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First Run - Experiences

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  • The Ooz
    I thought I d share my first run experience so that others can learn from it, and so that I can get some more tips to improve my procedure. The Gear I have
    Message 1 of 7 , Jan 3, 2004
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      I thought I'd share my first run experience so that others can learn from
      it, and so that I can get some more tips to improve my procedure.

      The Gear

      I have built an EL still as per the plans on homedistiller.org. The still
      has a power controller (Sutronics) and the boiler is a 20Litre urn.

      The Process

      After some stuffing around, I ended up with a 25 litre sugar wash at 18
      percent. I decided to do a stripping run first based on suggestions made in
      this group. I put about 18 litres in and ran my still at high power (2.4kW
      element) until I had about 3 litres of clear liquid. I then ran it again
      with the remaining part of the wash thrown in as well.

      I ended up with 6 litres of spirit (I'm not sure how much I should have had
      at this point, but any advice appreciated). I was fairly vague in my
      settings but decided to stop the run when my thermometer was at about 98
      degrees. I measured the alcohol in the clearer liquid and it was at 60%.

      The next day (and not having cleaned my still) I put the 6 litres plus 2
      litres of tap water in my boiler and started again. This time I was very
      fussy with my temperature and had the still running at exactly 78 degrees
      for 10 minutes before starting to draw off the spirit. I collected about
      100ml of foreshots and set them aside (my mate wants it for some reason). I
      then collected the heads but was unsure of when I should make the cuts so
      just smelt each container as I went through. Everything seemed to smell the
      same to me.

      When the temperature was at about 86 degrees, and not much products was
      coming out of the tap, I decided to stop the run. I think I had about 3
      litres of 95 percent spirit. This run took around 5 hours. The spirit smelt
      a little like the wash had that I started with. I think this is because I
      hadn't cleaned the still after the stripping run and all of the crap was
      caught in the scrubbers. After the run I cleaned everything out. Can anyone
      comment on this?

      The final spirit was okay, but not as neutral in smell as I thought it would
      be. Is this due to the lack of cleaning?
      I wasn't sure how much product I should have gained from the stripping run -
      is there a way that I can know this before proceding next time?
      I wasn't sure when to take the cuts - is there a calculation I can use based
      on the quantity at hand?

      I found that using some 'Top Shelf' liquer essences was great and they taste
      fine. I used a scotch essence and found that I could smell the odour from
      the wash that I mention. So I think it was almost all out, but I was not
      quite there.

      Any advice or questions welcome.


      Adam

      _________________________________________________________________
      Hot chart ringtones and polyphonics. Go to
      http://ninemsn.com.au/mobilemania/default.asp
    • jimpuchai
      ... learn from ... The still ... at 18 ... suggestions made in ... power (2.4kW ... again ... have had ... my ... about 98 ... at 60%. ... plus 2 ... was very
      Message 2 of 7 , Jan 4, 2004
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        --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "The Ooz" <theooz@h...> wrote:
        > I thought I'd share my first run experience so that others can
        learn from
        > it, and so that I can get some more tips to improve my procedure.
        >
        > The Gear
        >
        > I have built an EL still as per the plans on homedistiller.org.
        The still
        > has a power controller (Sutronics) and the boiler is a 20Litre urn.
        >
        > The Process
        >
        > After some stuffing around, I ended up with a 25 litre sugar wash
        at 18
        > percent. I decided to do a stripping run first based on
        suggestions made in
        > this group. I put about 18 litres in and ran my still at high
        power (2.4kW
        > element) until I had about 3 litres of clear liquid. I then ran it
        again
        > with the remaining part of the wash thrown in as well.
        >
        > I ended up with 6 litres of spirit (I'm not sure how much I should
        have had
        > at this point, but any advice appreciated). I was fairly vague in
        my
        > settings but decided to stop the run when my thermometer was at
        about 98
        > degrees. I measured the alcohol in the clearer liquid and it was
        at 60%.
        >
        > The next day (and not having cleaned my still) I put the 6 litres
        plus 2
        > litres of tap water in my boiler and started again. This time I
        was very
        > fussy with my temperature and had the still running at exactly 78
        degrees
        > for 10 minutes before starting to draw off the spirit. I collected
        about
        > 100ml of foreshots and set them aside (my mate wants it for some
        reason). I
        > then collected the heads but was unsure of when I should make the
        cuts so
        > just smelt each container as I went through. Everything seemed to
        smell the
        > same to me.
        >
        > When the temperature was at about 86 degrees, and not much
        products was
        > coming out of the tap, I decided to stop the run. I think I had
        about 3
        > litres of 95 percent spirit. This run took around 5 hours. The
        spirit smelt
        > a little like the wash had that I started with. I think this is
        because I
        > hadn't cleaned the still after the stripping run and all of the
        crap was
        > caught in the scrubbers. After the run I cleaned everything out.
        Can anyone
        > comment on this?
        >
        > The final spirit was okay, but not as neutral in smell as I
        thought it would
        > be. Is this due to the lack of cleaning?
        > I wasn't sure how much product I should have gained from the
        stripping run -
        > is there a way that I can know this before proceding next time?
        > I wasn't sure when to take the cuts - is there a calculation I can
        use based
        > on the quantity at hand?
        >
        > I found that using some 'Top Shelf' liquer essences was great and
        they taste
        > fine. I used a scotch essence and found that I could smell the
        odour from
        > the wash that I mention. So I think it was almost all out, but I
        was not
        > quite there.
        >
        > Any advice or questions welcome.
        >
        >
        > Adam
        >
        Hello Adam,
        It sounds as though you did most things right. You are correct in
        thinking you should have cleaned the still and packing before the
        second run. This so important that you should engrave it on the
        boiler.
        It also sounds as though your foreshots maybe a little short, but
        only your nose and taste will tell for sure.

        In running the EL design, it really helps if you keep in mind that a
        correctly operating compound still(an EL) will show near enough 78C
        in the vapour space above the packing on the main run.
        Unfortunately, it will also show near 78c when you are well into the
        tails, so you need some input from your nose, your tongue or
        technology to help.
        Experience makes you better at recognizing the rough end of the run,
        but until you learn the smells and tastes, another thermometer,
        correctly situated, will inform you that it is time to be cautious.

        I always use a thermometer placed in the vapour space at the top of
        the boiler. This will give you the temperature of the vapour before
        it enters the column. The critical temerature here is approximately
        94.5C. This is tails country for sugar washes. Once you see this
        temperature approach, you need to be saving your product in half or
        quarter litre numbered batches. Stop at 98C in the boiler top space.
        There is little useful left after that.

        Here is where you can learn the smells and tastes of the fusel oils
        that can spoil your hard work. Sniff and taste the numbered bottles
        to see just what seems clean and palatable, and what doesn't.
        Compare the smells and tastes with the main run. You WILL notice the
        difference. Cleaning the palate with dry unsweetened crackers will
        help quite a bit when tasting, and some discreet spitting may be
        required.

        Remember that temperature is only a guide. You own senses are much
        more acute, and when trained a little, will serve you well.

        Have fun,
        Jim
      • watertrade2003
        Hi Adam, Its a nice feeling isn t it... :) It sounds like your first run was pretty successful. After stripping the wash you ended up with about 3600 mls of
        Message 3 of 7 , Jan 4, 2004
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          Hi Adam,
          Its a nice feeling isn't it... :) It sounds like your first run
          was pretty successful. After stripping the wash you ended up with
          about 3600 mls of alcohol (in your 6 liters @ 60%) so you probably
          tossed away about 1 liter when you did the stripping run - I
          wouldn't worry about it, I have never worked it out but I probably
          waste about the same during stripping runs.
          Anyway I wouldn't have thought that not cleaning the still after the
          stripping run wouldn't leave that much residual taste behind (I
          might be wrong here) I think the hot volatile vapour would flush all
          the crap back into the boiler or be taken as heads. The only thing I
          can comment on is that next time I would leave the column to
          stabilize by this I mean when the wash starts boiling leave the
          still at 100% reflux (like you did- but for longer) I find after the
          wash boils and everything gets up to temp and has been left at 100%
          reflux the temp drops down a fraction - this is the higher alcohols
          (alcohols with lower boiling points) collecting in the top of the
          column. I usually leave it for about 60 - 90 minutes just to make
          sure I'm getting all the nasties and then slowly take off the heads
          the amount I take can vary but I just keep sniffing away until I'm
          sure I'm into the main body of the run (one idea is to just collect
          everything slowly in smaller jars and deal with the separations
          later). I normally have a rough idea how much alcohol is in my wash
          so when I start to get near the end I watch the temperature like a
          hawk until the temp changes as soon as it changes I start collecting
          tails. Some good advice someone gave me was to watch for the change
          of temperature not the actual figure.

          This works for me but I'm sure everyone has a slightly different way
          of running their still.
          I hope this has been of some help!
          **you should probably also know that I have never used a El still**

          Cheers
          Jim

          --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "The Ooz" <theooz@h...>
          wrote:
          > I thought I'd share my first run experience so that others can
          learn from
          > it, and so that I can get some more tips to improve my procedure.
          >
          > The Gear
          >
          > I have built an EL still as per the plans on homedistiller.org.
          The still
          > has a power controller (Sutronics) and the boiler is a 20Litre urn.
          >
          > The Process
          >
          > After some stuffing around, I ended up with a 25 litre sugar wash
          at 18
          > percent. I decided to do a stripping run first based on
          suggestions made in
          > this group. I put about 18 litres in and ran my still at high
          power (2.4kW
          > element) until I had about 3 litres of clear liquid. I then ran it
          again
          > with the remaining part of the wash thrown in as well.
          >
          > I ended up with 6 litres of spirit (I'm not sure how much I should
          have had
          > at this point, but any advice appreciated). I was fairly vague in
          my
          > settings but decided to stop the run when my thermometer was at
          about 98
          > degrees. I measured the alcohol in the clearer liquid and it was
          at 60%.
          >
          > The next day (and not having cleaned my still) I put the 6 litres
          plus 2
          > litres of tap water in my boiler and started again. This time I
          was very
          > fussy with my temperature and had the still running at exactly 78
          degrees
          > for 10 minutes before starting to draw off the spirit. I collected
          about
          > 100ml of foreshots and set them aside (my mate wants it for some
          reason). I
          > then collected the heads but was unsure of when I should make the
          cuts so
          > just smelt each container as I went through. Everything seemed to
          smell the
          > same to me.
          >
          > When the temperature was at about 86 degrees, and not much
          products was
          > coming out of the tap, I decided to stop the run. I think I had
          about 3
          > litres of 95 percent spirit. This run took around 5 hours. The
          spirit smelt
          > a little like the wash had that I started with. I think this is
          because I
          > hadn't cleaned the still after the stripping run and all of the
          crap was
          > caught in the scrubbers. After the run I cleaned everything out.
          Can anyone
          > comment on this?
          >
          > The final spirit was okay, but not as neutral in smell as I
          thought it would
          > be. Is this due to the lack of cleaning?
          > I wasn't sure how much product I should have gained from the
          stripping run -
          > is there a way that I can know this before proceding next time?
          > I wasn't sure when to take the cuts - is there a calculation I can
          use based
          > on the quantity at hand?
          >
          > I found that using some 'Top Shelf' liquer essences was great and
          they taste
          > fine. I used a scotch essence and found that I could smell the
          odour from
          > the wash that I mention. So I think it was almost all out, but I
          was not
          > quite there.
          >
          > Any advice or questions welcome.
          >
          >
          > Adam
          >
          > _________________________________________________________________
          > Hot chart ringtones and polyphonics. Go to
          > http://ninemsn.com.au/mobilemania/default.asp
        • dark_taet
          Mate congradulations....! Firstly as an introduction, i am pretty fussy about getting pure spirit, as well as being REALLY lazy.. ;-) What i normally do is
          Message 4 of 7 , Jan 4, 2004
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            Mate congradulations....!

            Firstly as an introduction, i am pretty fussy about getting pure
            spirit, as well as being REALLY lazy.. ;-)

            What i normally do is make two lots of wash ie 50L do two lots of
            stripping then one final run. (I have a 60L drum which i add 8kg of
            sugar one table spoon of tomato paste (food for the yeasties) and
            ONE packet of turbo yeast, stir vigoursly... try and get lots of air
            into the water. Leave the lid off and come back the next day and
            add another 6Kg of sugar and give it another stir and then seal the
            lid.)

            Stripping runs straight into a flagon or a mash bucket.

            Then when i am taking the main run i put a old 700ml bottle in a 2L
            container (that way if i miss it doesn't matter), take it 700ml at a
            time. I usually stop around 85-90c.

            This way i have less hassel in cleaning also i find the first couple
            of bottles have a slight contamination i dont like so i dont use
            them for my spirits. I also dont use the last 2 or 3 bottles.

            Some add them back to the next run to get out the "little" extra bit
            of ethanol... Eventually you will end up with 10L of heads/tails
            like me that you finally through away, or add blue dye and hand out
            as window cleaner, or use in a dual fuel stove etc etc.

            I never need carbon these days and overall am very happy with the
            final product.

            Ohhhh and if your into the flavours like me try buying some of the
            oak chips and add it... After 4 weeks drink and go WOW...!

            Matt
          • dark_taet
            Ohhh how embarrasing... I forgot, after the stripping runs and before the main run i give it a thorough clean. I used to use dishwashing power, leave it
            Message 5 of 7 , Jan 4, 2004
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              Ohhh how embarrasing...

              I forgot, after the stripping runs and before the main run i give it
              a thorough clean.

              I used to use dishwashing power, leave it overnight worked REALLY
              well, but got concerned that it might leave some nasties, so have
              switched to vinegar.

              Matt
            • Laurens W
              That s great, which Still R U using, is it the Vapour Management Still? and do you also treat the packing with vinegar? are you using the structured copper
              Message 6 of 7 , Jan 4, 2004
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                That's great, which Still R U using, is it the Vapour Management Still?

                and do you also treat the packing with vinegar? are you using the
                structured copper packing?
                ----- Original Message -----
                From: "dark_taet" <ndistillers@...>
                To: <new_distillers@yahoogroups.com>
                Sent: Monday, January 05, 2004 4:42 PM
                Subject: [new_distillers] Re: First Run - Experiences


                > Ohhh how embarrasing...
                >
                > I forgot, after the stripping runs and before the main run i give it
                > a thorough clean.
                >
                > I used to use dishwashing power, leave it overnight worked REALLY
                > well, but got concerned that it might leave some nasties, so have
                > switched to vinegar.
                >
                > Matt
                >
                >
                > New Distillers group archives are at http://archive.nnytech.net/
                > FAQ and other information available at http://homedistiller.org
                >
                > ttp://archive.nnytech.net/
                > FAQ and other information available at http://homedistiller.org
                >
                >
                >
                >
                > Yahoo! Groups Links
                >
                > To visit your group on the web, go to:
                > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/new_distillers/
                >
                > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                > new_distillers-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                >
                > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:
                > http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                >
                >
                >
              • dark_taet
                I bought a Still Spirits boiler 25L with a 1380W element, then thanks to a VERY nice guy added a Sutronics controller do my run at around 700w. My column etc
                Message 7 of 7 , Jan 5, 2004
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                  I bought a Still Spirits boiler 25L with a 1380W element, then
                  thanks to a VERY nice guy added a Sutronics controller do my run at
                  around 700w.

                  My column etc is the PDA-1, i have tried all sorts of
                  alternatives... I REALLY love VM particularly for new people, the
                  downfall i see is when trying to get flavours etc to come through.

                  The PDA-1 gives me the flexibility to play with flavours and it
                  packs into a sexy case etc. The price tag is pretty scarey, but i
                  was more than happy to pay considering the effort the two mikes put
                  in.

                  --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Laurens W" <lwildebo@b...>
                  wrote:
                  > That's great, which Still R U using, is it the Vapour Management
                  Still?
                  >
                  > and do you also treat the packing with vinegar? are you using the
                  > structured copper packing?
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