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Re: Cleaning a classic Italian copper pot still

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  • Jason Manning
    Harry, thanks for the advice (and the warning), that s just what I was hoping for. Thanks, too, to Link and others for their advice on making brandy in a
    Message 1 of 4 , May 6, 2008
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      Harry, thanks for the advice (and the warning), that's just what I
      was hoping for. Thanks, too, to Link and others for their advice on
      making brandy in a potstill---that, too, is so helpful. This is such
      a great site---quirky but great. I am mostly a wine maker, but
      whenever I have crossed over to distilling brandy or such, I have
      always been able to find guidance on this site. Many thanks to all.
      Dan Jason Manning


      --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Harry" <gnikomson2000@...> wrote:
      >
      > --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Jason Manning" <polenta222@>
      > wrote:
      > >
      > > Hi,I have tried to find the answer to this question by going
      > through
      > > the back files, but there seem to be conflicting answers. I have
      an
      > > old-style 5-gallon Italian copper potstill with all-copper worm
      and
      > > fittings. I had it sent from Italy a couple years ago, ran about
      20
      > > gallons of Zinfandel through it to make some grappa-style brandy
      > and
      > > then let it sit in my cantina unused for a couple years. Now, I
      am
      > > about to run another 25 gallons of zin through the pot still. How
      > > should I clean the still before commencing this new run? I read
      > that
      > > some of you recommend distilling vinegar, and some of you
      recommend
      > > just distilling water, and some of you recommend just running a
      > couple
      > > gallons of wine or wash through as a cleanser. What is the
      current
      > > wisdom? Thanks! Dan Jason Mannning
      > >
      >
      >
      > Micio Felice told us once that it's not wise to clean out a grappa
      > copper stillpot to a bright sparkling copper sheen. Because it
      will
      > destroy the blackened deposits (he said 'patina') that in his
      opinion
      > serve to protect the copper from acid attack by the pomace or wine
      > wash. However we did agree that the column (in his case, a new
      > design) and the inside of the worm (if used) should be bright to
      > enable catalytic reaction to reduce or eliminate silfides (plenty
      of
      > them in grappa making).
      >
      > So, on this thought you should perhaps just clean out the boiler
      pot
      > with standard soap & warm water to remove the 2 years of
      accumulated
      > dust and/or surface deposits, and not disturb any coating too
      much.
      > Then put about 5 liters of vinegar & a handful of salt in the pot ,
      > connect up the worm (not in water) and boil it up for 10-15 minutes
      > to steam it all out. Then open the still, toss the pot contents
      and
      > give the pot and the worm a rinse with fresh water and you should
      be
      > good to go.
      >
      > BTW, since it's been standing a couple of years, Before you fire it
      > up for cleaning, please check that the worm tubing is not blocked
      by
      > insect mud nests or other rubbish, or you may have an over-pressure
      > situation (BANG!)
      >
      > HTH
      > Slainte!
      > regards Harry
      >
    • miciofelice2003
      Ciao a tutti. Harry, let s me add something, my english is quite poor but I hope that all the mates will understand. ... ============================ True. You
      Message 2 of 4 , May 7, 2008
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        Ciao a tutti.

        Harry, let's me add something, my english is quite poor but I hope
        that all the mates will understand.


        ============================
        --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Harry" <gnikomson2000@...> wrote:
        >
        >> Micio Felice told us once that it's not wise to clean out a grappa
        > copper stillpot to a bright sparkling copper sheen.
        ============================


        True. You MUST save, keep, the "coating", the film of copper oxides
        that are on the copper surface.
        I said "patina" but not in english meaning but in italian meaning (
        the italian meaning is "film"): sorry for it.

        The goal in keeping it is to avoid the contact between the metal and
        the acids.


        ===========================
        Because it will
        > destroy the blackened deposits (he said 'patina') that in his
        opinion
        > serve to protect the copper from acid attack by the pomace or wine
        > wash.
        =============================


        Yes: the blackened deposits are a sure sign that copper worked
        properly (can you imagine where those sulphur compounds go if you
        have a stainless steel column?), but those compounds fall down to the
        boiler and doesn't prosecute to the worm.


        ==============================
        However we did agree that the column (in his case, a new
        > design) and the inside of the worm (if used) should be bright to
        > enable catalytic reaction to reduce or eliminate silfides (plenty
        of
        > them in grappa making).
        ==============================


        Yes and not: yes otherwise copper doesn't work properly, not because
        no "brightness" is requested.

        Just an honest cleaned surface and, mostly, PROTECTED.

        Otherwise be sure next run you will find a pale colour blue of your
        distillate (metallic copper).


        ===============================
        > So, on this thought you should perhaps just clean out the boiler
        pot
        > with standard soap & warm water to remove the 2 years of
        accumulated
        > dust and/or surface deposits, and not disturb any coating too
        much.
        > Then put about 5 liters of vinegar & a handful of salt in the pot ,
        > connect up the worm (not in water) and boil it up for 10-15 minutes
        > to steam it all out. Then open the still, toss the pot contents
        and
        > give the pot and the worm a rinse with fresh water and you should
        be
        > good to go.
        ================================


        I totally agree with you Harry, but don't forget to suggest also to
        wait some period of time to permit the copper to get the formation of
        new oxides. If you want to accelerate the process of oxides formation
        you can heat with a fire or, better, with a high temperature phone.

        Ciao a tutti

        micio felice
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