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Re: Diluting second distillation

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  • Harry
    ... because ... to this ... a peach ... with the pot ... still up ... all the ... us since ... sense to ... thinking this ... reading ... The liquid in the
    Message 1 of 9 , Sep 11, 2006
      --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "John Chad Kinsey Sr."
      <cls912@...> wrote:
      > I may be asking a question that seems stupid, but I have to ask it
      > this whole string of posts has me somewhat scared. I am very new
      to this
      > distilling. I have been making beer and wine for sometime. I had
      a peach
      > mash I was running with a pot still. It was going awfully slow
      with the pot
      > still (with a thumper by the way) so we decided to maybe speed the
      still up
      > a bit and not try to split out the heads and tails, just collect
      all the
      > distilled spirit up to 205f. We were going to thien slow run this
      > collection and split off the heads and tails. This made sense to
      us since
      > being new we started a bit too big ( a 45 gallon wash). It made
      sense to
      > run 5 gallons at a time fast. But this string of posts has me
      thinking this
      > second wash could be dangerous, as in explosion dangerous. Am I
      > this right?

      The liquid in the stillpot will not be flammable if it is under 50%
      abv. That's a good reason to dilute it. In the event of a leakage
      (they do happen), with <50% you're fairly safe, regardless if you
      use open flame or electric elements. Above 50%abv charge, it's
      pretty much guaranteed that should a leakage occur around an open
      flame, it will start a fire.

      Remember, for a volatile liquid to ignite, it first needs to give
      off vapours (ethanol does, just like gasoline), then it needs two
      more things.
      1) Oxygen (air)
      2) An ignition source

      There is air in the still and column up to the point where it begins
      to boil. Any ignition source, such as an exposed electrical heating
      element designed for complete submersion, could heat to the point of
      glowing, ignite the vapours (in the presence of air) and cause an
      over-pressure situation (aka explosion).

      However, once the still charge begins to boil, things are different
      safety-wise. At that point, the air is displaced (purged) by
      rapidly rising vapours of ethanol and water (no air). This mix will
      not burn while it is confined in the column (no air). But there is
      one proviso.

      Ethanol vapours are heavier than air. If you develop a leak to
      atmosphere in the TOP end of your still, the vapours (above 50%
      enrichment)can enter the still-room. Being heavier than air, they
      will descend to floor level and creep. If you have any open flame
      running your still, or a furnace in the vicinity, then again you
      will have a fire.

      From all this you can clearly see the only time you may have an
      explosion is if the vapours, AND AIR, are confined inside the metal
      skin of the still, and are somehow ignited. In other words, a
      bomb. Any other mishap, such as leakages, will only (only?) cause a
      fire, because the substances aren't confined (unless you've shot 200
      litres of vapour into a small room, that's classed as confinement).

      So the bottom line is, BE AWARE you are dealing with a a UN Hazard
      class 3 flammable liquid (google it), and as such, there are
      specific procedures regarding the processing, storage, packaging and
      shipment of same.

      Stick to the safety procedures we advise and you'll be relatively
      safe in this hobby. Dismiss the issues of safety and you're on your

      I know there are some out there who scoff at this, saying..."I've
      triple distilled for years, and never had a problem. Never needed
      to worry about re-distilling 70% ethanol."
      ...to them I say two things...

      1) Congratulations! The mere fact you're still here talking about
      it shows you've never had a leak. That proves you've built a still
      and operating environment that is completely devoid of leaks,
      material failure etc. (for now). WELL DONE!

      2) It only take one mishap, and we wouldn't be having this
      conversation, now would we? Or perhaps we would be, from the burns
      unit at the hospital. Remember to explain to your family why the
      insurance policy won't pay up because you are incapacitated due to
      performing an illegal process on domestic land-title.

      regards Harry
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