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Re: [new_distillers] my spirit smells like metho

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  • John Vandermeulen
    Hello, I will add my 2-bits worth. This will not help your metho-problem, but it adds to our understanding of still operation - I refer to the alcoholometer.
    Message 1 of 26 , May 27, 2002
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      I will add my 2-bits worth. This will not help your metho-problem, but it adds to
      our understanding of still operation - I refer to the alcoholometer. This is the
      floating device that when suspended in a volumetric cylinder shows the ethanol
      content in the liquid dripping out of the condenser. When I first began distilling
      I used the temp. in the top/head of the column as my indicator, but then bought an
      alcohol-meter and now use its readings as indicator how the distillation is
      proceeding. (However, I do record the temp. at the same time as I rcord the %abv
      in the cylinder.)
      In practice, I collect all the distillate in the cylinder (100mL volumetric).
      Because of the space that the float takes up I in fact collect around 80-85mL when
      it is running around 90-95%abv. As soon as I can read the %abv I note it, also the
      temp., and time - dump the collected mL's into a glass, and quickly replace the
      cylinder under the condenser.

      Another point: with my reflux still (home-built) I allow the temp to vary on its
      own. With a sugar-wash or when redistilling feints the column settles down around
      79-79.5oC, and stays there, producing 95%abv product. As the %abv begins to drop,
      the temp will begin to rise on its own. In a future posting I will include a
      couple of graphs from my notebook, showing this relationship. Whatever - the
      important point is that the column temp stops around 78-79oC and there one obtains
      most of the ethanol.
      John V

      Lynne wrote:

      > At 10:30 PM 5/26/02 +0000, ?Andrew?Janice wrote:
      > >O.K.
      > >I have a still spirits 5L reflux still.
      > >I do take off the first 50ml (or the head).
      > >I distill at 85 degrees. The minute I can't hold it at below 92
      > >degrees, I turn it off.
      > It sounds to me as though you're following the instructions which come with
      > your still, and if this is the case my first piece of advice is to ignore
      > them, especially the bits that relate to temperature control. 85C is way
      > too high for distilling anything pleasantly drinkable and no amount of
      > filtering or flavouring will get rid of the bad taste/smell. For the
      > edification of others, I've copied below the sum total of Still's
      > instructions re temperature control with their units (taken from their .pdf
      > document which is freely available from their website). Note in
      > particular para. 9, where they basically say "just go for it but don't let
      > the temp get over 92C". Been there, done that with the first ever run,
      > following Still's instructions to the letter (I have one of their 25L
      > reflux units) - distilled at 88C and produced 4 litres of 70% 'metho'
      > (although I thought it smelt/tasted more like
      > diesel). Revamping/expanding their instructions would be a good PR
      > exercise for Still, imho.
      > My very basic, unscientific advice is to increase the cooling water rate
      > (400ml/minute isn't near enough) until your temp. stabilises at 78-80C - no
      > more. As soon as the temp starts to rise, swap collections containers,
      > and keep anything you collect after that for throwing in with your next
      > run. It will take longer to collect your metho-free alcohol (which will
      > be more than 70%abv), but the end result is worth the effort. If water
      > consumption is a problem for you (obviously you will use a lot more), you
      > may need to look at rigging up some means of recycling it as it comes off
      > the still. Fortunately it's a free commodity in NZ.
      > Cheers
      > Lynne
      > <quote>
      > 6. The more cooling water that flows through the condenser the lower the
      > temperature in the reflux column, this will show on the thermometer. The
      > temperature of your water also influences the amount you need (i.e. In
      > summer you may need more water than in winter when the water is cooler).
      > 7. The slower the cooling water flows through the condenser, the higher the
      > temperature will rise producing a faster flow of spirit. Running the
      > cooling water at less than 400 mls per minute may result in the lid pushing
      > off. If you run more than 500 mls of cooling water through the condenser
      > then this will slow the process down.
      > 8. Repeat steps 1 - 8 with the other 4 batches of 5 litres that you have
      > fermented. With each subsequent batch you can add the 50 mls of head
      > collected from the batch prior, along with the 5 litres of wash, to the
      > still. If you do this you can increase the quantity of condensate
      > collected to 800 mls. After the last 5 litre batch has been run, discard
      > the 50 mls head. Remember that you have extracted the alcohol so the rest
      > of the wash contains fermentation byproducts and water and should be discarded.
      > 9. The thermometer temperature will slowly rise as the alcohol is boiled
      > off. Should the temperature exceed 92 o C and you have not collected the
      > full amount of distillate then increase the flow of water through the
      > condenser to hold the temperature at 92 o C. If the flow slows down
      > substantially then this would indicate that there is no more alcohol left
      > in the wash and that it is time to stop collecting.
      > </quote>
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