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Re: She's BAaaaack!

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  • Larry
    ... How much alcohol is in the wash before you start distilling it? Your first step is to know that, by checking the wash with with a hydrometer that s
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 6, 2006
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      At 12:39 PM 12/06/2006, you wrote:
      >The last 2 batches came up VERY SHORT and from about 6-1/2 gallons, got
      >about 1 litre of product. The temperature then started to jump. I think
      >I'm following directions.
      >So, what the hell am I doing wrong?

      How much alcohol is in the wash before you start distilling it?

      Your first step is to know that, by checking the wash with with a
      hydrometer that's calibrated for it's low content.

      There are a few things that could be wrong with your still, or the way
      you're operating it, but most likely you don't have enough alcohol in the
      wash to begin with, due to something wrong in the way you're fermenting.

      The most common things with fermenting are; too little sugar, not enough
      nutrients to go with the sugar.

      If you have 1 liter of pure alcohol in a 2-liter wash, you'll get about 1
      liter of alcohol out of it by distilling.

      If you have 1 liter of pure alcohol in a 30-gallon wash, you'll get about 1
      liter of alcohol out of it by distilling.

      You might be using too little sugar, too few nutrients for the yeast, wrong
      fermenting temp, not enough dissolved oxygen in the water, or a host of
      things.

      Actually extracting the alcohol from it (distilling) is the simplest part.
      MAKING the alcohol (or rather getting some kindly yeast to do it FOR you)
      is where everything important happens... or doesn't.

      Most turbo yeasts will die if the wash gets above about 86F. How
      heat-tolerant a yeast is determines several factors (it's price among them).

      Some tolerate more than 86F, and a lot of them tolerate less. Yeast creates
      heat as it works, and extremely large washes can heat themselves to the
      point of death, even when ambient temp is well below 86F.

      Unless you're using a "Turbo" yeast, there need to be nutrients of some
      kind added. Turbo yeasts contain everything you need, except sugar and
      water. Sugar alone and yeast won't make the grade.

      Yeast needs dissolved oxygen in the water. Most water that's never been
      boiled has enough, especially if delivered through a kitchen faucet with an
      aerator on it.

      But More is Better. Some people use an "air stone" for a couple of hours in
      the water that will be used to dilute the 2-3 gallons which is heated to
      dissolve the sugar in.

      You get them cheaply from pet stores that sell aquarium parts & supplies.

      You need to add your sugar to water that's pretty hot. This will help it
      dissolve, since you'll probably be using around 15 pounds of cane sugar for
      a 6.5 gallon wash.

      But you don't want to actually bring the water up to it's boiling-point, or
      even very close to it, because just boiling it will throw out a lot of
      dissolved oxygen.

      If you make your wash with distilled water, it will have nearly no
      dissolved oxygen, giving a low alcohol-yield, possibly down to zero. All
      dissolved oxygen is removed by distilling, then a little is re-introduced
      when the water is aerated by dripping into a container from a condenser, or
      being jostled around. Not much, though.

      And you don't want to keep dissolving oxygen in the wash AFTER it's begun
      fermenting.

      Yeast needs plenty of oxygen available when the fermenting begins, but
      later in the process, that is a bad thing.

      So you don't want to be aerating the wash with a bunch of stirring every
      day. In fact, room air can be carrying wild yeast, etc. that you don't want
      to introduce. Most people use an airlock on the fermenter, which lets
      generated CO2 escape without any pressure build-up, but doesn't let outside
      air freely enter.
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