Second run (w/ Fractional Reflux operation instructions)

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Second run (w/ Fractional Reflux operation instructions)

Postby leeb72 » Mon Nov 05, 2007 8:50 am

I just finished my second run. Started with 7gals of ujsm and I have a question? My first run was the same but just a shake down run I returned all the first distill to the second run (almost all). I held my ½ Keg boiler at 165 deg for 30 minutes and the column (reflux 2inch x 3 foot with offset 15inch condenser) never got above 110 deg. So I slowly raised the temp in the boiler to 180 deg. And the temp in the column came up to 150-165 deg at the condenser I took about a half cup off at full strip, then at 170-175 deg I let it run full reflux for 1 hour after. Did I go too fast and should I wait to see if the column temp would come up at 165 boiler temp? I was trying to use temp control to cut the heads and tails? I collected at 170 – 190 deg until it slowed way down then kicked it up to 198 – 200 to collect and finish the Tails.
Am I close?
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Re: Second run

Postby Husker » Mon Nov 05, 2007 9:17 am

leeb72 wrote:I just finished my second run. Started with 7gals of ujsm and I have a question? My first run was the same but just a shake down run I returned all the first distill to the second run (almost all). I held my ½ Keg boiler at 165 deg for 30 minutes and the column (reflux 2inch x 3 foot with offset 15inch condenser) never got above 110 deg. So I slowly raised the temp in the boiler to 180 deg. And the temp in the column came up to 150-165 deg at the condenser I took about a half cup off at full strip, then at 170-175 deg I let it run full reflux for 1 hour after. Did I go too fast and should I wait to see if the column temp would come up at 165 boiler temp? I was trying to use temp control to cut the heads and tails? I collected at 170 – 190 deg until it slowed way down then kicked it up to 198 – 200 to collect and finish the Tails.
Am I close?


Can you provide a little more information? First off, are you shooting for a flavored drink, or for a totally neutral drink. The answer to that question will totally change how the rest of your original question gets answered.

I know you produced UJSM, but some people use that recipe for neutrals also (it works fine producing a wash to run for a vodka, even though it is a wash designed for a whiskey-like moonshine drink.

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Postby leeb72 » Mon Nov 05, 2007 9:44 am

I'm just starting out as you can tell so neutral for now and flavored later on as I reuse the sour mash and it gets better. Also I just installed a thermometer in the boiler next to the column. I'm just getting a kick on the whole process.
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Postby Husker » Mon Nov 05, 2007 10:28 am

Ok, since you are running "as" a reflux system, to build a neutral, I would recommend:

0. Be sure your column is insulated. This will help in both stripping, and in running in reflux mode.

1. Fill your boiler, and do a stripping run (when you have your wash done). When you do this, dont try to reflux anything, just leave the take-off valve wide open, and collect from the beginning, until the EtOH is been fully boiled off.

2. Save up these stripped runs (called low wines). These will be much stronger than your original mash, and will contain NO solids.

3. When you have 3 or 4 mash runs stripped, you should have a still charge of low wines. Now, run these low wines in a spirit run, using reflux.

Reflux run:

0. Close your output valve totally (you want to start out in 100% reflux mode). Also fire up your pump to make sure your condenser is running. Hopefully, you can control the water flow to your condenser to some point, as it will allow you to produce a cleaner product).

1. Bring mash up to boil. When things get to boiling, the temp will rise up the column. At this time, you want to run 100% reflux.

2. When the top of the still head gets hot (say 170°F), turn down your flame. You still want to keep a boil, but you do not need to have too much heat being input.

3. Slowly turn your condenser water supply down. Turn the condenser flow rate down until water being output it pretty hot, but so that there is NO vapor escaping. This will cause the distillate being returned to the reflux to be pretty warm.

4. Reflux 100% like this (equilibrium) for at least 30 minutes (an hour is not out of the question). What you are doing during this time is to build a proper gradient of different products within the column. The most volatile will all be concentrated in the top of the column.

5. Now, just barely crack open the output valve. Take off (about a drop per second), and collect 150 to 250 ml of foreshots. Monitor the temp in the still head. It should rise a little. NOTE the foreshots should NOT be put into your next spirit run, but can be used for things like ant killer, fuel for a white gas lantern, or you can sterilize equipment with it. But never drink, or "recycle" this part of your product.

6. Switch out your foreshot container, with a container for the heads. Slowly collect the heads. Again, watch the temp of the top of the column, watch the temp of the condenser output (so that it is very warm, but that NO vapors are escaping). Keep the output rate at a drop or so a second. Monitor the smell and taste (water down if testing taste, and spit). Run like this, until the off flavor/smell heads are gone.

7. Close off your output valve, increase the water flow rate of the condenser a little, turn up the input heat just a touch (if using propane), and run under 100% for 15 minutes or so.

8. Open up the output valve, to get 2-3 drops per second, and take off 150ml or so (into the heads container). Monitor your column temp, and make sure the condenser is knocking down everything. Also, smell/taste what just came out, to make sure you are out of the heads.

9. Now switch to the collection of the body. You can do a lot of this using the thermometer (in the column top). The temp will stay pretty constant, if you are running at an appropriate rate. Just what this take off rate is, you will have to find. It is a combination of heat being put into the boiler, amount of cooling happening within the condenser (i.e. how cold your reflux liquid is), and the amount of distillate being dumped back into the column (i.e. the reflux ratio). Usually, about a 4 to 1 reflux ratio works pretty good.

10. Run the still like this, using the take off valve to control the ABV% of the output, and the temp at the top of the column, trying to keep them as stable as you can.

11. When you get to the point of about 75-80% of the EtOH being removed (you can pre-compute how much EtOH is in your starting still charge, and you can compute how much has been taken out, by measuring the volumes and ABV of what you have recovered). When you get to 75% our, you will probably have backed of the take off rate quite a bit, to keep the temp stable in the top of the column, and in keeping the ABV has high as you can. At this time, you might have to re-equalize every once in a while to keep the ABV rate consistant. However, one thing you should do, is to switch from any main "body" containers, to much smaller containers (say 200ml). Now is the time you will be transitioning into the tails. Collecting small amounts, will allow you to make a very careful "cut" over to tail, later.

12. When you fully detect that you have reached the tails (ABV falling off, temp spiking, and you are not able to keep them stable any more), then simply kick up the cooling to full, kick up the heat in the boiler some, and open the take off valve wide open. Collect tails until there is almost no EtOH being output.

13. The last of your heads collection, and the first part of the tails collection containers should be left open (covered with a coffee filter), over night to air out. The next day, you can sample these , and see if any of them can be added to the main body.

14. The other parts (not the foreshots), will be dumped into your feigns jar, and you can dump this in on your next spirit run.

15. The body should be left open, but covered, with cloth or coffee filters, for a day or so, to breath.

You should end up with a heck of a nice neutral. Also, it really is not as complex as it sounds like in my instructions. The main things you want to do, is to get the column equalized, and then once it is equalized, you simply want to keep it equalized, while you take off some of the product.

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Postby leeb72 » Mon Nov 05, 2007 11:15 am

Thanks and I think I see more clearly now It's the temp at the take off point that I'm most concerned with as far as the cuts (until I can tell the difference by taste and smell)and to get the flavor then I think I would run with out the packing as a pot still?
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Postby Bohunk » Mon Nov 05, 2007 11:54 am

Husker, what an awesome answer... You have continually provide a lot
of folks with help, there are few folks here willing to take the time to help
like this. Proud of you dude!!! Now if only those other huskers could make me proud again, damm.

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Postby Husker » Mon Nov 05, 2007 11:59 am

Bohunk wrote:Husker, what an awesome answer... You have continually provide a lot
of folks with help, there are few folks here willing to take the time to help
like this. Proud of you dude!!! Now if only those other huskers could make me proud again, damm.

The Bohunk


I dont expect the "other" Huskers will make us too proud any time soon. It is a sad time, when the defense is not even up to blackshirt standards, and have to lose them.

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Postby Husker » Mon Nov 05, 2007 12:08 pm

leeb72 wrote:Thanks and I think I see more clearly now It's the temp at the take off point that I'm most concerned with as far as the cuts (until I can tell the difference by taste and smell)and to get the flavor then I think I would run with out the packing as a pot still?


Actually, it is the temp at the top of the column (not the take off). You want to know the temp of this vapor. That will be the "fractional" product that you will be taking off at any given moment. You simply try to keep this temp to as close as you can to azeotrope ethanol boiling temp (78.1°C or 172.5°F ). If you can learn to keep the top of your column at this temp, then you will produce good end results.

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Postby leeb72 » Mon Nov 05, 2007 2:38 pm

I said at the take off point I but I was thinking of where the vapor exits the column to the condenser. Thanks I agree it is a great answer and to think I'm from Oklahoma and we can still get along. Maybe there is someting to this new hobby. Cheers :lol:
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Postby tracker0945 » Mon Nov 05, 2007 3:51 pm

Great set of instructions Husker. Congratulations
Should be compulsory reading for every newby.
I believe it is a better description than available on the home site.
The link should be stored somewhere easily accessible.
2"x38" Bok mini and
Pot still with Leibig on 45 litre boiler
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Postby Husker » Mon Nov 05, 2007 4:00 pm

tracker0945 wrote:Great set of instructions Husker. Congratulations
Should be compulsory reading for every newby.
I believe it is a better description than available on the home site.
The link should be stored somewhere easily accessible.


I like replying to someone who has a still that I know how it works.

Unfortunately, my instructions are not the most helpful for people who use the older design (and non-optimal from my point of view) still, where the cooling coils go through the column, vs a still which allows for fractional reflux (which would include a 100% reflux). The older design (internal reflux) take quite different instructions, and achieving and maintaining equilibrium with them is not easy.

I feel sorry for someone who has spent a lot of time building one of those stills (or worse yet spent hard earned cash on one), as they will never be able to produce top quality results.

Both the offset head design, and the inline (bokabob) design are true LM (liquid managment) fractional stills, and the instructions I have listed in this email, if used properly, will produce a FINE quality neutral, that will be as good as the still can produce. Most stills with a meter of copper mesh packed column, can produce a neutral that needs NO carbon filtering (possibly a day or so of aering out) and will be clean and VERY odor/taste free.

H.

Edit: It is funny that I wrote this, since 95% of what I do is run a pot still to produce flavored drink :) However, I use the column for my worst feigns and have gotten to where I can produce quite a bit of very good neutral from some VERY skanky waste product :) (well, very little goes to waste at my house). Also, if you screw up your body run (and it gets some tails in it), simply water it down a bit, and put it back in the boiler. You can always use your still to "fix" fuxor up's.
Last edited by Husker on Mon Nov 05, 2007 4:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby tracker0945 » Mon Nov 05, 2007 4:03 pm

I use the Bok Mini and the instructions are spot on for that.
2"x38" Bok mini and
Pot still with Leibig on 45 litre boiler
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Postby punkin » Tue Nov 06, 2007 10:31 am

tracker0945 wrote:Great set of instructions Husker. Congratulations
Should be compulsory reading for every newby.
I believe it is a better description than available on the home site.
The link should be stored somewhere easily accessible.


Perhaps Husker and a mod should get together and paste it into a sticky :wink:
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Postby tracker0945 » Tue Nov 06, 2007 3:42 pm

My thoughts exactly Punkin.
Right at the top where no-one can miss it.
It only needs to be highlighted that this refers to reflux stills not Pot stills.
Maybe he could write a similar operation set for the pots?
What about it Husker and Uncle Jesse?
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Postby Husker » Tue Nov 13, 2007 9:27 am

This post has been moved into the "Novice Distillers" section, because it contains the "how to" for operations of a fractionating reflux still.

It has not been made sticky (yet), but it possibly will be at some later time.

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Postby leeb72 » Tue Nov 13, 2007 9:40 am

Yep these are great instructions. Follow them and made my third run this time no packing and distilled some fine shine. I like the shine better than the neutral "vodka" but my wife likes the vodka better so to to the novice distillers follow these instructions they work. Great site! :)
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Postby Blais » Wed Nov 14, 2007 2:32 pm

Please sticky! I'm planning on a reflux build and the tips in this thread are the best I've read so far.
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Postby Skymeat » Sun Nov 25, 2007 5:20 pm

Husker, those are wonderfully laid out instructions.
I appreciate a "Step 0."


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Postby CanadianWhiskey » Tue Mar 18, 2008 1:20 pm

wow thats awsome just what i need to know!!!

one question what if i dont have a second valve to return the distillate back over the packing down the coloumn>
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Postby Husker » Tue Mar 18, 2008 3:28 pm

CanadianWhiskey wrote:wow thats awsome just what i need to know!!!

one question what if i dont have a second valve to return the distillate back over the packing down the coloumn>


You do not need a second valve. Simply put a tube that is straight (possibly just a tiny down slope). Then have that tube not be at the bottom of the T's cup, but instead it's inlet is just a little bit up. Thus, the liquid will pool up just a little, until it reaches the inlet to that tube, and then flow to the column. Then you simply have a single needle valve on the actual take off, and that controls the reflux amount.

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Postby CanadianWhiskey » Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:16 am

ok great ill solder that together when i get home. so insted of it being from the bottom of the cup place it on the side!!!
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Postby CanadianWhiskey » Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:27 am

one more thing i just read....the hotter my condensor is the faster the reflux product will come out and the colder the slower is that right?????
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Postby theholymackerel » Wed Mar 19, 2008 7:36 am

Howdy Canadianwhiskey.

Yer enthusiasm is appreciated, but I'm worried. You have asked alot of questions that show that you don't understand the basic theory of distillation.

If ya have carefully read the parent site then ya need to go back and do some re-readin'. If ya haven't read, read, and re-read the parent site, why the hell are ya askin' us to spoon feed ya?


I know the parent site is confusin', but once you've taken enough of it in it'll start comin' together and makin' sence.






I wish ya luck.
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Postby DocJohn » Tue Mar 25, 2008 8:08 am

Husker,

Thanks for the great job. I will take spoon feeding since all the theory in the world wont replace experience. I am building an offset head model now and am working on my mash as we speak. Thanks for putting it all into a kinda "now do this" format. Not being able to run this with someone with experience is tough. The on the job training in this hobby is expensive and time consuming. This will help alot of us newbiees save hard work.

Two quick questions... could you offer a modifed version for someone not wanting to do neutrals, just corn whiskey or bourbon white dog... and is copper pot scrubber mesh satisfactory or do I really need to buy the raushe rings for running in reflux? The price difference isnt that much when you look at it but I dont want to spend money I dont need to.

Anyway thanks for being patient with our questions. Some on the board are alot less freindly in thier responses I have read. This is a novice section after all..

Drink it like ya made it,

DOC
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Postby Husker » Tue Mar 25, 2008 9:02 am

DocJohn wrote:Husker,

Thanks for the great job. I will take spoon feeding since all the theory in the world wont replace experience. I am building an offset head model now and am working on my mash as we speak. Thanks for putting it all into a kinda "now do this" format. Not being able to run this with someone with experience is tough. The on the job training in this hobby is expensive and time consuming. This will help alot of us newbiees save hard work.

Two quick questions... could you offer a modifed version for someone not wanting to do neutrals, just corn whiskey or bourbon white dog... and is copper pot scrubber mesh satisfactory or do I really need to buy the raushe rings for running in reflux? The price difference isnt that much when you look at it but I dont want to spend money I dont need to.

Anyway thanks for being patient with our questions. Some on the board are alot less freindly in thier responses I have read. This is a novice section after all..

Drink it like ya made it,

DOC


Your welcome Doc. I would strongly recommend using copper (TRUE copper, and not copper plated iron) or actually "structured copper" packing, vs raushe rings/saddles. The amount of surface area on the structured copper is significantly MORE than the rings, and thus, you will get BETTER performance.

Your second question is about doing non-neutrals. Now IMHO, this question is significantly different than this thread. You "can" use an offset head to do this, but it is less than ideal, and what works better, is a pot still with little or no column (again, IMHO).

If you do want to run your offset head in this manner, ignore my prior instructions (heat and cooling type regulations). When running in this "mode", simply remove ALL (or almost all) packing material, and insulate the column WELL. You might leave one or two copper scrubber(s) in there, just to get a little more copper surface, however, you are NOT wanting reflux. When you run in this mode, simply crank the output WIDE open. NOTE you "might" run in a reflux mode in the very beginning, to remove the foreshots, and "concentrate" the heads into a smaller quantity. When I ran a couple runs in my offset "simulating" a pot still, I tried this, and it works, but in the end, I think it was not the much of an improvement, from simply having the output wide open (for NO reflux), and then doing separations, and putting the heads into your next spirit run. If I was using an offset to do this today, I would run in that manner (wide open the full run).

One point I want to stress again when you are running a column still in this manner. That is INSULATE that column. The column will reflux even without packing, and without distillate return. You want that refluxing to be a "minimum" (some is OK, but keep it low, or you will lose flavors).

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Postby DocJohn » Wed Mar 26, 2008 8:34 am

Husker,

Thank you SO much for your time and wisdom. Thats exactly what I THOUGHT from what I read that I should do, but wasnt sure. Now that I have got at least a strong understanding of of the reflux process and how to do it, it was something I wanted to be able to do if I chose. So I am building the offset with intention of not running in reflux mode mostly but being able to if I chose.

I will start lookng for a source for copper scrubbers now, Home Depot maybe.. I dunno.

On the insulateing side, I have seen you mention that in numerous posts. Am I understanding you right in that you mean to insulate the colum pipe itself on the outside, like the black foam piple insulation you can buy for the pipes under your house? Or am I lost here.

Thanks again for all you help and I will pray for the return of the black shiirts. My buddy is a Husker fan and I have no more joy in his saddness... lol. F@ckin USC.....
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Postby Husker » Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:35 am

These guys have very good copper packing:

http://www.amphora-society.com/equip_1.html

The insulation is just as you thought (the black pipe insulation works just fine). I am sure that cheaper solutions could be found, but I simply took the insulation made for 3/4" pipe, split it half, and took 4 of those "halves", and some zip ties and encircled my column with them (NOTE I run my column with insulation whenever running it, not just IF I were doing pot still mode). I think I got 6 4' sections of pipe insulation for like 2 dollars, and only needed 2 of them to get the job done (the others make nice swords for the kids to whack each other with).

One thing you might look into doing, is making 2 different still heads, and then making a coupler for your boiler that fits either of these still heads. Then you can simply take the reflux column off, and insert the pot still head, or vs versa. One way to get by with just a single head, is to make the column itself be the part that is remove. I did it this way (but made a different pot still head later). Thus, I have a bowl on my keg (note you could do this with tri-clamps right on top of the keg much easier). Onto that bowl, I put a female threaded copper fitting. Then on the column, I have a male fitting on one end, and a female fitting on the other. On the bottom of my offset head, I have a male fitting. That way, I could fit the column in between the bowl's fitting, OR I could remove the column, and mount the still head right to the bowl's fitting (Still have a short, about 8" column, but not the 46" main column).

Since you are starting out, you can easily be creative (unless you have already "finished" your still production, when a true shiner never seems to do LOL).

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Postby mbasketcase13 » Wed Mar 26, 2008 1:43 pm

Actually the only place i've found real copper scrubbers is at of all places is KMart if you still have one in your area check it out
remember the 7 p's
prior proper planning prevents piss poor
performance
semper fi
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Postby DocJohn » Thu Mar 27, 2008 10:37 am

Hey guys thanks for the info.

Husker, I am not done with the still yet but am going with the plans for the valved reflux frommoonshine-still.com/. I have seen some guys if different forums seem to like this design. However, I am a man who is flexible on his ideas... so you suggestion is make the offset head interchangeable or the entire colum? Seems to me a 36" coloum is a coloum is a coloum... but to change the head would require a different type of condenser... since the offset head has the coil in it. I am not sure I follow, I thought running it unpacked and reflux closed would be a pot still no?

Thanks,

DOC
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Postby Husker » Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:43 pm

What I did was make the column itself be the "removable" part.

You can do this with an offset head, a bokabob inline (or any other head for that matter, I guess).

Putting a threaded fitting on the boiler (female), and then building a column with a male on one end, and a female on the other, and then building the still head (in my case it was offset design), and putting a male threaded fitting on the still head.

Then I can simply screw the still head (the head has no column) right to the boiler, and have it work. Or, I can screw the column to the boiler, and then screw the still head on to the top of this column.

It is the same boiler, same still head, but now it is a column still with a 46" column between the boiler and the bottom input of the offset still head.

So, my still head is NOT attached to the column. The column is not attached to the boiler. They all separate, and I can put them together in any way. Thus it allows this still to be more versatile.

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