What still to built or buy?

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rednose
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What still to built or buy?

Post by rednose » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:40 am

Here in HD we almost twice a week have this question of new members, there are so many designs out there that it can be difficult to choose the right still.

This topic is based of a previous one I started some time ago which had a poll where experienced members could give their opinion on what would be the best still for a beginner.

The pot still wan by far and the bokakob still landed in second place.

Buy one?

Try to built your own even if you never touched a metal tool, it’s fun and you will learn to understand the basics of your new hobby. If you are forced to buy one look in our sponsor’s page: Brewhaus and don’t get ripped by some wannabe scam workshops.


Ok, let’s see what the best is for us.

First we need to decide what end product we wanna make:

Whisky and rum and wash flavor spirits in general => Pot still.

Neutrals (vodka) to flavor later with essences or fruits etc. => Reflux still


You can use a Reflux still as a pot still, getting rid of the packing, but it’s always good to have both of them (you will love to use a pot still for stripping runs) and if you follow the recommendations I will make you should be able to finance both of ‘em.

I’m not going to talk about the boilers, which can be chosen by anyone depending what kind of excess he/she has. Most folks here use a ½ or full beer keg which is also considered as the most secure boiler and the heads can be easily fitted by Tri-clamps.

The Pot still:

The pot still is a very simple setup, bullet proved since hundreds of years and need only a boiler and a condenser device, mostly folks use a worm which is a coiled tube made out of copper or SS.
A pot still can also include a thumper or also called a doubler as it simulates a double distillation.
Here an example of a pot still with doubler:
Pot still with doubler
Pot still with doubler
Here an example of a member’s setup, you see that it’s very easy to built, just missing the water container which can be a plastic pot or be made out of copper or SS.
pot still example
pot still example
Pot example.jpg (15.04 KiB) Viewed 93428 times
And here my Apollo rig in pot mode:
Apollo still in pot mode
Apollo still in pot mode
The worm coil should be built with tube no less than 3/8” and have at least 7 windings.
To guaranty a good condensation you should have about 20Ltr of water min and an inlet for cooling water in the bottom and the outlet in the top of your worm container.

You will do the mother earth a great favor if you re-use this hot water and not just drain it.

Other than in a reflux still we don’t need to use a thermometer in the product vapor pass but if you feel more comfort you can install one.

The ABV meter and parrot is not a must but until you get firm to make proper cuts by smell and taste you might want to use it in a pot still just for reference.


I need two more posts, please don't make comments until I'm done, thanks

Joe
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by rednose » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:55 am

The Bokakob still:

This still built is the most easy, lowest cost and effective way to start your hobby distillers carrier.

It needs only three solder joints (beside the boiler fitting) and can be made in very short time depending on your tools and skills but I needed only 2 hours to get it done.
The most popular design is the double slanted plate column, here a drawing:
Bokakob plan
Bokakob plan

And here how it works, thanks to decoy for this great illustration (click on it to enlarge):
Bokakob animation by decoy
Bokakob animation by decoy
Most folks use 2” tube to built their Bok and it’s a good size for boiler of no more than 50 Ltr capacity, bigger boilers will produce more vapor stream that the 2"can handle, this can cause a small desaster.

Here my Apollo rig in Bok mode:
Apollo in Bok mode
Apollo in Bok mode


Take in account that the product will come out of the still pretty hot and many like to add a small product condenser. I use my “egg condenser", a two 2” cap built with ¼ “ tube windings inside and in and outlet of cooling water. It’s just like a small worm condenser.

The Bok usually is filled till the plates with copper or SS scrubbers which gives her the reflux function.

Take care that you use REAL copper scrubbers, if they are only plated you will have a real mess in your boiler and product. :shock:

Last but not least I add a template for 1 ½ and 2 “ columns for cutting the plates (I don’t take credit on that)

And here a good topic with pics how to built a bok: http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopi ... 46&t=13598" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow
Attachments
Bok_templates.zip
Bok templates
(233.05 KiB) Downloaded 2235 times
Last edited by rednose on Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by rednose » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:02 pm

On demand: The VM still

The VM is also an easy and cheap to built design and many members prefere it to a LM still.

Here a bad example of a built of mine, mistake was the too small vapor valve (allthough easy to fix).
VM rednose.jpg
What stills better not to built:

There are some stills in the parent site which sometimes are token as good examples (I thought so and spent money I could have used better) but these designs are overhauled and none of the “oldies” here would recommend ‘em as much cheaper stills will give better results.
still no.jpg
still no.jpg (19.71 KiB) Viewed 93363 times
Lm no.JPG
Add: As HookLine mentioned, the offset still (second pic) works great but I crossed it red as it performes the same as a Bok but is much more expensive due to the fittings.

Nobody here will recommend any still made out of glass or any plastic, only copper and SS are secure.

Fittings can be used in brass but it is necessary to neutralize ‘em in a hot vinegar/water mix.

Never solder with lead solder, it is more toxic than any mistake you can make in the cuts, using a lot of lead solder can cause until the death.

Any sealing should be made out of Teflon or flour/water mix, even cooked noodles are recommended by some members.

Ok, ready for discussion, maybe I forgot something. :?

Thanks for reading and play always save. :)

Joe
Last edited by rednose on Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by Mud Mechanik » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:07 pm

Very well put Rednose, even a simple minded redneck can understand that, also like the illustrations.
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by Whitedog » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:13 pm

Mud Mechanik wrote:Very well put Rednose, even a simple minded redneck can understand that, also like the illustrations.
Who you callin' simple minded, Mud? :lol:

Very nice presentation, Rednose!

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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by olddog » Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:33 pm

Great post Joe, It should be compulsory reading for anyone new to stilling.

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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by LWTCS » Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:58 pm

Nice post Joe.

Given the amount of new members this past year, your post should help newer members with their decision making.
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by rednose » Tue Apr 20, 2010 4:33 pm

Thanks all, just trying to give something back.

If HD and all the great minds and helping hands here wouldn’t exist I wouldn’t be where I am now in distilling, that’s for sure.
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by blanikdog » Tue Apr 20, 2010 4:54 pm

Great post Joe. Really helpful to refer folk to.

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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by kiwistiller » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:50 pm

nice post RN. No love for the VM?
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by rednose » Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:10 pm

The truth?

No Kiwi, I'm thinking to convert my 3.5" VM to a Big Wooping Bokakob tower. :twisted:

I simply don't use it, maybe it's because I don't make a lot af neutral and if I do, I prefere to use the Bok, but that's just me.

Anyhow I didn't mention the VM for not confuse the new buddies, the bok is great and cheap to beginn and if someone wants to go much further there are many incredible builts out there like the twins from OldDog for ex.

Joe

kiwistiller wrote: No love for the VM?
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by kiwistiller » Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:16 pm

Fair enough.
rednose wrote: I'm thinking to convert my 3.5" VM to a Big Wooping Bokakob tower. :twisted:
I simply don't use it, maybe it's because I don't make a lot af neutral and if I do, I prefere to use the Bok, but that's just me.
Why? Sorry to probe but I think you're the first account I've seen of someone preferring LM operation over VM?
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by rednose » Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:37 pm

Maybe it's not performing like other VMs cause my vapor valve is only 1/2", should have used at least 1".

To convert it into a bok I only need to make two cuts for the plates and the actual vapor pass is the product outlet, the actual condenser serves to cool down the product.

On the other side I'm more a pot user than reflux (not to take in account the bubble plates in the new stills, lol)
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by kiwistiller » Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:42 pm

ahhh ok so your VM has never really worked as it should then?
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by rednose » Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:46 pm

Nope Kiwi, I used it in some runs for limes oil extraction but even for that it's better to use the rough, short copper stripping head.

I was so comfort using the bok that I didn't care too much neither to improve it. :oops:
kiwistiller wrote:ahhh ok so your VM has never really worked as it should then?
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by HookLine » Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:48 pm

Nice post. Though I agree with kiwi, you should mention VM. It is not really any harder to make than a Bok slanted plate (and certainly no harder to run).

I also don't think the offset head is a bad design, it will achieve the same basic result as a VM or another LM design. You couldn't say that about a CM, and I don't think it is fair to lump those two together. If all I could have for making neutral was an offset head, I would be happy with it.
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by rednose » Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:57 pm

I agree with the VM, it's not much more difficult than building a bok but the offset head is far to expensive for all the fittings and the result is equal than a bok.

I have made the offset (it's the one laying in the floor with the red cross on top, lol) but if someone closed to me would like to own it I would give it away for the weight copper price + shipping.

BTW: How you like the vacations? Good to see you posting HL.
HookLine wrote:Nice post. Though I agree with kiwi, you should mention VM. It is not really any harder to make than a Bok slanted plate (and certainly no harder to run).

I also don't think the offset head is a bad design, it will achieve the same basic result as a VM or another LM design. You couldn't say that about a CM, and I don't think it is fair to lump those two together. If all I could have for making neutral was an offset head, I would be happy with it.
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by olddog » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:06 pm

I got rid of my reflux still, I have no use for neutral spirit, and the output is slow, like a guy with a prostate problem, you know, drip drip drip :mrgreen: . I like a still with balls that delivers a good stream of fully flavoured alcohol, that I don't have to wait 8-10 hours to do a run.
But everyone to his own, it just aint for me. :ebiggrin:
I have probably upset a few people now, I will just wait for the return fire. :wink:

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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by kiwistiller » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:14 pm

well, yeah, if you have no need of neutral spirits, then a reflux still probably isn't for you :roll:
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by rednose » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:20 pm

I edited the first posts, added the VM with some words and a comment about the offset type still.

Please take in account that this post was made for novice distillers and at the beginning the budget is an important part to start.

There are many good working still types but I wanted to make the decision as easy as possible for the new folks (red or black).
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by cob » Tue Apr 20, 2010 8:54 pm

good post joe, if you could only make them read. :lol: . give your vm a bigger valve and another chance if you make any neutral at all. vm does not need to be offset. your contributions have been appreciated. cob
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by Ayay » Wed Apr 21, 2010 4:09 am

olddog wrote:I got rid of my reflux still, I have no use for neutral spirit, and the output is slow, like a guy with a prostate problem, you know, drip drip drip :mrgreen: . I like a still with balls that delivers a good stream of fully flavoured alcohol, that I don't have to wait 8-10 hours to do a run.
But everyone to his own, it just aint for me. :ebiggrin:
I have probably upset a few people now, I will just wait for the return fire. :wink:

OD
I'm more of the drip-drip sort and will happily wait for neutral with a lil character. I don't want any heads or tails but that comes from the cuts regardless. I am staggerin my brews down from 100L to 50L because of the time it takes for reflux stillin...a single run of 50L @ 12% will fit into a day.

Neutral can be drunk in a few weeks provided the cuts are good. Pot stilled needs good cuts, a few months or years agein an oakin, and then it's fabulous :)

I love the smell and taste of good pot stilled varieties and appreciate them for sippin 'n tastin. Drinkin to excess without regret then it must be the pure vodka stuff.
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by WalkingWolf » Wed Apr 21, 2010 6:22 am

Great thread Joe.

Real good breakdown in general terms that most noobs can get there head around.

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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by Bushman » Mon Apr 26, 2010 8:16 am

OK, I am now confused. I built a liebig almost identical with the one hookline built with the 1/2" inside and the 3/4" outside with the wire soldered to the inside pipe and wrapped around the tube. I also built a double condenser coil. I plan to build a VM still with a keg as my boiler and 2" copper column. After researching I thought the Bok slant plate would be what I would go with but others on this site say to use a 1" valve and the Bok shows a much smaller design. Should I scrap the slant plate and go with a one inch pipe out and after the valve reduce to the 1/2"? My other question would be where to place the thermometer if I do this, as with the slant plate design the protect it coming out from under the first plate. Any thoughts on this?

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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by kiwistiller » Mon Apr 26, 2010 1:06 pm

it sounds like you a bit confused between the bok (LM) and VM designs?
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by Bushman » Mon Apr 26, 2010 4:10 pm

Kiwistiller, the still I want to build is very similar to the one you have on the site with the water going from the liebig to the condenser coil. I want a 2" column and am thinking of a 5' column with the last 6" or 7" at the top being the condenser coil. Do you have any detailed plans for building the column?

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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by kiwistiller » Mon Apr 26, 2010 4:58 pm

we don't really have complete sets of plans around (although I think hookline might have done one a while back) but it's not hard, just look at a couple of pics, sketch up a design and we'll probably troubleshsoot / check it.
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by kiwistiller » Mon Apr 26, 2010 5:16 pm

Also, if you are confused between LM and VM, you might need to slow down a touch and have a think about how it works before you build it.
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by HookLine » Mon Apr 26, 2010 8:32 pm

VM Column (50 mm).jpg
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Re: What still to built or buy?

Post by Bushman » Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:00 am

Thanks, kiwi and hookline. I have done so much reading that I guess the LM and VM was running together on me. I will build your design hookline since I already have the double coil and the liebig built. I built the liebig at 36" not 20" however. Don't think it will hurt. I also used a 3/4" to 1/2" reducer for the liebig and filed the nubs off so the 1/2" inside jacket would fit leaving about 2" at both ends. I read somewhere in the forum where they were discussing valves and I believe ozone describes a butterfly valve. For a VM still which would you go with a butterfly or a gate valve described in your photo?

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