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Very Strange First Run - HELP!

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  • Matthew DeLacey
    Hello All: I m hoping someone can help understand just what happened today. I did my first run. First of all, I ve got an all glass still. It s about a 2.5
    Message 1 of 18 , Apr 29 7:25 AM
      Hello All:

      I'm hoping someone can help understand just what
      happened today. I did my first run. First of all, I've
      got an all glass still. It's about a 2.5 foot column
      that goes up to a thermometer that measures the temp
      at the top of the column and then goes to a condenser
      that has a 45 degree angle toward the ground from the
      column. I use a gas burner.

      Anyway, I only have a 1 L boiler. I put it into a pot
      of water and then boil the pot of water because I
      don't want to heat the glass directly. I made 3 runs
      today:

      Run #1: OK, I heated for about 50 minutes. The temp
      stayed at 30 C for the whole time, then I walked away
      to do something for about 1 minute and came back and
      the temp was 70 degrees C. I wasn't prepared for this
      so I rushed into the house to get ice for the
      condenser bucket. When I got back it was at about 82
      C. I turned on the condenser and I started collecting
      immediately. I always tried to remove the first 10 mL
      for foreshots foir each run [i made 3 runs] (the wash
      I made was rum that fermented for 2 weeks, and at
      about 11 days, gas seemed to have stopped being
      produced...I used all molasses, and had hoped to get
      about 7-8% alcohol in my wash, but it could have been
      as little as 4 and I didn't measure). So I would
      estimate that I collected approximately 40 mL of
      alcohol from the first run. It smelled just like
      molasses. THE STRANGE THING WAS: the temp went up to
      85, but then as I was collecting, it slowly creeped
      down. It kept going down to about 70 when I stopped
      collecting. There was still a BUNCH of wash in the
      boiler. I had expected the temp to RISE. I had planned
      to collect to 91-93 C based on a recipe by Tony. But
      the water the boiler was in was in a ROLLING boil, and
      it was staying a consistent temp (about 205 F). Can't
      figure why temp dropped.

      Run #2 was the same wash. It went about the same
      except I think perhaps I only collected about 20mL and
      I even collected until it got down to 65 C. Got the
      same nice smell, but also a little bit of something
      not-so-nice. I think I collected too much.

      The third batch was the same wash. I collected perhaps
      10 mL (again, it's a 1L batch). Same thing happened.
      This time I had started my condenser a little sooner
      and the temp never even got up to 78 before it started
      dropping. Normally, the temp at the head hung at about
      76.5 - 77 for a while before it started dropping. This
      batch just started dropping as soon as I turned on the
      condenser water. But I know it's not that because I
      had done that in the previous batches. I've read a lot
      of stuff, and have NEVER read about the temp at the
      head dropping....the max temp it reached tonight was
      about 85....can someone explain ANY of this to me.
      VERY STRANGE.

      I have read for about 6 months for before this, and
      haven't ever read about this kind of behavior.

      All 3 runs were done back to back.

      ANY suggestions would be welcome. I was EXTREMELY
      disappointed with the yield, although it sure smells
      like heaven.



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    • peter_vcb
      i put some of your figures into Tonys calculators. if it took 50 mins to heat 1 litre of wash you are running at only 100W, which is very low. is the column
      Message 2 of 18 , Apr 29 9:14 AM
        i put some of your figures into Tonys calculators.

        if it took 50 mins to heat 1 litre of wash you are running at only
        100W, which is very low.

        is the column insulated? if not you are probably loosing all your
        heat to the surroundings, so all your vapour is condensing before it
        reaches the head.

        i suggest using vegetable oil instead of water to get a better
        temperature difference between the pot and glass and wash. you could
        also place the boiler in a saucepan and fill it with sand to get a
        nice even heat on the boiler.

        what collection times were you getting? how many ml per minute?

        Peter
      • leanmattie
        Thanks for the reply. I think I was at MUCH higher than 100W. I am using a gas tank, and have it cranked up pretty high. I had my little 1 L boiler in a bowl
        Message 3 of 18 , Apr 29 9:28 AM
          Thanks for the reply. I think I was at MUCH higher than 100W. I am
          using a gas tank, and have it cranked up pretty high. I had my little
          1 L boiler in a bowl of water that was probably approximately 1.5
          gallons. The strange thing is, I was still collecting as the
          temperature was dropping! There was stuff coming out down to about
          65 C!!! It stopped then.

          Can you explain to me the pros/cons of using the vegetable oil and/or
          the sand? My still isn't actually glass, it's Pyrex I believe. Do
          you think there is any danger of cracking the boiler if I use
          either? My still is not insulated, but the thing is, I have the heat
          cranked up at the bottom, at some point, the heat at the top of the
          column just TAKES OFF! The temp being applied to the boiler stays
          constant, but somewhere between 70 - 85, the temp at the top of the
          column starts dropping and I'm still collecting!? I've done a very
          simple calibration of my temperature probe and know that it's in the
          ballpark. This just doesn't make sense to me.


          Also, can anyone help me understand how to measure the POTENTIAL
          alcohol that could be in my wsh if all the sugars convert. I have a
          hygrometer, but I was making rum, and couldn't get all the molasses
          to go into solution immediately, so my initial reading was MUCH, MUCH
          lower than I know it truly was.




          --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "peter_vcb"
          <viciousblackout@y...> wrote:
          > i put some of your figures into Tonys calculators.
          >
          > if it took 50 mins to heat 1 litre of wash you are running at only
          > 100W, which is very low.
          >
          > is the column insulated? if not you are probably loosing all your
          > heat to the surroundings, so all your vapour is condensing before
          it
          > reaches the head.
          >
          > i suggest using vegetable oil instead of water to get a better
          > temperature difference between the pot and glass and wash. you
          could
          > also place the boiler in a saucepan and fill it with sand to get a
          > nice even heat on the boiler.
          >
          > what collection times were you getting? how many ml per minute?
          >
          > Peter
        • Harley Daschund
          Sounds like you are bringing the heat up the column too fast....measure the heat at the bottom of the column,a couple of inches above the boiler...as soon as
          Message 4 of 18 , Apr 29 11:02 AM
            Sounds like you are bringing the heat up the column too fast....measure the
            heat at the bottom of the column,a couple of inches above the boiler...as
            soon as the column heats up,reduce power to the point where the heat
            continues (move the thermometer up a few inches at a time) up the column,v
            e r y slowly..the main problem is probably the slow temp change due to the
            water not responding very quickly to a reduction of power....never let the
            temp get so high that you have to reduce it...this requires a fair amount of
            skill,knowledge of how your still operates,time and patience...good
            luck...:>)

            >From: "leanmattie" <leanmattie@...>
            >Subject: [new_distillers] Re: Very Strange First Run - HELP!

            >
            >Thanks for the reply. I think I was at MUCH higher than 100W. I am
            >using a gas tank, and have it cranked up pretty high. I had my little


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          • Ackland, Tony (CALNZAS)
            ... Is the column packed, or empty ? Is it insulated ? Sounds like you re getting some reflux on the column walls (increasing the purity, dropping the temp),
            Message 5 of 18 , Apr 29 1:12 PM
              > got an all glass still. It's about a 2.5 foot column
              > that goes up to a thermometer

              Is the column packed, or empty ?
              Is it insulated ?

              Sounds like you're getting some reflux on the column walls (increasing the purity, dropping the temp), during the initial phase, and then just going into total reflux (so you collect nothing) due to excessive wall cooling.

              Tony
            • leanmattie
              Thanks for replying. I was trying to make your rum :) The column is not packed. The column is not insulated explicitly. SHould it be? I could also reduce
              Message 6 of 18 , Apr 29 1:56 PM
                Thanks for replying. I was trying to make your rum :)

                The column is not packed. The column is not insulated explicitly.
                SHould it be? I could also reduce the length of the column, but I do
                want some reflux happening, it's just that this is ridiculous! Yes,
                since it's glass, I can see that there is a lot of reflux happening
                in the column. Will insulating it help this? What else can I do?


                Thanks a lot.

                --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Ackland, Tony (CALNZAS)"
                <Tony.Ackland@c...> wrote:
                > > got an all glass still. It's about a 2.5 foot column
                > > that goes up to a thermometer
                >
                > Is the column packed, or empty ?
                > Is it insulated ?
                >
                > Sounds like you're getting some reflux on the column walls
                (increasing the purity, dropping the temp), during the initial phase,
                and then just going into total reflux (so you collect nothing) due to
                excessive wall cooling.
                >
                > Tony
              • Mike Nixon
                Matthew DeLacey wrote: Subject: [new_distillers] Very Strange First Run - HELP! Summary: Matthew has an all glass column about 2.5 ft long with a thermometer
                Message 7 of 18 , Apr 29 6:30 PM
                  Matthew DeLacey wrote:
                  Subject: [new_distillers] Very Strange First Run - HELP!
                  Summary: 
                  Matthew has an all glass column about 2.5 ft long with a thermometer at the top.  This column is attached to a 1 liter wash container which sits in a water bath heated by a gas burner.  His condenser runs down from the top of the column at a 45 degree angle and sounds as though it is simple coil or tube cooled by iced water (?).  He is distilling rum from fermented molasses.
                  He's done 3 runs, and has been startled by the way the temperature has varied at the top of the column.
                  In the first run, he heated for 50 minutes and the temperature stayed at 30C.  A minute later it rose to 70C, and a little later to 82C.
                  At this time he started to cool the condenser and started to collect a product.
                  The temperature then rose to 80C, but then began to creep down until it reached 70C and he stopped collecting.
                  Subsequent runs differed slightly, but essentially followed the same pattern
                   
                  Hope I got that right!
                   
                  Now ... can you please add a few details to that please Matthew.
                  What was the ambient room temperature?
                  Is your glass column packed with anything, and if so, what?
                  What diameter is your column?
                  Is your column insulated against heat loss?
                  Do you take everything that reaches the top of the column and pass it through the condenser, or do you have a cooling tube or coil at the top to provide some deliberate reflux?
                  Did you measure the SG of your mix before and after fermentation and, if so, what were the readings?
                  Have you measured the % abv of your product?  If you have no spirit hydrometer, will a little of the product burn in a spoon?
                  More detail on your condenser please.
                   
                  Need those details before any sensible answer can be offered.
                   
                  Mike N
                   
                • Ackland, Tony (CALNZAS)
                  ... Insulating it will prevent some of the reflux from forming, and hence give you a lower purity result / higher temperature at the head. If too much reflux
                  Message 8 of 18 , Apr 29 6:31 PM
                    > Will insulating it help this? What else can I do?

                    Insulating it will prevent some of the reflux from forming, and hence give you a lower purity result / higher temperature at the head. If too much reflux is happening (eg total reflux occuring), then maybe try insulating just a small portion of it.

                    Re-reading your post though, it doesnt sound like thats the problem. Your concern is the dropping temperature - dont worry about that - its just the reflux working to increase the purity. Its hard to know how much you should be expecting to collect - if only 4% abv from 1L, then 40mL is not a lot to experiment with. Are you willing to experiment say with a bottle of cheap vodka at 40%, just to be able to experiment and see whats going on ? 750 mL at 40% will give you 300 mL to collect (and no worries about removing the heads). You may see the temperature finally stabilise, rather than dropping all the way.

                    Tony
                  • leanmattie
                    I m very grateful to you for taking the time to help me. Your description was very good except that I would add that for each additional run, I collected less
                    Message 9 of 18 , Apr 29 8:19 PM
                      I'm very grateful to you for taking the time to help me. Your
                      description was very good except that I would add that for each
                      additional run, I collected less and less, and the 3rd run it was not
                      much at all. Also, I'd add that even though I stopped collecting, I
                      watched the temp continue to drop into the 50's (C). I was so
                      confused as I've never read about this.

                      I'll try to answer each of your questions:
                      1.) Room temp approx 85 F.
                      2.) Column is not packed with anything.
                      3.) Diameter of column is approx 1/2 inch.
                      4.) My column was not insulated per se (although I DID insulate
                      tonight and run some of the same wash...see below). I use glass
                      condensers for the column. One of them looks like this:
                      http://www.lab-glass.com/prodart/ML555.gif

                      and the other looks a bit like this:

                      http://www.lab-glass.com/prodart/ML600.gif

                      They are stacked one on the other, and I just don't use them as
                      condensers. So, they ARE insulated in a way, by the air and the
                      glass of the jacket. Does that make sense?


                      5.) In terms of condensing, I have a condenser like the first one I
                      showed you, but it's about 2 feet long, and I pump cold water through
                      it to condense. I don't have anything special at the head for reflux,
                      just the thermometer, and then off to the real condenser.

                      6.) I tried measuring SG of my wash before I started, and then I was
                      going to measure when I finished (which I did, and it was at 1.00 or
                      just below, so I think it fully fermented), but I couldn't get the
                      molasses to all mix well it seemed, so I didn't believe in my
                      readings. I used 2 355mL jars of high quality mollasses in 1 gallon
                      of distilled water, and pitched packet of yeast, and let it ferment
                      for 1 week.

                      7.) Have not measured % abv of final product. The volume is so low!
                      I can try the burn test and let you know. My sense is that it is
                      VERY high %, BUT it smells VERY strongly of mollases and tastes VERY
                      sweet, so maybe not, but does seem very volatile and sort of dries
                      the tongue.


                      It was recommended earlier today that I might try to insulate my
                      column. I did tonight, using same wash. Got PRETTY much the same
                      results, except it went up to about 78 C and stayed there while I
                      collected VERY ROUGHLY 50 mL, then slowly dropped (and I was playing
                      with the gas burner, because I noticed as the temp was going up
                      initially, sometimes when I lowered the gas, the temp went up,
                      presumably because of less reflux) no matter what I tried it kept
                      dropping, so I quit when it got to about 60 C.

                      I noted that there seems to be some correlation between temperature
                      maintenance and water. You know, as I'm cooking for an hour or an
                      hour and change, a lot of water evaporates (water that I am boiling
                      the glass boiler in). It seems like I still have PLENTY of water in
                      there, but as that water level drops, so does my ability to maintain
                      temp at the head it seems.

                      Someone today recommended I heat the boiler in sand, rather than
                      water (they also recommended oil, but I'd rather find something else,
                      if possible, because of the mess factor). I think I might give that
                      a go Thursday. I'm a little concerned that it won't get hot enough,
                      or that it will crack my boiler, but right now, it's just not
                      working. I was hoping to follow Tony's recipe and collect to about
                      91-93 or so...but my temp has NEVER gotten over 85, and never over
                      about 78 unless my condenser is not on.

                      Thanks for listening. I'm very grateful.

                      With Respect,

                      Mattie
                    • leanmattie
                      Tony: Thanks much. I will try the vodka next week. Great idea! The only thing is, you said not to worry about the dropping temps as they were just reflux.
                      Message 10 of 18 , Apr 29 8:22 PM
                        Tony:

                        Thanks much. I will try the vodka next week. Great idea! The only
                        thing is, you said not to worry about the dropping temps as they were
                        just reflux. I'm not sure that's what is going on. I mean, the temp
                        just keeps falling and falling. It doesn't appear to recover
                        either. It will go down to 60C and lower I believe. I've never gone
                        above 78C except the first time when I wasn't expecting the temp to
                        shoot up so darn fast!


                        With Respect,

                        Mattie


                        --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Ackland, Tony (CALNZAS)"
                        <Tony.Ackland@c...> wrote:
                        > > Will insulating it help this? What else can I do?
                        >
                        > Insulating it will prevent some of the reflux from forming, and
                        hence give you a lower purity result / higher temperature at the
                        head. If too much reflux is happening (eg total reflux occuring),
                        then maybe try insulating just a small portion of it.
                        >
                        > Re-reading your post though, it doesnt sound like thats the
                        problem. Your concern is the dropping temperature - dont worry about
                        that - its just the reflux working to increase the purity. Its hard
                        to know how much you should be expecting to collect - if only 4% abv
                        from 1L, then 40mL is not a lot to experiment with. Are you willing
                        to experiment say with a bottle of cheap vodka at 40%, just to be
                        able to experiment and see whats going on ? 750 mL at 40% will give
                        you 300 mL to collect (and no worries about removing the heads). You
                        may see the temperature finally stabilise, rather than dropping all
                        the way.
                        >
                        > Tony
                      • Ackland, Tony (CALNZAS)
                        This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you
                        Message 11 of 18 , Apr 29 8:42 PM
                          This email and any files transmitted with it are
                          confidential and intended solely for the use of
                          the individual or entity to whom they are addressed.
                          If you have received this email in error, please
                          notify the sender immediately and delete the email.
                          > I'm not sure that's what is going on. I mean, the temp
                          > just keeps falling and falling. It doesn't appear to recover
                          > either. It will go down to 60C and lower I believe.

                          You're right - that is very strange.

                          Is the thermometer insulated from the column ? Eg is there some way possibly it could be touching a bit of glass being cooled by the condenser ?

                          Tony
                        • leanmattie
                          That is a good question, I will have to make certain that is not the case. Here is some like my setup (sorry, I m not an artist), so I don t think the
                          Message 12 of 18 , Apr 29 9:00 PM
                            That is a good question, I will have to make certain that is not the
                            case. Here is some like my setup (sorry, I'm not an artist), so I
                            don't think the condenser would effect the thermometers reading
                            signficantly, even if the therm was touching the wall. Plus, it
                            wouldn't explain why the temp staye steady for 10-15 minutes or so at
                            about 78 and THEN started dropping. The more I think about it, the
                            more I wonder if it wasn't somehow related to the amount of water
                            heating the boiler. It seems like as the amount of water heating the
                            boiler diminished, the temp dropped, but I sure don't understand why
                            that would be so.


                            With Respect,

                            Mattie

                            --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Ackland, Tony \(CALNZAS\)"
                            <Tony.Ackland@c...> wrote:
                            > This email and any files transmitted with it are
                            > confidential and intended solely for the use of
                            > the individual or entity to whom they are addressed.
                            > If you have received this email in error, please
                            > notify the sender immediately and delete the email.
                            > > I'm not sure that's what is going on. I mean, the temp
                            > > just keeps falling and falling. It doesn't appear to recover
                            > > either. It will go down to 60C and lower I believe.
                            >
                            > You're right - that is very strange.
                            >
                            > Is the thermometer insulated from the column ? Eg is there some
                            way possibly it could be touching a bit of glass being cooled by the
                            condenser ?
                            >
                            > Tony
                          • peter_vcb
                            Mattie, you havent mentioned the time it took for collection. how many ml per minute will give us an idea of your power levels. like Tony said you must check
                            Message 13 of 18 , Apr 30 2:38 AM
                              Mattie,
                              you havent mentioned the time it took for collection. how many ml per
                              minute will give us an idea of your power levels. like Tony said you
                              must check your thermometer position and check it is working
                              correctly, it should be directly in the vapour path.
                              you say "but my temp has NEVER gotten over 85, and never over about
                              78 unless my condenser is not on." it still seems to me you are
                              running at low power. if you are at a very low power then your
                              condenser will have time to draw heat away from the column and cause
                              total reflux, if you have lots of water in the pot it will stop this
                              unwanted cooling to some degree. try to lower your condensing water
                              flow rate so the distillate coming out is still slightly warm. do you
                              keep adding cold water to your boiling pan? this will of course cause
                              problems. i mentioned using oil which will give a much larger
                              temperature difference and hence heat the water quicker. you are
                              heating something to about 95C with heat source of 100C max if you
                              are heating something to 95C with a heat source at 150C it will be
                              quicker, make sense? oil is a fire hazard. sand will give the flask
                              support and even heating but it will always take a long time for your
                              power changes to take effect, oil wont evaporate, nor sand! if you
                              add sugar to the boiling water it will raise its boiling temp too.
                              your recipie seems very low in potential alcohol how much did the
                              molasses weigh? one recipie on Tonys site is 4kg sugar and 4kg
                              molasses for 20litres, i think that is a bit much but yours seems
                              very low.

                              Peter


                              --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "leanmattie" <leanmattie@y...>
                              wrote:
                              > That is a good question, I will have to make certain that is not
                              the
                              > case. Here is some like my setup (sorry, I'm not an artist), so I
                              > don't think the condenser would effect the thermometers reading
                              > signficantly, even if the therm was touching the wall. Plus, it
                              > wouldn't explain why the temp staye steady for 10-15 minutes or so
                              at
                              > about 78 and THEN started dropping. The more I think about it, the
                              > more I wonder if it wasn't somehow related to the amount of water
                              > heating the boiler. It seems like as the amount of water heating
                              the
                              > boiler diminished, the temp dropped, but I sure don't understand
                              why
                              > that would be so.
                              >
                              >
                              > With Respect,
                              >
                              > Mattie
                              >
                              > --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Ackland, Tony \(CALNZAS\)"
                              > <Tony.Ackland@c...> wrote:
                              > > This email and any files transmitted with it are
                              > > confidential and intended solely for the use of
                              > > the individual or entity to whom they are addressed.
                              > > If you have received this email in error, please
                              > > notify the sender immediately and delete the email.
                              > > > I'm not sure that's what is going on. I mean, the temp
                              > > > just keeps falling and falling. It doesn't appear to recover
                              > > > either. It will go down to 60C and lower I believe.
                              > >
                              > > You're right - that is very strange.
                              > >
                              > > Is the thermometer insulated from the column ? Eg is there some
                              > way possibly it could be touching a bit of glass being cooled by
                              the
                              > condenser ?
                              > >
                              > > Tony
                            • leanmattie
                              Peter: Thanks for taking the time to respond. I ll try to answer your questions: 1.) ml/min is tough since I don t have a good way to accurately measure mLs.
                              Message 14 of 18 , Apr 30 8:32 AM
                                Peter:


                                Thanks for taking the time to respond. I'll try to answer your
                                questions:

                                1.) ml/min is tough since I don't have a good way to accurately
                                measure mLs. I'd give a very rough guess of about 50mL in 10 or 15
                                minutes. It seemed to be about a drop to two drops per second when
                                it was going at it's fastest, and maybe a drop every two or three
                                seconds slowest, and any slower and it stopped, and the temp dropped.

                                2.) I still have a hard time believing it's a power issue, because I
                                have no problem pushing the temp up to 78 or so, it's just that I
                                push it up there, collect some, and then the temp plummets. Also, I
                                have observed that SOMETIMES, I can reduce the gas, and the temp at
                                the head actually goes up. Once the temp is dropping though, I can
                                crank the heat way up or reduce it or whatever, and it just keeps
                                falling.

                                3.) I never add water to the water my boiler is in, except between
                                runs.

                                4.) My condenser flow rate is just a trickle. In fact, I intend,
                                when I figure this out to get a bigger pump, because it truly is just
                                about a trickle.

                                5.) I see what you mean about oil, but I am leery of that because of
                                the messiness, the fire hazard, and having to worry about it getting
                                rancid. I already am really nervous to be running with a gas burner
                                with the open flame. I would really prefer to use a hotplate, but
                                can't find one powerful enough. I tried a hotplate that is 750W, but
                                it got the water that I put the boiler into to where it was bubbling
                                quite a bit, but not at all like a rolling boil, but the temp at the
                                column head never budged past 30C after 1.5 hours, so I don't guess
                                it's strong enough. I think I am going to try sand, I was a little
                                worried about cracking my boiler, but what I'm doing now just isn't
                                working, so I've gotta try something else.

                                6.) Using Tony's calculators I thought I could potentially get 9.3%
                                alcohol in my wash, but I wasn't really confident about that. I used
                                two 355 mL mollasses jars and 1 gallon of distilled water (total
                                volume 4.495L). I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure the mollasses
                                was 1 g /mL. Those two jars in just one gallon of water sure seemed
                                like a lot, and it fermented steadily for 10-14 days. I know that it
                                fermented completely, because I measured SG at the end to be < 1.


                                With Respect,

                                Mattie




                                --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "peter_vcb"
                                <viciousblackout@y...> wrote:
                                > Mattie,
                                > you havent mentioned the time it took for collection. how many ml
                                per
                                > minute will give us an idea of your power levels. like Tony said
                                you
                                > must check your thermometer position and check it is working
                                > correctly, it should be directly in the vapour path.
                                > you say "but my temp has NEVER gotten over 85, and never over about
                                > 78 unless my condenser is not on." it still seems to me you are
                                > running at low power. if you are at a very low power then your
                                > condenser will have time to draw heat away from the column and
                                cause
                                > total reflux, if you have lots of water in the pot it will stop
                                this
                                > unwanted cooling to some degree. try to lower your condensing water
                                > flow rate so the distillate coming out is still slightly warm. do
                                you
                                > keep adding cold water to your boiling pan? this will of course
                                cause
                                > problems. i mentioned using oil which will give a much larger
                                > temperature difference and hence heat the water quicker. you are
                                > heating something to about 95C with heat source of 100C max if you
                                > are heating something to 95C with a heat source at 150C it will be
                                > quicker, make sense? oil is a fire hazard. sand will give the flask
                                > support and even heating but it will always take a long time for
                                your
                                > power changes to take effect, oil wont evaporate, nor sand! if you
                                > add sugar to the boiling water it will raise its boiling temp too.
                                > your recipie seems very low in potential alcohol how much did the
                                > molasses weigh? one recipie on Tonys site is 4kg sugar and 4kg
                                > molasses for 20litres, i think that is a bit much but yours seems
                                > very low.
                                >
                                > Peter
                                >
                                >
                                > --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "leanmattie"
                                <leanmattie@y...>
                                > wrote:
                                > > That is a good question, I will have to make certain that is not
                                > the
                                > > case. Here is some like my setup (sorry, I'm not an artist), so
                                I
                                > > don't think the condenser would effect the thermometers reading
                                > > signficantly, even if the therm was touching the wall. Plus, it
                                > > wouldn't explain why the temp staye steady for 10-15 minutes or
                                so
                                > at
                                > > about 78 and THEN started dropping. The more I think about it,
                                the
                                > > more I wonder if it wasn't somehow related to the amount of water
                                > > heating the boiler. It seems like as the amount of water heating
                                > the
                                > > boiler diminished, the temp dropped, but I sure don't understand
                                > why
                                > > that would be so.
                                > >
                                > >
                                > > With Respect,
                                > >
                                > > Mattie
                                > >
                                > > --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Ackland, Tony
                                \(CALNZAS\)"
                                > > <Tony.Ackland@c...> wrote:
                                > > > This email and any files transmitted with it are
                                > > > confidential and intended solely for the use of
                                > > > the individual or entity to whom they are addressed.
                                > > > If you have received this email in error, please
                                > > > notify the sender immediately and delete the email.
                                > > > > I'm not sure that's what is going on. I mean, the temp
                                > > > > just keeps falling and falling. It doesn't appear to recover
                                > > > > either. It will go down to 60C and lower I believe.
                                > > >
                                > > > You're right - that is very strange.
                                > > >
                                > > > Is the thermometer insulated from the column ? Eg is there
                                some
                                > > way possibly it could be touching a bit of glass being cooled by
                                > the
                                > > condenser ?
                                > > >
                                > > > Tony
                              • leanmattie
                                Hello, it very readily burns a blue flame. What does that mean? With Respect, Mattie
                                Message 15 of 18 , Apr 30 8:35 AM
                                  Hello, it very readily burns a blue flame. What does that mean?


                                  With Respect,

                                  Mattie

                                  > Have you measured the % abv of your product? If you have no spirit
                                  > hydrometer, will a little of the product burn in a spoon?
                                  > Mike N
                                • leanmattie
                                  Peter: Thanks for responding. I ll try to answer each of your questions. 1.) It s hard to say on the time, but I d guess very roughly 50 mL collected in about
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Apr 30 9:08 AM
                                    Peter:

                                    Thanks for responding. I'll try to answer each of your questions.

                                    1.) It's hard to say on the time, but I'd guess very roughly 50 mL
                                    collected in about 10 to 15 minutes. It seemed like it was generally
                                    collecting approx 1 drop every two seconds average when it was
                                    running. The high was probably 1 drop per second, and the low
                                    probably 1 drop every 3 seconds.

                                    2.) It's just hard for me to believe it's power for two reasons. It
                                    has absolutely no trouble pushing the temp up to around 78, it's just
                                    that it pushes it up there, I collect about 50mL and then it
                                    plummets. Also, I have noticed that sometimes, I can REDUCE the
                                    power, and the temp in the column will go up. This doesn't work once
                                    the temp starts dropping. Once the temp styarts droppoing, I can
                                    crank the heat WAY up or down slightly and either way, the temp
                                    plummets.

                                    3.) I never add water to the water I have the boiler sitting in,
                                    except between runs.

                                    4.) My condenser water flow rate is a trickle right now. In fact, I
                                    already had it planned that as soon as I figured out what was going
                                    on here, I'd buy a new pump, because this is just barely a trickle.

                                    5.) I see the benefit of oil, but am leery to try it because of the
                                    mess, the fire hazard, and worrying about it getting rancid. Also, I
                                    am already nervous about having an open flame. I want to use a
                                    hotplate, but can't find one around here that is powerful enough. I
                                    found a 750W hotplate, but after 1.5 hours of setting it on full
                                    blast, the temp at the top of my column had not budged from about 30C
                                    (for the WHOLE time), and the water the boiler was in was not getting
                                    any hotter, so I assumed it was not powerful enough. I am going to
                                    try sand. I am a little worried that it mnight crack my boile,r but
                                    what I'm doing now clearly is not working.

                                    6.) Based on Tony's calculators, I estimated my wash would be 9.3%.
                                    The mollasses was 355 mL and I'm pretty sure it was 1 g/mL. I
                                    measured SG at the end of fermentation and it was < 1. I did not
                                    measure at start because I couldn't adequately get all the molasses
                                    into solution, so I didn't feel confident about the measuring it. 2
                                    jars of mollasses in just a total volume of 4.495L didn't seem like
                                    too little, but I could be wrong. It fermented steadily for 10-14
                                    days.


                                    With Respect,

                                    Mattie


                                    --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "peter_vcb"
                                    <viciousblackout@y...> wrote:
                                    > Mattie,
                                    > you havent mentioned the time it took for collection. how many ml
                                    per
                                    > minute will give us an idea of your power levels. like Tony said
                                    you
                                    > must check your thermometer position and check it is working
                                    > correctly, it should be directly in the vapour path.
                                    > you say "but my temp has NEVER gotten over 85, and never over about
                                    > 78 unless my condenser is not on." it still seems to me you are
                                    > running at low power. if you are at a very low power then your
                                    > condenser will have time to draw heat away from the column and
                                    cause
                                    > total reflux, if you have lots of water in the pot it will stop
                                    this
                                    > unwanted cooling to some degree. try to lower your condensing water
                                    > flow rate so the distillate coming out is still slightly warm. do
                                    you
                                    > keep adding cold water to your boiling pan? this will of course
                                    cause
                                    > problems. i mentioned using oil which will give a much larger
                                    > temperature difference and hence heat the water quicker. you are
                                    > heating something to about 95C with heat source of 100C max if you
                                    > are heating something to 95C with a heat source at 150C it will be
                                    > quicker, make sense? oil is a fire hazard. sand will give the flask
                                    > support and even heating but it will always take a long time for
                                    your
                                    > power changes to take effect, oil wont evaporate, nor sand! if you
                                    > add sugar to the boiling water it will raise its boiling temp too.
                                    > your recipie seems very low in potential alcohol how much did the
                                    > molasses weigh? one recipie on Tonys site is 4kg sugar and 4kg
                                    > molasses for 20litres, i think that is a bit much but yours seems
                                    > very low.
                                    >
                                    > Peter
                                    >
                                    >
                                    > --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "leanmattie"
                                    <leanmattie@y...>
                                    > wrote:
                                    > > That is a good question, I will have to make certain that is not
                                    > the
                                    > > case. Here is some like my setup (sorry, I'm not an artist), so
                                    I
                                    > > don't think the condenser would effect the thermometers reading
                                    > > signficantly, even if the therm was touching the wall. Plus, it
                                    > > wouldn't explain why the temp staye steady for 10-15 minutes or
                                    so
                                    > at
                                    > > about 78 and THEN started dropping. The more I think about it,
                                    the
                                    > > more I wonder if it wasn't somehow related to the amount of water
                                    > > heating the boiler. It seems like as the amount of water heating
                                    > the
                                    > > boiler diminished, the temp dropped, but I sure don't understand
                                    > why
                                    > > that would be so.
                                    > >
                                    > >
                                    > > With Respect,
                                    > >
                                    > > Mattie
                                    > >
                                    > > --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Ackland, Tony
                                    \(CALNZAS\)"
                                    > > <Tony.Ackland@c...> wrote:
                                    > > > This email and any files transmitted with it are
                                    > > > confidential and intended solely for the use of
                                    > > > the individual or entity to whom they are addressed.
                                    > > > If you have received this email in error, please
                                    > > > notify the sender immediately and delete the email.
                                    > > > > I'm not sure that's what is going on. I mean, the temp
                                    > > > > just keeps falling and falling. It doesn't appear to recover
                                    > > > > either. It will go down to 60C and lower I believe.
                                    > > >
                                    > > > You're right - that is very strange.
                                    > > >
                                    > > > Is the thermometer insulated from the column ? Eg is there
                                    some
                                    > > way possibly it could be touching a bit of glass being cooled by
                                    > the
                                    > > condenser ?
                                    > > >
                                    > > > Tony
                                  • Mike Nixon
                                    leanmattie wrote: Subject: [new_distillers] Re: Very Strange First Run - HELP! [Have you measured the % abv of your product? If you have no spirit
                                    Message 17 of 18 , Apr 30 2:40 PM
                                      leanmattie wrote:
                                      Subject: [new_distillers] Re: Very Strange First Run - HELP!
                                      [Have you measured the % abv of your product?  If you have no spirit  hydrometer, will a little of the product burn in a spoon? Mike N]

                                      Hello, it very readily burns a blue flame.  What does that mean?
                                      =================================
                                      Hi Mattie,
                                       
                                      It means that you have 50%+ abv.  The easier it lights, and the longer it burns, the higher the percentage you've got.
                                      Rough and ready test that harks back to the days when "proof spirit" was that which, when mixed with gunpowder and lit, still enabled the gunpowder to burn. 100% proof spirit is booze that contains 50% ethanol in water at 60F (15.6C)
                                      This is why you have to heat brandy before you flame the Christmas pudding as brandy is usually below that strength.  Not like the 96% I used a couple of years ago and which ignited immediately and caused a panic as the flames almost reached the ceiling!  Not a smart move!!
                                       
                                      Mike N
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                    • peter_vcb
                                      Mattie, if you go to Tonys potsill calculator page you will find at 9% at 150W will give over 50ml per 10minutes at 100W it is 50ml per 15 minutes. i still
                                      Message 18 of 18 , May 1, 2003
                                        Mattie,
                                        if you go to Tonys potsill calculator page you will find at 9% at
                                        150W will give over 50ml per 10minutes at 100W it is 50ml per 15
                                        minutes. i still think the condenser may be sucking heat at this low
                                        power, i think it could be cooled with just a fan. you say it is only
                                        a trickle but is the distillate still slightly warm. i would try
                                        turning the pump off and just having some water in the liebeg to cool
                                        it. if your boiler is pyrex you should have no problem with sand
                                        otherwise just use the sugar water and use it for your next brew
                                        after! i think your wash is about 5%. you have to take into account
                                        that mollases is not the same as sugar. only about 1/2 the weight of
                                        mollases is fermenatable

                                        Peter


                                        > Peter:
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > Thanks for taking the time to respond. I'll try to answer your
                                        > questions:
                                        >
                                        > 1.) ml/min is tough since I don't have a good way to accurately
                                        > measure mLs. I'd give a very rough guess of about 50mL in 10 or 15
                                        > minutes. It seemed to be about a drop to two drops per second when
                                        > it was going at it's fastest, and maybe a drop every two or three
                                        > seconds slowest, and any slower and it stopped, and the temp
                                        dropped.
                                        >
                                        > 2.) I still have a hard time believing it's a power issue, because
                                        I
                                        > have no problem pushing the temp up to 78 or so, it's just that I
                                        > push it up there, collect some, and then the temp plummets. Also,
                                        I
                                        > have observed that SOMETIMES, I can reduce the gas, and the temp at
                                        > the head actually goes up. Once the temp is dropping though, I can
                                        > crank the heat way up or reduce it or whatever, and it just keeps
                                        > falling.
                                        >
                                        > 3.) I never add water to the water my boiler is in, except between
                                        > runs.
                                        >
                                        > 4.) My condenser flow rate is just a trickle. In fact, I intend,
                                        > when I figure this out to get a bigger pump, because it truly is
                                        just
                                        > about a trickle.
                                        >
                                        > 5.) I see what you mean about oil, but I am leery of that because
                                        of
                                        > the messiness, the fire hazard, and having to worry about it
                                        getting
                                        > rancid. I already am really nervous to be running with a gas
                                        burner
                                        > with the open flame. I would really prefer to use a hotplate, but
                                        > can't find one powerful enough. I tried a hotplate that is 750W,
                                        but
                                        > it got the water that I put the boiler into to where it was
                                        bubbling
                                        > quite a bit, but not at all like a rolling boil, but the temp at
                                        the
                                        > column head never budged past 30C after 1.5 hours, so I don't guess
                                        > it's strong enough. I think I am going to try sand, I was a little
                                        > worried about cracking my boiler, but what I'm doing now just isn't
                                        > working, so I've gotta try something else.
                                        >
                                        > 6.) Using Tony's calculators I thought I could potentially get 9.3%
                                        > alcohol in my wash, but I wasn't really confident about that. I
                                        used
                                        > two 355 mL mollasses jars and 1 gallon of distilled water (total
                                        > volume 4.495L). I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure the mollasses
                                        > was 1 g /mL. Those two jars in just one gallon of water sure
                                        seemed
                                        > like a lot, and it fermented steadily for 10-14 days. I know that
                                        it
                                        > fermented completely, because I measured SG at the end to be < 1.
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > With Respect,
                                        >
                                        > Mattie
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "peter_vcb"
                                        > <viciousblackout@y...> wrote:
                                        > > Mattie,
                                        > > you havent mentioned the time it took for collection. how many ml
                                        > per
                                        > > minute will give us an idea of your power levels. like Tony said
                                        > you
                                        > > must check your thermometer position and check it is working
                                        > > correctly, it should be directly in the vapour path.
                                        > > you say "but my temp has NEVER gotten over 85, and never over
                                        about
                                        > > 78 unless my condenser is not on." it still seems to me you are
                                        > > running at low power. if you are at a very low power then your
                                        > > condenser will have time to draw heat away from the column and
                                        > cause
                                        > > total reflux, if you have lots of water in the pot it will stop
                                        > this
                                        > > unwanted cooling to some degree. try to lower your condensing
                                        water
                                        > > flow rate so the distillate coming out is still slightly warm. do
                                        > you
                                        > > keep adding cold water to your boiling pan? this will of course
                                        > cause
                                        > > problems. i mentioned using oil which will give a much larger
                                        > > temperature difference and hence heat the water quicker. you are
                                        > > heating something to about 95C with heat source of 100C max if
                                        you
                                        > > are heating something to 95C with a heat source at 150C it will
                                        be
                                        > > quicker, make sense? oil is a fire hazard. sand will give the
                                        flask
                                        > > support and even heating but it will always take a long time for
                                        > your
                                        > > power changes to take effect, oil wont evaporate, nor sand! if
                                        you
                                        > > add sugar to the boiling water it will raise its boiling temp
                                        too.
                                        > > your recipie seems very low in potential alcohol how much did the
                                        > > molasses weigh? one recipie on Tonys site is 4kg sugar and 4kg
                                        > > molasses for 20litres, i think that is a bit much but yours seems
                                        > > very low.
                                        > >
                                        > > Peter
                                        > >
                                        > >
                                        > > --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "leanmattie"
                                        > <leanmattie@y...>
                                        > > wrote:
                                        > > > That is a good question, I will have to make certain that is
                                        not
                                        > > the
                                        > > > case. Here is some like my setup (sorry, I'm not an artist),
                                        so
                                        > I
                                        > > > don't think the condenser would effect the thermometers reading
                                        > > > signficantly, even if the therm was touching the wall. Plus,
                                        it
                                        > > > wouldn't explain why the temp staye steady for 10-15 minutes or
                                        > so
                                        > > at
                                        > > > about 78 and THEN started dropping. The more I think about it,
                                        > the
                                        > > > more I wonder if it wasn't somehow related to the amount of
                                        water
                                        > > > heating the boiler. It seems like as the amount of water
                                        heating
                                        > > the
                                        > > > boiler diminished, the temp dropped, but I sure don't
                                        understand
                                        > > why
                                        > > > that would be so.
                                        > > >
                                        > > >
                                        > > > With Respect,
                                        > > >
                                        > > > Mattie
                                        > > >
                                        > > > --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Ackland, Tony
                                        > \(CALNZAS\)"
                                        > > > <Tony.Ackland@c...> wrote:
                                        > > > > This email and any files transmitted with it are
                                        > > > > confidential and intended solely for the use of
                                        > > > > the individual or entity to whom they are addressed.
                                        > > > > If you have received this email in error, please
                                        > > > > notify the sender immediately and delete the email.
                                        > > > > > I'm not sure that's what is going on. I mean, the temp
                                        > > > > > just keeps falling and falling. It doesn't appear to
                                        recover
                                        > > > > > either. It will go down to 60C and lower I believe.
                                        > > > >
                                        > > > > You're right - that is very strange.
                                        > > > >
                                        > > > > Is the thermometer insulated from the column ? Eg is there
                                        > some
                                        > > > way possibly it could be touching a bit of glass being cooled
                                        by
                                        > > the
                                        > > > condenser ?
                                        > > > >
                                        > > > > Tony
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