Flour Dough/Paste for sealing

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Flour Dough/Paste for sealing

Postby GingerBreadMan » Thu Mar 20, 2008 3:49 pm

When I first started this hobby I read about using flour dough/paste to seal a pot, but I thought the experienced distillers were just pulling my leg. After all, how could flour + water make a seal. Well when I upgraded from a aluminum pressure cooker to a stainless steel stockpot I thought I would give it a try. To my amazement it works! and it works well!

Here's my technique in pictures. If there any critiques of how I could do it better please let me know.

Here's my stainless steel stock pot -

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As you can see there really isn't much of lip to the pot. I found a stainless steel mixing bowl the exact diameter of the pot. It has a nice lip on it.

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I use this handy little Black&Decker mixer to make the dough. About 1/2 cup flour to 1/4 water. I adjust the mixture with a little water or flour to make a dough that is sticky but not to sticky otherwise it just ends up in my hands.

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I take the dough and break off little chunks and roll it between my fingers to make it about a diameter of a pencil and apply it to the bowl.

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I do a bit at a time, overlapping the ends. I'll wet the dough a bit to make a good seal. Also, not seen in the pic is the dough wraps around the edge of the bowl.

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Then I put the bowl on the pot and clamp it down with some black springy paper clips. I first clip 4 clips at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock to make sure the bowl is exactly aligned.

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Then I finish up by putting the rest of the clips around the bowl.

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This method works really well. Takes very little time. I can fill up my pot with wash and turn on the stove. I have plenty of time to apply the flour dough, seal the bowl and assemble the rest of the still - which I can do in about 8-10 minutes.

That's all.

I've heard of the term flour paste as well. I'm assuming its flour and water but probably a thinner mixture for sealing up different applications like maybe pipe threads.
I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it left.
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Postby Tater » Thu Mar 20, 2008 4:03 pm

Nice job deserves a sticky.
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Postby HookLine » Thu Mar 20, 2008 9:31 pm

tater wrote:Nice job deserves a sticky.


Definitely.
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Postby goose eye » Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:26 am

the ole boys i no call em biscuts.
they only use self risen flour just incase they dont be getin every little spot the biscut will rise an seal.
always make alittle to much so you can fix any leaks.
biscuts comes off easy with hot slops


so im tole
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Postby Jetzon » Fri Mar 21, 2008 2:34 pm

GBM

Thanks for the pictures here and in the past for your help.
I did the flour paste on rags to seal the joints in my rig. It worked like a champ. I'm doing a run today using the flour and paste to Seal Everything.
I did it just as you shown in your pictures. Its never sealed this tight before!
I think most of you know the Troubles Ive had with this Set-up :roll:
Flour and paste seals everything up just like Ive read, But the Pictures truly help out a lot...
Thanks for the Great post GBM and Thanks to the Mods for making this a Sticky!
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Postby casamayor » Sun Mar 23, 2008 7:50 am

Hi Gingerbreadman!
I wonder how many runs could you make with the same seal? I plan to put on my boiler an opening with a top to load the boiler without dismantled the bowl

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Postby JoeDistiller » Sun Mar 23, 2008 9:24 am

Casamayor

Can you send a picture of the opening you mentioned. It sounds like a good idea for me as well. What did you use to seal it?
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Postby GingerBreadMan » Sun Mar 23, 2008 9:30 am

I only do one run with a seal, crack open the pot, clean the pot and do a fresh seal every time. Also, I find that making the dough fresh works best. I've tried saving left over dough for another run later, but it seems to get really sticky and starts to really stick to your fingers (more than the bowl).

A typical run will take about 2 hours (give or take) from starting from nothing to setting up, to running, breaking and cleaning and putting away. If I'm doing two or more runs I still like to break everything down and tidy up the area in preparation for the next run. Also, gives me time to take a break, relax and even change my mind about doing another run. :)

------------

Also, I did several practice runs with water only to make sure my technique was good and there were no leaks.

I have no idea if this seal could be used several times, but you could practice with water and see how it works out, I guess.
I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it left.
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Postby Usge » Sun Mar 23, 2008 9:37 am

Good job GingerbreadMan.

Paste: use a coarse flour (rye flour is traditional) and mix with water until it's a thick paste. Leave it loose enough to work with, but thick enough to stick to whatever you are sealing. It dries like cement.

I used it around the pot to cap seal on my alembic.
While you can use it to seal up joints...I believe the dough would be easier to work with.
Last edited by Usge on Mon Mar 24, 2008 7:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby JoeDistiller » Sun Mar 23, 2008 9:37 am

Thanks for the reply... I am interested in the science of the whole process so I built a reflux still and have done a few water runs (every still is different) I am only able to produce about 1 liter per hour. Is this typical? Also my column is packed with 4 S/S scrubbers.
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Postby GingerBreadMan » Sun Mar 23, 2008 10:21 am

If you are interested in the science behind distilling then I would recommend the book 'The Compleat Distiller'. It's got lots of really good stuff in there.

For example, the rate of output with depend on several factors - the amount of watts you put in as heat, the amount of heat loss, the amount of reflux, and the water/alcohol mixture ratio.

1 Kw of power into the boiler will vaporize 90ml/min of ethanol and 30ml/min of water. So a ethanol/water mixture will be somewhere between 30 and 90ml/minute. Subtract your heat loss (might be minimal for a small boiler on your stove - more for bigger boiler in cold temperature without insulation). Then subtract how much you are refluxing (converting vapor back to liquid) in your column.

Now for my guesstimate answer (I don't run a reflux column so I have no idea what I'm talking about here :) )

Let's say, you are putting 1Kw into a well insulated boiler and the liquid is vaporizing at 60ml/min (half way between 30 and 90). If you are refluxing at a ratio of 3ml back into the column for every 1ml that gets collected, then you would have an output of 15ml/min which is (about) 1L per hour. So the answer would be - yes 1L per hour is typical.

Of course, if you said you could only get 2L per hour, I could just adjust the numbers to fit your data too. Hopefully this simple explanation gives you an idea of the basics. The book 'The compleat distiller' goes into details that still fly above my head after re-reading it :)
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Postby Husker » Sun Mar 23, 2008 10:28 am

You sound like a statistician, GBM. "Well, if you game me 2L/h I could make that work also". LOL, you can make any conclusion you want, using stats to "fit" your goal.

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Postby JoeDistiller » Sun Mar 23, 2008 11:20 am

GBM, thanks for the good info. Husky... not sure what to make of your response.

I'm still trying to "clean" the still. When I run water the output is still oily (solder flux and just nasty looking). I boiled the S/S packing also. And to clarify I was running on my gas stove so I have plenty of heat.
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Postby Old_Blue » Sun Mar 23, 2008 11:26 am

JoeD,


Need to run something behind that water because water won't cut everything. Make a quick, simple wash - don't matter if its nasty - and run some hot etoh through it and then cut it with water and run it through again. Boil them scrubbers in soapy water to get the cutting oil off them.
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Postby Hack » Sun Mar 23, 2008 11:37 am

I use flour dough to seal the head on my pot still and I thought I'd add in a few things that worked for me. For flour I just use my wife's all purpose flour. There's nothing special there and it works fine. I have noticed that the drier I make the dough the better it will seal. This became more important when I recently added a doubler to my rig. The slight back pressure on the still head that this creates makes sealing it more challenging. Lastly there's no need to buy a mixer. I mix my dough by hand. Also a tip my Mom taught me about baking. If the dough sticks to your fingers add more flour.
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Postby JoeDistiller » Sun Mar 23, 2008 11:43 am

Great Old_Blue..Thanks. I guess I'll do that then go for it
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Postby JoeDistiller » Sun Mar 23, 2008 11:46 am

Thanks Hack... I have been using silicone tape to seal my bowl to the boiler. I'm going to try the flour paste next time.
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Postby casamayor » Sun Mar 23, 2008 12:31 pm

Gingerbreadman thank for the reply!
Joedistiller, it's quite difficult to me without pics( my camera is out of order) to explain what kind of opening i used to load the boiler: it's a screw with a rubber joint . Sorry my tehnical english is a bit short!
Best regards
Last edited by casamayor on Sun Mar 23, 2008 3:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Jetzon » Sun Mar 23, 2008 12:44 pm

GBM

I Dont even need the cloth wrapped around the joints anymore. Reading didnt do it for me.. After Seeing how you did it "Pictures" made a lot more sense.. I took a picture of my SS bowl and column joint... I have another seal under the Floor flange. I use the flour-paste for extra protection. But on next run the other seal is gone and there will be Nothing but flour-paste seal on my rig for Now on!
Sure Glad the Mods made this a Sticky.

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Postby As-Ol-Joe » Mon Mar 24, 2008 6:14 am

I've been using the flour/water paste from the start. You can't ask for better seal.

The one thing that I found that makes my life a little easier is I use a jerky shooter to apply the paste to the rim. It looks like a small caulk gun and when you get done just throw it in the dish washer. It is fast and easy.
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Postby gs_moonshine » Mon Mar 24, 2008 12:54 pm

Used this method this morning for the first time and worked great was real easy too.
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Postby JoeDistiller » Tue Mar 25, 2008 3:46 pm

Great pic Jetzon. Casamayor thanks for your reply. I will get some pics out here to. It's cool to see what others have done. I just hope I can get some good product and faster than 1 liter/hour. Hey casamayor... don't worry about the english just keep distilling.
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Postby MisterSteve124 » Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:35 pm

Wow you use a lot of binder cips. Does yours get really sticky and all over your hands too, I always have that problem. Yours looks more like dough I guess mine is more of a pasty glue.
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Postby Beer Man » Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:47 pm

Ha GBM what does you copper look like? the rest is nice. Do you have a seal under the brass stainless connection?
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Postby GingerBreadMan » Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:22 pm

I add enough flour so it doesn't stick to my hands, but still is sticky enough to put on the bowl. I'll wet it a bit once it's all applied. Putting it on the bowl rather then the pot lets me see if it 'sticks' because the bowl goes upside down before going on the pot. If it ever fell off the bowl while it's upside down - I guess it wasn't sticky enough :D

There is cork under the brass flange. The rest of the copper pipe is all soldered, except for a union connector connecting the condensor to the column. Here's a pic of the whole setup -

viewtopic.php?p=6723208#6723208

And, I probably do use too many binder clips, but I have them and putting them on is no trouble.
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sorry

Postby msrorysdad » Thu Mar 27, 2008 8:32 pm

for a long time I could not get a seal with flour. I'm a d.a. I now use whole wheat flour and hot water some white flour cause I'm cheap. I think I had a hard time before 'cause I used only white flour?
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Postby Jetzon » Fri Mar 28, 2008 8:45 am

I use white regular flour. I don't think it much matters... But what ever works for you, Use it.
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Postby casamayor » Sat Mar 29, 2008 3:29 pm

A last question to Gingerbreadman, any particular or bad taste when using a flour seal?

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Postby GingerBreadMan » Sat Mar 29, 2008 6:51 pm

Don't taste anything. And I don't notice anything such as particles or cloudiness or anything in the distillate that comes out, so I believe the vapors don't pick anything up - flavor or anything else.

but then again, maybe it's the secret ingredient to the great tasting rum I've been making :lol: :lol:
I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it left.
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Postby casamayor » Sun Mar 30, 2008 6:23 am

Of course Rum and Flour are a good mixture! to day i plan to make a test, some info later....
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