RE: [new_distillers] First time still almost ready.......
> 2. Either way the lid just sits on the top of the tub, I was planningIt needs to be sealed enough not to leak too much steam/vapour. Fuzzy
> to clamp the lid on. Do I need a gas tight seal? If so would Silicon
> mastic for a fish tank do? was planning to extrude a bead onto the
> lid and put some vaseline on the tub to stop it sticking together. Or
> perhaps some silicon tube used as a seal would do?
precisness - eg a wee leak is probably ok (mine does), but a major puffing
point is a problem. The silastic & vasoline trick works well.
> 4. I have cleaned the copper internally with vinegar and it wentThats all I did
> green and then I flushed it with water, is this enough?
> 5. I have seen in many designs the requirement to put a piece ofThe screen is really only for designs with loose packing like raschig rings
> brass mesh across the entrance to the reflux tube, but the scrubbers
> don't look like they will come out unless you pull them, is a screen
> necessary? (PS. I boiled the SS first before inserting them in the
or marbles. The scrubbers should be able to hold themselves up.
>Too many can give problems. Their tightness is a hard thing to describe.
> 6. I have put 14 scrubbers in the tube and can easily blow through
> it. I read somewhere that for 1.2m I should use 17, but this would
> compress them quite a lot more, any suggestions?
Like don't compress them more than what they'd look like when just sitting
on the bench. The main trick is to fill as much of the column height as
>Theres very little pressure there, so a push joint is fine. You might just
> 7. Where the Reflux tube joins the top coil condensor I have used a
> 42mm straight copper connector, soldered to the top piece, but push
> fit to the bottom with 50mm of overlap. I was planning to leave this
> unsoldered to make it easier to clean, is this OK or should I go for
> a soldered connection.
want to use a little teflon tape / plumbers tape to help get it sealed
>On a per mL basis, it takes a lot more energy to evaporate water than it
> 8. I deliberately made the Nixon-Stone condensor very long to be
> absolutely sure that no vapour would escape. The idea was to estimate
> the reflux ratio by running the still with boiling water (should I do
> this with beer vapourising?) and when boiling send enough water flow
> through the Nixon-Stone condensor, with the coil condensor shut off,
> for the Nixon-Stone to condense all the vapour to liquid. Then I
> would measure the flow per second. After that I was planning to run
> the internal coil condensor at the top of the Reflux column until the
> flow of condensate from the Nixon Stone reduced by 85%, giving me a
> 5:1 reflux ratio. Is the correct way to estimate the reflux ratio?
does alcohol. Definately use the water only run to get a starting idea,
but then repeat what you've described, once you've got some alcohol in the
system. Treat the first run as a real experiment - try different reflux
ratios - see what temperatures / purity you get, how fast is flat out ?,
etc. Learn the sounds & smells & hot bits to touch, etc. If you mess up
the distillate with some low grade material, then just redistill it all a
second time, and collect it for real then.
Rather than target a specific reflux ratio (5:1), learn whats best for your
still. Being so tall, you might be able to get away with something less
(eg collect faster). For shorter columns, they may need more. Work all
this out during your experimental run - for a particular collection rate
(and hence reflux ratio), see what vapour temperature you get at the top of
the column, and hence its purity there (see attached graph).
>I reckon more like 95% is attainable. The tails really depend on how good
> 9. Lastly, I was planning to ferment 100 litres of beer, if I measure
> the specific gravity by volume, and take 85% of this figure, is that
> a reasonable assumption for the amount of ethyl alcohol I can
> distil. (This question is not about trying to get the most alcohol I
> can get, but more an estimate of how long it will take to get to the
> point where "Tails" are being produced?)
the still is. A tall column should give you a really stable run at high
purity, right up to the end. After the collection rate has slowed right
down (eg you're needing a silly high reflux ratio to keep the purity),
change to collect the tails. Off 25L, I'd probably get less than 300 mL of
low purity tails up to 96C. So you're maybe looking at 1L ? Might be
less, as you should be able to concentrate them up better. The trick with
all of this is in watching the vapour temperature, and keeping on top of
it via the reflux ratio.
>Depends on your starting materials, how happy the yeast was, and if you
> 10. Also, based on 9. above, is there a way to estimate the amount
> of "heads" to discard?
avoided high temperatures during fermentation. A happy sugar wash with
sufficient nutrients should give very little (10-20mL ?) of heads, however
a badly infected grain mash will give you 1-2L (don't ask how i know
this..). Likewise, if you let the column equilibriat e under total reflux
say for 15-20 minutes at the start, and then start slowly collecting the
heads at a rate of 1 drip per second, you'll get them off really
concentrated (and really easy to spot by nose !). Maybe 50-100 mL off 100L
of beer ? Again, the signal that they're over is when the temperature
lifts out of the high 60's low 70's, and moves up to around 78.2C. Use
your nose - the first part of the ethanol will still have some
smell/flavour with it - its for you to decide which you'll recycle, which
you'll keep for heavy flavored spirits, and when to take the really clean
and neutral "heart" of the middle run for your best gin & vodka.
>Yes please !
> Any other suggestions would be gratefully received?
> After I have run it I will post my results if anyone is interested
> and or a photo of the working still.