Running at high turnover rate when you apply overly excessive amount of heat to the boiler will produce very high vapor flow toward the condenser. Within this flow you will have unwanted fractions carried over to the condenser. These fractions will not have enough time to condense and drip down the packing. After these fractions are delivered to the top of the column and condense, you will have it in the distillate that you draw off. That will give you "off taste."
If you distill "slow" (and the definition of this process may vary among different people), then all unwanted fractions will be able to condense somewhere in the middle of the column. In other words you will get cleaner distillate at the top of your column.
In my experience somewhere in the range 400mL to 600mL per hour provides most optimal results for my personal taste. The flames are just simmering and the cooling water barely flows. Discharged water is very hot. That is how "slow" I distill.
You will find your "preferred equilibrium" after a few distillations. To start finding your "slow" rate, adjust the variac to the point when production is ceased after heads are removed. Then gradually increasing the power you will get to the point where you are happy with the results.
Regarding the hazzard... it is like any mechanism you run. If you run your car at high revolutions your engine will have more probability of failure. In distilling it may translate in leaks, excessive internal pressure, high volume of cooling water for which you pay, high electric bill (I think the later one is most important ;-)
Good luck. Alex...
The best route would be to use the variac and eliminate (bypass) the
thermocouple, I agree.
My concern was not that I would exceed the Watt rating of the heating
element, but rather it's "duty cycle". I did not know if running at
1000 watts 100% of the time would cause the unit to overheat and
damage the element, the case, the wiring of the hotplate etc.
Ideally I would like to start at full power until the boiler gets up
to temp, and then back off some.
So does running at 100% power continuously present any hazards?
I can be wrong I must say
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