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Re: [new_distillers] Which Still to build

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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 1 of 16 , Apr 3 6:07 AM
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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 2 of 16 , Apr 3 7:57 AM
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        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 3 of 16 , Apr 3 9:02 AM
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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
          >
          >
          >
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          --
          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 4 of 16 , Apr 3 6:51 PM
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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 5 of 16 , Apr 4 12:28 PM
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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 6 of 16 , Apr 4 12:51 PM
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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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