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First still

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  • bigwhitehunters
    Hi, I am about to build my first still and have some questions. I am thinking of building a compound still with vapour management, as per The Complete
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 2, 2002
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      Hi, I am about to build my first still and have some questions.
      I am thinking of building a compound still with vapour management, as
      per 'The Complete Distiller'. If the Liebig condensor core is
      narrower than the head diameter, will this not limit my range of
      reflux rates? ie. prevent 50% reflux for stripping.

      I was looking @ Journeymans head, @ Homedistiller.org (Photos of
      Nixon-Stone style Stills),what is the advantage of having a second
      gate valve?. I will be using a number of brass fittings on my still,
      do I need to clean them as per 'Matt's Nixon-Stone Still', are these
      levels of lead significant?

      My design has a number of brass flanges so that it can be broken
      down, can I use brass and copper brazing rods, to join the the copper
      pipes to the brass plates or must I use rods with a high silver
      content (expensive)?. I am having trouble obtaining a suitable needle
      valve, can I use one which is nickle plated copper?

      Thanks

      James
    • Mike Nixon
      bigwhitehunters wrote: Subject: [Distillers] First still Hi, I am about to build my first still and have some questions. I am thinking of building a compound
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 2, 2002
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        bigwhitehunters wrote:
        Subject: [Distillers] First still

        Hi, I am about to build my first still and have some questions.
        I am thinking of building a compound still with vapour management, as
        per 'The Complete Distiller'. If the Liebig condensor core is
        narrower than the head diameter, will this not limit my range of
        reflux rates? ie. prevent 50% reflux for stripping.
        -------------------------------------------------
        Hi James,
        In a word, no. It is noted in the book that when a given vapour is offered
        two similar for paths to follow, then relative aperture alone is the
        governing factor, and gate valves provide a means of controlling this. This
        was what prompted initial investigation into vapour management. However,
        when the geometry of the paths was changed, then it became evident that the
        gate valve was not the only factor controlling flow, and that composition of
        the vapour also played a significant role. This led to the design published
        in TCD, which has one path going up to the reflux condenser and the other
        going down to a product condenser. A Liebig was chosen for this because it
        was simple to make and also had the advantage of cooling the product. The
        role of the gate valve became more like that of a needle valve in a liquid
        management system, acting like a throttle to control the amount of vapour
        permitted to take that path. In short, with that geometry, composition of
        the vapour assumes more importance than relative apertures, and the diameter
        if the Liebig condenser tube has little effect. The description in the book
        was deliberately kept short as this was a new concept for still management
        and I didn't want to cloud the issue with long-winded technical
        explanations. With hindsight, perhaps I was wrong.
        -------------------------------------------------
        I was looking @ Journeymans head, @ Homedistiller.org (Photos of
        Nixon-Stone style Stills),what is the advantage of having a second
        gate valve?.
        -------------------------------------------------
        Journeyman came up with a neat variation of one of the initial test designs,
        where vapour flow was controlled by a gate valve in each of the two vapour
        paths. By fully opening up the product path valve and closing the reflux
        path valve, he can reduce imposed reflux to zero and operate his still like
        a simple reflux column, enabling stripping to continue to whatever stage he
        chooses.
        --------------------------------------------------
        I will be using a number of brass fittings on my still,
        do I need to clean them as per 'Matt's Nixon-Stone Still', are these
        levels of lead significant?
        --------------------------------------------------
        Opinions differ on whether the amount of lead leached from brass is
        significant. However, what must be said is that lead is a cumulative poison
        and should not be dismissed lightly. There has been some excellent advice
        recently on this List about treating brass to reduce the risk, no matter how
        small it might be, and it is well worth reading if this concerns you. An
        alternative method is to apply a thin electroplated coat of copper to any
        brass fittings that will carry liquid product. Note that brass inside the
        still, eg brass scrubbers, does not need treatment as any lead salts will
        end up in the boiler ... salts cannot be vaporised.
        --------------------------------------------------
        My design has a number of brass flanges so that it can be broken
        down, can I use brass and copper brazing rods, to join the the copper
        pipes to the brass plates or must I use rods with a high silver
        content (expensive)?. I am having trouble obtaining a suitable needle
        valve, can I use one which is nickle plated copper?
        ---------------------------------------------------
        I use brass flanges too, and strongly recommend silver soldering is you want
        a strong joint as you would be working with slightly lower temperatures that
        if brazing with brass rod. When a brass component reaches the temperature
        at which brass brazing wires melt, then the whole piece tends to slump
        rapidly. It can be done, but it takes a lot of skill. If you can get away
        with a weaker joint, ordinary soldering is very much easier, and you don't
        need such a hot flame. Just don't use lead solder where it will be in
        contact with the final liquid product.

        All the best,
        Mike
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