i downloaded instructions on how to put together this plastic still. Supposed to be much easier to produce spirits than copper. Anyone have any experience with this?
Unsu...Sat, May 3, 2008 - 10:03 AMI don't trust plastics. I trust Stainless steel. There is only one reason to use copper: Ease of soldering. That's it. There is no other reason and with copper at about a gigajillion dollars an ounce you are better off making it from SST using only so much copper as you absolutely must because the various size pipes for different components are going to be easier to get in copper at a plumber's supply, .
Which of course means you need a little gas welding kit that uses oxygen. Acetylene is great and there are many inexpensive units that will do just fine. Then you buy silver solder and off you go. You can be up and welding for less than $100.00
There are silver solders that will join SST using the lower heat of a simple propane torch but they aren't terribly strong solders and you'll end up repairing 'em.
Polymers have an exchange rate of molecular components with the environment. They are always subliming substantial amounts of themselves off into th whatever environment they are in. They also tend to allow an exchange of gaseous compounds that transpire through them and can ruin a good ferment and other processes.
You can build a marvelous stainless steel still using old beer kegs and those 5 gallon soda syrup containers and some not too expensive Stainless steel tubing and a little thin sheetmetal. If you are in old dairy country you can get old SST milk jugs.
You can buy a fine reflux still for about a Grand here: tinyurl.com/5w3tet
The problem with using a low tech type still ( all of them are essentially low tech) is that you can't eliminate the organic acids, Esters, Aldehydes, Furfurols, Higher Alcohols, and Nitrogenous substances and obtain clean liquor. These contaminants are always present in the mash.
You need a couple things to get clean liquor. As a threshold matter you need to know the temperature in the still and also at the out put end. Without these two data points you are shooting in the dark.
A hydrometer won't tell you how much of these contaminants are present in your product.
A Quadrapole Mass Spectrometer will but, you aren't going to home-build a still only to run out and drop $12 - $20-Thousand dollars on one of those.
So you need the two temperature data points instead. That's what maybe $50.00 for two really good thermometers.
You can just make a coil running out of a pot still and run it through over and over till you get the finest quality you can - it'll take about 7 distillations or you can build a reflux still and just run it once. You'll waste less with a reflux still. This is because you have to throw out the first and the last part of the product coming off the still. That's where the noxious contaminants will be grouped in mass.
With a reflux still you are free to add that back to the next batch but you can't do this if you are using a plain coil pot still.
The two temperature data points are important because each contaminant has it's own volatility point at which you know that it's flashing off from the mash. You need the temperature data at both locations to know what's happening.
There are two basic reflux stills. One uses an internal reflux construction and the other uses a valve assembly.
The latter is easier to build and operate. The former is easier to switch over to a purified water still.
Here: tinyurl.com/jawoj Down load the PDF and read it. It is (bar none) the single best resource I have found.
And don't forget Tony Ackland here: tinyurl.com/4fxkh He's got a whole lot of really good information designs and what not.
Between those two resources I don't think you need much more.
Unsu...Wed, December 24, 2008 - 3:03 PM"The problem with using a low tech type still ( all of them are essentially low tech) is that you can't eliminate the organic acids, Esters, Aldehydes, Furfurols, Higher Alcohols, and Nitrogenous substances and obtain clean liquor. These contaminants are always present in the mash."
I have read that these common contaminants evaporate first... and you can throw away the first stuff that comes out...
"While this extremely low amount of methanol means that it is not necessary to try to remove it from your distillate, other byproducts, such as acetone, ethyl acetate and similar aromatics, are formed during fermentation in larger amounts. These are commonly known as 'fore-shots', because they typically boil off at the very start of distillation. While they do not have to be removed, as they are extracted by the activated carbon purification, the carbon will generally last longer- and filter more product- if the fore shots are discarded. From a typical EasyStill™ distillation, only 5-10ml (1-2 teaspoons) need to be discarded. This is easily done by allowing the first 1-2 teaspoons of distillate to run into a collection container, then moving your distillate hose to run into your activated carbon filter."