recirculating water system

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recirculating water system

Postby Frito » Fri Sep 18, 2009 3:31 pm

I've been trying to dig up some plans on recirculating my water with a pump and wondering what the most efficient method is. I see people talk about buckets. I was thinking along the lines of running the water from the condenser through a copper coil in a freezer and then back into the bucket just to cool the water some. Anyone ever tried that? Thanks

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Re: recirculating water system

Postby new_moonshiner » Fri Sep 18, 2009 3:41 pm

freezer cant keep up ... you will be appling more heat than the freezer can recover from....barrel or bucket with a pond pump seems to be the most common method .
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby Frito » Fri Sep 18, 2009 3:46 pm

How does the water cool down again in the bucket? Just throwing some ice in there from time to time?
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby LWTCS » Fri Sep 18, 2009 3:55 pm

I run a five gallon bucket for a 6 quart charge at the stove top.

I usually pick up two 10lb bags before a run or hook up to the washer outlet and discharge into the garden.

One bag will get it though.

When I finally get up and running in the garage, i'll move to a 32 gallon (or the like) water vessel.

I do have pump failure on the back of my mind so I will prolly start planning for the worm.
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby airhill » Fri Sep 18, 2009 4:00 pm

Totally agree with New Moonshiner on that one. I had limited sucess using 60l bucket and an external heatsink with an evap cooler blowing through it but once the temps climb too much the pump is likely to pack in or on the better ones the thermal overload switch will cut it (unless its a domestic heating pump).
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby Hawke » Fri Sep 18, 2009 4:08 pm

I'm on a well, so water is not a problem. I run my discharge into the garden, or lawn. As long as you can keep the water under 100*F you shouldn't have a problem.
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby grandapa's homework » Mon Sep 21, 2009 7:51 am

I run an aquarium pump. I place a frozen jug of water in the 5 gal bucket and run the discharge hose into the jug. It cools the water very quickly. When the ice melts I change jugs. Works pretty well.

On a stripping run I had to change the jug 3 times (I keep a bunch of them in a chest freezer) On a spirit run I ended with the same jug I started with. I guess I wasn't pushing the run too hard.
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby DrTorque » Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:08 am

I have a sump pump in a big Rubbermaid container that probably holds around 15-20 gallons. I run a garden hose to the shed, and when the water starts warming up, I scoop much of it out with a 5 gal pail, dump it in the yard, then re-fill it with the hose. I've tried ice, but it melts in no time and would be way too much of a hassle to buy, store, and transfer enough to make it work. I usually re-fill the container with cool water 3-4 times during a run.

new_moonshiner's right - the copper coil through a freezer wouldn't work. The freezer may be strong enough to remove that much energy, but there isn't enough heat transfer with that method. You'd have a much better chance if you could rip the evaporator side out of a freezer system, put that through some piping with lots of surface area, and drop that piping into your water reservoir.
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby new_moonshiner » Mon Sep 21, 2009 10:09 am

I operate much in the same manner you as you DrTorque, I have a 55 gallon plastic barrel I fill, then once the temp starts getting too warm for my liking , I redirect my line from the condenser outlet to another container and replenish my 55 gallon again with fresh water ( well water in my case) .. this extends the life of my water .
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby Pop Larkin » Mon Nov 30, 2009 9:26 pm

I run a 6-1/4 gallon coffee urn pot. I run it fairly hard with a thumper. I have a RubberMaid 30 gallon reservoir that is circulated by a small submersible fountain pump. As my condenser sits under the top level of the reservoir I don't have to worry about a strong pump to circulate the water as it doesn't have to push a "head" of water. 8)
I can run my still hard & never have to cool the water. I keep a couple of frozen 2 LT pop bottles of water to put in my reservoir but have never needed to use em!

It works for me :wink:

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Re: recirculating water system

Postby rad14701 » Tue Dec 01, 2009 12:08 pm

Nice looking rig, Pop Larkin, even without the thumper...
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby Pop Larkin » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:30 pm

Thanks Rad.
I'm building a new thumper right now 8) . Once I have it finished, I'll try to post new photos. Don't hold your breath though. I tend to procrastinate a little :oops: !

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Re: recirculating water system

Postby olddog » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:33 pm

I know the feeling, it's what happens when you get older. :mrgreen:
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby plonker » Thu Dec 03, 2009 6:23 am

I use a laundry sink, but I run my return through this, an old air conditioner evaporator with a ceiling exhaust fan.

It is not as efficient as you may think, but as the water gets hotter, the cooling unit works better, so it only gets so hot.. I think the laundry sink is about 40-50 L
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby blanikdog » Thu Dec 03, 2009 2:28 pm

I find that a 25litre bucket of water for my coil is sufficient for a 25 litre wash. I like to have a slow reduction of temperature from hot at top to cold at the bottom. If it ever gets warmish at the bottom I add around a gallon of cold water - at the bottom - slowly over the time it needs to finish the run. I never use the entire gallon and the water is still in the condenser for the next run, or I can use it on the garden.

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Re: recirculating water system

Postby HookLine » Fri Dec 04, 2009 7:49 pm

blanikdog wrote:I find that a 25litre bucket of water for my coil is sufficient for a 25 litre wash.

I am guessing that depends a bit on the starting temp of the cooling water. In warmer climates you might need a bigger bucket, or some ice to start with.
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby blanikdog » Sat Dec 05, 2009 10:21 pm

OK hook. Didn't consider that cos I thought that water temperature was fairly constant world wide. Mine comes straight from the river so it's always pretty cold even though the missus claims it isn't when she tries to lure me into the bloody thing.

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Re: recirculating water system

Postby Hack » Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:48 am

HookLine wrote:
blanikdog wrote:I find that a 25litre bucket of water for my coil is sufficient for a 25 litre wash.

I am guessing that depends a bit on the starting temp of the cooling water. In warmer climates you might need a bigger bucket, or some ice to start with.

I've always wished I could get everyone to try a five or six gallon bucket for their worm tub. It's always worked well for me on my keg and thumper setup. When I first started I'd stir the water or add water when the top got hot, but eventually I got curious and decided to try a run without fiddling with it at all. I was surprised to find that it worked fine and actually only the top quarter or so of the bucket got hot and the bottom stayed cold.

I've always wondered too though if using the thumper maybe reduces the needed cooling capacity for me. Do you really need a garbage can full of water for your worm when you do stripping runs and spirit runs? I've only ever done one batch that way when I first started and it was a small one.
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby Daantje » Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:52 am

Same here Hack,

Also run a keg - thumper - worm setup. Filled my worm bucket once. I don't run strip runs (I have a thumper, and it my end product is at 60-65 % so why bother) but only the very top gets hot (like I dont want to touch hot), but the product always comes off very cold. I really like it and it saves water :)
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby ScottishBoy » Thu Dec 10, 2009 8:06 am

When I started to do it on my own, I didnt have access to a nice stream or anything so I used something like a swamp cooler. I ran it through the still and then over a frame which had holes in the top. I used an aluminum window frame and took the glass out and put a bunch of nylon mesh in it. The I put a 20 inch box fan on low on the side of it. I ran the whole thing with a fish filter motor and a 5 gallon bucket holding tank. Later I found out that a washboard set up like a fountain worked pretty good too.
If you have an ice maker in your fridge you can use the ice from there and not burn too much energy. I find that sometimes I have old ice in there that I would just as soon use than throw out the door.

Right now I use a direct feed from my sink, but I capture the water before it goes down the drain. I use about a gallon every 5 minutes. So when ever I distill:
1. Plants get watered well.
2. Spare dishes get rinsed.
3. I use the runoff to clean my catch jars before they get used.
4. Pets waterbowls all get refilled.

and then if Im still going I take those and dump them in the washing machine for a cold color load.

I'm on well water, but I worked in an area for a while, where water was more precious than gold, so I really dont like to waste it.

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Re: recirculating water system

Postby rad14701 » Thu Dec 10, 2009 12:10 pm

Good thinking, ScottishBoy... Even though I rent and water is included I still conserve as much water as possible... The toilet has 2 stage flush capability, which is nice... I shower with with the insignificant other... Anything to help save the planet...

Hoping to recirculate water with my next still that's on the drawing board awaiting cash flow... I may still have an aquarium pump in storage or will get ahold of a fountain pump... Most condensers run efficiently on 1 liter per minute or less so flow isn't as much of a problem as overcoming rise... It only takes ~1/2 liter per minute to keep my current system cool so my needs are marginal...
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby Nightforce » Sat Dec 12, 2009 8:50 pm

I was using a 600L/hr aquarium pump in a 6gal bucket. One speed and not very good over a 3' head. When the temps would get over 100F I would just siphon off about 3/4 of the water and replace with fresh cold water. Only required about 4 changes in a 6 hr run,with temps rising toward the end of the run when the head temp go into the 90's. I've also used frozen ice packs as well, they seem to work pretty good. I've changed pumps to a 600gal/hr bilge pump and run it on my Astron variable power supply. I can vary it now from a mere trickle to a full stream and pump to a pretty good head height. I'd recommend bilge pumps as the way to go; most small ones are 3/4" connections which should mate to anyone using garden hoses. Some hobby 12V controllers should be an easy way to make a variable power supply.

I'm on municipal water, about $1.13 per thousand gallons, so cheap enough for me to consider the next run using fresh water. I still like the self contained aspect though. I've been thinking about a way to run a small radiator inline with the coolant. I have a 6" block radiator from when I was water cooling the CPU on my computer that would be perfect and should at least cut down the number of water changes needed.
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby CoOkEd » Wed Dec 23, 2009 4:36 pm

I placed a old garbage can underneath the drain spout on my garage. I fill my 5 gallon coolant buckets from that and toss out whatever is left after washing things down. That way I am only wasting water that headed for the ground already.
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby Nightforce » Sun Jan 10, 2010 3:44 pm

Well, after several runs with the pumps and recirculation, I've got to say I'll be abandoning that method in the near future. My aquarium pump and bilge pump just won't push the head and through the 18' of copper tube for my coil. I even tried a 2.5gpm 12V water pump capable of 40psi but the just surged a lot due to the back pressure and it cycling. So, next project will be to run a 2" drain and hose bib through the foundation into my garage for some direct hookups. Toting 10-15 gallons of 45+°C water every hour gets old after a while. It's not good to waste it, so spring through fall runs will be discharged to my small garden outside the garage.
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby Tater » Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:00 pm

Nightforce wrote:Well, after several runs with the pumps and recirculation, I've got to say I'll be abandoning that method in the near future. My aquarium pump and bilge pump just won't push the head and through the 18' of copper tube for my coil. I even tried a 2.5gpm 12V water pump capable of 40psi but the just surged a lot due to the back pressure and it cycling. So, next project will be to run a 2" drain and hose bib through the foundation into my garage for some direct hookups. Toting 10-15 gallons of 45+°C water every hour gets old after a while. It's not good to waste it, so spring through fall runs will be discharged to my small garden outside the garage.
Would it pump it up to a small barrel where gravity could feed condenser?
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby Dnderhead » Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:24 pm

surging du to bilding up presser pump shuting off and on try this---http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=6793858#p6793858
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby Nightforce » Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:45 pm

It probably would, or I could also set the tank at or above the condenser to reduce the head height and get it to work. However, I have limited space and my garage is a sh*t heap and going for normal non recaptured discharge coolant would allow me to remove the barrel, buckets, and pumps/gear and reclaim some space. Plus, I could put the barrel to good use then, like an 18gal fermenter. :)

If I had a small bladder tank for the 12V pump, it would probably work good but that is an added expense and still leaves me with the clutter. Running the pot still in recirculating mode is still viable as that can make it through a whole run and not need to be changed.

I've even thought about designing a system using a larger tank, automotive heater core, squirrel cage fan on a variac, and a decent pump. The system would probably work well for someone running a worm in a bucket. That should pull the heat out of the coolant water keeping it from getting to hot quite well. Someone who is storing rain water in barrels would also have a great double barrel transfer system. From one barrel to another through a radiator core and the heat being pulled off would also help heat the work area during the winter. Two 55 gallon drums should be enough for a single run with discharge at a very slow rate but high output temperature. It might take a few days to be cooled down to usable temps again. I know that when I've left the 18 gallon barrel full at close to 122°F in my 55°F garage that it was still almost 80°F by the next morning. Someone with a smaller still could probably use the recapture method better, however, for my location and setup, I'm going to have to go the non-environmentally wise option.

Dnderhead,
I might just give that a try. I've got some y valves and the hookups for tubing but I think the main hurtle is that the heat being pulled out of the vapor by the coil just is to much for a small (18-20 gallon) resiviour on a long run. Someone using a 3-4 gallon kettle for a boiler could probably use it but a fully charged 1/4 keg on a 4-5 hour run I think is just going to put to much heat into the system.

A thought occurred to my writing the above...a hybrid system. Ding! LOL I could keep the barrel, recirculate the water until it was to hot, then pump to discharge and recharge with fresh cold water. That would, I guesstimate, save about half the water usage. Ideally, we'd all live next to a fresh mountain stream we could pump ice cold water from and return it to the the stream.
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby pHneutral » Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:25 pm

Hey all. Long time! But I've been busy...

A friend and I put together a pot still head for my ten gallon milk can boiler, and its quite a treat. I'd post pics, but the house was messy. Dont worry.. I'll get them up next week when I run it the second time!

Anyhoo, its a 3 foot 1 1/4" pipe column, over to a 90 degree bend of two feet, and then into a 1/2" hard pipe that goes down to the worm bucket, in which is the worm, which is a 20 foot coiled (around a paint can) worm condenser. And oh boy does this thing knock down the vapor!

I use a two bucket system. The worm bucket has two holes in it near the bottom: One for the worm to exit, and one with a hose fitting (sealed with epoxy putty) for the coolant water to enter. By putting the coolant water in at the bottom of the bucket, I avoid the problem of dealing with a large head. My head is effectively a foot or so, so my Rio 600 aquarium pump pushes water through just fine.

The top of the worm bucket has a flexible 2" poly sink fitting in it, that makes a spillway back to the reservoir bucket. So the new, cold water (I ice the reservoir, not the worm bucket) enters at the bottom, slowly pushes up to the top and exits back into the reservoir, which is slightly below the worm bucket.

Since its winter where I am, I use snow to cool it down for now :) Works well and is free! I got a decent yield of 22L of 120 (average) on a stripping run from 100L of 15% wash. I could have gotten much more, but it was the first time running the still, I was running it colder than I ought to have at first and I ran out of time.. next time she'll be up full blast. The spirit run yielded 15 quarts of usable spirit @ 150 averaged over the run, the first 7 being very sweet as is and are 160 when blended, the rest still drinkable, but will probably taste much better after oaking.

If you're wondering why Im doing so much, its because I have a lot of friends who are clamouring for my stuff ;) I could have worse problems!!

I still use my PDA-1, and intend in setting it up with a variable wattage electric element for virtually unattended spirit runs for grain neutral or high proof feint only runs on its own, smaller boiler. Turns out I just can't turn down the heat low enough on this ten gallon jobbie (It might work if I could insulate it, but I haven't tried that yet) not to lose a lot of alcohol out the top of the reflux column, but using a smaller boiler and electric hotplate i can get it tuned right in there and get better than 180 on a spirit run.

Hope this helps!
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby Dnderhead » Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:43 pm

"""unattended spirit runs """
NEVER LEAVE A STILL UNATTEND!!!!!!!!!!!
if you dont have the time to spend ,,,whate untill you do.
and it sounds like you nead a power controler.
http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3342&start=270#p6814134
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Re: recirculating water system

Postby maxboostbusa » Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:08 pm

I have gonnen some 1 gal. buckets from my work that had cake icing in them, fill a couple up and freeze them they fit nicely inside of my worm so when the water gets warm i drop one in lasts about an hour or so on my little still. I have a bucket under the bucket my worm is in to catch the overflow. Refil the bucket and back to the freezer. Works OK. Fixin to build a larger still and run a recirculating system using a soda fountain. They have a freezing plate in them that cools the incoming water very fast and you can run them fairly steadily. I'll hook a thermometer in the worm bucket so when the tempature gets to "x" degrees the pump will turn on and run the overflow back into the unit. If everything works out I should have it all going in a month or so. I'll post up when I do.
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