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Which Still to build

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  • tony6163
    Hello folks, I m very new to this but being a metalworker by trade am in a position to build myself a nice still. I,ve looked at the execellent site
    Message 1 of 16 , Mar 30, 2002
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      Hello folks,
      I'm very new to this but being a metalworker by trade am in a
      position to build myself a nice still. I,ve looked at the execellent
      site www.moonshine-still.com and am going to use that gentlemans
      plans to build my still, my problem is I don't know which still to
      build. The Internal Reflux model or the Valved Reflux model, I'm
      hoping that someone here with some distilling experience can fill me
      in on which is the best still to operate.


      Thanks

      Tony
    • Robert N
      Hi Tony, great to hear you are going to build yourself a still. Being a sheetie will help you out immensely. I recently built myself one out of SS but went
      Message 2 of 16 , Mar 30, 2002
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        Hi Tony, great to hear you are going to build yourself a still. Being a sheetie will help you out immensely. I recently built myself one out of SS but went with the Nixon-Stone design.  Unless you are set on building one of the fine moonshine stills, then if I may, I would sway you towards the same design as I made. After researching the different designs out there, IMHO the N/S design has qualities that make it a better still, which I’m sure that many of the members here will agree with me on. If you are interested I will rave on about the merits of one over the other. None the less, I hope your project goes well and may you enjoy the fruits of your pursuit.

         

        Have a great day!

         

        Robert

         

        -----Original Message-----
        From: tony6163 [mailto:tony6163@...]
        Sent: Sunday, 31 March 2002 3:32 PM
        To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [new_distillers] Which Still to build

         

        Hello folks,
        I'm very new to this but being a metalworker by trade am in a
        position to build myself a nice still. I,ve looked at the execellent
        site www.moonshine-still.com and am going to use that gentlemans
        plans to build my still, my problem is I don't know which still to
        build. The Internal Reflux model or the Valved Reflux model, I'm
        hoping that someone here with some distilling experience can fill me
        in on which is the best still to operate.


        Thanks

        Tony



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      • grimblewiz
        Greets Tony I m currently building the valved reflux still on the moonshine site. I chose this one because it requires less cooling water than the internal.
        Message 3 of 16 , Mar 31, 2002
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          Greets Tony

          I'm currently building the valved reflux still on the moonshine site.
          I chose this one because it requires less cooling water than the
          internal. (or so I'm told) Doc L. has already built one and has
          posted pictures in a previous email.(although he seems to have
          dropped off line at the moment)Good luck with the build.

          Grimblewiz.





          -- In new_distillers@y..., "tony6163" <tony6163@y...> wrote:
          > Hello folks,
          > I'm very new to this but being a metalworker by trade am in a
          > position to build myself a nice still. I,ve looked at the
          execellent
          > site www.moonshine-still.com and am going to use that gentlemans
          > plans to build my still, my problem is I don't know which still to
          > build. The Internal Reflux model or the Valved Reflux model, I'm
          > hoping that someone here with some distilling experience can fill
          me
          > in on which is the best still to operate.
          >
          >
          > Thanks
          >
          > Tony
        • John Vandermeulen
          Tony, direct your question at Tony Ackland on this list. The packed column reflux still is in my view the simplest to understand; but the design as given in
          Message 4 of 16 , Mar 31, 2002
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            Tony,
            direct your question at Tony Ackland on this list. The packed column reflux
            still is in my view the simplest to understand; but the design as given in
            the website requires some changes in the cooling system. The S/N still
            appears to be superb for acquiring pure neutral spirits (I have the former.)

            You should note that both these stills produce a pure or near pure product.
            They are NOT schnapps/whisky stills! For that you want a potstill.

            good luck, John V


            tony6163 wrote:

            > Hello folks,
            > I'm very new to this but being a metalworker by trade am in a
            > position to build myself a nice still. I,ve looked at the execellent
            > site www.moonshine-still.com and am going to use that gentlemans
            > plans to build my still, my problem is I don't know which still to
            > build. The Internal Reflux model or the Valved Reflux model, I'm
            > hoping that someone here with some distilling experience can fill me
            > in on which is the best still to operate.
            >
            > Thanks
            >
            > Tony
            >
            >
            > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
            > new_distillers-unsubscribe@onelist.com
            >
            >
            >
            > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/



            --
            ÿWPC5
          • Dr. M. Legendre
            On Sun, 31 Mar 2002 17:56:50 +1000 ... I have studied the so called Nixon-Stone design (or at least other s implementations of it - I have never read or seen a
            Message 5 of 16 , Mar 31, 2002
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              On Sun, 31 Mar 2002 17:56:50 +1000
              "Robert N" <dinks_c@...> wrote:

              > Hi Tony, great to hear you are going to build yourself a still. Being a
              > sheetie will help you out immensely. I recently built myself one out of
              > SS but went with the Nixon-Stone design. Unless you are set on building
              > one of the fine moonshine stills, then if I may, I would sway you
              > towards the same design as I made.

              I have studied the so called Nixon-Stone design (or at least other's
              implementations of it - I have never read or seen a plan) and it seems
              functionally identical to the Valved Reflux model on the
              moonshine-still.com (aka Stillmaker, right?) page. Same theory in the
              condensor, column, reflux supply..?

              Could someone explain to me the differences between the Valved Reflux and
              Nixon-Stone designs? I'd like to know what details I am missing.


              -- Dr. M. Legendre
            • Dr. M. Legendre
              On Sun, 31 Mar 2002 11:30:49 -0400 ... It is mentioned in the moonshine-still.com valved reflux design notes, that this still can be run as a potstill by
              Message 6 of 16 , Mar 31, 2002
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                On Sun, 31 Mar 2002 11:30:49 -0400
                John Vandermeulen <vandermeulen@...> wrote:

                > You should note that both these stills produce a pure or near pure
                > product. They are NOT schnapps/whisky stills! For that you want a
                > potstill.

                It is mentioned in the moonshine-still.com valved reflux design notes,
                that this still can be run as a potstill by emptying the column and
                closing the reflux valve entrirely.

                How well does that play out in practice? Is there still some flavor
                stripping inherent to the design?

                -- Dr. M. Legendre
              • B13013ob@cs.com
                John wrote:
                Message 7 of 16 , Mar 31, 2002
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                  John wrote: << The packed column reflux still is in my view the simplest
                  to understand; but the design as given in the website requires some changes
                  in the cooling system. The S/N still appears to be superb for acquiring pure
                  neutral spirits (I have the former.) You should note that both these stills
                  produce a pure or near pure product. They are NOT schnapps/whisky stills! For
                  that you want a potstill. >>
                  Howdy John V, I have the still mentioned above and wonder --- why won't
                  this still become a simple pot still if the packing is removed? Few if any
                  theoretical plates, minor reflux action (cooling tubes are operational due to
                  condenser needing cooling) and the thermometer is waiting for vapor to caress
                  it's bulb. Anybody try this? Tips or tricks? If it all flopped, re-running
                  with scrubbers should clean it up...bob...
                • Robert N
                  I believe Matt did this very thing, about a month ago with his molasses run. Have a great day! Robert ... From: B13013ob@cs.com [mailto:B13013ob@cs.com] Sent:
                  Message 8 of 16 , Mar 31, 2002
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                    I believe Matt did this very thing, about a month ago with his molasses run.

                     

                    Have a great day!

                     

                    Robert

                     

                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: B13013ob@... [mailto:B13013ob@...]
                    Sent: Monday, 1 April 2002 4:12 PM
                    To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: Re: [new_distillers] Which Still to build

                     


                        John wrote: << The packed column reflux still is in my view the simplest
                    to understand; but the design as given in the website requires some changes
                    in the cooling system. The S/N still appears to be superb for acquiring pure
                    neutral spirits (I have the former.)  You should note that both these stills
                    produce a pure or near pure product. They are NOT schnapps/whisky stills! For
                    that you want a potstill. >>
                        Howdy John V,  I have the still mentioned above and wonder --- why won't
                    this still become a simple pot still if the packing is removed? Few if any
                    theoretical plates, minor reflux action (cooling tubes are operational due to
                    condenser needing cooling) and the thermometer is waiting for vapor to caress
                    it's bulb. Anybody try this? Tips or tricks? If it all flopped, re-running
                    with scrubbers should clean it up...bob... 


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                  • matthewo_brien
                    ... molasses run. Robert, Not quite. But close! For the mollasses run to make rum, I used the nixon stone still, but reduced the packing. (I didn t remove it
                    Message 9 of 16 , Mar 31, 2002
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                      --- In new_distillers@y..., "Robert N" <dinks_c@y...> wrote:
                      > I believe Matt did this very thing, about a month ago with his
                      molasses run.

                      Robert,

                      Not quite. But close!

                      For the mollasses run to make rum, I used the nixon stone still, but
                      reduced the packing. (I didn't remove it completley!). Then I used
                      the basic principles of the "Corn Whiskey book" as to making the cut -
                      basically letting flavour come through at the end by letting the
                      head temp rise. Anyway, it worked well, and I agree that a pot still
                      may not be neccisary to produce flavoured spirits such as rum,
                      whiskey etc.

                      I posted a better description of what I did on the Distillers email
                      group - but it would seem that I neglected to post it here - so here
                      it is!

                      Matt

                      Hi all,

                      Well, I finished distilling my new rum wash, and it all worked well!

                      A reminder of the wash: 6.4 kg mollasses, made up to 26L with water,
                      champagne yeast pitched, fermented for 14 days at 20 degrees C,
                      settled two days at 4 degrees C, transferred to another fermenter,
                      settled a further 2 days 4 degrees C, and then distilled. I also
                      added 902 mL of 90% vodka head/tails as an adjunct, to increase the
                      total rum yield.

                      I distilled the wash in my Nixon Stone still, but 'de-tuned' it. My
                      column is 1.2m x 50mm, and I usually fill it all the way up to the
                      top with scrubbers - 18 large ones. For this run, I only put in 12,
                      the same as when I did my citrus run. The other part of the 'de-
                      tuning' is the running at constant collection speed. For a vodka
                      run, I reduce the speed towards the end to ensure the head temp
                      doesn't rise, and I get pure vodka. Obviously thats not what I
                      wanted here! So by collecting at a constant speed throughout
                      distillation, towards the end the head temp increased slowly, and as
                      I said, the flavour came accross nicely!

                      The actual process was as follows:
                      When the head reached temperature, it settled at 78.1 degrees C.
                      After 120 mL of foreshots, the temp increased to 78.4. I then
                      collected 820mL of 'heads' at 1 drop/sec, which I have kept to add to
                      the next run. I then increased the flow rate to 250mL/15 minutes,
                      which I kept constant for the remander of the run. I then collected a
                      little over 1750mL of 95% alcohol. The tmperature at the start of the
                      middle run was 78.5 and stayed constant for the first 1000mL or so.
                      The temp then slowly started creeping up, and the flavour also. I
                      stopped collecting when I felt the flavour was too 'acrid', which
                      equated to around 79-80 degrees C. I then collected a further 162mL
                      of tails up to 90 degrees C. As far as making the 'cut' goes, I
                      basically followed the description Ian Smiley has in the corn whiskey
                      book - and it worked well!

                      After washing out the still, I was pleased to find the internal
                      elements had no burnt muck on them - in fact, they were cleaner than
                      when I started! So waiting until the ferment had finished
                      completley, and then the settling time and ferment vessel change
                      seems to have done the trick! I was also pleased to see that
                      the 'scum line' up the side of the boiler was only at about the 45L
                      mark, so the froth didn't fill the headspace of my 60L boiler - thats
                      good. It also lets me know not to distill more than 25-30L of 'high
                      foam potential' wash in my boiler!

                      The flavour is very noticable, quite comparable to bought white rum
                      (but I would say a little smoother) and my wife says 'yummy' - so I
                      guess thats a winner. I have cut it to 50%, and now have a bit over
                      half soaking on toasted and untoasted american oak chips. The other
                      portion I am keeping as white rum.

                      Whilst toasting the oak, I had a fun little episode - I wrapped the
                      oak chips in foil, and put them in the oven at 240 degrees C - the
                      same as I have in the past. However, in the midway turn, I somehow
                      ripped the foil with the tongs I was using. I didn't notice at the
                      time, but noticed abour 4 minutes later when they burst into flames!
                      A quick fold up with the tongs stopped the flames, and into the sink
                      with some water finished it off. It did smell good though..... ;-)

                      After 2 weeks on toasted oak, the rum went a beautiful golden brown,
                      and testing it on friends who drink rum, the comments were all good,
                      and everyone agreed that it is better than "bundy" rum. Personally,
                      I don't really like rum, so can't be completly objective about it -
                      I'd much rather my bourban!

                      Matt
                    • tony6163
                      Thanks a lot to all the guys out there that responded to my post about which still to build. I originally chose the Moonshine-Still due to the fact that I know
                      Message 10 of 16 , Apr 2, 2002
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                        Thanks a lot to all the guys out there that responded to my post
                        about which still to build. I originally chose the Moonshine-Still
                        due to the fact that I know nothing about distilling and because of
                        the vast amount of information at the site in regards to constructing
                        and operating the still. Seems a lot of people are using and
                        recommend the Nixon Stone Still. Is there a site on the Net with
                        plans for building and operating this type of still or should I just
                        stick with the Moon-shine-Still. (I decided on the Internal Reflux
                        model by the way!)

                        regards

                        Tony






                        --- In new_distillers@y..., "Robert N" <dinks_c@y...> wrote:
                        > Hi Tony, great to hear you are going to build yourself a still.
                        Being a
                        > sheetie will help you out immensely. I recently built myself one
                        out of SS
                        > but went with the Nixon-Stone design. Unless you are set on
                        building one of
                        > the fine moonshine stills, then if I may, I would sway you towards
                        the same
                        > design as I made. After researching the different designs out
                        there, IMHO
                        > the N/S design has qualities that make it a better still, which I'm
                        sure
                        > that many of the members here will agree with me on. If you are
                        interested I
                        > will rave on about the merits of one over the other. None the less,
                        I hope
                        > your project goes well and may you enjoy the fruits of your pursuit.
                        >
                        > Have a great day!
                        >
                        > Robert
                        >
                        > -----Original Message-----
                        > From: tony6163 [mailto:tony6163@y...]
                        > Sent: Sunday, 31 March 2002 3:32 PM
                        > To: new_distillers@y...
                        > Subject: [new_distillers] Which Still to build
                        >
                        > Hello folks,
                        > I'm very new to this but being a metalworker by trade am in a
                        > position to build myself a nice still. I,ve looked at the execellent
                        > site www.moonshine-still.com and am going to use that gentlemans
                        > plans to build my still, my problem is I don't know which still to
                        > build. The Internal Reflux model or the Valved Reflux model, I'm
                        > hoping that someone here with some distilling experience can fill me
                        > in on which is the best still to operate.
                        >
                        >
                        > Thanks
                        >
                        > Tony
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
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                      • John Vandermeulen
                        ... Hello Bob, sorry, for not getting back to you immediately. Your question is a good one - why not convert refrlux column to pot still? There is almost
                        Message 11 of 16 , Apr 3, 2002
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                          B13013ob@... wrote:

                          > John wrote: << The packed column reflux still is in my view the simplest
                          > to understand; but the design as given in the website requires some changes
                          > in the cooling system. The S/N still appears to be superb for acquiring pure
                          > neutral spirits (I have the former.) You should note that both these stills
                          > produce a pure or near pure product. They are NOT schnapps/whisky stills! For
                          > that you want a potstill. >>
                          > Howdy John V, I have the still mentioned above and wonder --- why won't
                          > this still become a simple pot still if the packing is removed? Few if any
                          > theoretical plates, minor reflux action (cooling tubes are operational due to
                          > condenser needing cooling) and the thermometer is waiting for vapor to caress
                          > it's bulb. Anybody try this? Tips or tricks? If it all flopped, re-running
                          > with scrubbers should clean it up...bob...

                          Hello Bob,
                          sorry, for not getting back to you immediately. Your question is a good one -
                          why not convert refrlux column to pot still? There is almost zero written about
                          pot-still design, either from experience or theoretical. So I am going for it by
                          trial and error.
                          I sketched out a design, that has a ~24"x2" column, ~18" lyne arm, and 18" jacket
                          condenser - passed it around on this list for comments. Tony A. thought that it
                          should work, as did others. I ran it a week ago and right off got ~80%abv
                          product!! Way too high for what I wanted. I suspect that the column is far too
                          long - so I am shortening it to maybe 12" and will try again.

                          In hindsight that in fact seems very reasonable. With the potstill we want a
                          fairly wide range of compounds going over, i.e. no refluxing. Which really means
                          that we want that heated vapor going directly to the condenser, with no
                          refinements along the way. I.e. v. short column.
                          This scheme forms the basis for a 'pot still' shown in Tony's A. site (look under
                          building potstill). I can't remember whose it is, but it consists of a large
                          paint can with a flat metal lid. From the center of this lid emerges a length of
                          (small gauge) copper tubing which arches over into a coil-type condenser. NO
                          Column!
                          The same thing is seen in photos of illegal moonshine stills which have NO
                          column, except for an oddly shaped 'chamber' sitting on top of the boiler (viz.
                          attached)

                          I got carried away, please excuse the rant. I will post my results from my
                          modified potstill as soon as I've run it.
                          John V
                        • B13013ob@cs.com
                          vandermeulen@ns.sympatico.ca writes:
                          Message 12 of 16 , Apr 3, 2002
                          • 0 Attachment
                            vandermeulen@... writes:

                            << I sketched out a design, that has a ~24"x2" column, ~18" lyne arm, and 18"
                            jacket condenser - passed it around on this list for comments. Tony A.
                            thought that it should work, as did others. I ran it a week ago and right off
                            got ~80%abv product!! Way too high for what I wanted. I suspect that the
                            column is far too long - so I am shortening it to maybe 12" and will try
                            again. >>

                            Howdy John! ....which brings me to more questions --- it seems that
                            almost all of the folks in this group use electricity and are stuck with 1 or
                            2 choices as to heat output for the boiler. Since the heat used for the
                            reflux is less, aiming for purity, might it not be enough to maximize vapor
                            production to get the "Flavors" over the top? I use a big gas burner (for
                            boiling crab and lobster) under my boiler. With the infinite heat range (to
                            maximum, of course), might that push more vapor? The pic you attached used
                            fire, for instance.
                            As to fire vs electricity, why is the latter chosen over gas? Is it a
                            safety issue or a matter of convenience? I use very little LP gas in aiming
                            for 95% since the only vapor sought is Ethanol and the water runs only enough
                            to cool the vapor and equalize the reflux (2L water / min.). I must be
                            living on the edge or something, but the fire extinguisher is always close
                            by...
                            Thanks for the reply...please don't think you're "ranting"! I can't get
                            enough information and sometimes the pearl in buried in the meat. More is
                            good....bob....
                          • John Vandermeulen
                            Hi, I have sent your query on to Tony Ackland, moderator of this list as he is far more knowledgeable in that area. John V ... -- ÿWPC5
                            Message 13 of 16 , Apr 3, 2002
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                              Hi, I have sent your query on to Tony Ackland, moderator of this list as he is
                              far more knowledgeable in that area.
                              John V

                              B13013ob@... wrote:

                              > vandermeulen@... writes:
                              >
                              > << I sketched out a design, that has a ~24"x2" column, ~18" lyne arm, and 18"
                              > jacket condenser - passed it around on this list for comments. Tony A.
                              > thought that it should work, as did others. I ran it a week ago and right off
                              > got ~80%abv product!! Way too high for what I wanted. I suspect that the
                              > column is far too long - so I am shortening it to maybe 12" and will try
                              > again. >>
                              >
                              > Howdy John! ....which brings me to more questions --- it seems that
                              > almost all of the folks in this group use electricity and are stuck with 1 or
                              > 2 choices as to heat output for the boiler. Since the heat used for the
                              > reflux is less, aiming for purity, might it not be enough to maximize vapor
                              > production to get the "Flavors" over the top? I use a big gas burner (for
                              > boiling crab and lobster) under my boiler. With the infinite heat range (to
                              > maximum, of course), might that push more vapor? The pic you attached used
                              > fire, for instance.
                              > As to fire vs electricity, why is the latter chosen over gas? Is it a
                              > safety issue or a matter of convenience? I use very little LP gas in aiming
                              > for 95% since the only vapor sought is Ethanol and the water runs only enough
                              > to cool the vapor and equalize the reflux (2L water / min.). I must be
                              > living on the edge or something, but the fire extinguisher is always close
                              > by...
                              > Thanks for the reply...please don't think you're "ranting"! I can't get
                              > enough information and sometimes the pearl in buried in the meat. More is
                              > good....bob....
                              >
                              >
                              > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                              > new_distillers-unsubscribe@onelist.com
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/



                              --
                              ÿWPC5
                            • mattdistiller
                              ... good one - ... written about ... going for it by ... and 18 jacket ... thought that it ... John and others, This conversation kind of ties in with a
                              Message 14 of 16 , Apr 3, 2002
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                                > sorry, for not getting back to you immediately. Your question is a
                                good one -
                                > why not convert refrlux column to pot still? There is almost zero
                                written about
                                > pot-still design, either from experience or theoretical. So I am
                                going for it by
                                > trial and error.
                                > I sketched out a design, that has a ~24"x2" column, ~18" lyne arm,
                                and 18" jacket
                                > condenser - passed it around on this list for comments. Tony A.
                                thought that it
                                > should work, as did others.

                                John and others,

                                This conversation kind of ties in with a project I currently have on
                                the go. I have been playing with a hybrid still design for a while
                                now, in which you get a pot still and a n/s still in one. I posted
                                the drawings here a while ago:

                                http://groups.yahoo.com/group/new_distillers/files/mattdistiller/potst
                                illdesign.jpg

                                Because I want to be able to make rum's and whiskey's, I think a pot
                                still is the way to go for this. However, I am not happy with
                                the "traditional" design, so have come up with my own design
                                (well I think its my own!), which converts a nixon stone still into
                                a "Hybrid Nixon stone/Pot Still".

                                On the diagram, you can see at the far left, a rough drawing of my
                                current N/S still. The boiler is 60L, with a 2" BSP fitting on the
                                top. To this the column gets screwed on, which also has 2" BSP
                                fittings either end. The Nixon Stone head then screws on the top of
                                the column, by way of another 2" BSP fitting.

                                Next to this diagram, you can see my proposed design for my hybrid
                                still. It utilises the boiler and n/s head of my current setup, but
                                the column is removed. In its place, there is a T-junction screwed
                                to the boiler. At the top of the T, a 2" ball/gate valve is screwed,
                                followed by a either a shorter column (around 500mm I plan) or my
                                standard column, and then the N/S head on top. Out of the horizontal
                                section of the T, a 3/4" ball/gate valve is screwed, from which the
                                3/4" pot still arm goes to the thumper, and then onto a water jacket
                                condenser.

                                The way I plan to have it working is:
                                a) 2" valve open, 3/4" valve shut - This runs it in 'short column N/S
                                Still' mode. The column is packed with scrubbers (as usual!). This
                                is how the run starts, and after equilibrium, the heads are removed
                                from the N/S head. A further 100 - 500mL are removed, in order to
                                get rid of any other 'nasties'.
                                b) The Still gets turned off, and once the head temp has gone down to
                                around 30-40 degrees, the 3/4" valve then gets opened, and the 2"
                                shut.
                                c) The power gets turned back on, (probably with a decrease in heat
                                power). This then runs it in 'pot still mode', with the lower purity
                                distillate coming out as normal from a pot still.

                                I see this as an advantage, as I can be sure that any methanols and
                                other nasties are removed, while still having the benefits of a pot
                                still for flavour profile.

                                I planned to have this up and running ages ago, but have been too
                                busy - hopefully sometime soon though! I'm still collecting bits,
                                and redesigning it, so any input would still be gladly taken!

                                Matt
                              • Ackland, Tony (CALNZAS)
                                ... By now you should know that that doesn t count as a guarantee... Tony A.
                                Message 15 of 16 , Apr 4, 2002
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                                  > .. Tony A. thought that it should work ...

                                  By now you should know that that doesn't count as a guarantee...

                                  Tony A.
                                • Ackland, Tony (CALNZAS)
                                  Bob, ... Not necessarily so - you still want the same amount of heat & vapour, its just that you then go and return say 80-90% of the vapour back to the column
                                  Message 16 of 16 , Apr 4, 2002
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                                    Bob,

                                    > Since the heat used for the
                                    > reflux is less, aiming for purity ...

                                    Not necessarily so - you still want the same amount of heat & vapour, its
                                    just that you then go and return say 80-90% of the vapour back to the column
                                    as reflux. My choice is always to maximise the amount of heat input to suit
                                    the column diameter (a method which has its critics). Only in cases where
                                    the amount of reflux cooling is fixed would you necessarily decrease the
                                    heat input to get the greater purity / higher reflux ratio

                                    > might it not be enough to maximize vapor
                                    > production to get the "Flavors" over the top?

                                    thats basically the same method as in the "making corn whisky" book by Ian
                                    Smiley - reduce the amount of reflux, so that more flavours do come through.
                                    Its all about adjusting the ratio of reflux to vapour to get the purity you
                                    want. Since its a reflux, you can do it either way - decrease the reflux,
                                    or increase the vapour rate.

                                    > As to fire vs electricity, why is the latter chosen over
                                    > gas? Is it a safety issue or a matter of convenience?

                                    for me electricity is convienient. Gas is perfectly fine to use, provided
                                    you follow safety guidelines, like those of Davids at
                                    http://homedistiller.org/concept.htm

                                    Tony
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