Re: [new_distillers] my spirit smells like metho
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.
> At 10:30 PM 5/26/02 +0000, ?Andrew?Janice wrote:--
> >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.
> 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.
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