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  • chio0744
    i am about to attempt my first distillation using a reflux still with water cooling near the top of the column. i am using a propane burner to heat my batch.
    Message 1 of 25 , Jul 31, 2005
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      i am about to attempt my first distillation using a reflux still with
      water cooling near the top of the column. i am using a propane burner
      to heat my batch. once i have brought this to a boil, do i keep it
      boiling and on high heat and try to control the temperature at the top
      of the column by adjusting the flow of water or do i also have to
      adjust the amount of heat to the pot and if so how do i do this and
      still maintain a constant temperature at the top? what do i do if after
      the batch begins to boil and while i am attempting to get the correct
      temperature at the top, this temperature fluxuates up and down. thanks
    • Dean Thomas
      Set your still up and get your water flowing through your condenser. Turn on the heat at maximum level you need to monitor the temp at your boiler ( If you
      Message 2 of 25 , Aug 1, 2005
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        Set your still up and get your water flowing through your condenser.
        Turn on the heat at maximum level you need to monitor the temp at your
        boiler ( If you don't have a thermometer their I recommend putting one
        in). As your boiler heats up to around 80-85C the vapour should be
        pushing up your column and if you haven't already you should soon see
        the temp at your top thermometer start to rise to the boiling point of
        your lower alcohols. At this point start to reduce your heat you will
        know when you have reduced it too much because not only will the boiler
        temp drop but so will the temp at the top. Experiment and find the point
        where it maintains the temp at the top. when this point is found mark it
        for future reference. Now let your column equalise that maintain full
        reflux for 30 minutes to one hour maintaining the top temp the hole
        time. You are now ready to slowly reduce your water flow/reflux ratio
        and remove your foreshots and if you wish heads at one drip per second.
        You are now ready to collect.

        I usually reduce my heat even further and then reduce my water
        flow/reflux ratio to maintain the collection rate this slows down the
        rate of the vapours accent allowing the column to work more effectively
        (naturally refluxing)
        this also reduces the amount of water required.
        The best tip I can give you is record everything the boiler and column
        temps the collection rate and the percentage per vessel and anything
        else you can think of. Do this every 15 minutes for at least your first
        few runs this gives you something to compare to.

        Hope that helps.

        Dean.

        chio0744 wrote:

        >i am about to attempt my first distillation using a reflux still with
        >water cooling near the top of the column. i am using a propane burner
        >to heat my batch. once i have brought this to a boil, do i keep it
        >boiling and on high heat and try to control the temperature at the top
        >of the column by adjusting the flow of water or do i also have to
        >adjust the amount of heat to the pot and if so how do i do this and
        >still maintain a constant temperature at the top? what do i do if after
        >the batch begins to boil and while i am attempting to get the correct
        >temperature at the top, this temperature fluxuates up and down. thanks
        >
        >
      • Lindsay Williams
        Adding to what Dean said, I judge when to turn the heat down by feeling the temp rising in the column. When it reaches about half way I reduce the boiler
        Message 3 of 25 , Aug 1, 2005
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          Adding to what Dean said, I judge when to turn the heat down by
          feeling the temp rising in the column. When it reaches about half way
          I reduce the boiler power. This prevents the very fast temp rise at
          the top as the fast rising vapour hits the thermometer.

          Cheers,
          Lindsay.

          --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "chio0744" <chio0744@y...> wrote:
          > i am about to attempt my first distillation using a reflux still with
          > water cooling near the top of the column. i am using a propane burner
          > to heat my batch. once i have brought this to a boil, do i keep it
          > boiling and on high heat and try to control the temperature at the top
          > of the column by adjusting the flow of water or do i also have to
          > adjust the amount of heat to the pot and if so how do i do this and
          > still maintain a constant temperature at the top? what do i do if after
          > the batch begins to boil and while i am attempting to get the correct
          > temperature at the top, this temperature fluxuates up and down. thanks
        • chio0744
          -Thanks for the response. i assume that the contents of the boiler are at a boil before the temp rises in the column. is that corret? Approx. how much do you
          Message 4 of 25 , Aug 2, 2005
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            -Thanks for the response. i assume that the contents of the boiler
            are at a boil before the temp rises in the column. is that corret?
            Approx. how much do you turn the heat down - 1/4 less, 1/2 etc.? Do
            you have a thermometer in you boiler as well. -- In
            new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Lindsay Williams" <linw@x> wrote:
            > Adding to what Dean said, I judge when to turn the heat down by
            > feeling the temp rising in the column. When it reaches about half
            way
            > I reduce the boiler power. This prevents the very fast temp rise at
            > the top as the fast rising vapour hits the thermometer.
            >
            > Cheers,
            > Lindsay.
            >
            > --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "chio0744" <chio0744@y...>
            wrote:
            > > i am about to attempt my first distillation using a reflux still
            with
            > > water cooling near the top of the column. i am using a propane
            burner
            > > to heat my batch. once i have brought this to a boil, do i keep
            it
            > > boiling and on high heat and try to control the temperature at
            the top
            > > of the column by adjusting the flow of water or do i also have to
            > > adjust the amount of heat to the pot and if so how do i do this
            and
            > > still maintain a constant temperature at the top? what do i do if
            after
            > > the batch begins to boil and while i am attempting to get the
            correct
            > > temperature at the top, this temperature fluxuates up and down.
            thanks
          • Dean Thomas
            You will have to experiment, every set up is different. The first run is very much a steep learning curve. All you can do is make sure everything is safe turn
            Message 5 of 25 , Aug 2, 2005
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              You will have to experiment, every set up is different. The first run is
              very much a steep learning curve.
              All you can do is make sure everything is safe turn it on and discover
              how your rig reacts, as I said take notes for at least your first three
              runs, many people document every run. The first run is usually the
              longest because you will have to fiddle with the heat input and the
              water flow until you find and mark their happy points then over these
              first few runs you might decide to change those points.

              May the force be with you.

              Dean.

              chio0744 wrote:

              >-Thanks for the response. i assume that the contents of the boiler
              >are at a boil before the temp rises in the column. is that corret?
              >Approx. how much do you turn the heat down - 1/4 less, 1/2 etc.? Do
              >you have a thermometer in you boiler as well.
              >
              >
            • Lindsay Williams
              Yes, the wash has to be boiling as it is the vapour produced by the boiling that climbs up the column. With a packed column, this vapour/temp rise is fairly
              Message 6 of 25 , Aug 3, 2005
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                Yes, the wash has to be boiling as it is the vapour produced by the
                boiling that climbs up the column. With a packed column, this
                vapour/temp rise is fairly slow.

                I lower the power to what I want for the main run which is 824W. I do
                this by rearranging my two elements from parallel to serial operation.
                This divides heat-up power by 4.

                No need for a boiler thermometer. The temp is what it takes to boil
                and will change as the mixture changes. This is pure physics and there
                is nothing you can do about it. It's just irrelevant.

                Cheers,
                Lindsay.

                --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "chio0744" <chio0744@y...> wrote:
                > -Thanks for the response. i assume that the contents of the boiler
                > are at a boil before the temp rises in the column. is that corret?
                > Approx. how much do you turn the heat down - 1/4 less, 1/2 etc.? Do
                > you have a thermometer in you boiler as well. -- In
                > new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Lindsay Williams" <linw@x> wrote:
                > > Adding to what Dean said, I judge when to turn the heat down by
                > > feeling the temp rising in the column. When it reaches about half
                > way
                > > I reduce the boiler power. This prevents the very fast temp rise at
                > > the top as the fast rising vapour hits the thermometer.
                > >
                > > Cheers,
                > > Lindsay.
                > >
                > > --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "chio0744" <chio0744@y...>
                > wrote:
                > > > i am about to attempt my first distillation using a reflux still
                > with
                > > > water cooling near the top of the column. i am using a propane
                > burner
                > > > to heat my batch. once i have brought this to a boil, do i keep
                > it
                > > > boiling and on high heat and try to control the temperature at
                > the top
                > > > of the column by adjusting the flow of water or do i also have to
                > > > adjust the amount of heat to the pot and if so how do i do this
                > and
                > > > still maintain a constant temperature at the top? what do i do if
                > after
                > > > the batch begins to boil and while i am attempting to get the
                > correct
                > > > temperature at the top, this temperature fluxuates up and down.
                > thanks
              • scuba_duder
                Hi, I am new to this. This is my second attempt at distilling and cannot keep the temperature below 205. I am using a reflux still on my stove, any ideas?
                Message 7 of 25 , Dec 26, 2006
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                  Hi, I am new to this. This is my second attempt at distilling and
                  cannot keep the temperature below 205. I am using a reflux still on my
                  stove, any ideas?
                • Larry
                  ... If you re saying that nothing comes out of the still until temp reaches 205F, then your packing in the column is probably WAY too tight. If you have a
                  Message 8 of 25 , Dec 27, 2006
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                    >Hi, I am new to this. This is my second attempt at distilling and
                    >cannot keep the temperature below 205. I am using a reflux still on my
                    >stove, any ideas?

                    If you're saying that nothing comes out of the still until temp reaches
                    205F, then your packing in the column is probably WAY too tight.

                    If you have a packed column less than 1.5" in diameter, which is common on
                    stovetop stills, overly-tight packing is even easier to do.

                    What percentage of alcohol is in your output? You should have a pair of
                    hydrometers, one calibrated for high percentages, and another for dealing
                    with the relatively low percentages in the wash.

                    You should have about 12%-20% alcohol in your wash before you start to distill.

                    Higher alcohol percentage holds down the boiling-point of the wash. If
                    you're starting out with near-water, you aren't going to get much steam
                    until wash temp is also near the boiling point of water.

                    If you're using copper mesh packing, fit should be as loose as you can make
                    it and still keep it from falling out when you turn the column up vertical.

                    The least little wisps of steam should be able to find their way to the
                    condenser, without having to build up a whole lot of pressure to force
                    their way through the packing.

                    Ethanol boils at 140F, and so long as there's enough ethanol in the wash,
                    temp won't go much above about 170F. While the temp is going above that,
                    it's telling you that ethanol content of the wash is going down.

                    If your heat-source is constant, you should hover around 170F for a long
                    time no matter how much fire you put under it, then temp will start going
                    up pretty quickly.

                    Ideally, you should be using as little heat as you can get away with, after
                    the wash gets up to temp.

                    Very slow collecting gives more purity. However, if you're using too much
                    heat, that won't make it hotter than 170F, it will only decrease the length
                    of time it stays there before boiling all the alcohol out.

                    As the percentage of alcohol left in the water diminishes, from boiling
                    out, the temperature of the wash increases. You ARE starting with plenty of
                    alcohol in your wash, aren't you?

                    When ALL of the alcohol is gone, the temp will go up to the boiling point
                    of water, and you'll begin making distilled water. You would have stopped
                    collecting and killed the heat LONG before that.

                    Most people quit collecting [for drinking] at about 185F, but continue to
                    collect, for re-distillation, up to around 205F. Above 185F, it's
                    lower-purity alcohol to throw back in with the next wash.

                    There are other types of alcohol present in the wash, which boil at a
                    slightly lower temp than ethanol, so you SHOULD be seeing some stinky
                    non-ethanol alcohol (which needs to be thrown out) coming out of the
                    condenser even before the wash is at all the way up to 140F.

                    Also... how do you know it's 205F?

                    Is your thermometer okay? How is it mounted? Is it sticking down into your
                    packing, above it, or below it? Is it in the center of your column, not
                    touching the sides or the reflux-condenser?

                    If you have a rubber bung in the top of your column, with a thermometer
                    stuck through it, the probe shouldn't be down into the packing, or touching
                    any other metal. You need to be looking at the temperature of the steam, only.
                  • Link D'Antoni
                    Scuba, We need to know a few things: What type of still? Yes, reflux... what design? What quantity wash are you running in what size pot? Height of the column
                    Message 9 of 25 , Dec 27, 2006
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                      Scuba,

                      We need to know a few things:
                      What type of still? Yes, reflux... what design?
                      What quantity wash are you running in what size pot?
                      Height of the column (assuming column)?
                      Where is the thermometer placed?
                      What type of stove? Gas, Electric? Electric might be
                      cycling on and off which is tough to control.
                      How fast are you heating up?
                      Are you circulating water for condensing?
                      What is the alc % of the yield?

                      Link

                      --- scuba_duder <scuba_duder@...> wrote:

                      > Hi, I am new to this. This is my second attempt at
                      > distilling and
                      > cannot keep the temperature below 205. I am using a
                      > reflux still on my
                      > stove, any ideas?
                      >
                      >


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                    • scuba_duder
                      Im not exactly sure what design my still is, i got it on ebay...maybe that was a bad idea. I am running about 4 gallons through it, in a 22 qt pot. The height
                      Message 10 of 25 , Dec 27, 2006
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                        Im not exactly sure what design my still is, i got it on ebay...maybe
                        that was a bad idea. I am running about 4 gallons through it, in a 22
                        qt pot. The height of the column is about 24 in. I have tried placing
                        the thermometer in the top of the column before it bends to go down
                        and I have tried it in the boiler. I am using an electric stove. I
                        have a propane burner I could try if you think that would work better.
                        I would say it heats up in about an hr. I put it on high up until
                        about 140 then turned it down most of the way. Yes I am circulating
                        water for condensing using my sink faucet. the alc % of the yield is
                        90% at the beginning and about 80% 4 hrs later. I ran the still for
                        about 6 hrs and got about 1 qt. I think the alc % of my wash was about
                        14% but I am not sure because I forgot to measure the gravity at the
                        start, but I am using bakers yeast so it should be about 14%.
                      • Larry
                        ... Ebay purchase could have been a bad idea, mostly because the majority of the stills on there are sold by two sellers, both of whom are over-priced... but
                        Message 11 of 25 , Dec 27, 2006
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                          At 07:57 PM 12/27/2006, you wrote:
                          >I'm not exactly sure what design my still is, i got it on ebay...maybe
                          >that was a bad idea.
                          >I am using an electric stove.
                          >
                          >I would say it heats up in about an hr. I put it on high up until
                          >about 140 then turned it down most of the way. Yes I am circulating
                          >water for condensing using my sink faucet. the alc % of the yield is
                          >90% at the beginning and about 80% 4 hrs later.
                          >I ran the still for about 6 hrs and got about 1 qt.

                          Ebay purchase could have been a bad idea, mostly because the majority of
                          the stills on there are sold by two sellers, both of whom are
                          over-priced... but their stills DO work.

                          I don't think the electric stove is your problem, but it's a problem,
                          nonetheless.

                          You need a constant amount of heat. Electric ranges, and ESPECIALLY
                          hotplates, tend to run on a thermostat, which turns them on full-blast when
                          the temp gets too low, then turns them off completely when it gets too high.

                          A 90% yield is normal, taking an hour to bring a 4-gallon wash is also not
                          abnormal for electric heat, and 80% output later in the run is also normal.

                          One quart out of a 4-gallon wash is FAR from normal. It should have been
                          MUCH more than that, if you started at 14%.

                          One quart is FAR from normal. A 4-gallon wash should produce MUCH more than
                          that, assuming 14% to begin with.

                          However, you can't assume any percentage just from the type of yeast used.
                          That's only a small factor.

                          As long as there is sufficient yeast, of any kind, the amount of alcohol in
                          the wash is determined mostly by how much sugar, dissolved oxygen, and
                          nutrients are available for the yeast to feed on. Alcohol is basically
                          Yeast Excrement. They eat sugar & nutrients, and excrete alcohol, until
                          they are swimming in so much of their own excrement that they die.

                          Turbo-pure 48 yeast packets advise 13-17 pounds of cane sugar in a 6.5
                          gallon wash, and being a turbo, it already contains yeast nutrients. I'd
                          think that most yeasts would need a similar amount of sugar. And that's
                          specifically cane sugar... not beet sugar.

                          So, go to propane, be SURE your column is packed loosely, and if that
                          doesn't do it, you probably don't have as much alcohol in your wash as you
                          think.

                          Many things can cause that, but not enough sugar is the most common thing,
                          and not enough nutrients, (like tomato-paste or molasses) is the number two
                          thing.

                          Not enough yeast can do it too, but that's more unusual.

                          First, use a hydrometer to find out for sure how much alcohol you have
                          after fermenting, THEN worry about why it's too little, if it IS too little.
                        • Jan Wouter
                          Hi Larry, Your reply shows again the power of this list. By answering scuba s mail you also answered a problem of mine and gave a good hint on another. One was
                          Message 12 of 25 , Dec 28, 2006
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                            Hi Larry,
                            Your reply shows again the power of this list. By answering scuba's
                            mail you also answered a problem of mine and gave a good hint on
                            another.

                            One was for the placing of the thermometer, not letting it touch the
                            metal. I used aluminium foil for placing my thermometer so I'm
                            probably measuring the temperature of my still (boiling point
                            probably) instead of the steam on top of my column). I will try some
                            bread dough next time.

                            The other one was about packaging and small diameter columns. You
                            confirmed my thoughts about it being to firm very easy. I did not get
                            good results using scrubbers, but in a small diameter column it
                            doesn't only clog the column easy, but also reduces the working
                            diameter of the column. This pushing the steam through it to high
                            speeds and reducing any reflux action.
                            I'll buy some new and try some really loos packing.

                            Once again thanks.
                            Jan Wouter

                            2006/12/27, Larry <larry@...>:

                            > If you have a packed column less than 1.5" in diameter, which is common on
                            > stovetop stills, overly-tight packing is even easier to do.
                            >
                            >
                            > If you have a rubber bung in the top of your column, with a thermometer
                            > stuck through it, the probe shouldn't be down into the packing, or touching
                            > any other metal. You need to be looking at the temperature of the steam, only.
                          • Link D'Antoni
                            In addition... Check the accuracy of your thermometer using another thermometer in boiling water if that is possible. Seems to me the electric stove is the
                            Message 13 of 25 , Dec 28, 2006
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                              In addition...
                              Check the accuracy of your thermometer using another
                              thermometer in boiling water if that is possible.
                              Seems to me the electric stove is the culprit. When
                              I tried using my electric stove, it drove me crazy!
                              OK, it was only a short walk but you get the idea.
                              Let's do the math with some assumptions:
                              4 gal x 3790ml = 15,160 ml wash.
                              15,160 x 14% alc wash = 2,122ml pure alcohol
                              available.
                              If you yielded 85% (low side) of the available alcohol
                              (2,122 x 85%)= 1,804ml of available 100% alcohol.
                              Let's say that you averaged 85% yield. (You said 90%
                              and 80%).
                              1,804 ml / 85% = 2,122ml of total yield.
                              If all of your numbers are correct you should have
                              filled a little over a 1/2 gal jug.

                              Recommendation: Change heat source. Practice,
                              practice, practice :-).


                              Link



                              --- Larry <larry@...> wrote:

                              > At 07:57 PM 12/27/2006, you wrote:
                              > >I'm not exactly sure what design my still is, i got
                              > it on ebay...maybe
                              > >that was a bad idea.
                              > >I am using an electric stove.
                              > >
                              > >I would say it heats up in about an hr. I put it on
                              > high up until
                              > >about 140 then turned it down most of the way. Yes
                              > I am circulating
                              > >water for condensing using my sink faucet. the alc
                              > % of the yield is
                              > >90% at the beginning and about 80% 4 hrs later.
                              > >I ran the still for about 6 hrs and got about 1 qt.
                              >
                              > Ebay purchase could have been a bad idea, mostly
                              > because the majority of
                              > the stills on there are sold by two sellers, both of
                              > whom are
                              > over-priced... but their stills DO work.
                              >
                              > I don't think the electric stove is your problem,
                              > but it's a problem,
                              > nonetheless.
                              >
                              > You need a constant amount of heat. Electric ranges,
                              > and ESPECIALLY
                              > hotplates, tend to run on a thermostat, which turns
                              > them on full-blast when
                              > the temp gets too low, then turns them off
                              > completely when it gets too high.
                              >
                              > A 90% yield is normal, taking an hour to bring a
                              > 4-gallon wash is also not
                              > abnormal for electric heat, and 80% output later in
                              > the run is also normal.
                              >
                              > One quart out of a 4-gallon wash is FAR from normal.
                              > It should have been
                              > MUCH more than that, if you started at 14%.
                              >
                              > One quart is FAR from normal. A 4-gallon wash should
                              > produce MUCH more than
                              > that, assuming 14% to begin with.
                              >
                              > However, you can't assume any percentage just from
                              > the type of yeast used.
                              > That's only a small factor.
                              >
                              > As long as there is sufficient yeast, of any kind,
                              > the amount of alcohol in
                              > the wash is determined mostly by how much sugar,
                              > dissolved oxygen, and
                              > nutrients are available for the yeast to feed on.
                              > Alcohol is basically
                              > Yeast Excrement. They eat sugar & nutrients, and
                              > excrete alcohol, until
                              > they are swimming in so much of their own excrement
                              > that they die.
                              >
                              > Turbo-pure 48 yeast packets advise 13-17 pounds of
                              > cane sugar in a 6.5
                              > gallon wash, and being a turbo, it already contains
                              > yeast nutrients. I'd
                              > think that most yeasts would need a similar amount
                              > of sugar. And that's
                              > specifically cane sugar... not beet sugar.
                              >
                              > So, go to propane, be SURE your column is packed
                              > loosely, and if that
                              > doesn't do it, you probably don't have as much
                              > alcohol in your wash as you
                              > think.
                              >
                              > Many things can cause that, but not enough sugar is
                              > the most common thing,
                              > and not enough nutrients, (like tomato-paste or
                              > molasses) is the number two
                              > thing.
                              >
                              > Not enough yeast can do it too, but that's more
                              > unusual.
                              >
                              > First, use a hydrometer to find out for sure how
                              > much alcohol you have
                              > after fermenting, THEN worry about why it's too
                              > little, if it IS too little.
                              >
                              >
                              >


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                            • scuba_duder
                              So do you think it is safe to drink the stuff that I did get even if it was distilled to hot?
                              Message 14 of 25 , Dec 28, 2006
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                                So do you think it is safe to drink the stuff that I did get even if
                                it was distilled to hot?
                              • Larry
                                ... The only downsides of distilling too hot are lowered purity, and wasted heat. Propane and electricity ain t free! If you put too much heat under
                                Message 15 of 25 , Dec 28, 2006
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                                  At 06:10 PM 12/28/2006, you wrote:

                                  >So do you think it is safe to drink the stuff that I did get even if it
                                  >was distilled too hot?

                                  The only downsides of distilling too hot are lowered purity, and wasted
                                  heat. Propane and electricity ain't free! <grin>

                                  If you put too much heat under your boiler, the rapid production of steam
                                  will tend to carry a little water-vapor up with it, giving you a
                                  lower-percentage output. It's easier to get 90%+ output if you use low
                                  heat, and collect more slowly.

                                  Anything you distill from a wash is safe... as safe as any alcohol can be,
                                  anyway.

                                  It IS still alcohol, which is poison, after all. Almost everything that can
                                  make you high or drowsy is a poison of some kind, modified only by degree.

                                  It may not be too desirable to drink, but it's as safe as anything you get
                                  at the liquor store. You just need to make sure you don't try to re-distill
                                  E85 fuel, denatured alcohol, or something like that.

                                  There are varying amounts of methanol and other undesirable alcohols in the
                                  very first alcohol that comes out of the condenser(the "Foreshots").

                                  But you can cure that by collecting the first 50ml or so in one container,
                                  and the rest in different ones. Even if you don't throw out the foreshots,
                                  the only harm is nasty smell, bad taste, and greater chance of a hangover.

                                  By the time you drink enough methanol from saving foreshots, your
                                  Alcoholism will have long-since done a lot more damage, if not killed you.

                                  Also, you just don't much want to throw any 90%+ stuff into your mouth. Cut
                                  it down with distilled water to somewhere around 55% first.

                                  Alcohol has a great affinity for water, so it will dry out your mouth
                                  pretty badly, and that's unpleasant.

                                  Long-term drinking of near-pure stuff will probably cause problems with
                                  your teeth, from drying out your gums.

                                  That's what causes "Meth Mouth" in methamphetamine addicts. Crystal meth
                                  dries out their gums, and doing it frequently draws the gums away from the
                                  teeth, letting in bacteria.
                                • scuba_duder
                                  Hey thanks for all of your guy s help. I will keep practicing and let you know how it turns out.
                                  Message 16 of 25 , Dec 28, 2006
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                                    Hey thanks for all of your guy's help. I will keep practicing and let
                                    you know how it turns out.
                                  • Jan Wouter
                                    ... That is way to little for a 4 gallon wash. I get this easily from 2 gallons. Above all the other comments there are a few things to consider: How much
                                    Message 17 of 25 , Dec 29, 2006
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                                      2006/12/28, scuba_duder <scuba_duder@...>:
                                      > I ran the still for
                                      > about 6 hrs and got about 1 qt. I think the alc % of my wash was about
                                      > 14% but I am not sure because I forgot to measure the gravity at the
                                      > start, but I am using bakers yeast so it should be about 14%.
                                      >
                                      >
                                      That is way to little for a 4 gallon wash. I get this easily from 2
                                      gallons. Above all the other comments there are a few things to
                                      consider:
                                      How much sugar did you start with? Approx 17 gram of sugar in a liter
                                      of water gives about 1 % of alcohol. This means that you need to add
                                      approx. 240 grams of sugar to get a 14 percent wash.
                                      Sorry for the metrics, you can do the maths youself.
                                      You can also calculate how much alcohol you should've had if you know
                                      how nuch sugar you used.
                                      A good idea is to taste your wash prior to distilling it. If it still
                                      tastes sweet and it is still bubbling leave it for a couple of days
                                      more. If the bubbling has stopped and it still tastes sweet you've
                                      used to much sugar for the yeast and nutritients you used.
                                      My suggestion is to switch to turbo yeast instead of bakers, or use a
                                      proper wine yeast. This should give you a much higher yield.

                                      Regards and Proost
                                      Jan Wouter
                                    • donald holcombe
                                      Larry check your figures. I cant find any scale that says ethanol will boil at 140 F. Methanol generaly boils off at about 160 F.Ethanol boils at 173 F when
                                      Message 18 of 25 , Dec 29, 2006
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                                        Larry check your figures. I cant find any scale that says ethanol will boil at 140 F. Methanol generaly boils off at about 160 F.Ethanol boils at 173 F when pure and gradually higher as the mix gets closer to water. .At 205F you could be getting Propanol which is not good. 205F is where I stop collecting in a pot still . And 185 is where I cut to tails.  LATER

                                        ----- Original Message ----
                                        From: Larry <larry@...>
                                        To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                                        Sent: Wednesday, December 27, 2006 6:15:20 AM
                                        Subject: [new_distillers] Re:temperature


                                        >Hi, I am new to this. This is my second attempt at distilling and
                                        >cannot keep the temperature below 205. I am using a reflux still on my
                                        >stove, any ideas?

                                        If you're saying that nothing comes out of the still until temp reaches
                                        205F, then your packing in the column is probably WAY too tight.

                                        If you have a packed column less than 1.5" in diameter, which is common on
                                        stovetop stills, overly-tight packing is even easier to do.

                                        What percentage of alcohol is in your output? You should have a pair of
                                        hydrometers, one calibrated for high percentages, and another for dealing
                                        with the relatively low percentages in the wash.

                                        You should have about 12%-20% alcohol in your wash before you start to distill.

                                        Higher alcohol percentage holds down the boiling-point of the wash. If
                                        you're starting out with near-water, you aren't going to get much steam
                                        until wash temp is also near the boiling point of water.

                                        If you're using copper mesh packing, fit should be as loose as you can make
                                        it and still keep it from falling out when you turn the column up vertical.

                                        The least little wisps of steam should be able to find their way to the
                                        condenser, without having to build up a whole lot of pressure to force
                                        their way through the packing.

                                        Ethanol boils at 140F, and so long as there's enough ethanol in the wash,
                                        temp won't go much above about 170F. While the temp is going above that,
                                        it's telling you that ethanol content of the wash is going down.

                                        If your heat-source is constant, you should hover around 170F for a long
                                        time no matter how much fire you put under it, then temp will start going
                                        up pretty quickly.

                                        Ideally, you should be using as little heat as you can get away with, after
                                        the wash gets up to temp.

                                        Very slow collecting gives more purity. However, if you're using too much
                                        heat, that won't make it hotter than 170F, it will only decrease the length
                                        of time it stays there before boiling all the alcohol out.

                                        As the percentage of alcohol left in the water diminishes, from boiling
                                        out, the temperature of the wash increases. You ARE starting with plenty of
                                        alcohol in your wash, aren't you?

                                        When ALL of the alcohol is gone, the temp will go up to the boiling point
                                        of water, and you'll begin making distilled water. You would have stopped
                                        collecting and killed the heat LONG before that.

                                        Most people quit collecting [for drinking] at about 185F, but continue to
                                        collect, for re-distillation, up to around 205F. Above 185F, it's
                                        lower-purity alcohol to throw back in with the next wash.

                                        There are other types of alcohol present in the wash, which boil at a
                                        slightly lower temp than ethanol, so you SHOULD be seeing some stinky
                                        non-ethanol alcohol (which needs to be thrown out) coming out of the
                                        condenser even before the wash is at all the way up to 140F.

                                        Also... how do you know it's 205F?

                                        Is your thermometer okay? How is it mounted? Is it sticking down into your
                                        packing, above it, or below it? Is it in the center of your column, not
                                        touching the sides or the reflux-condenser?

                                        If you have a rubber bung in the top of your column, with a thermometer
                                        stuck through it, the probe shouldn't be down into the packing, or touching
                                        any other metal. You need to be looking at the temperature of the steam, only.



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                                      • Harry
                                        ... boil at 140 F. Methanol generaly boils off at about 160 F.Ethanol boils at 173 F when pure and gradually higher as the mix gets closer to water. .At 205F
                                        Message 19 of 25 , Dec 29, 2006
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                                          --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, donald holcombe <blackledge_02@...> wrote:
                                          >
                                          > Larry check your figures. I cant find any scale that says ethanol will boil at 140 F. Methanol generaly boils off at about 160 F.Ethanol boils at 173 F when pure and gradually higher as the mix gets closer to water. .At 205F you could be getting Propanol which is not good. 205F is where I stop collecting in a pot still . And 185 is where I cut to tails. LATER
                                          >

                                           

                                          The alcohols in the wash begin to vapourise from the wash around specific temperatures. If by themselves they would be ...

                                          • Acetone 56.5C (134F)
                                          • Methanol (wood alcohol) 64C (147F)
                                          • Ethyl acetate 77.1C (171F)
                                          • Ethanol 78C (172F)
                                          • 2-Propanol (rubbing alcohol) 82C (180F)
                                          • 1-Propanol 97C (207F)
                                          • Water 100C (212F)
                                          • Butanol 116C (241F)
                                          • Amyl alcohol 137.8C (280F)
                                          • Furfural 161C (322F)


                                          Once together, a mixture of several of them will be slightly different however. You no longer get them coming off seperately, but always as a mixture. Fortunately for us though, each of the species will tend to dominate around its boiling point temperature, thus we know whats "mostly" coming off at that point. By tracking the temperature of the vapour, you have a fairly good idea when you're collecting the Ethanol your after (78-82 °C), vs when it is starting to get lean and you're into the higher alcohols.

                                          Note that you may also need to adjust the temperature if you are distilling at altitude - the higher above sea level you are, the lower boiling temperatures become because of the reduced air pressure.

                                          [Source: http://www.homedistiller.org/dtw.htm ]

                                           

                                          Slainte!

                                          regards Harry

                                        • scuba_duder
                                          If im using a reflux still, is it possible to make any spirits other than vodka and gin? I want to try rum, will my reflux still strip all the flavor away?
                                          Message 20 of 25 , Dec 29, 2006
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                                            If im using a reflux still, is it possible to make any spirits other
                                            than vodka and gin? I want to try rum, will my reflux still strip all
                                            the flavor away?
                                          • Harry
                                            ... Detune it. Remove the column insulation, & the mesh packing. Run it as a potstill ie. 1 strip run, with takeoff fully open, then a 2nd collection run of
                                            Message 21 of 25 , Dec 29, 2006
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                                              --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "scuba_duder" <scuba_duder@...>
                                              wrote:
                                              >
                                              > If im using a reflux still, is it possible to make any spirits other
                                              > than vodka and gin? I want to try rum, will my reflux still strip all
                                              > the flavor away?
                                              >


                                              Detune it. Remove the column insulation, & the mesh packing. Run it
                                              as a potstill ie. 1 strip run, with takeoff fully open, then a 2nd
                                              collection run of the strippate. On the 2nd run, cut your heads,
                                              hearts & tails. Hearts should run between 85% & 65% abv. (temp
                                              adjusted). Above & below that is feints for the next distillation.


                                              Slainte!
                                              regards Harry

                                              ps.
                                              These cuts are fairly standard. When you get more accustomed to your
                                              particular still & tastes, they can be varied to suit.

                                              H
                                            • surya9375
                                              Yeps, it would strip off all the flovour. but if you already got one. you could try removing all the packing and firing it up. it might let in some of the
                                              Message 22 of 25 , Jan 2, 2007
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                                                Yeps, it would strip off all the flovour. but if you already got one.
                                                you could try removing all the packing and firing it up. it might let
                                                in some of the flavours.

                                                Regards
                                                Surya

                                                --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "scuba_duder" <scuba_duder@...>
                                                wrote:
                                                >
                                                > If im using a reflux still, is it possible to make any spirits other
                                                > than vodka and gin? I want to try rum, will my reflux still strip all
                                                > the flavor away?
                                                >
                                              • Robert Thomas
                                                Hold up there with the Commandments! As Surya suggests, it is easier to get rum from a pot still, but that is not the way that most rum is produced these days.
                                                Message 23 of 25 , Jan 2, 2007
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                                                  Hold up there with the Commandments!
                                                  As Surya suggests, it is easier to get rum from a pot still, but that
                                                  is not the way that most rum is produced these days. I have had easily
                                                  as good results from a fully tuned (but "sloppily" run) reflux still as
                                                  I have by removing all packing.
                                                  Check Harry's site (The Library, tastylime, or whatever in links: look
                                                  for the Arroya patent paper).
                                                  good luck!
                                                  Rob.

                                                  --- surya9375 <surya9375@...> wrote:

                                                  > Yeps, it would strip off all the flovour. but if you already got one.
                                                  > you could try removing all the packing and firing it up. it might let
                                                  > in some of the flavours.
                                                  >
                                                  > Regards
                                                  > Surya
                                                  >
                                                  > --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "scuba_duder"
                                                  > <scuba_duder@...>
                                                  > wrote:
                                                  > >
                                                  > > If im using a reflux still, is it possible to make any spirits
                                                  > other
                                                  > > than vodka and gin? I want to try rum, will my reflux still strip
                                                  > all
                                                  > > the flavor away?
                                                  > >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >


                                                  Cheers,
                                                  Rob.

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                                                • Ian Kent
                                                  I use a reflux still @ 92%ABV to produce rum that is full of flavour. Don t underestimate the power of molasses. Ian...
                                                  Message 24 of 25 , Jan 2, 2007
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                                                    I use a reflux still @ 92%ABV to produce rum that is full of flavour.
                                                    Don't underestimate the power of molasses.

                                                    Ian...

                                                    On 1/2/07, surya9375 <surya9375@...> wrote:
                                                    >
                                                    >
                                                    >
                                                    >
                                                    >
                                                    >
                                                    > Yeps, it would strip off all the flovour. but if you already got one.
                                                    > you could try removing all the packing and firing it up. it might let
                                                    > in some of the flavours.
                                                    >
                                                    > Regards
                                                    > Surya
                                                  • morganfield1
                                                    Since I made my new still with an N/S head (about a year ago), I ve used it to make all my whiskeys and rums. I put a couple of scrubbers at the base to catch
                                                    Message 25 of 25 , Jan 2, 2007
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                                                      Since I made my new still with an N/S head (about a year ago), I've
                                                      used it to make all my whiskeys and rums. I put a couple of scrubbers
                                                      at the base to catch the fusel oils,but that's optional. I set the
                                                      needle valve to get around 90%. I find it alot easier to control the
                                                      final taste because you have more control of the tales (tasty parts),
                                                      but it takes trial and error. JM2C
                                                      Tip one,
                                                      Morgan

                                                      --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Ian Kent" <kegscruiser@...>
                                                      wrote:
                                                      >
                                                      > I use a reflux still @ 92%ABV to produce rum that is full of flavour.
                                                      > Don't underestimate the power of molasses.
                                                      >
                                                      > Ian...
                                                      >
                                                      >
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