Re: Still improvement question
How much distillate did you collect ?
You have a very small boiler. A 4 liter wash at 10% will give you
only 0.4 liter 80% (= what you measured). And for you, this is a
theoretical, since there isn't much to control the reflux in your
column. Towards the end of the distillation you need much increased
reflux to get some purity. As Peter advises, trim the heat input to
the very minimum when you have a boil. This will give the highest
natural reflux possible with your set-up. And indeed when you
redistill,there is no need to dilute the distillate: it makes you
just run in circles.
See also Tony's site:
> Ok.....New Question...... I've just run the still with thestill
> improvements Dirk suggested and the longer fully packed column. It
> ran with a head temp at around 79 - 80oC for most of the run,
> increasing gradually towards the end but never over 88 or so. How
> come I still got a distilate of only 50% average?
> I was measuring alcohol percentage every 60 mils or so and the best
> was the first at just under 80%. The rest were lower, dropping
> proportionally throughout the run even though the head temp was
> around 80 degrees for most of the run. I thought with the headtemp
> around there I should be looking at about 90%. What am I not
> understanding correctly??
> Thanks in advance
- Thanks for the response Peter,
Alcometer reads zero in water - heven't got anything to check the top
end with. With my limited experience it does taste like 50%
> if the power is low enough it will have sufficientThat's what I was hoping.
> internal reflux for a pure distillate.
I'm collecting at under 10ml/minute. Haven't worked it out exactly.
The main reason I diluted my already collected alcohol down to 10%
for these test runs is becasue I'm guessing that's about the strength
of wash I'll be using once I distill some real stuff. Basically I
wanted the still to run as close to what it will with a real wash.
> try blowing through your column to see if it is packedI do that each time I assemble the column and it's always flowed fine.
> too tightly.
> how are you measuring the percentage of such small amounts?I put the alcometer in a test tube, hold the test tube under the
condenser outlet with a magic arm, once I collect enough to get a
reading I note it and tip the contents of the test tube into a jar
then start refilling the test tube again. Time consuming and tedious
but accurate I suspect.
- Thanks again Dirk,
> How much distillate did you collect ?About 400ml at an average of 50%. I could have gone longer and got
more out of it but when it got to producing at about 15%, I stopped it
for the day.
> And indeed when you redistill,there is no need to dilute theYea, I realise that in the real world, if I'm after best product, I
> distillate: it makes you just run in circles.
wouldn't do that but as I explained to Peter, I'm assuming that when I
do a run with a real wash I'll be starting with something at about 10%
so I wanted to simulate that situation.
That's why I raised the question earlier about why with a head temp of
80 degrees am I still only getting 50% alcohol output.
- the theory and temps you say all add up to you having good distillate
especially running under 10ml/min even with no forced reflux it
should be better. does the distillate taste nice? what is its smell
more technical stuff to check.
1 is the thermometer accurate? try it in boiling water.
2 is the probe reading temperature in the right place in the column?
it should be ideally placed right where the take off tube is.
3 does the probe need a certain portion to be covered? many glass and
digital thermometers need a certain lenght to be exposed to the
temperature. many digital probes have their devices 1/3 the way up.
this can be checked by putting the tip in boiling water to see if you
4 is there a possible hole in your condenser side letting water
trickle into your distillate. this can easily happen and is hard to
spot with a worm type condenser like yours. at such low take offs it
will add up even if it is just a few drops. try removing the worm
from the barrel, turn the still upside down and try to fill it
entirely with water to spot any leaks, plug up the outlet.
another way to check would be to accurately measure 1 litre of water
and distill it until the still is totally dry, then simply measure
what came out and see if it is over a litre
--- In new_distillers@y..., "Dene Oehme" <waterline@o...> wrote:
> Thanks again Dirk,
> > How much distillate did you collect ?
> About 400ml at an average of 50%. I could have gone longer and got
> more out of it but when it got to producing at about 15%, I stopped
> for the day.
> > And indeed when you redistill,there is no need to dilute the
> > distillate: it makes you just run in circles.
> Yea, I realise that in the real world, if I'm after best product, I
> wouldn't do that but as I explained to Peter, I'm assuming that
> do a run with a real wash I'll be starting with something at about
> so I wanted to simulate that situation.
> > http://homedistiller.org/theory.htm#strong
> I've been going by that graph for my assumptions regarding
> That's why I raised the question earlier about why with a head temp
> 80 degrees am I still only getting 50% alcohol output.
- 1) Alcoholmeter - you can check higher alcohol ranges by dropping the
alcoholmeter into a bottle of wine, and into a bottle of vodka. The latter
should give you a credible reading for 42%abv.
2) Leaky condenser - that suggestion is a good one. Try turning on the
condenser water lines, without any heat. Can you isolate the condenser? And
watch for water coming from the drain spout. (Which it should not.)
It appears that your heat power is too high. try running the still with a spacers between the hot plate and the pot. you may want to use machine nuts. if it works out then you will have to think how to control input power for your heating element. i am so happy i use natural gas.
deno752002 <waterline@...> wrote:
I've given my new still a few more runs. I am finding it difficult if
not impossible to get the still to run with the column head
temperature below 90 degrees C.
On the last run it stayed at about 93 degrees pretty well the whole
time untill the run was finished and I wound up with distilate at
55% which matches Tony's graph for vapour alcohol content.
I want to get the percentage in the distillate up a bit - more
like an easily achievable 80% for which I would need a column head
vapour temp of about the mid 80s. (Am I basiccally correct
At the moment my column is 2" by 2 feet high with scrubbers for 18
inches in it. Would lengething the height of the column by 380mm (15
inches) and adding another foot or so of scrubbers allow it to run
with a cooler head vapour temp?
If not I might just have to make an internal reflux coil for it after
Any suggestions most welcome.
There is a photo of the still in it's current form at;
Thanks in advance
getctat the top of the column
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