Re: Diluting second distillation
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "John Chad Kinsey Sr."
> 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 newto this
> distilling. I have been making beer and wine for sometime. I hada peach
> mash I was running with a pot still. It was going awfully slowwith the pot
> still (with a thumper by the way) so we decided to maybe speed thestill up
> a bit and not try to split out the heads and tails, just collectall the
> distilled spirit up to 205f. We were going to thien slow run thisus since
> collection and split off the heads and tails. This made sense to
> being new we started a bit too big ( a 45 gallon wash). It madesense to
> run 5 gallons at a time fast. But this string of posts has methinking this
> second wash could be dangerous, as in explosion dangerous. Am Ireading
> 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
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
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.