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Re: Beginner Questions

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  • air_lock84
    I have also uploaded a picture if it helps at all. The lyne arm and tubing have been cut down much shorter since this picture was taken. The tube is only
    Message 1 of 18 , Dec 3, 2012
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      I have also uploaded a picture if it helps at all. The lyne arm and tubing have been cut down much shorter since this picture was taken. The tube is only about 6 inches now. The photo album is titled "My Setup" if you would like to see.

      --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "air_lock84" <dboogie230@...> wrote:
      >
      > Hey Guys,
      > I have given distilling a few tries and I'm having some issues that I can't seem to work out. My still is constructed out of a stainless stock pot and a stainless mixing bowl that luckily had the exact same diameter as the pot. The rims of each fit perfectly and I just use vice grip pliers to hold them together. Out of the top, I have a ½ inch copper tube going vertical for about 2 inches then goose necking down at about a 70 degree angle. This leads to my condenser. I cut out a small section of the copper leading to my condenser and replaced it with clear vinyl tubing so I can monitor my output visually. Also, I have my thermometer installed right next to where my goose neck connects to the top of the still.
      > What I am struggling with is that between 78 C and about 86 C degrees I am getting little to no output at all. And if I go any higher than that, I get a completely cloudy product. I realize that I am measuring vapor temperatures at the top instead of liquid temperatures at the bottom. Is this incorrect? Could it be the vinyl that is causing the cloudy product or is it the high temperature? I thought that the reason I am getting little to no output at lower temperatures is because my pot is too exposed and not sufficiently insulated causing too much condensing internally before the vapors can reach my condenser. Could this be the problem?
      > Thanks for your help,
      > A Newbie
      >
    • tgfoitwoods
      You re very welcome, Paul. As for your still-filling questions, a couple of things. On a strip run, I usually keep distilling until my total aggregate ABV is
      Message 2 of 18 , Dec 3, 2012
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        You're very welcome, Paul.

        As for your still-filling questions, a couple of things. On a strip run, I usually keep distilling until my total aggregate ABV is roughly 50%. It's not that that number is important in itself, but in flavored spirits, often much of the flavor is way into the tails, so when stripping, I collect a lot of tails. I stop stripping at 98C or 99C head temperature. I understand that this alone won't solve you problem, so let me tell you what most/many of us do.

        We will strip 3 or 4 batches, add all the low wines together, dilute the resulting low wines to ~27% ABV (for maximum flavor extraction) and then do a spirit run with those collected low wines. You'll get a nice slow progression of the fractions with all that ethanol in the boiler, so you'll have plenty of time to separate the fractions for later cut-making.

        I'll admit I've not done it, but some stillers recommend building a reflux still, which is designed to remove all the flavor, and then cripple it by pulling out packing and dialing the reflux ratio way down, so they can get most of the flavor of a potstill. To my crooked thinking, this seems like buying a Formula 1 Lotus, and pulling most of the sparkplugs out so you can drive it in the supermarket parking lot.

        Looking at it the other way, many commercial whiskey distillers use plates and column stills to produce their main whiskeys, but for the highest price, they'll sell you the best stuff...distilled on potstills. And the best Scotch whisky makers don't even bother with anything but potstills. I've held some blind tasting bourbon evaluations, and one of my bourbons beat out all but one of 6 well-known, high-end bourbons, all produced on column reflux stills. For full-flavored whiskeys, rums, and brandies, I won't say it's impossible to match a potstill, but except for saving time and money and increasing production, I always figured, why bother?

        I'm not interested in any of that stuff, just making the best sipping liquor I can.

        Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller Making Fine Spirits
        --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "GGB" <self.adhesive@...> wrote:
        >
        > "tgfoitwoods" zymurgybob@ wrote: "It sounds like you have two separate problems, or more accurately one misconception and one problem."
        >
        > ZB, thank you for that explanation. May I add a question of my own please, as a rank beginner?
        >
        > I have a 50-litre keg, which must be about 13+ USG, which I thought I'd "make into a still."
        >
        > But if I stick to 20 litre washes, the still will be 3/5 empty for a stripping run. Then if my wash is 16% and my stripping run produces 70% ABV, that only gives me 5L to distill on the second run ie the still will be 9/10 empty.
        >
        > Do others come up against these choices? I'm not much of a drinker but like the chemistry and physics involved, so it looks like I will have to find a smaller boiler.
        >
        > What would you recommend in the way of boiler size?
        >
        > At the same time I have assembled materials to make a three-foot reflux still but from what you are saying that seems to be overkill if a pot still is the best way to start out.
        >
        > Some of the literature talks about managing a reflux tower to make cuts and do the same work as a pot still. Any comments along these lines also please?
        >
        > Much obliged for your time and thoughts.
        > Paul
        >
      • air_lock84
        How high should the vertical leg rise before the bend is made? And what diameter should i go up to for reducing velocity? I also picked up a compression
        Message 3 of 18 , Dec 4, 2012
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          How high should the vertical leg rise before the bend is made? And what diameter should i go up to for reducing velocity?

          I also picked up a compression coupling to replace the clear tube in case that is why i have a cloudy product or if it produces some unwanted flavors.





          --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "derick881" <derick881@...> wrote:
          >
          > There are three things that strike me about your still design that could
          > contribute to your milky distillate problem. #1 is the short vertical
          > leg coming off the top of your still. This could make it easier for
          > solids to "puke" over and make it into the condensing leg. #2 the 1/2"
          > diameter of your short vertical leg will increase the velocity of the
          > vapors allowing for more carry over of solids.#3 If you are having to
          > raise the temperature of your wash to a higher that desirable level this
          > will also raise the level of boiling inside the kettle and contribute
          > to carry over problems. Experienced distillers always preach Low and
          > Slow to achieve the best product.
          > --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "andyrud3" <andyrud@> wrote:
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "tgfoitwoods" zymurgybob@
          > wrote:
          > > >Special thanks for that information tgfoitwoods, my still would never
          > start dripping at the temperatures the books said it should. I always
          > needed to increase the temp more in order to get it to start producing.
          > I always worried my still wasn't working right. Your explanation was
          > great!!
          > >
          > > Thanks again,
          > >
          > > Andy
          > >
          > >
          > > > Airlock,
          > > >
          > > > It sounds like you have two separate problems, or more accurately
          > one
          > > > misconception and one problem.
          > > >
          > > > First off, the misconception. To make the still work, you must boil
          > the
          > > > liquid in the boiler, and the temperature at which that liquid boils
          > > > (assuming an ethanol/water mixture, which is close to what we have)
          > is
          > > > determined solely by the percentage of ethanol in that mixture. If
          > your
          > > > boiler were filled with pure ethanol, it would boil at ~78C, and you
          > > > would get distillate coming over at that head temperature (ignoring
          > > > small heat losses from your wash to you thermometer location).
          > > >
          > > > Because you wash is almost certainly not pure ethanol, you should
          > not
          > > > expect the wash to boil as low as 78C. For example, if your wash was
          > 10%
          > > > ABV (a realistic number), then you should not expect it to boil
          > until it
          > > > reaches ~93C, so at 93C, you should start seeing distillate.
          > > >
          > > > Here's a link to a chart that relates wash ABV to boiling
          > temperature
          > > > (the blue line) and vapor ABV to wash boiling temperature (the red
          > > > line).
          > > > http://www.kelleybarts.com/PhotoXfer/alcoholvaporCelsius.gif
          > > >
          > > > If you really were getting distillate at 86C, this chart tells me
          > that
          > > > your wash should be 29%ABV, which is probably too high for a simple
          > > > fermented wash.
          > > >
          > > > So long story short, you should see distillation (for a fermented
          > wash)
          > > > start at a head temperature of 91-95%ABV, and then slowly approach
          > 100C
          > > > as a limit.
          > > >
          > > > As for the cloudiness, unless you had puking through the condenser,
          > I'd
          > > > say that vinyl tubing is probably teh problem. From my experience,
          > it
          > > > will also make the distillate taste bad, to some extent.
          > > > --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "air_lock84" <dboogie230@>
          > > > wrote:
          > > > >
          > > > > Hey Guys,
          > > > > I have given distilling a few tries and I'm having some issues
          > that I
          > > > can't seem to work out. My still is constructed out of a stainless
          > > > stock pot and a stainless mixing bowl that luckily had the exact
          > same
          > > > diameter as the pot. The rims of each fit perfectly and I just use
          > vice
          > > > grip pliers to hold them together. Out of the top, I have a ½
          > inch
          > > > copper tube going vertical for about 2 inches then goose necking
          > down at
          > > > about a 70 degree angle. This leads to my condenser. I cut out a
          > small
          > > > section of the copper leading to my condenser and replaced it with
          > clear
          > > > vinyl tubing so I can monitor my output visually. Also, I have my
          > > > thermometer installed right next to where my goose neck connects to
          > the
          > > > top of the still.
          > > > > What I am struggling with is that between 78 C and about 86 C
          > degrees
          > > > I am getting little to no output at all. And if I go any higher
          > than
          > > > that, I get a completely cloudy product. I realize that I am
          > measuring
          > > > vapor temperatures at the top instead of liquid temperatures at the
          > > > bottom. Is this incorrect? Could it be the vinyl that is causing
          > the
          > > > cloudy product or is it the high temperature? I thought that the
          > reason
          > > > I am getting little to no output at lower temperatures is because my
          > pot
          > > > is too exposed and not sufficiently insulated causing too much
          > > > condensing internally before the vapors can reach my condenser.
          > Could
          > > > this be the problem?
          > > > > Thanks for your help,
          > > > > A Newbie
          > > > >
          > > >
          > >
          >
        • ballard_bootlegger
          That s a good question, I think I was picturing the vinyl tubing elsewhere in your system. If you can keep to copper connections between your still and
          Message 4 of 18 , Dec 4, 2012
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            That's a good question, I think I was picturing the vinyl tubing elsewhere in your system. If you can keep to copper connections between your still and condenser you will have several benefits. Flexible copper lines with compression or even Sharkbite push fittings will work great. Or you can just slide together hard copper pieces that are meant to be soldered and use a little stretch tight tape. The pressure should be low enough that the un-soldered union will work fine.

            --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "air_lock84" <dboogie230@...> wrote:
            >
            > Will the FDA approved beer lines hold up at those temperatures? To be honest i use the tubing not only to visually monitor output, but it gives me a very simple way to connect my still to my condenser without using any soldering or compression fittings.
          • M L
            I also use short pieces of clear tubing and hose clamps to connect copper lines, I butt them together so there is little or no contact with the alcohol as it
            Message 5 of 18 , Dec 4, 2012
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              I also use short pieces of clear tubing and hose clamps to connect copper lines, I butt them together so there is little or no contact with the alcohol as it flows through it.

              --- On Mon, 12/3/12, air_lock84 <dboogie230@...> wrote:

              From: air_lock84 <dboogie230@...>
              Subject: [new_distillers] Re: Beginner Questions
              To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Monday, December 3, 2012, 10:26 AM

               

              Will the FDA approved beer lines hold up at those temperatures? To be honest i use the tubing not only to visually monitor output, but it gives me a very simple way to connect my still to my condenser without using any soldering or compression fittings.

              --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "ballard_bootlegger" <meriwetherdistilleries@...> wrote:
              >
              > Hey Noob,
              > You seem to be doing what you need to for a basic distillation. Do you know the ABV of your wash? Often times at the end of the run or if for some reason your wash is short on alcohol you won't get much at the lower distillation temps. When you raise the temp to allow less volatile compounds to boil they may come through as cloudy or murky. I'd put my money on a lack of ethanol in the wash. Also I'd say get rid of that vinyl tubing as high alcohol, especially when warm, will eat right through that and you'll have a synthetic taste in your distillate. Stick to silicone or nitrile if available. If not, go with an FDA approved beer line from your local home brew shop or one of the great websites that are out there.
              >
              > Good luck and drink well!
              > W.
              >

            • derick881
              Several of the designs I have seen use a 12 rise before breaking over for a pot still.
              Message 6 of 18 , Dec 5, 2012
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                Several of the designs I have seen use a 12" rise before breaking over for a pot still.


                --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "air_lock84" <dboogie230@...> wrote:
                >
                > How high should the vertical leg rise before the bend is made? And what diameter should i go up to for reducing velocity?
                >
                > I also picked up a compression coupling to replace the clear tube in case that is why i have a cloudy product or if it produces some unwanted flavors.
                >
                >
              • GGB
                Thank you John Brase and Zymurgy Bob for your comments. I have picked up a 25 litre keg so maybe that will do away with the need to double up on batches. I had
                Message 7 of 18 , Dec 5, 2012
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                  Thank you John Brase and Zymurgy Bob for your comments.

                  I have picked up a 25 litre keg so maybe that will do away with the need to double up on batches.

                  I had thought that getting spirit as pure as possible would be the holy grail of distilling, but not so, it seems. Home brew shops here sell a lot of essences to flavour up clear spirit, that would seem to be cheating but convenient. I had read that pure spirit excludes a lot of the congeners that cause hangovers and perhaps that was why it seemed best to aim for pure spirit.

                  Bob, in respect of your explanation about vapour temperatures. - I understood that at sea level as long as ethanol was the primary vapour it would evaporate or boil at 78*C no matter what the pot temperature. I'll have to watch what happens when I finally do my strip run.

                  Best regards
                  Paul
                • GGB
                  Here s a suggestion from methanol recovery in biodiesel making. Not only insulate your riser but heat it. It could be that cold air is causing your ethanol
                  Message 8 of 18 , Dec 15, 2012
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                    Here's a suggestion from methanol recovery in biodiesel making. Not only insulate your riser but heat it. It could be that cold air is causing your ethanol vapor to condense in the rising tube and drop back down into the wash.

                    John Braze and Z.Bob, both your approaches are identical and now that I have studied the chart you referenced Z.Bob, I understand the vapour temperatures vs. %ABV better, thank you. It's to do with partial pressures.

                    Paul
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