Re: New to stilling
- A bit late, but here are some answers.
For detailed (and there are lots of details, and you'll need most of them) information on building reflux stills, I was going to send you to Tony Ackland's site, homedistiller.org, but it appears to be "out of service" right now, although it's getting a really nice appearance makeover. Maybe he'll be up soon.
You're in good luck getting a keg with the big hole cut in the top. Lots of distillers use such a keg with a (sturdy) stainless bowl, attached in lots of wondrous different ways, according to the ingenuity of the still builder.
The average hobby stiller just can't go wrong with 2" copper pipe for the column. As to its availability, I live in a pretty rural area, and of the two closest hardware stores, one has 2" copper in the back, and cuts it to length. That's where I get mine.
If that water jacket cools the top of the riser, it sounds like some sort of reflux condenser, which you need one of to condense part or all of your rising vapor. You need to read homedistiller.org for those principles. As for (product? distillate?) outlet diameter, I use 3/8" copper tubing and I think a lot of others do also.
The term "efficiency" get bandied about pretty loosely; generally efficiency is defined as "maximizing (or minimizing) the ratio between two parameters", so if you are talking about the most distillate you can get per watt of energy input, insulate the whole thing, and turn off the reflux entirely. You will then have close to 100% efficiency (ratio distillate out to energy in), but you will have crippled your expensive reflux still and made a simple potstill out of it. I suspect that's not what you want.
Just by the fact that reflux stills waste a lot of energy by returning most of the vapor back to the boiler (or packing) to be reboiled again, reflux distilling is (thermally, at least) terribly inefficient. I think it's probably not efficiency that you are after. but it's not yet clear what you want.
Thermally, potstills can be pretty efficient, but it sounds like you are looking to make flavorless vodka.
As for designs to consider, the Bokakob liquid-management reflux still is always a favorite, but lately the vapor-management stills are gaining a lot of popularity. Google both terms and read up on them.
You are very welcome, but Joe's right; we should be discussing this on New Distillers.
Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller
--- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "ggenovezos" <ggenovez@...> wrote:
> Hi all,
> I have a few basic questions I'm hoping someone can answer.
> First off I was given a beer keg (large) with a hole on top. It was used as a kettle.
> I'm thinking of putting a bowl on it followed by a reflux riser.
> What diameter should the the pipe be? and how tall?
> I've seen some designs with a water jacket near the top of the riser. What is the purpose of that?
> Also what would the diameter of the outlet pipe be?
> What affects efficiency of the still?
> Lastly any design I should consider before beginning?
> Most of all, Thanks to all for helping.