic inches.
        That is FOUR (4) times your existing column volume (not double as
        you would at first think).

        Just by doing this, you will allow for either higher wattage input,
        or slower vapour speed, or a combination of both (desirable). In
        any case it will be a vast improvement on your current setup and the
        quality of your potstill product.

        2) Double diameter + double height column i.e 2" x 24".
        Vol = 3.1416 x 1" x 24" gives 75 cubic inches.

        This size of column is much more suited to your potstill with a 29
        litre boiler. Also, it's a good starting point for a true reflux
        still. all you need do is put an overhead condenser, dam & takeoff
        valve on top. You could make this removable and interchangeable
        with your existing Liebig condenser. Then you've really got the
        best of both worlds, a true Reflux still for vodka-type pure spirits
        (95.6%) and a true potstill (~80%) for flavoured spirits.

        Don't worry about the small coupling to the pony keg. Just fit a 2"
        to 1" reducer. It won't affect the vapour getting into the larger
        column.


        HTH

        Slainte!
        regards Harry
        Moderator
      • Jeremy Lang
        hello Harry, Thanks for you quick response. I am new to this forum and wasent sure what to expect. also, in the future do i need to repond in the postings,
        Message 3 of 8 , Jan 1, 2006
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          hello Harry,
          Thanks for you quick response. I am new to this forum and wasent sure what to expect. also, in the future do i need to repond in the postings, or will any email sent automaticly be posted for all to read?
          Upon reading your reply it dawned on me that you are correct, i hadnt realized i wasent collecting reflux, just adding a slight re-distilation to the whole thing. Good point. I was going to go with a larger colum when i was building it, but figured this would be ok because, i would get some benefit of reflux while keeping the flavour of my wash. not to mention i'm a bum on a budget, and two inch copper pipe here is about $40-$50 for a length.
          Even so, is there a simpe equation to see what percent my current still collects at? By dividing something or multiplying something? so i will know what to expect when i am fermenting my wash?
          cheers!

          Harry <gnikomson2000@...> wrote: --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "porscheguy902"
          <porscheguy902@y...> wrote:
          >
          > Hello all, i was wondering what the calculation is to see excatly
          what
          > percent alcohol my still will collect from the wash. Recently i
          > collected 68% heads that i discarded (methanol) and the next was
          62%,
          > then 55%, then 50% then 40%, then 35%. i sepeated my distalate in
          this
          > fashion, first 250ml discard, then in 750ml fractions. My wash was
          > 10.5%. Its a reflux still that can be used as a pot still as well.
          A
          > 29L pony keg with a 12"x 1" copper reflux colum that i packed with
          > copper scrubbers. my condenser angles down at a 45 degree . it is
          22"
          > a 1/2" pipe with a 1" water jacket. i have it configured so i can
          > unscrew my reflux colum and just use the condenser on the keg for a
          > pot still. according to the homedistiller.org site, my 10.5% wash
          > should have collected a 56.4% vapour and i collected a higher level
          > than that. I probly have given way to much info, but i figured the
          > more the better. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I plan on
          > running some 14.7% potato vodka wash through it tomorrow.
          > thanks- huckelberry
          >



          Ok, we need to clear up a couple of things.

          1) 'Reflux' is evaporated and recondensed liquid that returns back
          down the column. Think of water condensation from the warm air in
          your house running down a cold window pane. You get the idea?
          That's reflux.

          2) A true reflux still has a mechanism for controlling the amount
          of reflux returned to the column for reboiling. This is usually via
          overhead condenser, dam/weir and valve control.

          3) You do not have a reflux still as such. You have a potstill
          with a small packed column that will produce 'some' uncontrolled
          reflux via the copper packing and losing heat to the atmosphere.

          Almost all potstills with columns/towers/swan-necks produce 'some'
          reflux. Some of the larger commercial ones 'try' to control the
          reflux via external water jackets (not very successfully, I might
          add).



          Now that we've got that sorted out, let's look at your design.

          A 1" x 12" 'column' on a 29 litre boiler is virtually useless. It
          would be more suited to a pot of ~5 litres capacity, IOW SMALL runs,
          to suit the small column.

          Look at the volume of the column.
          Vol = Pi x Radius squared x Height
          In your case, Vol = 3.1416 x 0.25" x 12" gives 9.4 cubic inches.

          This volume will do almost no separation nor reflux, and will run
          strictly as a standard potstill. You would only get refluxing if
          the power input is somewhere below about 600 watts. That would make
          for a very slow distillation of a 20 litre wash (read days).
          Running at higher power will give you exactly the results you are
          now getting, in terms of abv% and volume collected from the wash.

          So, how to improve on that?
          1) Double the column diameter: This alone will give you a column
          volume thus:
          3.1416 x 1" x 12" gives 37 cubic inches.
          That is FOUR (4) times your existing column volume (not double as
          you would at first think).

          Just by doing this, you will allow for either higher wattage input,
          or slower vapour speed, or a combination of both (desirable). In
          any case it will be a vast improvement on your current setup and the
          quality of your potstill product.

          2) Double diameter + double height column i.e 2" x 24".
          Vol = 3.1416 x 1" x 24" gives 75 cubic inches.

          This size of column is much more suited to your potstill with a 29
          litre boiler. Also, it's a good starting point for a true reflux
          still. all you need do is put an overhead condenser, dam & takeoff
          valve on top. You could make this removable and interchangeable
          with your existing Liebig condenser. Then you've really got the
          best of both worlds, a true Reflux still for vodka-type pure spirits
          (95.6%) and a true potstill (~80%) for flavoured spirits.

          Don't worry about the small coupling to the pony keg. Just fit a 2"
          to 1" reducer. It won't affect the vapour getting into the larger
          column.


          HTH

          Slainte!
          regards Harry
          Moderator






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        • Harry
          ... sure what to expect. also, in the future do i need to repond in the postings, or will any email sent automaticly be posted for all to read?
          Message 4 of 8 , Jan 1, 2006
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            --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, Jeremy Lang <porscheguy902@y...>
            wrote:
            >
            >
            > hello Harry,
            > Thanks for you quick response. I am new to this forum and wasent
            sure what to expect. also, in the future do i need to repond in
            the postings, or will any email sent automaticly be posted for all
            to read?


            .........Emails and web postings will appear in the lists. There's
            not much point in having a list unless others can benefit from the
            questions & answers. I don't often reply to private emails, for
            that reason.



            > Upon reading your reply it dawned on me that you are correct, i
            hadnt realized i wasent collecting reflux, just adding a slight re-
            distilation to the whole thing. Good point. I was going to go with
            a larger colum when i was building it, but figured this would be
            ok because, i would get some benefit of reflux while keeping the
            flavour of my wash. not to mention i'm a bum on a budget, and two
            inch copper pipe here is about $40-$50 for a length.
            > Even so, is there a simpe equation to see what percent my
            current still collects at? By dividing something or multiplying
            something? so i will know what to expect when i am fermenting my
            wash?
            > cheers!



            ........No two stills or operating conditions are identical.
            Best advice I can give is...buy an alcometer. Available at homebrew
            suppliers or over the 'net.


            Slainte!
            regards Harry
          • Jeremy Lang
            Harry, I have a alcometer and i take readings from every fraction. What i m asking is, Is there a formula to calculate my stills ability to convert 100% of
            Message 5 of 8 , Jan 2, 2006
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              Harry,
              I have a alcometer and i take readings from every fraction. What i'm asking is, Is there a formula to calculate my stills ability to convert 100% of the washes alcohol content. its efficiency . If i start with a wash that is 10.5%abv and my still produces 68%abv heads does my still collect @ 68% purity? how do i calculate my purity?? thats all i really want to know.
              -cheers
              Harry <gnikomson2000@...> wrote: --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, Jeremy Lang <porscheguy902@y...>
              wrote:
              >
              >
              > hello Harry,
              > Thanks for you quick response. I am new to this forum and wasent
              sure what to expect. also, in the future do i need to repond in
              the postings, or will any email sent automaticly be posted for all
              to read?


              .........Emails and web postings will appear in the lists. There's
              not much point in having a list unless others can benefit from the
              questions & answers. I don't often reply to private emails, for
              that reason.



              > Upon reading your reply it dawned on me that you are correct, i
              hadnt realized i wasent collecting reflux, just adding a slight re-
              distilation to the whole thing. Good point. I was going to go with
              a larger colum when i was building it, but figured this would be
              ok because, i would get some benefit of reflux while keeping the
              flavour of my wash. not to mention i'm a bum on a budget, and two
              inch copper pipe here is about $40-$50 for a length.
              > Even so, is there a simpe equation to see what percent my
              current still collects at? By dividing something or multiplying
              something? so i will know what to expect when i am fermenting my
              wash?
              > cheers!



              ........No two stills or operating conditions are identical.
              Best advice I can give is...buy an alcometer. Available at homebrew
              suppliers or over the 'net.


              Slainte!
              regards Harry





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



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              Visit your group "Distillers" on the web.

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            • Harry
              ... What i m asking is, Is there a formula to calculate my stills ability to convert 100% of the washes alcohol content. its efficiency . ...........No.
              Message 6 of 8 , Jan 2, 2006
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                --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, Jeremy Lang <porscheguy902@y...>
                wrote:
                >
                > Harry,
                > I have a alcometer and i take readings from every fraction.
                What i'm asking is, Is there a formula to calculate my stills
                ability to convert 100% of the washes alcohol content. its
                efficiency .



                ...........No. Because you can never convert 100% of any wash, no
                matter how efficient your still appears to be. There is always
                losses.


                If i start with a wash that is 10.5%abv and my still produces 68%
                abv heads does my still collect @ 68% purity? how do i calculate my
                purity?? thats all i really want to know.



                ...........I honestly don't know what it is you're asking. Use
                your alcometer, add up the results, then you tell me how efficient
                your still is.


                Slainte!
                regards Harry
              • Jeremy Lang
                Harry, My still religiously makes 65-68% heads then dropped off to about 40% when i start to notice off smells. Does this mean that my stills efficiency is
                Message 7 of 8 , Jan 15, 2006
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                  Harry,
                  My still religiously makes 65-68% heads then dropped off to about 40% when i start to notice off smells. Does this mean that my stills efficiency is 65-68%?
                  or do i take a average?
                  cheers
                  Jeremy

                  Harry <gnikomson2000@...> wrote: --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, Jeremy Lang <porscheguy902@y...>
                  wrote:
                  >
                  > Harry,
                  > I have a alcometer and i take readings from every fraction.
                  What i'm asking is, Is there a formula to calculate my stills
                  ability to convert 100% of the washes alcohol content. its
                  efficiency .



                  ...........No. Because you can never convert 100% of any wash, no
                  matter how efficient your still appears to be. There is always
                  losses.


                  If i start with a wash that is 10.5%abv and my still produces 68%
                  abv heads does my still collect @ 68% purity? how do i calculate my
                  purity?? thats all i really want to know.



                  ...........I honestly don't know what it is you're asking. Use
                  your alcometer, add up the results, then you tell me how efficient
                  your still is.


                  Slainte!
                  regards Harry





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



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                • Andrew Bugal
                  In other words mate, what is being said here is that once on the boil, purity is out of your hans unless you do something silly like open your boiler once the
                  Message 8 of 8 , Jan 17, 2006
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                    In other words mate, what is being said here is that once on the boil, purity is out of your hans unless you do something silly like open your boiler once the action is happening.

                    In a reflux still, the separation of the good stuff occurs at around 78 degrees Celsius to upwards of around 80 to 81 degrees Celsius. The heat will hold until the good stuff has boiled away and you have collected it. Then, you are on your way to boiling water. If you have a reflux still and have packing in the column, you will get a higher abv if you allow the reflux to be in equilibrium (boil/condense/drip back/reboil).

                    Physics rules here. Bad still design=bad output. In other words if you have a badlydesigned still then your output will not be great.

                    Regards,bwyze

                    Jeremy Lang <porscheguy902@...> wrote:
                    Harry,
                    My still religiously makes 65-68% heads then dropped off to about 40% when i start to notice off smells. Does this mean that my stills efficiency is 65-68%?
                    or do i take a average?
                    cheers
                    Jeremy

                    Harry wrote: --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, Jeremy Lang

                    wrote:
                    >
                    > Harry,
                    > I have a alcometer and i take readings from every fraction.
                    What i'm asking is, Is there a formula to calculate my stills
                    ability to convert 100% of the washes alcohol content. its
                    efficiency .



                    ...........No. Because you can never convert 100% of any wash, no
                    matter how efficient your still appears to be. There is always
                    losses.


                    If i start with a wash that is 10.5%abv and my still produces 68%
                    abv heads does my still collect @ 68% purity? how do i calculate my
                    purity?? thats all i really want to know.



                    ...........I honestly don't know what it is you're asking. Use
                    your alcometer, add up the results, then you tell me how efficient
                    your still is.


                    Slainte!
                    regards Harry





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



                    SPONSORED LINKS
                    Management team Culture club Organizational culture Culture

                    ---------------------------------
                    YAHOO! GROUPS LINKS


                    Visit your group "Distillers" on the web.

                    To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                    Distillers-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

                    Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.


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