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Still design in NZ, alcohol %, alcoholometer accuracy

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  • Ola Norrman
    Pete, I have visited the pages: http://www.spiritsunlimited.co.nz/h30.htm http://www.spiritsunlimited.co.nz/h31.htm at spirits unlimited and I can not
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 23, 2000
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      I have visited the pages:
      at spirits unlimited and I can not understand how to
      get 95% out from those stills. You must have seen
      another still that is not yet on the site?

      It is great that influence from Europe and John Stone
      (and this egroup) push the still design in
      NZ. Please send a picture or url with those new

      Still design is not complete before one distill pure
      alcohol in a reasonable time and all commercially sold
      or home build reflux stills do this.

      The 95.5% alcohol is possible to achieve. The boiling
      point of 95.6% alcohol and water is lower then for
      pure alcohol (chemically called an azeotrope, when a
      mixture of 2 liquids have a lower constant boiling
      point then any of them have separately). The reason
      for the discussions about how much one can achieve is
      that those 95.6% is commonly mentioned as 95%. Then
      there is some saing 96%. One can check this in any
      chemistry book and also online, for example at:

      So when one read 97% at the alcoholometer it s not
      possible with distillation (more on this later). To a
      achieve that one must dehydrate this alcohol within
      the column or after distillation. Within the column
      this can be made by making another azeotrope to get
      the ethyl alcohol out separately. To do this one need
      a deadly poison third ingredient, that is why one do
      not do it. The other way to do it is to build a
      molecular sieve inside the column. It cost a fortune
      and can not be done in home distillation scale today -
      but maybe in ten years. Probably there is people
      testing already.

      There is no real need for 99.5% alcohol as 95% (95.6
      to be exact) is pure. There will always be some
      congener in it as the fore shots and the head passes
      the column and condenser first, leaving traces. Those
      is easy to take away with granulated activated carbon.
      Both Smirnoff and Stolichnaya are using activated
      carbon. If one thereafter regenerates the carbon and
      smell when the impurities leave the carbon, there is
      no doubt there is volatiles, even if many people tells
      that there is not.

      When one measure 97% the alcoholometer is not showing
      right. This can be because of a lot of volatiles in
      the distillate but this is not common. The reason use
      to be that the temperature of the distillate is to
      warm. Then the distillate gets thinner, the
      alcoholometer sinks to deep and shows to high %. There
      is no conversation table for this as it must be made
      for each design of alcoholometer separately.

      The second case is that the alcoholometer shows wrong:
      There are 2 qualities of those instruments, scientific
      sold in laboratory shops (brands like Widder, Germany)
      and home brew quality made in China. Home brew quality
      use to differ 2-3%. Laboratory quality cost the double
      or more and use to have a very good accuracy. But
      still, the scale can have moved after calibration.

      So the best is to test the instrument in water first,
      if 0% is included in the scale, or test it on a
      commercial vodka first, as those are controlled.

      Kindest regards

      --- Peter Sayers <brubarn@...> wrote:
      > Ola Have a look at the stills produced by the
      > Spirits Unlimited Ltd people in NZ. Go
      > to " spirits.unlimited@...." They have
      > produced a still capable of producing
      > alcohol at 95.5%, i have seen it running and have
      > tasted the results. Bloody
      > brilliant!!!
      > They also have a web site www.spiritsunlimited.co.nz
      > Regards Pete at Brewers Barn

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