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Technical Observations: Expert Advice Neded

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  • chevisn7
    Thanks Harry, Morgan, CD, Trid, hopefully I did not leave any one out. Your answers have been very helpful. I now have a much clearer understanding of how the
    Message 1 of 20 , Mar 4, 2008
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      Thanks Harry, Morgan, CD, Trid, hopefully I did not leave any one out.
      Your answers have been very helpful. I now have a much clearer
      understanding of how the still works and how the ratio or percentage
      of alcohol to water effects the process. You call this a hobby. Once
      I get this mastered I am considering taking up Brain Surgery as my
      next hobby. But I do admit, the process is not so bad once you grasp
      the concept. Your help makes understanding the process a lot easier.
      Thanks again.

      I read the references you referred to, needless to say all of your
      answers are much more understandable

      Based on the information you provided it would seem everything is
      working properly and the temperatures I am recording are
      satisfactory.

      Now my efforts will be to find out where the off taste is coming
      from. I took the still apart again and cleaned the inside with
      vinegar and a stainless steel scrubber mounted to a drill. The inside
      shines like a new penny. I repeated the boil out for over an hour
      with vinegar and steam. I also boiled the copper scrubbers in
      vinegar and rinsed them real good. Hopefully one more possible
      problem eliminated. If I missed something in the cleaning process
      please let me know.

      I will run my last batch through again with the scrubbers installed
      using Reflux to see if the smell and taste are improved. Now that I
      have an understanding of the process I won't be so worried about the
      temps in the Boiler. Also have a new batch started, hopefully the
      results will be improved.

      I still have two questions haunting me.

      I now understand that the boiling point of the mash is relevant to
      the ratio of alcohol to water in the mix. On the first run my ratio
      was between 15 and 17% abv. On the second and third stripping runs
      the ratio was 50% abv. On the second and third run the wash did boil
      sooner at a lower temperature. If I remember on the first run it
      boiled at 190 degrees and on the second and third run it boiled at
      180 degrees. But the head temperature at the top of the vapor column
      remained the same, 81C / 179F on both runs. Is this figure correct.
      Again I may be using mechanics rather than chemistry. Chemistry
      wasn't my best subject. I would think it should have been lower on
      the second and third run. Again I was messing with the Boiler heat
      to try to lower the head temp. But 81C / 179 was where product
      started to condense.

      My second question. I am still having a little trouble understanding
      how the tails are being removed from the final product during the
      early part of the production run when the vaporization temp of the
      Boiler and the temperature at the head of the vapor column are higher
      than the vaporization temp of the unwanted product (The Tails). It
      would seem the unwanted product would still be suspended in the
      vapor. What keeps the Tails in the Boiler where they belong. You
      may have already answered this question and I just missed the point.
      I will read your answers again and do a little more research.
      Possibly just a case of mental block. The fog usually clears about
      2:oo in the morning a day or so down the road. But if I did miss
      something thanks in advance for helping out.
      Chuck
    • morganfield1
      Hi Chuck, Answeres (or feable attemps at answeres) interspersed. ... ratio ... boil ... column ... correct. ... The figure sounds about right. Remember, the
      Message 2 of 20 , Mar 4, 2008
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        Hi Chuck,

        Answeres (or feable attemps at answeres) interspersed.

        --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "chevisn7" <chevisn7@...>
        wrote:
        >
        > I still have two questions haunting me.
        >
        > I now understand that the boiling point of the mash is relevant to
        > the ratio of alcohol to water in the mix. On the first run my
        ratio
        > was between 15 and 17% abv. On the second and third stripping runs
        > the ratio was 50% abv. On the second and third run the wash did
        boil
        > sooner at a lower temperature. If I remember on the first run it
        > boiled at 190 degrees and on the second and third run it boiled at
        > 180 degrees. But the head temperature at the top of the vapor
        column
        > remained the same, 81C / 179F on both runs. Is this figure
        correct.
        > Again I may be using mechanics rather than chemistry. Chemistry
        > wasn't my best subject. I would think it should have been lower on
        > the second and third run.

        The figure sounds about right. Remember, the boiler temperature is a
        function of the alchohol to water ratio, the head temperature is the
        temperature of the VAPOR at the top of your still and is an
        INDICATION of the type of alchohol there. So, let's say we start with
        a stripped run that begins to boil at 180 deg. The head temp is 174
        after equalization. As the alchohol is depleting, the temp of the
        boil begins to rise, but the alchohol vapor rising up the column is
        still ethanol, therefore the temp at the still head remains 174-178.
        Believe me, when tails start to come thru on a stripped run, that
        temp will shoot up like a rocket. That's the beauty of doing two runs
        for high proof spirits, the cuts are very clear. This only applies
        (this should draw some flak) to reflux runs. Running a pot column
        still, the temp slowly goes up thru out the run, and cuts are best
        made by taste, smell, and sight (you can see them on your
        fingernail). Most reflux stillers don't even run a thermometer on the
        boiler. The only reason I have one is it gives me an idea when the
        boil is about to start, so I'm not running cooling water needlessly.

        Again I was messing with the Boiler heat
        > to try to lower the head temp. But 81C / 179 was where product
        > started to condense.

        Once the column has equalized, don't mess with the heater. You can't
        control head temp by adjusting boiler heat input.
        >
        > My second question. I am still having a little trouble
        understanding
        > how the tails are being removed from the final product during the
        > early part of the production run when the vaporization temp of the
        > Boiler and the temperature at the head of the vapor column are
        higher
        > than the vaporization temp of the unwanted product (The Tails)

        A; Temperatures aren't written in stone, each still will behave with
        it's own temperatures. Where they start, and how far and fast they
        rise is the important issue.

        B; Removing tails from the lower boiling point fractions is a
        function of the packing material. That is why it is important to keep
        the heat constant and steady so the column remains equalized thru out
        the run. If you're looking for high proof, clean tasting spirit, a
        packed column is the only way to go. As the vapor, with all it's
        impurities, rises up the column thru the packing, it comes in contact
        with condensed liquid falling down the packing. Higher boiling point
        vapors are condensed by the falling liquid and return to the boiler
        (this is the short version of events, film at eleven!)while lower
        boiling point vapors remain in vapor form and continue up the column.

        (I hate writing these long disertations 'cause the more I write, the
        better chance I have of screwing up and looking like an idiot! I am
        no expert on this stuff, and I don't want to give anybody bad
        information, besides looking like an idiot.)

        Tip one, Morgan

        >
      • chevisn7
        Morgan No chance on looking or sounding like an idiot. I have that spot reserved. For a while anyway. Your explinations make a lot of sense and have given me a
        Message 3 of 20 , Mar 4, 2008
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          Morgan
          No chance on looking or sounding like an idiot. I have that spot
          reserved. For a while anyway. Your explinations make a lot of sense
          and have given me a better understanding of what is happening so I
          can make the proper adjustments.

          At this point my deduction is the bad flavors were either comming
          from trash remaining in the still after the build or the yeast I was
          using crapped some nasties into the wash.

          The still has been re-cleaned to the point where is shines on the
          inside like a brand new penny and a new batch is brewing. I will let
          you know the outcome.

          The only question that remains is how do I break the habbit of
          sampling the brew as it comes out of the still. Disregard. I would
          listen to that answer about as well as a I keep New Years
          Resolutions. Jan 2nd they are out the door.
          Thanks
          Chuck





          --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "morganfield1"
          <morganfield1@...> wrote:
          >
          > Hi Chuck,
          >
          > Answeres (or feable attemps at answeres) interspersed.
          >
          > --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "chevisn7" <chevisn7@>
          > wrote:
          > >
          > > I still have two questions haunting me.
          > >
          > > I now understand that the boiling point of the mash is relevant
          to
          > > the ratio of alcohol to water in the mix. On the first run my
          > ratio
          > > was between 15 and 17% abv. On the second and third stripping
          runs
          > > the ratio was 50% abv. On the second and third run the wash did
          > boil
          > > sooner at a lower temperature. If I remember on the first run it
          > > boiled at 190 degrees and on the second and third run it boiled
          at
          > > 180 degrees. But the head temperature at the top of the vapor
          > column
          > > remained the same, 81C / 179F on both runs. Is this figure
          > correct.
          > > Again I may be using mechanics rather than chemistry. Chemistry
          > > wasn't my best subject. I would think it should have been lower
          on
          > > the second and third run.
          >
          > The figure sounds about right. Remember, the boiler temperature is
          a
          > function of the alchohol to water ratio, the head temperature is
          the
          > temperature of the VAPOR at the top of your still and is an
          > INDICATION of the type of alchohol there. So, let's say we start
          with
          > a stripped run that begins to boil at 180 deg. The head temp is 174
          > after equalization. As the alchohol is depleting, the temp of the
          > boil begins to rise, but the alchohol vapor rising up the column is
          > still ethanol, therefore the temp at the still head remains 174-
          178.
          > Believe me, when tails start to come thru on a stripped run, that
          > temp will shoot up like a rocket. That's the beauty of doing two
          runs
          > for high proof spirits, the cuts are very clear. This only applies
          > (this should draw some flak) to reflux runs. Running a pot column
          > still, the temp slowly goes up thru out the run, and cuts are best
          > made by taste, smell, and sight (you can see them on your
          > fingernail). Most reflux stillers don't even run a thermometer on
          the
          > boiler. The only reason I have one is it gives me an idea when the
          > boil is about to start, so I'm not running cooling water needlessly.
          >
          > Again I was messing with the Boiler heat
          > > to try to lower the head temp. But 81C / 179 was where product
          > > started to condense.
          >
          > Once the column has equalized, don't mess with the heater. You
          can't
          > control head temp by adjusting boiler heat input.
          > >
          > > My second question. I am still having a little trouble
          > understanding
          > > how the tails are being removed from the final product during the
          > > early part of the production run when the vaporization temp of
          the
          > > Boiler and the temperature at the head of the vapor column are
          > higher
          > > than the vaporization temp of the unwanted product (The Tails)
          >
          > A; Temperatures aren't written in stone, each still will behave
          with
          > it's own temperatures. Where they start, and how far and fast they
          > rise is the important issue.
          >
          > B; Removing tails from the lower boiling point fractions is a
          > function of the packing material. That is why it is important to
          keep
          > the heat constant and steady so the column remains equalized thru
          out
          > the run. If you're looking for high proof, clean tasting spirit, a
          > packed column is the only way to go. As the vapor, with all it's
          > impurities, rises up the column thru the packing, it comes in
          contact
          > with condensed liquid falling down the packing. Higher boiling
          point
          > vapors are condensed by the falling liquid and return to the boiler
          > (this is the short version of events, film at eleven!)while lower
          > boiling point vapors remain in vapor form and continue up the
          column.
          >
          > (I hate writing these long disertations 'cause the more I write,
          the
          > better chance I have of screwing up and looking like an idiot! I am
          > no expert on this stuff, and I don't want to give anybody bad
          > information, besides looking like an idiot.)
          >
          > Tip one, Morgan
          >
          > >
          >
        • C D
          Chuck My best guess would be that your still had crap in it causing oily taste even though you were running under reflux and getting 75% ABV. Even yeasty
          Message 4 of 20 , Mar 4, 2008
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            Chuck
            My best guess would be that your still had crap in it causing oily
            taste even though you were running under reflux and getting >75% ABV.
            Even yeasty caused bad flavor should be distilled out at that high a
            proof.
          • morganfield1
            Wait, there s more?! I noticed that you mentioned your wash was between 15 & 17%, and you re using eleven eighteen. Great yeast, but you might try backing down
            Message 5 of 20 , Mar 4, 2008
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              Wait, there's more?!

              I noticed that you mentioned your wash was between 15 & 17%, and
              you're using eleven eighteen. Great yeast, but you might try backing
              down the fermentables a bit. A 17% wash, partiquarly one done at a
              temperature of 80 or 90 deg, will produce alot of nasties. Again, a
              good column will seperate the good from the bad, but next wash, try
              shooting for around 12% and see how that run turns out. Keep notes of
              your runs, so you have something to compare to. It has helped me alot
              over the years, and still does.

              I never asked you, you say you can adjust the heat going to your
              boiler, how is that accomplished?

              Tip one, Morgan

              --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "chevisn7" <chevisn7@...>
              wrote:
              >
              > Morgan
              > No chance on looking or sounding like an idiot. I have that spot
              > reserved. For a while anyway. Your explinations make a lot of sense
              > and have given me a better understanding of what is happening so I
              > can make the proper adjustments.
              >
              > At this point my deduction is the bad flavors were either comming
              > from trash remaining in the still after the build or the yeast I
              was
              > using crapped some nasties into the wash.
              >
              > The still has been re-cleaned to the point where is shines on the
              > inside like a brand new penny and a new batch is brewing. I will
              let
              > you know the outcome.
              >
              > The only question that remains is how do I break the habbit of
              > sampling the brew as it comes out of the still. Disregard. I would
              > listen to that answer about as well as a I keep New Years
              > Resolutions. Jan 2nd they are out the door.
              > Thanks
              > Chuck
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
            • Tom Smith
              Chuck, I don t know if I qualify as a newbie or not as I have been experimenting for about 4yrs. I too went through what your going through and I learned a lot
              Message 6 of 20 , Mar 5, 2008
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                Chuck,
                I don't know if I qualify as a newbie or not as I have been
                experimenting for about 4yrs. I too went through what your going
                through and I learned a lot by trying everything. water, yeast,
                temps etc. what I finally found was while although knowing your temps
                and abv are usefull tools you can't make quality hooch by the
                numbers. the thing that finally improved my stuff was learning to
                make the cuts properly. an oldtimer told me that when making your
                cuts to water down the distilllate to about 20% abv. I could'nt
                believe how much easier I detected the heads (ethyl acetate) I think
                they call it and tails. I found that by taking a middle fifth cut
                appx. the stuff markedly improved. I also found that the best flavors
                seem to me at least, are just before the tails turn bitter. so I
                allways start using small containers when the middle run starts to
                lose that real sweet ethanol taste. Previously I was trying to go by
                the cuts on tony's site and alcohol percent in the parrot. but when
                trying to make corn whiskey it always had a slightly bitter after
                taste. I am presently working with a professor at a major university
                and he insists that all of the cuts can be made with a real time
                analysis by a gas chromatagraph. but I am yet to be convinced.

                sorry for being so long winded.

                would be interested in anything that any of the other member think of
                this post.

                Youngblood
              • chevisn7
                Hi Morgan and all of you that continue to help out with my dilemmas. All of you have been a tremendous help. Your inputs of information all add up to a greater
                Message 7 of 20 , Mar 5, 2008
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                  Hi Morgan and all of you that continue to help out with my dilemmas.
                  All of you have been a tremendous help. Your inputs of information
                  all add up to a greater understanding of the distillation process and
                  how to control what is going on.

                  Morgan you asked how I adjust my heat to the Boiler. Simply I just
                  turn down the flame. I have a good flame heat control that came with
                  my Turkey Fryer Burner. In this case I kept turning the flame up and
                  down every time I noticed any type of movement in my head
                  temperature. It head temp wanted to stabalize either at 70C where
                  nothing was procuded or it wanted to stabalize at 81C. If I raised
                  the heat just a little the head temp jumped to 90C. So I did what I
                  could to keep it at 81C

                  Since I did not know what I was doing, ( See I told you I had that
                  Idiot spot reserved) I felt if the temp went over 81C I would pick up
                  additional nasties in the brew. So I kept fiddling with the flame
                  every few minutes or so to keep the head temp at 81C during the
                  entire run on every run.

                  As I now understand it I am to run at high temp to get things warmed
                  up then turn the heat down to where the column temp stabilizes at 79
                  to 81C and let it run with no adjustments. When the alcohol
                  diminishes in the Boiler the heat will automatically start to rise.
                  Since I do not want to keep the tails at this time. When the temp
                  starts to rise it is time to make a cut and stop the process when the
                  taste is not what I am looking for. Simplicity at its best!

                  I am going to switch to a double element 2000 watt electric heat
                  source. Total 4000 watts. It is much cheaper here to use electricity
                  than gas. One direct switched element for heat up and one on a 2000
                  watt rheostat so I can control the amount of heat to the Boiler.
                  Also with the increased safety of not using a flame it makes it a win
                  win situation.

                  I will try the EC-1118 at 12% abv as you recommend to see if it makes
                  a difference in the taste. I can control my fermentation temperature
                  and I have been able to keep the temperature at 77 degrees throughout
                  the entire fermentation process. I understand the little yeasties
                  produce far less nasties at a controlled tempetature below 80
                  degrees.


                  Chuck

                  --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "morganfield1"
                  <morganfield1@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > Wait, there's more?!
                  >
                  > I noticed that you mentioned your wash was between 15 & 17%, and
                  > you're using eleven eighteen. Great yeast, but you might try
                  backing
                  > down the fermentables a bit. A 17% wash, partiquarly one done at a
                  > temperature of 80 or 90 deg, will produce alot of nasties. Again, a
                  > good column will seperate the good from the bad, but next wash, try
                  > shooting for around 12% and see how that run turns out. Keep notes
                  of
                  > your runs, so you have something to compare to. It has helped me
                  alot
                  > over the years, and still does.
                  >
                  > I never asked you, you say you can adjust the heat going to your
                  > boiler, how is that accomplished?
                  >
                  > Tip one, Morgan
                  >
                  > --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "chevisn7" <chevisn7@>
                  > wrote:
                  > >
                  > > Morgan
                  > > No chance on looking or sounding like an idiot. I have that spot
                  > > reserved. For a while anyway. Your explinations make a lot of
                  sense
                  > > and have given me a better understanding of what is happening so
                  I
                  > > can make the proper adjustments.
                  > >
                  > > At this point my deduction is the bad flavors were either comming
                  > > from trash remaining in the still after the build or the yeast I
                  > was
                  > > using crapped some nasties into the wash.
                  > >
                  > > The still has been re-cleaned to the point where is shines on the
                  > > inside like a brand new penny and a new batch is brewing. I will
                  > let
                  > > you know the outcome.
                  > >
                  > > The only question that remains is how do I break the habbit of
                  > > sampling the brew as it comes out of the still. Disregard. I
                  would
                  > > listen to that answer about as well as a I keep New Years
                  > > Resolutions. Jan 2nd they are out the door.
                  > > Thanks
                  > > Chuck
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  >
                • morganfield1
                  Hi Chuck, Sounds like you re getting the idea. I can t help you much with the electric elements and rheostat, I just have my boiler sitting on top of a 1000
                  Message 8 of 20 , Mar 5, 2008
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                    Hi Chuck,

                    Sounds like you're getting the idea. I can't help you much with the
                    electric elements and rheostat, I just have my boiler sitting on top
                    of a 1000 wt. hot plate. I can tell you that when you're dealing with
                    power controllers, what ever style they be, you are dealing with kilo-
                    watts, and that means heat, alot of it. And that heat has to go
                    somewhere, either to the boiler, or to the controlling unit. What I'm
                    trying to say is, most people attach a heat sink (of some kind) to
                    their controller to draw off the extra heat. HTH.

                    Tip one, Morgan

                    --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "chevisn7" <chevisn7@...>
                    wrote:
                    >
                    > Hi Morgan and all of you that continue to help out with my
                    dilemmas.
                    > All of you have been a tremendous help. Your inputs of information
                    > all add up to a greater understanding of the distillation process
                    and
                    > how to control what is going on.
                    >
                    >
                  • chevisn7
                    Hi Morgan No Worries Mate: I have a functional knowledge of electricity and electrical components. Same principle as your stove or hot plate burner. The only
                    Message 9 of 20 , Mar 6, 2008
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                      Hi Morgan
                      No Worries Mate: I have a functional knowledge of electricity and
                      electrical components. Same principle as your stove or hot plate
                      burner. The only difference is you are placing the element in the
                      liquid like in an electric hot water heater.

                      No heat sink is needed and no temperature relay switch. The reostat
                      controls the amount of electricity supplied to the heating element.
                      This in turn controls the amount of heat the element puts out.

                      The lack of a tempeature over ride relay like hot water heaters and
                      most new products have today will gives very percise control of the
                      heat supplied to the Boiler.

                      I have a hot plate but its cycle on and off feature caused heat up
                      problems. And being an outside heat source much of the heat is
                      waisted to the air. Also the new hot plates I have found are not like
                      the like the hot plates of a few years back where you could set the
                      temp and they would remain on.
                      Chuck

                      --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "morganfield1"
                      <morganfield1@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Hi Chuck,
                      >
                      > Sounds like you're getting the idea. I can't help you much with the
                      > electric elements and rheostat, I just have my boiler sitting on
                      top
                      > of a 1000 wt. hot plate. I can tell you that when you're dealing
                      with
                      > power controllers, what ever style they be, you are dealing with
                      kilo-
                      > watts, and that means heat, alot of it. And that heat has to go
                      > somewhere, either to the boiler, or to the controlling unit. What
                      I'm
                      > trying to say is, most people attach a heat sink (of some kind) to
                      > their controller to draw off the extra heat. HTH.
                      >
                      > Tip one, Morgan
                      >
                      > --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "chevisn7" <chevisn7@>
                      > wrote:
                      > >
                      > > Hi Morgan and all of you that continue to help out with my
                      > dilemmas.
                      > > All of you have been a tremendous help. Your inputs of
                      information
                      > > all add up to a greater understanding of the distillation process
                      > and
                      > > how to control what is going on.
                      > >
                      > >
                      >
                    • morganfield1
                      Hi Chuck, Sounds like you re on your way then, good luck, have fun, and be safe. One of the most important things to remember about this hobby is, you can make
                      Message 10 of 20 , Mar 6, 2008
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                        Hi Chuck,

                        Sounds like you're on your way then, good luck, have fun, and be safe.
                        One of the most important things to remember about this hobby is, you
                        can make it as simple or as complicated as you like, and with a little
                        practise, you'll get good hooch.

                        Tip one, Morgan

                        --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "chevisn7" <chevisn7@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > Hi Morgan
                        > No Worries Mate: I have a functional knowledge of electricity and
                        > electrical components. Same principle as your stove or hot plate
                        > burner. The only difference is you are placing the element in the
                        > liquid like in an electric hot water heater.
                        >
                        >
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