Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Simple pot still distillation and construction with thumpers and without..

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Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby zwinzilious » Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:24 am

Hi all,

Glad to have started this journey. The truth is, I have had visions of doing this for a long time. Glad the process of actually doing it, was easier than what conventions will have us believe.

So can a still be made, constructed, as well as produce a quality spirit hygienically, safely, with limited resources, tools, and your friendly European Ikea store in a European country-? Sure, and I may publish just how easy. For starters you can pick up a 9 litre stock pot from Ikea for about 25 Euros, stainless steel, and with nice handles for "Handling".

Next you need your worm, your holding container filled with cool water and ice blocks from a freezer. The worm is another 20 Euros. You then need your connection parts, and 2 holes in the top of your IKEA stock pot. Also, you can pick up your nice perfect digital Ikea heat thermometer 9 Euros. (Second hole in lid is to seat a fitting and a cork, fixed with your thermometer. When the basic Pot still is all soldered with silver solder, clamps, you can now find your fermenter, which is simple in my european country, because 15L- 30L wine making jugs are sold at Obi and Globus for about 20 Euros. Since you all know the other fine details needed, I am sure you can see that this still is conceivably made for under 70 Euros- {assuming you already own your power tools (Drill, appropriately sized drill bit, solderer) or have friends who own them. }

Using this pot still, making cuts, etc- I have produced about 5 litres thus far, and my first batch of "Speed Whiskey" was a huge success using frozen corn, barley, sugar and store bought bread yeast for a total cost of just under 3.50 Euros (all in) to produce about 1.2-1.5L of cut 65% good stuff.

With some innovation, brains, and hygienic sensibility for safe materials- {copper, stainless steel, glass, only}, you can produce a safe personal quantity easily in your kitchen (with the windows open) Using a basic electric hot plate again for about 20 Euros, I first heat the wash on my propane kitchen stove to about 140 F degrees, then transfer it to the electric for the higher temperatures, connect the worm with my clamp, apply the flour paste, (Electric has a very slow start up time- and fire heat from propane, allows a safe speed start after safely removed at 140 Degrees F.)

and 3 hours later, its a run.

Alas the clean up - :D

No problem- at a cost of 3.50 and electricity, I have top spirit in both quality and cost.

All critiques, praises, and observations are welcome.

Pictures to be included soon

Zwinzilious :D
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby kiwistiller » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:54 pm

Welcome along, sounds like you've been doing alright on your own though. :D
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby zwinzilious » Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:03 am

Thanks!
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby zwinzilious » Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:05 pm

Picture of my second run
PICT4540.JPG
Cuts of newest second run of my first run
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby zwinzilious » Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:14 pm

I fill the tub with water, then put 2l frozen water bottles for cooling. The plastic around the ice prevents faster melting, while cooling the worm in combination with the water in the tub without the need for continuous water flow for 4-5 hours. 3 frozen 2L water bottles works perfect for one run.
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby Kentucky shinner » Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:47 pm

home engineering at its finest.
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby kingearwig » Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:00 am

kiwistiller wrote:Welcome along, sounds like you've been doing alright on your own though. :D

Not quite on his own... :wink:
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby charles1001 » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:50 pm

love the design.
am looking into something simmilar myself as my pressure cooker still is deemed useless thanks to the rubber seal.
do you hold down the lid to the stock pot in any way or does it just sit on top happily without the need to be sealed, ie. is airtight?
thanks.
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby zwinzilious » Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:32 am

Flour Paste and a tight belt through the handles works wonders. :D Zero vapor escape. The actual pressure of a run is minimal, even at higher temperatures
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby charles1001 » Thu Sep 16, 2010 10:02 am

brilliant! :D, didnt think of that! :lol: and the flower paste doesnt get into the wash?
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby loneswinger » Thu Sep 16, 2010 10:54 am

I like it too. Yep it is that easy. I still have 10 liter unit that I use for test batches. Just used it last night! Once your 'friends' find your hooch, that little guy might find it hard to keep up. (I say 'friends' in quotes because they didn't become that way until after I started stillin) If you can keep it out of there grubby hands, you should be just fine.

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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby zwinzilious » Thu Sep 16, 2010 10:23 pm

Credit is due to Kingearwig for the flour paste suggestion. (You won't be happy about that flour paste at clean up time though) 24 to 48 hours soaked in dishwasher soap, and some fierce scrubbing. Good as new- run number 2 :D
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby father william » Fri Sep 17, 2010 5:05 pm

I used to use a piece of pure natural latex surgical tubing, slit the long way, as a gasket between my 10 litre stock pot and the upside down stainless bowl on top of it. Still consider it a safe product (according to wiki latex dissolves in turpentine and naphtha but not ethanol/methanol etc), but I had persistent leakage problems where it overlapped. Also, the medical supply dealer where I bought it had an annoying habit of shorting me a couple of inches. Pretty pathetic on a three dollar purchase, but it kept happening.

Hit upon the alternative of an uncooked tortilla made of 1/4 cup white flour and 1/8 cup water, rolled out into a rectangular shape about 8" long and 2" wide. I roll the tortilla several times, folding it over onto itself like Damascus steel or a Samurai sword.

I cut it in half the long way, then cut each half in half again to get 4 8" strips. I wet both sides with a drip from the sink, then lay them down on the rim of the filled stock pot and push the edges over the inner and outer edge like an upside down "U". Overlap each joint about half an inch.

Haven't had a leak since I started doing it, and I no longer have to do business with unethical people. Don't know if it will work on your pot but it doesn't take all day to chip/clean off. I can get it off in about 5 minutes or less, both pot and bowl, using a wet Scotch Brite pad and a sponge. However, you'll find a few flour 'worms' in the pot when you dump it out. They get squeezed into the pot when pressure is applied to the joint.
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby zwinzilious » Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:00 am

Not sure about tortilla's, but flour is cheap, water is free, put the two together, and apply where you please ;)

As the pot gets hot, the flour paste bakes into a tight bonding vapor resistant seal, that for all intents and purposes- works every time. Just keep it on hand, and apply it where you see or hear vapor. In less that 2 minutes- sealed and problem solved.
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby rad14701 » Sat Sep 18, 2010 3:14 pm

zwinzilious wrote:Not sure about tortilla's, but flour is cheap, water is free, put the two together, and apply where you please ;)

As the pot gets hot, the flour paste bakes into a tight bonding vapor resistant seal, that for all intents and purposes- works every time. Just keep it on hand, and apply it where you see or hear vapor. In less that 2 minutes- sealed and problem solved.

The operative word here is "paste"... All too often I see folks attempting to use "dough"... I've never had a leak with flour paste... And if I need to reposition components before seals get rock hard I just re-wet the pasted joint and it re-seals without issue...
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby blanikdog » Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:07 pm

Cannot beat flour paste. Why hobbiest's even bother with other shit fascinates me. :econfused:
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby kiwistiller » Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:02 pm

And you fascinate us, mate :lol:
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby gatorpizz » Tue Jan 11, 2011 11:00 am

my new still is pretty close to this... I'll take some pictures and post for you entertainment
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby gatorpizz » Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:02 pm

Well, hey's my new still.. It'll hold 3 gallons without puking.

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still by bassplayinsweets, on Flickr
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby rad14701 » Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:05 am

Nothing like a simple pot still to get started with, gatorpizz...
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby gatorpizz » Tue Jan 18, 2011 2:12 pm

rad14701 wrote:Nothing like a simple pot still to get started with, gatorpizz...



This is just something I whipped up for the apartment... dad has got a 25 gallon reflux back at the homestead :)
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby zwinzilious » Sun May 22, 2011 1:02 pm

I have had consistent success with this. Although I would like to take it up a notch and get something a bit bigger scale. Propane burner, beer keg, and start handy work on a column still, however the fact is, I am basically limited to a small balcony and kitchen with strict fire codes, preventing this + nosy neighbors.

These are the cards I am dealt.

The good news is, where you see the worm and a larger than usual cooling reservoir (ie my initial post pictures), I highly recommend one great innovation for others to try. Instead of just putting in ice for cooling the coil, I prefer to freeze solid several 1.5l or 2l plastic bottles then let them float above and have placed under the coil. Experience has shown that if the coil is cool, and the ABV is suitable in the wash, then the output is increased.

A typical run takes 6 hours, so at most I only use 5-6 frozen water filled plastic bottles. This provides maximum cooling, with minimum melting.

Also for my mash/wash vessels, I simply use two 5 liter glass bottles with locally available air locks. Everyone in this (EU country) traditionally ferments a number of products through the generations, and distills them also, so basic supplies are available at supermarkets. ie airlocks made of glass. Using a scaled down to proportion birdwatchers recipe, and the refrigerated baking yeast, has seen best results. It is debatable regarding champagne yeast. The end product is definitely refined, but for the cost to completion consideration, I am now sold on refrigerated bread yeast. It has the most powerful performance of all of them (yield, ABV etc) Miraculous and dirt cheap!

So Note for the Elders-

A first run yields 1.6 litres
Second run about .7litres

Typically I will save 3 first runs yield, combine the contents = 4.8 litres, so this combines 18 hours of runs
with 4 hours for this second run

2 run Likker yield = 2.1 Liters (approx) 70-75 %abv

I did one 3 distillation run, and got 85 %

Yes, a column puts my time and energy to shame, however, this is all done safely in my kitchen on an electric hot plate/burner.

It all adds up.
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby zwinzilious » Sat May 28, 2011 4:30 am

Just an update with a few pictures.

Part of the reason for that extra large reservoir of water I have the coil mounted in, was just pragmatic availability and suitability of materials where I live. Since I cannot constantly run water (this is in a kitchen, in a European country, with high taxes, water, util costs) it made sense to make use of greater volume of water to reduce the heating of the water. To help this process further, I was told to put ice in it. Then a thought occurred. Why not just freeze 1 and 2 liter bottles, and let them float freely in the reservoir and place them beneath the coil submerged in water. I tried this, and found they both cool efficiently, and melt very slowly. A good solution for others to try also.

My usual run takes 5-7 hours and in those 5 to seven hours, I used about 5 frozen bottles. The water stays at about 37 degrees at the base, and about 48 degrees (Fahrenheit) near the surface.

Another very useful tool is the (Ikea Stock pot, and especially the Ikea meat thermometer) modified for my use by drilling a hole through a wine cork and then having this reading provide guidance on the internal state of the pot still.

Following the basic guidance of temperatures on this site, I can distinguish the stages for "cutting" and knowing when the run is "Completed". 204-205 Fahrenheit.

Usual run yields about 1.2 liters.

I run 3 primary distillations, collect and store, and then run a second distillation, from the primaries.

At the moment this satisfies my requirements.

So my process goes like this

Birdwatchers Recipe converted to serve 10 litres put in two 5liter bottles, with a vapor lock. 3 weeks to complete typically
Next 3 runs of the 10 litres
Collection of about just under 4 litres
Add 3 litres water, then run the 2nd distilation.
Bottle, and dilute to 50%abv (flavor etc)

It does the job.

Recommendations and advice, gladly welcomed :thumbup:

Zwinzilious
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby Titus-a-fishus » Sat May 28, 2011 1:04 pm

That last photo is a ripper.
You should take up photography as a side hobby

:ebiggrin: :D

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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby nil_fhios_agam » Fri Jun 17, 2011 1:26 am

Hey - your still looks great. I am considering exactly the same for a test still.
Just a quick question, is the hole in the pot lid soldered or welded? Also, what type of fitting did you use? You say you're in a small apartment with strict fire safety regulations - just wondering how you managed to weld/solder the lid!? This is the only hurdle I have to jump to get my still up and running!
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby rad14701 » Fri Jun 17, 2011 6:32 am

nil_fhios_agam wrote:Hey - your still looks great. I am considering exactly the same for a test still.
Just a quick question, is the hole in the pot lid soldered or welded? Also, what type of fitting did you use? You say you're in a small apartment with strict fire safety regulations - just wondering how you managed to weld/solder the lid!? This is the only hurdle I have to jump to get my still up and running!

Which member are you asking as there are three different designs being presented in this topic by two different members...???
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby nil_fhios_agam » Fri Jun 17, 2011 7:36 am

rad14701 wrote:
nil_fhios_agam wrote:Hey - your still looks great. I am considering exactly the same for a test still.
Just a quick question, is the hole in the pot lid soldered or welded? Also, what type of fitting did you use? You say you're in a small apartment with strict fire safety regulations - just wondering how you managed to weld/solder the lid!? This is the only hurdle I have to jump to get my still up and running!

Which member are you asking as there are three different designs being presented in this topic by two different members...???


Ooopps, sorry. I was directing it at zwinzilious. However, if anyone wants to answer, that would be great too!
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby sparkmaster » Sun Jun 19, 2011 7:47 pm

zwinzilious wrote:I fill the tub with water, then put 2l frozen water bottles for cooling. The plastic around the ice prevents faster melting, while cooling the worm in combination with the water in the tub without the need for continuous water flow for 4-5 hours. 3 frozen 2L water bottles works perfect for one run.



hi I am ignoring my wife as I peruse this site, a small suggestion as I do not know if you will think it silly. If you are going to add ice (and not salt it, as this may be very undoable) consider a small circulation pump to push the water about the tub. I make a lot of stock for soups and I use this method to cool 3 gallon batches faster so I can go to bed and not have it warm up my fridge. I noticed that if I didn't circulate the water it took longer. In the winter I take pots outside if possible and spin them in snow piles If I seat them and leave them they melt in, but much slower.

This is one of the neatest spots on the web!
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Re: Micro Still 9 Litre Wonder

Postby rad14701 » Mon Jun 20, 2011 9:46 am

sparkmaster wrote:
zwinzilious wrote:I fill the tub with water, then put 2l frozen water bottles for cooling. The plastic around the ice prevents faster melting, while cooling the worm in combination with the water in the tub without the need for continuous water flow for 4-5 hours. 3 frozen 2L water bottles works perfect for one run.



hi I am ignoring my wife as I peruse this site, a small suggestion as I do not know if you will think it silly. If you are going to add ice (and not salt it, as this may be very undoable) consider a small circulation pump to push the water about the tub. I make a lot of stock for soups and I use this method to cool 3 gallon batches faster so I can go to bed and not have it warm up my fridge. I noticed that if I didn't circulate the water it took longer. In the winter I take pots outside if possible and spin them in snow piles If I seat them and leave them they melt in, but much slower.

This is one of the neatest spots on the web!

Circulating the water in a flake stand (worm in a bucket) is not as effective as leaving the static water to rely on convection... Having the top get hot while the bottom remains cold maintains a temperature gradient throughout the worm rather than having the entire volume of cooling water gradually increase in temperature...
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