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Pot Stills

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  • jasonrbaze
    I am new to this hobby . I have made a pot type still from an old pressure cooker. I have used it 3 times after much research, and have distilled store
    Message 1 of 5 , Jun 28 10:42 PM
      I am new to this "hobby". I have made a pot type still from an old
      pressure cooker. I have used it 3 times after much research, and have
      distilled store purchased red wine 2 times, and made my own wash out
      of apples 2 times, and have only distilled the wash once. I have
      another batch fermenting as we speak, however, from all of the "lore"
      I am still a little second guessing about consuming any of it so far,
      as I am not sure of the foreshots and methanol. I am only making it
      in 1 gallon batches, and the first apple wash yeilded 10 ounces, ( I
      collected it all), the second with wine I only got about 4 ounces due
      to a still faliure, the third try with wine, I yeilded almost 20
      ounces from a 3.75 litre try. I was pretty proud of that being my
      third try. But I am more excited about being able to sample my own
      product, in a safe way. Honestly I am very concerned about brewing
      poison. The new yeast I got from Mile Hi Distilling, is simply called
      distllers yeast. I pitched 3 grams to 5 litres of wash. This time I
      ground up 3 large bags of Granny Smith apples, Then strained and
      pressed all remaining juice from the pulp. Total yeild was 5 litres.
      I then dissolved 2 pounds of white sugar into the wash after it
      cooled to around 70 degrees F,then I pitched my yeast. It has been
      fermenting for 5 days now, and still going according to my airlock. I
      stir it everyday to work any yeast on top back down. So I will
      distill when the airlock quits, and I have filtered the wash. The
      only concern about this wash is, there is no real thick foamy dense
      layer on top of it. The first batch there was, but I also left all
      the pulp and apple parts in there to ferment too. I was also using
      simple bakers yeast. So to make a long story longer, does my 4th
      attempt so far sound right or am I way off the mark? Any advice,
      help, encouragement, anything would be extreemly appriciated. Also,
      where I live the home distillation of any alcohol is not held in the
      highest respect by law enforcment. But thus far all that I have
      learned and tried, have been an absolutly great and fun time, and I
      have no intention of selling my hobby or trying to capitalize from it
      in any way, I just find it extreemly fulfilling to make something
      like this my self and be able to enjoy doing it. Thanks.
    • rye_junkie1
      ... Hello Jason, I hope thats not your real name. Sounds like you are doing fine so far. With the wine and fruits that you are distilling you SHOULD be
      Message 2 of 5 , Jun 29 7:48 AM
        --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "jasonrbaze" <jasonrbaze@...>
        wrote:
        >
        > I am new to this "hobby". I have made a pot type still from an old
        > pressure cooker. I have used it 3 times after much research, and have
        > distilled store purchased red wine 2 times, and made my own wash out
        > of apples 2 times, and have only distilled the wash once. I have
        > another batch fermenting as we speak, however, from all of the "lore"
        > I am still a little second guessing about consuming any of it so far,
        > as I am not sure of the foreshots and methanol. I am only making it
        > in 1 gallon batches, and the first apple wash yeilded 10 ounces, ( I
        > collected it all), the second with wine I only got about 4 ounces due
        > to a still faliure, the third try with wine, I yeilded almost 20
        > ounces from a 3.75 litre try. I was pretty proud of that being my
        > third try. But I am more excited about being able to sample my own
        > product, in a safe way. Honestly I am very concerned about brewing
        > poison. The new yeast I got from Mile Hi Distilling, is simply called
        > distllers yeast. I pitched 3 grams to 5 litres of wash. This time I
        > ground up 3 large bags of Granny Smith apples, Then strained and
        > pressed all remaining juice from the pulp. Total yeild was 5 litres.
        > I then dissolved 2 pounds of white sugar into the wash after it
        > cooled to around 70 degrees F,then I pitched my yeast. It has been
        > fermenting for 5 days now, and still going according to my airlock. I
        > stir it everyday to work any yeast on top back down. So I will
        > distill when the airlock quits, and I have filtered the wash. The
        > only concern about this wash is, there is no real thick foamy dense
        > layer on top of it. The first batch there was, but I also left all
        > the pulp and apple parts in there to ferment too. I was also using
        > simple bakers yeast. So to make a long story longer, does my 4th
        > attempt so far sound right or am I way off the mark? Any advice,
        > help, encouragement, anything would be extreemly appriciated. Also,
        > where I live the home distillation of any alcohol is not held in the
        > highest respect by law enforcment. But thus far all that I have
        > learned and tried, have been an absolutly great and fun time, and I
        > have no intention of selling my hobby or trying to capitalize from it
        > in any way, I just find it extreemly fulfilling to make something
        > like this my self and be able to enjoy doing it. Thanks.
        >

        Hello Jason, I hope thats not your real name.
        Sounds like you are doing fine so far. With the wine and fruits that
        you are distilling you SHOULD be concerned with methanol as it is a
        byproduct of fermenting fruit and it is pretty much a given that you
        have a little in your distilled product since you say you collected it
        "ALL". You probably do not want to sample that product just yet. But
        we can fix it with a spirit run.
        As for the wash you have going now. Did you check the starting SG of
        the wash? With all that apple juice you probably didnt need to add
        sugar. That may be why it is going so slow. Probably more to the
        truth is the bulk distillers yeast. I threw out what I had after a
        couple of experiments with real yeast. That stuff is just slow. You
        would have been better off with the bakers yeast. IMHO.
        If you dont have a hydrometer (Both wine and spirit) you will need
        them in this hobby.
        As for your distilled spirit that you are scared of. Basically what
        you have is LOW WINES, undrinkable spirit from a strip run. You
        collected everything as you should during a strip run.
        Wait until the wash you currently have going is ready to distill and
        strip it up until 210F or close to 1/3 of the wash volume. With your
        other stuff that should give you a decent volume to charge your pot
        with for a spirit run.
        You will want to do this run very slow, with just enough heat to keep
        it dripping. The first 200ml/3-4oz to come out you throw out. Thats
        the bad stuff like acetone and your methanol among other stuff. Your
        gonna want a few small jars or in your case maybe shot glasses to
        collect the next rounds. Number the containers in order of collection
        and collect up to about 203F. These are your cuts and the ones in the
        middle (the Hearts or Middle run) are the ones you want to keep. To
        your taste and smell you may want to blend in some of the "Heads" and
        "Tails" or you may want to put them in a jar marked feints for
        redistill with your next spirit run. Zymurgy Bob has a really good
        layout of making cuts. I think its in the data base. you will want
        to read it. The above process will not lead you wrong and it will be
        plenty safe to consume your product. Hope this helps.

        Mason
      • jamesonbeam1
        Hello Jason, Welcome to our hobby. Tis thrilling, chilling and rewarding - but the dangers are not in drinking the distillation. The idea that methanol from
        Message 3 of 5 , Jun 30 2:45 AM

          Hello Jason,

          Welcome to our hobby.  Tis thrilling, chilling and rewarding - but the dangers are not in drinking the distillation.  The idea that methanol from the foreshots will kill you is an old wives tale /  myth (lore) from the days of prohibition (methanol, if any, will be equally distributed throughout the distillation).   The 100 - 200 mL of first drops will smell like paint thinner or nail polish remover (acetone) and must be thrown out.

          This was when they acutually did add anti-freeze and de-natured alcohol to their brews:  (Ethyl alcohol - to which a poisonous substance, such as acetone or methanol, has been added to make it unfit for consumption. ), along with using lead based solder in their still joints and old car radiators for condensers.

          We have come a long ways since those days- a quantum leap so to speak,  and the first rule here is SAFETY.  The real dangers of home distilling are from doing it indoors with inadequate ventilation with a leak in your still....  One liter of 90 proof alcohol vapors in a small enough space can equal up to 2 sticks of dyanamite in explosive power !!!!!

          On the left side of this page you will see the Links and Database Sections.  There you will find the New Distiller's Information Base, which covers most topics on fermentation and distillation.  Please read the first sections on introduction, safety and methods.  Then puruse the various topics.

          Again, Welcome aboard, there are many members here with vast amounts of knowledge - so enjoy, ask questions and BE SAFE.

          Vino es Veritas,

          Jim  (Co-Moderator).

          Additional comments are below in bold print.


          --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "jasonrbaze" <jasonrbaze@...> wrote:
          >
          > I am new to this "hobby". I have made a pot type still from an old
          > pressure cooker. I have used it 3 times after much research, and have
          > distilled store purchased red wine 2 times, and made my own wash out
          > of apples 2 times, and have only distilled the wash once. I have
          > another batch fermenting as we speak, however, from all of the "lore"
          > I am still a little second guessing about consuming any of it so far,
          > as I am not sure of the foreshots and methanol. (See Above)  

          I am only making it  in 1 gallon batches, and the first apple wash yeilded 10 ounces, ( I
          > collected it all), the second with wine I only got about 4 ounces due
          > to a still faliure, the third try with wine, I yeilded almost 20
          > ounces from a 3.75 litre try. I was pretty proud of that being my
          > third try. 

           Most wine makers and distillers consider a 5 gallon batch for fermentation as more efficient and economical.  You will need about a 6 -7 gallon (food grade) plastic primary fermenter bucket)

          But I am more excited about being able to sample my own
          > product, in a safe way. Honestly I am very concerned about brewing
          > poison. (See Above again)  

          The new yeast I got from Mile Hi Distilling, is simply called
          > distllers yeast. I pitched 3 grams to 5 litres of wash. This time I
          > ground up 3 large bags of Granny Smith apples, Then strained and
          > pressed all remaining juice from the pulp.

          As long as you dont include the seeds your fine - they contain a bit of cyanide (prussic acid)...

          Plants do however have the ability to work with vast amounts of carbon and nitrogen, this results in most hard seeds containing cyanide (the cyanide radical is CN-). Not really enough to injure anyone, infact commercially made Kirsch (cherry brandy) uses ground up seeds to give a nut like flavor (cyanide tastes kind of like an intense bitter almond flavor). In some recipes grinding up the seeds of delicate tasting fruits should be avoided but with something more robust (like apple), it should be of no concern.

          Wal elaborates ...

            The kernels of prunus species (plums, cherries, apricots, apples) contain HCN - hydrocyanic acid, formerly known as prussic acid. 0.05g is a lethal dose for an adult. It has been recorded that a person died from eating a whole cup of apple pips as a treat on his birthday! Normally, when macerating these fruits in alcohol, the stones should be removed, although small amounts are used for flavoring purposes (e.g. Maraschino).

          Total yeild was 5 litres.
          > I then dissolved 2 pounds of white sugar into the wash after it
          > cooled to around 70 degrees F,then I pitched my yeast. It has been
          > fermenting for 5 days now, and still going according to my airlock. I
          > stir it everyday to work any yeast on top back down. So I will
          > distill when the airlock quits, and I have filtered the wash. The
          > only concern about this wash is, there is no real thick foamy dense
          > layer on top of it. The first batch there was, but I also left all
          > the pulp and apple parts in there to ferment too. I was also using
          > simple bakers yeast. So to make a long story longer, does my 4th
          > attempt so far sound right or am I way off the mark? 

           I would look up yeast nutrients, pH levels, read about fermentation, and taste it.  If its dry and acidic its ok - if its sweet its not done.  Also read about Hydrometers and testing levels of sugar in your fermentation.

          Any advice,
          > help, encouragement, anything would be extreemly appriciated. Also,
          > where I live the home distillation of any alcohol is not held in the
          > highest respect by law enforcment. But thus far all that I have
          > learned and tried, have been an absolutly great and fun time, and I
          > have no intention of selling my hobby or trying to capitalize from it
          > in any way, I just find it extreemly fulfilling to make something
          > like this my self and be able to enjoy doing it. Thanks.
          >
          Keep the faith, Read, Read and READ and ask questions.... :)

          Jim.

        • jasonrbaze
          Thanks Mason and Jim, I hadn t read your replies until just now. I am kind of new to the forum process. Anyway I just finished running off the mash I was
          Message 4 of 5 , Jul 2, 2008
            Thanks Mason and Jim, I hadn't read your replies until just now. I am
            kind of new to the forum process. Anyway I just finished running off
            the mash I was talking about in my previous post. I have been reading
            a ton of info at the web site and from a CD rom I got from e-bay also
            a book I bought simply called "Moonshine". Again, anyhow, I collected
            the first 1.5 ounces from the still considering I was only running
            off 4.5 liters, and threw that out, it did have a very harsh and
            almost over whelming smell. My thermometer is accurate, but the
            spirit doesn't begin to flow until about 189 degrees F. However I
            still tossed out the first 1.5 ounces or so, and collected the heads
            and middle, and just got rid of the tails. I was very suprised at the
            amount, I collected in total 24 ounces! I sampled a very small amount
            and really was suprised at the flavor, very fruity, yet strong. I
            checked it with my alcometer and it showed 53% abv. I again sampled
            some after carbon filtering, and with some apple juice and sugar and
            I must say it was very fine. I have the hydrometer but didn't take a
            reading off of that mash first, so I was shooting in the dark. I
            started another mash yesterday this time using store bought
            unsweetend apple juice and then added sugar. Before pitching the
            yeast, the hydrometer reading was 1.140. So we shall see. When I get
            this figured out alittle more I will make a little larger batches.
            Thank you for you replies, and I'm sure you will be hearing more from
            me very soon, however I am going to change my user name to something
            more up this alley! Thanks.
          • rye_junkie1
            ... wrote: . I ... Are you sure about the 1.040? What was the total volume and amount of sugar? Thats a really high starting gravity. If its correct then I
            Message 5 of 5 , Jul 2, 2008
              --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "jasonrbaze" <jasonrbaze@...>
              wrote:
              . I
              > started another mash yesterday this time using store bought
              > unsweetend apple juice and then added sugar. Before pitching the
              > yeast, the hydrometer reading was 1.140. So we shall see. When I get
              > this figured out alittle more I will make a little larger batches.
              > Thank you for you replies, and I'm sure you will be hearing more from
              > me very soon, however I am going to change my user name to something
              > more up this alley! Thanks.
              >
              Are you sure about the 1.040? What was the total volume and amount of
              sugar? Thats a really high starting gravity. If its correct then I
              hope you used a good HIGH GRAVITY yeast like EC1118. That gravity
              comes out to about 18% potential.

              Mason
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