Russian vodka columns

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Russian vodka columns

Postby hernya » Sat Sep 09, 2017 6:10 pm

We have started discussion here http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=67682&p=7488162#p7488162 And now we should proceed here, me interested fresh ideas from western countries.

Do you have ideas about cut heads during process? Simple home column required many time for this. In russia some guys use for this partition condensation of vapour, heads out of from atmosphere tube. Maybe you know best approach for this?
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Re: Russian vodka columns

Postby zapata » Sat Sep 09, 2017 10:15 pm

One thing I wanted to bring up in the other thread where you asked why you don't see rigs like that here. Russians tend to run smaller columns than most on this forum. 2" is about the minimum we see, plenty of 3", even some 4".
With a 2" + column, its just easier to dial it in without needing to run it right at its limit. Which I think is why its more common to see russian rigs designed to run right at the choking/puking limit.
The other thing I have observed is that with seemingly more russians using SPP, there is a higher tendency to run in a flooded or partially condition on purpose.
So not that the design is bad, we just tend to approach it a different way. In fact, I think it's a pretty good solution.
To be honest Im amazed at the performance yall can get out of those smaller columns.

Regarding the heads question, Im not sure exactly what you are saying. It sounds like you are saying that some people use a partial condenser to let just the heads pass the condensor and just escape into the air? That sounds very dangerous to me. And not much faster anyway. Did I read it wrong?
(By the way, we call a partial condenser a dephlegmator, and call that type of still CM for cooling management).

There are very few shortcuts I've found in dealing with heads. Sodium carbonate in low wines breaks ethyl acetate so there is less to separate. Heads columns and heads traps work to save time, but take up precious height and need to be sized to a given wash. Other than that, we just bleed the heads off slowly too.
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Re: Russian vodka columns

Postby der wo » Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:27 am

Silicone is not safe for hot alcohol. We have enough proves here. Chemical resistant charts from the producers/sellers. It may be ok for cold pure alcohol, but not for hot alcohol and vapor and not for foreshots. Of course it's your decision and I understand that it sounds strange for you, because in the Russian forum the members doesn't see a problem with silicone. We use PTFE, if we need a synthetic material. But PTFE isn't such flexible like silicone. There are many places, where silicone would work mechanically and PTFE does unfortunately not. So we generally design our stills, that we don't have to use anything except PTFE or flour paste. Of course such ideas like your flooding meter aren't easy to build without silicone.

Leaving a still unattended is dangerous. Of course again it's your decision, but we won't discuss it here, we have it enough. Except you have really a new idea (arduino isn't a new idea).
It's also, because legislation is possible perhaps in future. We want to present our hobby in a responsible manner.

You should upgrade your column. 28mm is too slow. Two main problems -the need of the silicone tube to check for flooding and leaving the still unattended, because the runs need so much time- are the result of the small diameter.

It's interesting that the nixon-stone replaced the boka in your country. In western countries it's the opposite, the boka replaced the nixon-stone. And the western way sounds logical, because the nixon-stone was first and then the boka came up. Do you know what is the reason, that the Russian distilers moved to the nixon-stone?

How we normally run a LM for neutral:
-We choose a wattage relatively close to flooding, but without a risk, and send all the reflux back into the column a while.
-then we open the needle valve a bit and collect something like 1 drip per second foreshots.
-When the smell gets better we open a little more and collect heads. Those can get recycled with the next batch.
-When the smell seems to be perfect, we open a little more and collect a few small jars.If they are heads or hearts is decided next days.
-Then we collect hearts a bit faster, but always we stay at 95% or more controlled by vapor temp.
-Although we have still 95% or more, the taste will get worse. So at a point we start to collect small jars again and decide later, where start the tails. Many of us collect the whole run in jars. This is the safest way, but more effort.

hernya wrote:In russia some guys use for this partition condensation of vapour, heads out of from atmosphere tube. Maybe you know best approach for this?

I am not sure I understand you right. But yes, a design, which is open to atmosphere at the reflux coil, will loose some foreshots during the 100% reflux phase. If you maintain 100% reflux for 30min you will reduce the foreshots, because extreme volatile compounds like the aplle smell will air out effectively.
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Re: Russian vodka columns

Postby der wo » Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:34 am

"Russian vodka columns". When I read this I think more about the aabratek design:
images.jpg
images.jpg (7.64 KiB) Viewed 345 times

This is a design, I have often seen on bimber.info and almost noone here uses it, although it looks perfect IMO.
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Re: Russian vodka columns

Postby hernya » Sun Sep 10, 2017 4:27 am

zapata wrote:One thing I wanted to bring up in the other thread where you asked why you don't see rigs like that here. Russians tend to run smaller columns than most on this forum. 2" is about the minimum we see, plenty of 3", even some 4".
With a 2" + column, its just easier to dial it in without needing to run it right at its limit. Which I think is why its more common to see russian rigs designed to run right at the choking/puking limit.
The other thing I have observed is that with seemingly more russians using SPP, there is a higher tendency to run in a flooded or partially condition on purpose.
So not that the design is bad, we just tend to approach it a different way. In fact, I think it's a pretty good solution.
To be honest Im amazed at the performance yall can get out of those smaller columns.


This explains a lot, when i'm reading that column on choking/puking should sound like helicopter I could not imagine it.

zapata wrote:Regarding the heads question, Im not sure exactly what you are saying. It sounds like you are saying that some people use a partial condenser to let just the heads pass the condensor and just escape into the air? That sounds very dangerous to me. And not much faster anyway. Did I read it wrong?

der wo wrote:I am not sure I understand you right. But yes, a design, which is open to atmosphere at the reflux coil, will loose some foreshots during the 100% reflux phase. If you maintain 100% reflux for 30min you will reduce the foreshots, because extreme volatile compounds like the aplle smell will air out effectively.

Yes, during process heads escape into the air (ventilation hole) or into glass throught small air coulant condenser. Here reflux condensers acts like partial condenser (dephlegmator) on CM columns. We have opinion that while the column is working new heads are formed.

der wo wrote:Of course it's your decision and I understand that it sounds strange for you, because in the Russian forum the members doesn't see a problem with silicone.

I had suspicions about silicon tubes, but all guys use it's. That you think about brass?

der wo wrote:Leaving a still unattended is dangerous. Of course again it's your decision, but we won't discuss it here, we have it enough. Except you have really a new idea (arduino isn't a new idea).
It's also, because legislation is possible perhaps in future. We want to present our hobby in a responsible manner.

Yes, it's dangerous, russian forums have thread about fires and blow ups :) Who leave column unattended uses different sensors to prevent problem and/or put column outside of home.

der wo wrote:You should upgrade your column. 28mm is too slow. Two main problems -the need of the silicone tube to check for flooding and leaving the still unattended, because the runs need so much time- are the result of the small diameter.

Yes, is slow. I'm satisfied with the current performance. Maybe in future i'm make column from 35mm pipe.

der wo wrote:It's interesting that the nixon-stone replaced the boka in your country. In western countries it's the opposite, the boka replaced the nixon-stone. And the western way sounds logical, because the nixon-stone was first and then the boka came up. Do you know what is the reason, that the Russian distilers moved to the nixon-stone?

View the process inside column is "new way" in Russia. Nixon-stone allow view process inside column. Boka design have obstacles to vapour.

der wo wrote:How we normally run a LM for neutral:
-We choose a wattage relatively close to flooding, but without a risk, and send all the reflux back into the column a while.
-then we open the needle valve a bit and collect something like 1 drip per second foreshots.
-When the smell gets better we open a little more and collect heads. Those can get recycled with the next batch.
-When the smell seems to be perfect, we open a little more and collect a few small jars.If they are heads or hearts is decided next days.
-Then we collect hearts a bit faster, but always we stay at 95% or more controlled by vapor temp.
-Although we have still 95% or more, the taste will get worse. So at a point we start to collect small jars again and decide later, where start the tails. Many of us collect the whole run in jars. This is the safest way, but more effort.

The first point is similar to our approach.
We doesn't split foreshots and heads, and collect together with speed one drip per second. We calculate volume of absolute spiritus and 10% of this is heads, smell is second tool. We not recycle heads, we throw out it or use as solvent. Collecting of hearts similar, but we keep 96%.
When temperature sensor on 2/3 of column height increase on +0.2C or + 0.4C we stop process, we also can wait some time and when sensor show past value we can collect a bit of neutrals. Some guys uses electromagnetic valve for this.This approach for neutrals from simple sugar wash. For grain or fruits (we should save taste and smell) we use approach like your.

der wo wrote:"Russian vodka columns". When I read this I think more about the aabratek design:
images.jpg

This is a design, I have often seen on bimber.info and almost noone here uses it, although it looks perfect IMO.

This design popular too, it's called hockey stick. There is an opinion that the reflux here is excessively cooled.
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Re: Russian vodka columns

Postby der wo » Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:35 am

AFAIK SPP is a Russian development. Also I buyed my SPP from eastern europe (Poland). And I have read often, SPP should be run close to flooding.

It's the first time I hear of partial condensing on purpose running a LM or VM. Yes, a few fores are produced also while distilling. But like written in your welcome thread, rising the pH of the low wines prevents this very effective (BTW do you do single or double runs?). And instead of condensing partially I think it's more safe and effective to air out the distillate a few days (open bottles only covered with coffee filter, cotton wool or similar).

Is your brass lead free? I suspect, that it is not. Also in my country all brass is leaded. I wouldn't use it. Or I would tin it or electroplate it with copper.

42 instead of 28mm will double the maximum wattage. 54 instead of 28 will be 4 times more. 35 instead of 28, I don't think it's worth it.

Nixon-Stone allows view only with something like silicon tubes. You can also "upgrade" a boka with a silicone external return. Many here have bokas with copper external returns.

Yes. The original boka has the thermometer 1/3 down in the column too. Practical for distilling neutrals, impractical for flavored spirits IMO.

Because you search for "fresh ideas". Not everything is really fresh, but perhaps you don't know:
Condenser controlled columns: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=41579
rising the pH of low wines: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6749
adding copper to low wines for stainless stills: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=63358
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Re: Russian vodka columns

Postby der wo » Sun Sep 10, 2017 7:07 am

BTW, I am very interested in Russian flavoring recipes. You do much interesting mazerations, which no one does here. I once tasted a vodka mazerated with leaves from currant bushs I think and then redistilled. It was great. And I have a bottle with the same I think but not redistilled (it has a red color, it's only slight sweet, drying your mouth). A friend of mine is from Russia. And her cousin -a homedistiller- visited her last winter. Because she told him I am interested in spirits and I liked his redistilled spirit, he presented me a bottle to the new year party. Haha, he told me, I didn't tell him... :lol: The downside is, I wasn't able to get details of his recipes without coming out...

This would be a perfect post in your welcome thread. Unfortunately it's locked now... :roll: Whatever. We have a "Shared Recipes" forum. There you can write your recipes and they are not discussed. Or if you want that they will be discussed, there is the "Recipe Development" or the "Flavoring and Aging" forum.
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Re: Russian vodka columns

Postby hernya » Sun Sep 10, 2017 1:28 pm

der wo wrote:AFAIK SPP is a Russian development. Also I buyed my SPP from eastern europe (Poland). And I have read often, SPP should be run close to flooding.

In Russian experienced guys use only the scrubbers. Your SSP can be made from heater wire or welding wire.
Here you can watch process of making SPP https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvyNAMBCpfQ

der wo wrote:It's the first time I hear of partial condensing on purpose running a LM or VM. Yes, a few fores are produced also while distilling. But like written in your welcome thread, rising the pH of the low wines prevents this very effective (BTW do you do single or double runs?). And instead of condensing partially I think it's more safe and effective to air out the distillate a few days (open bottles only covered with coffee filter, cotton wool or similar).

This is experimental approach, some guys do it, most not. We know about sodium, need to try. We always use distillation before reflux (natural gas here is unlimited), wash in reflux column makes packing dirty. I'm doesn't have the few days, i'm spend on it sunday. Russia and safe one word is superfluous :) Here surgeon can use PVC hoses for spirit :)

der wo wrote:Is your brass lead free? I suspect, that it is not. Also in my country all brass is leaded. I wouldn't use it. Or I would tin it or electroplate it with copper.


My brass arrives from Germany :)

der wo wrote:42 instead of 28mm will double the maximum wattage. 54 instead of 28 will be 4 times more. 35 instead of 28, I don't think it's worth it.

Here we have limited electric net, 220V and 10A.

der wo wrote:Nixon-Stone allows view only with something like silicon tubes. You can also "upgrade" a boka with a silicone external return. Many here have bokas with copper external returns.

In our apartments ceiling is 2.5 meters, Boka loses column height. Hockey stick more welcomed here. I think about making glass window in hockey stick.

I'm pickups here interesting idea about the stripping column with packing, in Russia it's not popular, here available commercial plate stripping columns.

der wo wrote:BTW, I am very interested in Russian flavoring recipes. You do much interesting mazerations, which no one does here. I once tasted a vodka mazerated with leaves from currant bushs I think and then redistilled. It was great. And I have a bottle with the same I think but not redistilled (it has a red color, it's only slight sweet, drying your mouth). A friend of mine is from Russia. And her cousin -a homedistiller- visited her last winter. Because she told him I am interested in spirits and I liked his redistilled spirit, he presented me a bottle to the new year party. Haha, he told me, I didn't tell him... :lol: The downside is, I wasn't able to get details of his recipes without coming out...

This would be a perfect post in your welcome thread. Unfortunately it's locked now... :roll: Whatever. We have a "Shared Recipes" forum. There you can write your recipes and they are not discussed. Or if you want that they will be discussed, there is the "Recipe Development" or the "Flavoring and Aging" forum.

I bought a distiller in april, in july i have made reflux column. I'm only had try corn and wheat flour (burns down) i'm had doing it with AG ferments. Now i think about simple vodka after end of 19 century it's becomes neutrals.
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Re: Russian vodka columns

Postby Danespirit » Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:31 pm

Interesting thread.. :)
We always use distillation before reflux (natural gas here is unlimited), wash in reflux column makes packing dirty.

Yup.! It's what most folks in here do too. A quick stripping run in a pot still followed by a spirit run in a reflux column.
So the two connections on the side are for a silicone hose " sight glass"..?
I'd recommend ditching that hose and installing a sight glass instead.
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Re: Russian vodka columns

Postby hernya » Sun Sep 10, 2017 3:45 pm

Danespirit wrote:Interesting thread.. :)
We always use distillation before reflux (natural gas here is unlimited), wash in reflux column makes packing dirty.

Yup.! It's what most folks in here do too. A quick stripping run in a pot still followed by a spirit run in a reflux column.
So the two connections on the side are for a silicone hose " sight glass"..?
I'd recommend ditching that hose and installing a sight glass instead.


Here we have problem with materials. In St. Petersburg i'm know only two shops with copper tubes.
After we shot down a Boeing again we have problems with materials. glass tubes we can obtain only from Cheina.
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Re: Russian vodka columns

Postby zapata » Sun Sep 10, 2017 7:12 pm

Do share some popular russian recipes in the proper forum, I would love to see them too. I'd be interested even if you havent tried them but they are popular.
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Re: Russian vodka columns

Postby der wo » Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:17 am

Yes. We also have diy SPP here. But I thought I need to buy it only once, so why build a machine?

220V 10A is ok for a 54mm column. For 42mm it's too much probably. Depends on packing of course.

Those long columns you run... :crazy:
IMO a such long column has only little benefits. Of course you can get 0.05% abv more and of course this is more pure. But also such a high column needs a very very high reflux ratio, what needs incredible much time. The step from 95% to 96% needs many redistillations, regardless how long the column is and earns in comparision to the number of redistillations only little more purity. Because of that I have begun to try another approach: Triple runs with dilution between. First run potstill stripping, second run reflux, but after the foreshots I pull off really fast, around 90%abv I think, no tails cut. Dilution to 30%. Third run the same like second run, but with tails cut. Two runs to 90% are cleaner and faster than one run to 96% IMO. Is there anyone on your forum with similar ideas?

And the insulation of the reflux condenser is what for?
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Re: Russian vodka columns

Postby still_stirrin » Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:32 am

der wo wrote:...the insulation of the reflux condenser is what for?

Good eye der wo.

I wondered the same thing, only to speculate that it may keep the walls of the condenser tube warm allowing the hot vapors to collect and condense on the condenser coil tubes uniquely. Keeping the jacket warm would help promote convection in the chamber (possibly). In practice, however, I doubt there is much difference in operation/efficiency between the uninsulated and the insulated reflux condenser chamber's jacket.
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Re: Russian vodka columns

Postby Mikey-moo » Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:44 am

Danespirit wrote:Interesting thread.. :)
We always use distillation before reflux (natural gas here is unlimited), wash in reflux column makes packing dirty.

Yup.! It's what most folks in here do too. A quick stripping run in a pot still followed by a spirit run in a reflux column.
So the two connections on the side are for a silicone hose " sight glass"..?
I'd recommend ditching that hose and installing a sight glass instead.


PTFE Tubes would do instead of the silicon - available on ebay from China.

I've only just found out they exist!
Best place to start for newbies - click here - Courtesy of Cranky :-)

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Re: Russian vodka columns

Postby Danespirit » Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:55 am

+1 Mikey
Also, I saw some Pyrex tubes in heavy quality sold from China for very reasonable prices.
Such a tube + PTFE tape to seal it to the copper could be a solution..
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Re: Russian vodka columns

Postby hernya » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:00 pm

zapata wrote:Do share some popular russian recipes in the proper forum, I would love to see them too. I'd be interested even if you havent tried them but they are popular.

Popular? Neutral + carbon filtering + water + a bit of glycerol this is must popular :lol: (this is vodka).
What direction is interesting for you?
Here popular famous international recipes like a whiskey, calvados, etc.
Tinctures from herbs, fruits or berry are popular here.
Also are popular here "whiskey" from different grains (barrel holdingl is optional), buckwheat are enought exotic for you?
Maybe imitation of cognac without grape is interesting for you?

der wo wrote:Yes. We also have diy SPP here. But I thought I need to buy it only once, so why build a machine?

This video means that should be careful when you buy SPP. I wrote that SPP from suspicious dealers could be produced from inappropriate materials and on machine like on video :lol:

der wo wrote:Those long columns you run... :crazy:
IMO a such long column has only little benefits. Of course you can get 0.05% abv more and of course this is more pure. But also such a high column needs a very very high reflux ratio, what needs incredible much time. The step from 95% to 96% needs many redistillations, regardless how long the column is and earns in comparision to the number of redistillations only little more purity. Because of that I have begun to try another approach: Triple runs with dilution between. First run potstill stripping, second run reflux, but after the foreshots I pull off really fast, around 90%abv I think, no tails cut. Dilution to 30%. Third run the same like second run, but with tails cut. Two runs to 90% are cleaner and faster than one run to 96% IMO. Is there anyone on your forum with similar ideas?

Our approach is - build column of height up to ceiling for maximum cleaning of neutrals.
Often our columns have variable height (splitted modules), full height for neutrals products and electric heater, and partial height for gas kitchen stove and products with smell and taste. Some do the same as you write, but i'm wasn't reading details of them process, if i correct remember they do two rectifications to 96%. Their columns are also long, but they want more purity. We always do first distillation without cutting, after this go second distillation or rectify.

der wo wrote:And the insulation of the reflux condenser is what for?

This is experiment for prevent water counter from spin (it's now doesn't spin because autumn arrives). Now i've had move this piece of insulation to other parts of head and leave condenser nude. This for preventing heat loss.

Mikey-moo wrote:PTFE Tubes would do instead of the silicon - available on ebay from China.

I've only just found out they exist!

Tubes is not a problem, problem is a transparency.

Mikey-moo wrote:+1 Mikey
Also, I saw some Pyrex tubes in heavy quality sold from China for very reasonable prices.
Such a tube + PTFE tape to seal it to the copper could be a solution..

I think about glass, here problem install glass tubes on small column, a planned to do this when i comes to build large column. Although, buffer from small glass jar can replace level tube, transparent return is second tool, i can without it.

Sorry, i'm answer too late, my English is bad, and i need have time to spend it to translation.
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Re: Russian vodka columns

Postby der wo » Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:00 am

hernya wrote:What direction is interesting for you?

Especially things you don't find here.
My view of the Russian distillers is that many of them make a clean neutral and then add something for flavor. In general more subtle things in comparision to what the US distillers make (a less clean neutral and then a bunch of fruits and spices. "apple pie" "panty dropper"...)
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