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Newbie problems

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  • thursty2
    Hi guys & gals, My washes are burning. I m an extreme novice at distilling and have a few questions if I may. My setup is a Nixon - Stone style, 50mm copper
    Message 1 of 64 , Jun 29, 2010
      Hi guys & gals,

      My washes are burning. I'm an extreme novice at distilling and have a
      few questions if I may.

      My setup is a Nixon - Stone style, 50mm copper column (home built), set
      atop a 20ltr Birko urn (junk yard salvage). The column is approx.,
      1100mm long and stuffed with 18 fluffed up ss scrubbers.

      The urn heats using a 2400w element and bi-metal type thermostat. This
      makes the thermostat unsuitable fas it is not capable of providing
      "simmering" power, ie., rapid continuous switching without interrupting
      the boil.

      A fish pond pump recirculates cooling water (200 litres) through an
      approx., 300mm copper condenser coil.

      The element remains full on for the whole boil, hence the "overcooking"
      of the mash and the less than desirable taste (I think).

      Is there a proven solution?

      I ferment 25ltrs of wash per session and boil off 2 x 12.5ltr batches to
      ensure I have headspace in the urn.

      I'm happy to fit a secondary element of maybe 1000w to the urn, using
      the 2.4kw to start the boil (reducing waiting time), and then switching
      to a smaller element (1.0kw) to finish the boil.

      There is conflicting thought on using a "simmerstat" device such as is
      fitted to just about every electric cooktop in existence. I salvaged a
      used one and dismantled it to see the workings. It too is a bi-metal
      device. However, I don't recall ever noticing a simmering pot stopping
      and restarting a simmer.

      Lets see, what else, Oh yes, Reaching the boil happens around 20 mins
      after switching on, and I allow the column to equilib for about an hour,
      after which I then ditch 100ml of fores. I collect usable product from
      79degrees to around 83 degrees (around 94percent abv) and 83 to around
      90 is for tails which I add to the next boil.

      I believe the real problem for the poor tasting product is the full on
      continuous power input.

      Any-one able to assist?

      tks in advance.
    • tgfoitwoods
      Funny you should bring this up at this time, Geoff. I ve just been digesting the information from the 2 ethanol-water mixture density tables that Harry sent
      Message 64 of 64 , Jul 9, 2010
        Funny you should bring this up at this time, Geoff. I've just been digesting the information from the 2 ethanol-water mixture density tables that Harry sent me, and in the process, looking at my hydrometer and alcoholometer. While Waldo and Harry have covered all the important parts in depth, let me put some of this in some practical forms.

        First, my hydrometer can measure densities from .990 to 1.170 g/cm^3, reading from the internal paper scale. In addition, doing some serious guesstimating,  it appears that at densities below .950 g/cm^3 the hydrometer will sink to the bottom of the measured liquid.

        Similarly, my alcoholometer measures (also on the internal paper scale) densities from .789 to 1.000 g/cm^3, amd looks to sink at any density less than about .774 g/cm^3

        If we look at the density range where both instruments can serve as sugar-concentration hydrometer or ethanol-concentration alcoholometer, the range shared betweenthe 2 instruments is from 1.000 to .990, which means that the hydrometer (if you had some conversion from density to %ABV like the tables Harry sent me) could read ethanol concentrations form 0-7% ABV, and the alcoholometer could measure sugar concentrations from 0 to 0% (since all sugar-water solution must have a density greater than 1.000, even if an FG of .994 is common in wine).

        Further, because after the hydrometer can still move downward, even after the liquid level is above the readable paper scale, at about 41%ABV,  the  hydrometer will sink to the bottom of the test jar and can not register (and sure as hell can not read) ethanol concentrations greater than 41% (a guess, but close).

        So, at least with my instruments, you could use the hydrometer, with conversion tables, to crudely measure %ABV from 0-7, and my alcoholometer will give you no reading with any sugar solution.

        If you're wondering why I dwell on the sinking instrument, it's because I started a spirit run with my hydrometer in my parrot beak, and the hydrometer did not lift at all when the beak overflowed. Starting ABV was probably 78-80.

        I hope this helps.

        Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller
        --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "geoff" <jeffrey.burrows@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hi Jim,
        >
        > I 'm not trying to be nit pick Jim but it has always bothered me why ner' the twain will do for the same job although in a different way, if you know what I mean
        >
        > Geoff
        >
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