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heads management and adding baking soda prior to distilling

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  • BOKAKOB
    My last distilling batch was an experiment for me. The first thing was that I separated heads in extremely small batches of 10mL each. The second was adding a
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 21, 2003
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      My last distilling batch was an experiment for me. The first thing was that I separated heads in extremely small batches of 10mL each. The second was adding a baking soda to 20 L sugar wash that I usually brew.

       

      Separating heads in 10mL batches.
      The first 10mL smelled like lots of phenol substances, almost like a commercial nail polish remover. The next ten take-offs smelled like esters in lesser and lesser progression. It was rather pleasant fruity flavor but I was not interested in it. The delay between batches was about 2 or 3 minutes for each because I took the measuring cylinder and walked out of my kitchen to the bathroom to smell the product. I guess that it is better to smell it without background flavor hints. After twentieth batch it was difficult to distinguish any strong smells of esters but a faint reminder of it, so to make sure I took off another 200mL in a separate bottle in a single continuous draw. The middle cut was 1.2 L of ethanol at 95%.

      The rest of the story is not so nice because I did not catch the tails in time. And here comes the second part of this post:

       

      Adding baking soda to the wash prior to distilling
      I added about 0.25 or 0.33 of cup to 20 L sugar wash. The first result was complete absence of nasty smells in tails. Not that it eliminated the cardboard taste. It was there for sure, but I did not get warning hints smelling the product in the process. The second result of adding baking soda was complete shut down of distillate production after all alcohol was distilled. The temperature sat at 78 degrees centigrade for the most part with a sharp spike at the end toward 85 then 96 degrees centigrade at the very end. Then distillate just stopped dripping. Nothing happened until I started to significantly increase the temperature. My estimate is that baking soda raised the boiling point of water solution.

      After warm distillate cooled I sniffed the separate 200mL bottle which followed after the heads. There was a very faint residue of esters in it but extremely manageable for consumption with fruit syrups. The next 1.2L middle cut has no flavors at all. Nothing� I tried to sniff blue label 200 proof Smirnoff and this 1.2L middle cut at 95% and could not detect anything. When I tried to smell it too close to the surface of the liquid it just hurt my nose of alcohol vapors.

      The other method I use determining any off flavors is to dissolve some rather large amount of sugar in a small portion of alcohol to achieve a syrupy density and smear this inside a glass. After that I pour sugar syrup and alcohol out and wait until the glass is completely dry. If there are some off flavors in it, they will be very pronounced in the dry glass with sugary leftovers on the walls. It works very well overnight.

       

      Here is a little math to conclude the experiment. Theoretically using 12% - 14% yeast presumable total alcohol in the 20L wash is 2.4L - 2.8L. Practical experiment showed this:
      200mL � discarded in 10mL batches
      200mL � collected separately prior to main cut
      1200mL � collected in main run
      700mL � tails with cardboard taste
      Total: 2300mL out of theoretical 2400 - 2800mL (close enough for me)

       

      So to conclude, separating heads in 10mL batches allowed me to establish a base line for my 20L washes. It also suggests separating the same amount as an assurance of main run purity. This amount can be redistilled with the next batch.

      Adding baking soda powder to the wash prior to distilling killed smells (not the taste) completely. I was surprised how well it worked. The second aspect was a definitive stop of distillation because of the higher boiling point of this solution.



      I can be wrong I must say.
      Cheers, Alex...



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    • BOKAKOB
      Oops, not 200 proof but 100 proof Smirnoff BOKAKOB wrote: … I tried to sniff blue label 200 proof Smirnoff and this 1.2L middle cut at
      Message 2 of 3 , Jan 21, 2003
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        Oops, not 200 proof but 100 proof Smirnoff

         BOKAKOB <bokakob@...> wrote:

        � I tried to sniff blue label 200 proof Smirnoff and this 1.2L middle cut at 95% and could not detect anything.



        I can be wrong I must say.
        Cheers, Alex...



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      • Ackland, Tony (CALNZAS)
        Alex - thanks for the feedback - some great learnings there. Tony
        Message 3 of 3 , Jan 21, 2003
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          Alex - thanks for the feedback - some great learnings there.
           
          Tony
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