Running a column still

Vapor, Liquid or Cooling Management. Flutes, plates, etc.

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TedL
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Running a column still

Post by TedL » Sun Feb 05, 2017 11:45 am

Hey guys I have a 25 gallon modular column still with a 4 inch copper column. I can run 1 plate or all 6. I run 3 to make corn and rye shine. I started with a 10 gallon pot still and thumper but just recently upgraded to this beautiful beast. I did research on how to run a column still
As I understand it is you reflux with the defleg for 30-45 minutes and bleed off the heads. I'm kinda new at running this thing so if anyone can give me some tips on how to run this thing better I would highly appreciate it. I tried adding pictures of my still but this website makes it impossible.

-Ted
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Re: Running a column still

Post by Opdog » Sun Feb 05, 2017 1:42 pm

Now that you have been properly chastised, try starting here: http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopi ... 17&t=19889.
I run a modular 5 plate flute and found this thread helpful when I started. That said, each still is different so ymmv. Until you get a good sense of how heads, hearts, and tails feel, smell and taste, it is very hard to have an intelligent conversation about optmizing your operation.

As a suggestion, I would read the thread above, make and run a few batches of Birdwatchers, then come back and ask some targeted questions about how to optimize your operation. Also it helps for us to see your rig. Do you have a thermometer? If so what kind and where is it mounted. Mine is an old school analog mounted under the dephlag. If yours is mounted over the dephlag any answer I give you would be essentially useless. How are you heating your boiler? What kind of control do you have over you dephlag? There are so many factors that go into it that without these details we can't help you that much.

After you have made a few runs, you will start to get the hang of it and have specific question that we can answer. We hammer the rules for safe stilling all the time. Follow the rules and you will have a safe product. It may not taste great the first few tries, but the only way to learn how to do it right is by actually doing it.
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Re: Running a column still

Post by TedL » Sun Feb 05, 2017 3:30 pm

Opdog wrote:Now that you have been properly chastised, try starting here: http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopi ... 17&t=19889.
I run a modular 5 plate flute and found this thread helpful when I started. That said, each still is different so ymmv. Until you get a good sense of how heads, hearts, and tails feel, smell and taste, it is very hard to have an intelligent conversation about optmizing your operation.

As a suggestion, I would read the thread above, make and run a few batches of Birdwatchers, then come back and ask some targeted questions about how to optimize your operation. Also it helps for us to see your rig. Do you have a thermometer? If so what kind and where is it mounted. Mine is an old school analog mounted under the dephlag. If yours is mounted over the dephlag any answer I give you would be essentially useless. How are you heating your boiler? What kind of control do you have over you dephlag? There are so many factors that go into it that without these details we can't help you that much.

After you have made a few runs, you will start to get the hang of it and have specific question that we can answer. We hammer the rules for safe stilling all the time. Follow the rules and you will have a safe product. It may not taste great the first few tries, but the only way to learn how to do it right is by actually doing it.
Thanks opdog you're a nice fella'. I'm using propane for heating until I get the money to buy a controller. I have a fire extinguisher near by. My thermometer is an analog mounted above the dephlag. Is it bad that's its mounted above?
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Re: Running a column still

Post by Opdog » Sun Feb 05, 2017 4:28 pm

The placement of the thermometer doesn't matter much, but I'm measuring liquid temp or reflux temp and you are measuring vapor temp. The important values will be different. The analog vs digital doesn't really matter except in response time. My analog lags a little and my dephlag is a little oversized. This means that I have to be very careful when I adjust the coolant flow. Again - this is still specific. It took me maybe 5 runs before I could really start dialing it in and anticipating when to adjust the coolant flow. With propane you will have less control over the heat input, so you will need to keep an eye on your plates and what is coming of the product condenser. You can't run a still based on solely on temp., but it will give you a good idea on when to adjust you coolant flows.




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Re: Running a column still

Post by TedL » Sun Feb 05, 2017 6:21 pm

Opdog wrote:The placement of the thermometer doesn't matter much, but I'm measuring liquid temp or reflux temp and you are measuring vapor temp. The important values will be different. The analog vs digital doesn't really matter except in response time. My analog lags a little and my dephlag is a little oversized. This means that I have to be very careful when I adjust the coolant flow. Again - this is still specific. It took me maybe 5 runs before I could really start dialing it in and anticipating when to adjust the coolant flow. With propane you will have less control over the heat input, so you will need to keep an eye on your plates and what is coming of the product condenser. You can't run a still based on solely on temp., but it will give you a good idea on when to adjust you coolant flows.
I ran my still 3 times so far, my last run of a corn and rye sugar wash came out pretty good, but it could always be better. I control my dephlag with a needle valve and i can dial it in pretty good. I use recirculating water in a big trash can thing and it warms up so freaking fast. So I'm going to stretch my garden hose to my distilling area and use some fittings to connect it to the dephlag and use a brass valve to control the water flow. Replacing the cooling water every 20 minutes takes the fun out of 'stilling. Do you have any pictures up of your rig?
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Re: Running a column still

Post by TedL » Mon Feb 06, 2017 5:20 am

Opdog wrote:The placement of the thermometer doesn't matter much, but I'm measuring liquid temp or reflux temp and you are measuring vapor temp. The important values will be different. The analog vs digital doesn't really matter except in response time. My analog lags a little and my dephlag is a little oversized. This means that I have to be very careful when I adjust the coolant flow. Again - this is still specific. It took me maybe 5 runs before I could really start dialing it in and anticipating when to adjust the coolant flow. With propane you will have less control over the heat input, so you will need to keep an eye on your plates and what is coming of the product condenser. You can't run a still based on solely on temp., but it will give you a good idea on when to adjust you coolant flows.
So I'm running 3 plates for shine and for flavor. Would there be a big difference if I ran 4 plates? I would think I would get better separation of the heads and a less flavorful product?
Last edited by TedL on Mon Feb 06, 2017 1:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Running a column still

Post by Rain Distillate » Mon Feb 06, 2017 7:52 am

http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopi ... 87&t=63156

I started this thread^^^^ with similar questions. Hope this helps.
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finally have some pictures

Post by TedL » Mon Feb 06, 2017 2:06 pm

I call it the rain maker. Beautiful 4 inch copper

still1.jpg
Last edited by TedL on Tue Feb 07, 2017 7:02 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Running a column still

Post by TedL » Mon Feb 06, 2017 2:08 pm

Inside view of the plates and they work great
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still2.jpg
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Re: Running a column still

Post by rad14701 » Mon Feb 06, 2017 3:49 pm

TedL, please upload you images directly to the HD server instead of relying on external hosting... This is becoming an exhausting daily task to get new members to host locally... When you use external hosts those hosts invariably make changes and all externally hosted images are lost forever, rendering topics useless... Whether on a dumbphone or PC, use the upload feature so your images will remain a part of this site for years to come... Please refer to the Image Uploading and Posting Etiquette topic in the Forum Rules, Notifications and Helpful Hints subforum... You should have read that entire subforum as part of your mandatory research... It would be nice if there was a way to insure that potential members have read it in full before being granted an account here, unfortunately there isn't...

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Re: Running a column still

Post by TedL » Mon Feb 06, 2017 6:00 pm

rad14701 wrote:TedL, please upload you images directly to the HD server instead of relying on external hosting... This is becoming an exhausting daily task to get new members to host locally... When you use external hosts those hosts invariably make changes and all externally hosted images are lost forever, rendering topics useless... Whether on a dumbphone or PC, use the upload feature so your images will remain a part of this site for years to come... Please refer to the Image Uploading and Posting Etiquette topic in the Forum Rules, Notifications and Helpful Hints subforum... You should have read that entire subforum as part of your mandatory research... It would be nice if there was a way to insure that potential members have read it in full before being granted an account here, unfortunately there isn't...
Finally figured it out. Do you want me to delete these previous pictures?
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Re: Running a column still

Post by rad14701 » Mon Feb 06, 2017 6:19 pm

TedL wrote:
rad14701 wrote:TedL, please upload you images directly to the HD server instead of relying on external hosting... This is becoming an exhausting daily task to get new members to host locally... When you use external hosts those hosts invariably make changes and all externally hosted images are lost forever, rendering topics useless... Whether on a dumbphone or PC, use the upload feature so your images will remain a part of this site for years to come... Please refer to the Image Uploading and Posting Etiquette topic in the Forum Rules, Notifications and Helpful Hints subforum... You should have read that entire subforum as part of your mandatory research... It would be nice if there was a way to insure that potential members have read it in full before being granted an account here, unfortunately there isn't...
Finally figured it out. Do you want me to delete these previous pictures?
If you can still edit the post, why not replace those images with uploads...??? That way we this topic will retain continuity...

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Re: Running a column still

Post by Rain Distillate » Tue Feb 07, 2017 6:28 am

rad14701 wrote:You should have read that entire subforum as part of your mandatory research... It would be nice if there was a way to insure that potential members have read it in full before being granted an account here, unfortunately there isn't...
Perhaps a small multiple choice test on the basic functions of this website...apply for an account, receive email or messaage of some sort, containing 10-15 questions that I see you answer daily Rad. Once they pass the test they can post their greeting/welcome post.

Just an idea.

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Re: Running a column still

Post by TedL » Tue Feb 07, 2017 7:04 am

rain distillate wrote:
rad14701 wrote:You should have read that entire subforum as part of your mandatory research... It would be nice if there was a way to insure that potential members have read it in full before being granted an account here, unfortunately there isn't...
Perhaps a small multiple choice test on the basic functions of this website...apply for an account, receive email or messaage of some sort, containing 10-15 questions that I see you answer daily Rad. Once they pass the test they can post their greeting/welcome post.

Just an idea.

Rain
Good idea!
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Re: Running a column still

Post by Rain Distillate » Wed Feb 08, 2017 11:49 am

Also had this thread that was helpful on dephlegmator.
http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopi ... 87&t=62369
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Re: Running a column still

Post by emptyglass » Fri Feb 10, 2017 8:22 am

if you are aiming for neutral based product, refluxing for 30-45 mins may hold true, although with practice you can reduce this time.

If you want brown spirits, try for a minimum time, as in just enough to charge the column and start drawing off product.

Plates can purify product, or they can pass flavour over. It is more dependant on how you run them that determines the type of product you'll collect.

I'd have thought the supplier of the still would have told you that.
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Re: Running a column still

Post by TedL » Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:42 pm

emptyglass wrote:if you are aiming for neutral based product, refluxing for 30-45 mins may hold true, although with practice you can reduce this time.

If you want brown spirits, try for a minimum time, as in just enough to charge the column and start drawing off product.

Plates can purify product, or they can pass flavour over. It is more dependant on how you run them that determines the type of product you'll collect.

I'd have thought the supplier of the still would have told you that.
Honestly I don't think the supplier knows how to run it. I'm looking for a high flavor profile with good separation of the heads. I guess what you're telling me is to reflux less, just enough to charge the plates. I did a run were I refluxed for 30 minutes or so and I had flavor. But I'm only running 3 plates.
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Re: Running a column still

Post by emptyglass » Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:00 am

3 plates will carry a good amount of flavour over, but maybe for fun try running a shorter reflux time for flavoured spirits and see how you get on.

You could also consider double distilling for vodka's, you might get a more pleasing product.

These columns do take a bit of trial and error to find what makes you happy.
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Re: Running a column still

Post by frunobulax » Mon Feb 13, 2017 3:29 am

I agree, a long reflux time is not necessary. Just long enough to stack the plates and stabilize the column.
My thermometer is also above the deflag. It's good to know that at 172 f. you're in full reflux, but some of the early, lighter stuff will start to condense and drip, and at 173 ish you'll be out
of full reflux and running. I make all grain whiskeys and found that, for my taste, anything more than 2 plates strips too much flavor.
My sweet spot is, 2 plates at 84% and approximately a quart/liter every 20 minutes.

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Re: Running a column still

Post by Tinner22 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 7:48 am

I Agree with frunobulax, on my flavor runs I dont use anyway plates and dont reflux at all and get lots of flavor


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Re: Running a column still

Post by TedL » Mon Feb 13, 2017 8:57 am

frunobulax wrote:I agree, a long reflux time is not necessary. Just long enough to stack the plates and stabilize the column.
My thermometer is also above the deflag. It's good to know that at 172 f. you're in full reflux, but some of the early, lighter stuff will start to condense and drip, and at 173 ish you'll be out
of full reflux and running. I make all grain whiskeys and found that, for my taste, anything more than 2 plates strips too much flavor.
My sweet spot is, 2 plates at 84% and approximately a quart/liter every 20 minutes.
That makes a lot of sense to me and is very helpful. My noob question is, how long do you reflux for? I'm going to be running next week and I'm going to play around with it and try it your way.

-Ted
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Re: Running a column still

Post by Rain Distillate » Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:10 am

[/quote]That makes a lot of sense to me and is very helpful. My noob question is, how long do you reflux for? I'm going to be running next week and I'm going to play around with it and try it your way. -Ted[/quote]

15minute minimum/45 minute maximum are decent averages to go by.

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Re: Running a column still

Post by frunobulax » Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:26 am

I wait 15-20 mins then pull the Fore's and heads off slow, then slowly increase the take off rate when I feel the heads are almost gone. It's hard to say how long
it takes, every run is different. 30-45 minutes I'd guess

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Re: Running a column still

Post by TedL » Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:43 am

frunobulax wrote:I wait 15-20 mins then pull the Fore's and heads off slow, then slowly increase the take off rate when I feel the heads are almost gone. It's hard to say how long
it takes, every run is different. 30-45 minutes I'd guess
OK cool, as you probably read in my earlier post I was refluxing for 30-45 minutes and taking fores and heads off after that. But I'll try and reflux for 20 minutes or so, that'll save me a lot of propane.
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Re: Running a column still

Post by TedL » Mon Feb 13, 2017 12:08 pm

What size columns are you guys running on?
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Re: Running a column still

Post by frunobulax » Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:00 pm

I have a 4" column. The sections look just like Tedl's but the entire still is copper.
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Re: Running a column still

Post by Tinner22 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:01 pm

4"


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Re: Running a column still

Post by Saltbush Bill » Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:13 pm

You only need to get the plates loaded , let them stabilize a bit, a couple of minutes at most.
Then start slowly taking fores off.
All this waiting 15 minutes in full reflux is a waste of time with a plated column still.
Last edited by Saltbush Bill on Mon Feb 13, 2017 3:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Running a column still

Post by bentstick » Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:40 pm

Saltbush Bill wrote:You only need to get the plates loaded , let them stabilize a bit, a couple of minutes at most.
The start slowly taking fores off.
All this waiting 15 minutes in full reflux is a waste of time with a plated column still.

Agree 100%,What makes plated columns as good as they are at what they do!
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Re: Running a column still

Post by frunobulax » Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:49 pm

You guys are probably right about not waiting, I think I do it out of habit from running my Boka.

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