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RE: [Distillers] Heat sensing top or bottom

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  • Tony & Elle Ackland
    ... As with your design there is very little control over the reflux, then maybe the product out the top is only an outcome over which you have little control,
    Message 1 of 6 , Feb 2, 2002
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      >So with thermomentor at top of column reading below
      > that of the temp of wash, wouldnt it be better to have a thermomentor
      > reading temp of wash and go by that when collecting alchohol. I hope
      > this makes sense .

      A thermometer in the wash will tell you the temperature/purity of the wash,
      whereas the one at the top of the column will tell you what you're about to
      collect. The two can & will be very different. Its possible to collect 95%
      out the top, when the pot may only have 2% alcohol in it.

      You want to know what it is at the top of the column, so that you can
      adjust the reflux & hence keep the purity that you're aiming for.

      The one in the wash will tell you that the wash is running out of alcohol,
      and that it might be time to stop soon before hitting the tails.

      Both are useful, and it depends on what & how you want to run your column.

      As with your design there is very little control over the reflux, then
      maybe the product out the top is only an outcome over which you have little
      control, and it will do its own thing anyway. Thus yes, for you, the top
      one may not help much.

      But in other designs, with greater control over the reflux ratio, the top
      one really does help.

      Some other posts a few months back even suggested that monitoring the
      temperature part way up the column was off good use - as it showed the
      movement of the purity stages, and hence they could be
      counteracted/controlled before they came out the top as substandard
      product.

      Tony
    • voodoo_klan
      I have always struggled with this theory and would like to know if Tony or anyone could clarrify it for me. I built a modified reflux column (diagram available
      Message 2 of 6 , Feb 5, 2002
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        I have always struggled with this theory and would like to know if
        Tony or anyone could clarrify it for me.


        I built a modified reflux column (diagram available in under files
        still.jpg) that has three cooling tube running through the top of th
        e column. The coulmn is 4' tall 2" dia and the cooling tubes run
        through the top 18" of the column 9" apart, i draw my cooling water
        from a modifiied ice chest and rv pump with a two valved system (one
        for cooling tubes and the other the shotgun condenser(always runs
        wide open)). I have ran the still twice using SS scubers (thats a
        pain packing, still loking for a good alternative) and have used both
        cooling tubes once and the last just one. I have a two lead digital
        thermometer with one lead in the pot and the other at the top of the
        column.

        As a am only interested in purity i loose alot of yeild and start
        collecting late and end collecting early (I determine this by my
        bottom lead). I feel safe that way, but this also lies in the fact
        that im worried that while i am adjusting temp and cooling flow. That
        i am changing the steam temp at the top to get a constent 78.4. Well
        wouldn't this continue even after all the eth has been boiled out,
        wouldn't i be able to hold the steam temp steady? I already
        constintly make adjustments throughout the process. I wouldn't want
        to do this and continue the distillation process thinking im
        collecting 78.4 steam thats pure when actually it is contaminated.

        Could you please clarify for me or should i just be happy with the
        yeild loss. Or have a overlooked and forgotten something that is so
        obvious that i cant remember anymore.

        Voodoo
      • klcampbell
        G day Voodoo klan,try not using any of the through tubes and only use the shotgun condenser,then ignore the temperature in the wash and monitor closely the
        Message 3 of 6 , Feb 6, 2002
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          G'day Voodoo klan,try not using any of the through tubes and only use the shotgun condenser,then ignore the temperature in the wash and monitor closely the vapour temperature at the top of the tower.Providing your heat source is closely controlled you will know when the heads appear and also when the good stuff starts to take over,watch the thermometer and when and only when it settles down to a steady reading ,are you collecting the top percentage material.Do not rush and always remember that if you are not happy with the results tip it back into the still and run it again.The alcohol is never lost until you tip it down the drain.Regards,Ken.  
          ----- Original Message -----
          Sent: Wednesday, 6 February 2002 7:14
          Subject: [Distillers] Re: Heat sensing top or bottom

            I have always struggled with this theory and would like to know if
          Tony or anyone could clarrify it for me.


          I built a modified reflux column (diagram available in under files
          still.jpg) that has three cooling tube running through the top of th
          e column. The coulmn is 4' tall 2" dia and the cooling tubes run
          through the top 18" of the column 9" apart, i draw my cooling water
          from a modifiied ice chest and rv pump with a two valved system (one
          for cooling tubes and the other the shotgun condenser(always runs
          wide open)). I have ran the still twice using SS scubers (thats a
          pain packing, still loking for a good alternative) and have used both
          cooling tubes once and the last just one. I have a two lead digital
          thermometer with one lead in the pot and the other at the top of the
          column. 

          As a am only interested in purity i loose alot of yeild and start
          collecting late and end collecting early (I determine this by my
          bottom lead). I feel safe that way, but this also lies in the fact
          that im worried that while i am adjusting temp and cooling flow. That
          i am changing the steam temp at the top to get a constent 78.4.  Well
          wouldn't this continue even after all the eth has been boiled out,
          wouldn't i be able to hold the steam temp steady? I already
          constintly make adjustments throughout the process. I wouldn't want
          to do this and continue the distillation process thinking im
          collecting 78.4 steam thats pure when actually it is contaminated.

          Could you please clarify for me or should i just be happy with the
          yeild loss.  Or have a overlooked and forgotten something that is so
          obvious that i cant remember anymore.

          Voodoo


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        • Tony & Elle Ackland
          Voodoo ... The first point to consider is that the product of a sugar-wash, thats been through a happy healthy fermentation, should be just about all ethanol,
          Message 4 of 6 , Feb 10, 2002
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            Voodoo

            > im worried that while i am adjusting temp and cooling flow. That
            > i am changing the steam temp at the top to get a constent 78.4. Well
            > wouldn't this continue even after all the eth has been boiled out,
            > wouldn't i be able to hold the steam temp steady? I already
            > constintly make adjustments throughout the process. I wouldn't want
            > to do this and continue the distillation process thinking im
            > collecting 78.4 steam thats pure when actually it is contaminated.

            The first point to consider is that the product of a sugar-wash, thats been
            through a happy healthy fermentation, should be just about all ethanol, and
            very little else.

            Next, of the other potential impurities, not too many will be present
            around 78C. When the tails do start to come through, the still really
            struggles to hold its temperature, despite you dialling up heaps of
            reflux. You'll see this as fluctuations in the temperature, and quite a
            decrease in the collection rate.

            Lastly - when collecting tails, your nose will let you know that they're
            there.

            Experiment with your next batch a little. After you've collected what you
            normally do, start collecting the next lot in some smaller collection
            containers. As long as you can hold the temperature nice and low, you'll
            find that the product is still very clean & able to be kept. As the
            temperature keeps trying to rise, increase your reflux ratio to try and
            keep the product pure. At somepoint, you'll find that you're down to
            collecting very little. If you can get sufficient reflux happening, this
            will still be quite pure & OK to keep. If however you max out on the
            amount of reflux, there will come a point where the temperature will begin
            to rise, regardless. Keep periodically sniffing/tasting this material.
            Initially it wont be too tainted, and ok to keep as is. As it gets
            stronger in impurities, you may want to collect this in a jar labelled
            "redistill later". At this point, i usually decrease the reflux ratio, and
            take this next bit off in a hurry - the temperature will rise heaps, and
            the purity drops. I'll collect it up to around 96C.

            This "redistill" stuff gets added to the next batch - so the ethanol it
            contains is never lost, but just got to a little later.

            By stopping at 96, it means that the real heavy impurities get to stay in
            the boiler. That way they don't get to accurmulate / increase from one
            run to the next - you simply cream off the ethanol, and leave the major
            impurities to be thrown away down the sink each time. You're only ever
            collecting up to a low threshold concentration.

            By doing this experimenting in small collection volumes, you dont risk
            ruining your major batch of high quality spirit. Any that doesnt taste too
            good to drink simply gets redistilled and cleaned up next time. That way
            your yield doesnt have to suffer, it is only slightly delayed.

            Tony
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