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Re: [new_distillers] Stripping versus Single / final run

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  • Dom Scotto
    On a reflux still  a few fast stripping run could reduce the  volume of what  might ordinarily be 4 or  more runs  down to one last slow spirit run
    Message 1 of 7 , Dec 2, 2010
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      On a reflux still  a few fast stripping run could reduce the  volume of what  might ordinarily be 4 or  more runs  down to one last slow spirit run where   more accurate cuts would be made..
       I just ran 2-- 7 gallon batches for vodka from a sugar wash. i ran it slow as  mudd.. drip drip. I dumped 150ml  from each batch  for foreshots and watched head temperatures to decide when to start collecting heads,hearts and tails. I wont do a second run . i have about 1/2+ gal of feints from the 2 runs. and 1.75 gallons of  hearts total from the 2 runs.that i will do a sort of carbon filtering on.

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      --- On Thu, 12/2/10, Pete H <thursty2@...> wrote:

      From: Pete H <thursty2@...>
      Subject: [new_distillers] Stripping versus Single / final run
      To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Thursday, December 2, 2010, 7:21 AM

       
      I have read many posts where there is talk about - but not an explanation of - Stripping runs. Both by users of pot and reflux stills. And in some instances, by users of reflux stills who have boiled down a simple sugar wash.

      Any-one able and willing to enlighten me?

      As I see it, an Offset Head (Nixon / Stone) with 1100mm column packed with ss scrubbers boils a 48 hr 8kg sugar turbo wash containing around 18%abv down to approx., 4 - 4.5 ltrs 96%abv give or take 1/2 a point. After letting the column equilibriate for about an hour at 78C.

      The first 100ml goes into the metho bottle, the next 200ml into the heads container, and around 3 litres of hearts to keep. The remaining tails also have their own container. From only one run, the taste is O/K but the product requires polishing.

      Duplicating a batch using 8kg dextrose instead of sugar, and a Still Spirits Classic yeast, produces a much smoother product which when polished is just delightfully smooth. Again from only one run.

      The polisher(s) being used are simply de-commissioned stainless steel fire extinguishers filled to 12ltr capacity with 40%abv spirit to which activated carbon - about 4 cups full - has been added. Left for a month and agitated every couple of days, the resulting product is delicate. However it does require paper filtering to remove carbon "dust".

      Seems a fairly straight forward process. So why strip and rerun?

      My understanding is that no intended wash flavours survive a proper reflux run. So, do owners of reflux stills do a strip run in error?

      Some-one will know.

      -----------------------


    • jamesonbeam1
      Hi Pete, The idea of stripping runs as people have mentioned, is to reduce the amount of liquids in your final distillation so you can make your cuts more
      Message 2 of 7 , Dec 4, 2010
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        Hi Pete,

        The idea of stripping runs as people have mentioned, is to reduce the
        amount of liquids in your final distillation so you can make your cuts
        more accurately.

        Yes, you can make a decent first run in a reflux, and even some claim
        you can make a nice flavored first run in a pot still. But from my
        experince using pot stills, tis still better to make the stripping run,
        get rid of most liquids then re-dilute down to 28 to 35% (depending on
        what your making) and the re-distill. Have hear its the same for refux
        - why do ya think they put XXX on the good old bottles? (each X means
        a seperate distillation)...

        JB.


        --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Pete H" <thursty2@...> wrote:
        >
        > I have read many posts where there is talk about - but not an
        explanation of - Stripping runs. Both by users of pot and reflux stills.
        And in some instances, by users of reflux stills who have boiled down a
        simple sugar wash.
        >
        > Any-one able and willing to enlighten me?
        >
        > As I see it, an Offset Head (Nixon / Stone) with 1100mm column packed
        with ss scrubbers boils a 48 hr 8kg sugar turbo wash containing around
        18%abv down to approx., 4 - 4.5 ltrs 96%abv give or take 1/2 a point.
        After letting the column equilibriate for about an hour at 78C.
        >
        > The first 100ml goes into the metho bottle, the next 200ml into the
        heads container, and around 3 litres of hearts to keep. The remaining
        tails also have their own container. From only one run, the taste is O/K
        but the product requires polishing.
        >
        > Duplicating a batch using 8kg dextrose instead of sugar, and a Still
        Spirits Classic yeast, produces a much smoother product which when
        polished is just delightfully smooth. Again from only one run.
        >
        > The polisher(s) being used are simply de-commissioned stainless steel
        fire extinguishers filled to 12ltr capacity with 40%abv spirit to which
        activated carbon - about 4 cups full - has been added. Left for a month
        and agitated every couple of days, the resulting product is delicate.
        However it does require paper filtering to remove carbon "dust".
        >
        > Seems a fairly straight forward process. So why strip and rerun?
        >
        > My understanding is that no intended wash flavours survive a proper
        reflux run. So, do owners of reflux stills do a strip run in error?
        >
        > Some-one will know.
        >
        > -----------------------
        >
      • Pete H
        JB wrote: Hi Pete, The idea of stripping runs as people have mentioned, is to reduce the amount of liquids in your final distillation so you can make your
        Message 3 of 7 , Dec 12, 2010
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          JB wrote:

          Hi Pete,

          The idea of stripping runs as people have mentioned, is to reduce the
          amount of liquids in your final distillation so you can make your cuts
          more accurately.

          Yes, you can make a decent first run in a reflux, and even some claim
          you can make a nice flavored first run in a pot still. But from my
          experince using pot stills, tis still better to make the stripping run,
          get rid of most liquids then re-dilute down to 28 to 35% (depending on
          what your making) and the re-distill. Have hear its the same for refux
          - why do ya think they put XXX on the good old bottles? (each X means
          a seperate distillation)...

          JB.

          ------------
          JB,

          Don't know if I'm doing something out of the ordinary, but the product I'm getting at the moment is sweet as.

          From earlier batches I was getting crap. Unadulterated vile tasting crap. The reasons for that I believe are now becoming clear to me.

          1. Boiling off before all the sugars were gone, (I now trust my hydrometer), and not waiting for floculation to clear the wash. This means I was boiling live and dead yeast amongst other things. Impetuous stuff probably every first time distiller goes trough.

          2. Boiling unflock'ed wash relentlessly at 2.4kw. Exponentially exaggerating the problem at 1. Unconverted sugars suffering the heat of the 2.4kw element.

          3. Greed. Not willing to sacrifice the fores and tails.

          I have also discovered something relating to the yeast used. I won't mention names because I might be accused of being the sales rep for the stuff I think works best for me. BUT, stuff I was using wasn't clearing of its own accord. Sure, it finished fermenting in 5 days, and ran up an abv of around 18%, but it wouldn't clear. Maybe it was the white sugar.

          The yeast I use now, on top of dextrose instead of sugar, completes fermenting in around 5 days, and will, in another 5 or so days be clear. Well, almost as clear as the original dextrose/water wash. The abv will be around 18%.

          In previous posts I have stated the volumes I can retrieve doing one reflux run. Equilibriating for an hour, then running product off at around 500ml per 30 minutes. Because of the crap needle valve I have, it is difficult to nail the timing down precisely, but it is certainly within 10 to 50ml within that time frame.

          The product, as it drips out of the head valve, does not need A/C filtering. There is no gravel rash throat in the sample. However, after cutting to 40%, sitting it on 4 cups of A/C per 10 or 12 litres for 2 to 4 weeks gives me something which IS "almost" tasteless and without smell. Good quality "neutral" product, from just one, yes 1 run.

          The boiler has been changed. It is now a 50 ltr boiler easily capable of boiling off 25 ltrs at a time. It has been fitted with 2 elements. A 1.38kw and a .9kw. Both are employed to bring the wash to boil, at which time the .9kw is switched off and the 1.38kw completes the 1 hr equilib., and then the boil off. As mentioned in previous posts, 100ml fores, 200ml heads, 3 ltrs mids (hearts), and the rest - 500ml or so as tails. No more stink, bad taste or other crap. Just nice tasting product - once cut.

          So, a total of around 3.8 litres of raw product from a 25 ltr wash at 18%abv. According to the calculations, I could do better, because I'm running about 700ml short.

          I have yet to come to grips with the difference. Perhaps I'm still being greedy, but in a different sense. Perhaps I'm taking the output a little faster than I should. Further testing required.
        • azeotech
          ... Might chime in here... it s become a bit of a (long!) note to help explain some of the reasoning behind stripping (or allow choice not to)- hope it s
          Message 4 of 7 , Dec 20, 2010
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            --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Pete H" <thursty2@...> wrote:
            >
            > I have read many posts where there is talk about - but not an explanation of - Stripping runs. Both by users of pot and reflux stills. And in some instances, by users of reflux stills who have boiled down a simple sugar wash.
            >
            > Any-one able and willing to enlighten me?
            >
            > As I see it, an Offset Head (Nixon / Stone) with 1100mm column packed with ss scrubbers boils a 48 hr 8kg sugar turbo wash containing around 18%abv down to approx., 4 - 4.5 ltrs 96%abv give or take 1/2 a point. After letting the column equilibriate for about an hour at 78C.
            >
            > The first 100ml goes into the metho bottle, the next 200ml into the heads container, and around 3 litres of hearts to keep. The remaining tails also have their own container. From only one run, the taste is O/K but the product requires polishing.
            >
            > Duplicating a batch using 8kg dextrose instead of sugar, and a Still Spirits Classic yeast, produces a much smoother product which when polished is just delightfully smooth. Again from only one run.
            >
            > The polisher(s) being used are simply de-commissioned stainless steel fire extinguishers filled to 12ltr capacity with 40%abv spirit to which activated carbon - about 4 cups full - has been added. Left for a month and agitated every couple of days, the resulting product is delicate. However it does require paper filtering to remove carbon "dust".
            >
            > Seems a fairly straight forward process. So why strip and rerun?
            >
            > My understanding is that no intended wash flavours survive a proper reflux run. So, do owners of reflux stills do a strip run in error?
            >
            > Some-one will know.
            >
            > -----------------------
            >

            Might chime in here... it's become a bit of a (long!) note to help explain some of the reasoning behind stripping (or allow choice not to)- hope it's handy....

            Just a quick observation, a 1.4kW element may be be a bit more than is required for a 20L wash, if the still is insulated.

            In the interests of power savings, and possibly wash "activity" too, it's worth insulating the container, (and especially too, the column) and trying the 0.9kW element and see how it goes. A gentle simmer is often all that is needed to produce enough vapor for a distillation run. The 1.38 may well be fine though...

            Stripping.

            Yes, an interesting one this, as so many factors and preferences come into play.

            Firstly, a decision to strip could be based on how much wash is being produced at a time compared to the size of the still, and when it is planned to produce/ferment the next wash.

            Stripping is a good way of dealing with wash amounts greater than one still charge, in fact, many people ferment enough wash to perform several stripping runs, creating enough "low wines" to fully charge the still, often to a higher level than is possible with a wash due to lower-foaming properties of the low wines.

            It's not a bad way of making a relatively small still work a bit "harder", by processing larger amounts of wash.

            It's also a good way of storing "wash" as a stable solution, that will be very resistant to contamination, and is a good way of dealing quickly with a wash as soon as it's ready, if time for a long careful reflux is a bit short.

            If however, only a single-charge wash is being processed at a time, then a single reflux run will be perfectly fine, although typically, a lower starting abv than a multi-wash low wine charge, means the reflux ratio can require more attention to maintain purity as the abv of the wash goes down, while a higher abv wine can maintain high purity and good output for a much "flatter" adjustment time.

            The reflux adjustments however, do depend on the method of reflux control being used.

            While some are more "automatic" than others, as soon as reflux is losing control of "purity", rather than abv towards the end of a run, this could be a time to decide (if not before hand) whether the output from this point will be treated as "tails"/"feints" to go into the next run, despite a high abv, or added to the hearts with a correspondingly possibly greater requirement for carbon treatment, to extend the hearts phase a bit more.

            It's certainly worth experimenting with this, and this where collecting the run in multiple jars and labelling is very worthwhile, particularly heads and tails, and the "merging" portions.

            As mentioned by others, a single wash *can* be stripped, then diluted to enough volume to perform a spirit run, and there are certainly advantages and gains in this that help purity, while having no apparent affect on abv %.

            Very usefully, it also allows treatment of the low wines with bi-carb, which not only "sweetens-up" the resultant spirit, but also removes unwanted compounds (such as aldehydes for eg. I think), by converting them into ethanol or less undesirable products.

            Others with greater chem knowledge and experience could explain this in more detail, but this additional treatment stage certainly seems to work.

            This cannot be performed on the fermented wash however, as production of *un*-wanted compounds result from the complex nature of the mixture.

            Sometimes, "purity", is a little bit confused with "strength". Purity does result from high abv, refluxed distillation, but when aiming for a neutral (and this does have to be weighed against cost/effectiveness of using carbon), small differences in apparent strength or reflux ratios, can have far greater effect on purity than on abv.

            Imagine looking at the vapor/liquid phase graphs published on many sites and books, and see where, as the azeotrope is being approached, the abv only increases minutely, while the effect of reflux is creating many re-distillations, creating greater opportunity to send impurities/congeners back down the column (after initial foreshot/heads extraction of course), and raising the purity of the output, even though the abv "flattens out".

            The effort (and cost of fuel/electricity) of using greater reflux to achieve higher purity, vs just absolute abv, does have to be weighed, as greater reflux reduces output, taking longer to process a wash and thus more energy. It can be worth it though, to extend/maintain purity over a run as long as possible before it becomes too inefficient.

            This becomes more stringent towards the end of a run, where the effort and return of extracting the last few % from the wash/charge also needs to be weighed up.

            As in the Nixon/Mccaw book, this is where re-equilibriating the column for a while to concentrate ethanol at the top, can be performed for a few more high-ish abv extractions, until even that becomes inefficient.

            This is where the ac treatment can improve the output, where a good trade-off of reflux ratio vs energy, time and purity has been made, allowing carbon to polish the output passively, instead of a higher
            investment in time and energy.

            Also, the final purpose of the neutral is important too, some concoctions demand the highest purity possible, other recipes/drinkers are perfectly happy with less perfect results.

            The less carbon required though, due to higher purity, then less cost, time and effort involved in treatment and filtering, so some aim for this.

            All decisions/best judgments etc have to be made after experiments, trials, different volumes, ingredients, and batches of wash, costings and effort etc, and evaluation of the results.

            This builds up a store of knowledge and familiarity with the available equipment, ingredients, power sources etc, and often leads to continued improvements and addition to kit. It's always best to start simple, understand the concepts, and move on from there gaining experience.

            ok, enough on some of the operational stuff, probably been mentined in many different ways previously in many posts by many experienced contributors.

            To summarise, stripping can help in many ways, and I'll try and mention as many as I can think of here for consideration, relating to column stills mostly, (not so much in relation to pot-stilling flavoured products such as whiskies and brandies, although most do apply also), including those already mentioned by others -


            Reducing volume of wash.
            Allows larger or multiple wash volumes to be consolidated/processed.

            Removing solids, and foaming causes etc.
            Less chance of solids/foam "puking" into column packing during spirit run, and same also for stripping runs if packing or column removed.
            Can reduce risk of scorching/burning, off-flavours, etc.

            Allows quick, immediate processing and storage of wash as "low wines".
            Allows a bi-carb "sweetening" stage on low wines.
            BiCarb also helps neutralise any acids in the stripped wash.

            "Sulphides" (often a "cabbagy" or rotten egg smell) can be "aired" out of the low wines - often carbon treatment is used to remove these if a copper still is not being used, or only a single run used.

            Stripping allows a "double" opportunity to remove these sulphides.
            Copper, is very good at doing this, maybe the bi-carb too.

            Removal of acids and sulphides can prolong packing life, particularly copper, and reduce general corrosion, especially if some parts reserved for spirit runs only.

            Can help with "purity" for all above reasons.

            Purity can also aid clarity of spirit if mixed with tap-water, or other material for flavor.

            With a higher starting abv, (For safety reasons though, not above 50%, read the article "Diluting the Still Charge" in the Alcohol Library for detail on this), the reflux ratio (and purity) can be easier to manage over the period of a spirit run, and in the case of pot-stills, the higher abv and larger charge, enables "cuts" to be made easier.

            So there's a few extra thoughts on the matter, hope it adds to the reasons already mentioned in other replies.

            Nb, glad to see stainless steel being used for carbon polishing. I've seen plastic "Z" filters etc for sale in shops for carbon treatment, and it seems a bit wrong to run spirits through plastic tubing after
            all our hard work to gain purity, when there's enough concern and information around (some vehement!) to inform us enough to avoid that kind of contact with plastics with our product.

            There are good ways to avoid plastics in our craft, and for all the newbies out there, *do* find ways to avoid plastics in critical paths of the process....
          • br0nwyn1
            Could you explain what the bi-carb process is? I always run a fast strip first and load a full pot of stripped distillate to reflux.
            Message 5 of 7 , Dec 22, 2010
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              Could you explain what the bi-carb process is? I always run a fast strip first and load a full pot of stripped distillate to reflux.
            • azeotech
              I ll leave it to the experts, but there is some background in this section, http://homedistiller.org/dtw.htm and quite a long discussion here;
              Message 6 of 7 , Jan 2, 2011
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                I'll leave it to the experts, but there is some background in this section,

                http://homedistiller.org/dtw.htm

                and quite a long discussion here;
                http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=5753&hilit=bicarbonate

                I seem to remember finding quite good explanations/discussions in the past, but having trouble finding the best I thought I found, however, these two links should provide enough info I hope...
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