Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

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Nunyo
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Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by Nunyo » Mon Apr 05, 2021 6:40 pm

Long story short. I moved a year ago and my reflux still and components have been stored inside of 55 gallon drums since the move. Unfortunately they must not have been completely dry when I stored them or moisture accumulated inside the barrels. Today I pulled the parts out of the barrels with intent to use them soon and when I looked inside the 4” sight glass sections, much to my horror the insides were coated in green scaly tarnish. So I have six 4” sight glass sections, a 12” x 4” straight pipe, copper bubble plates lots of copper mesh. The rest including the pot, condenser etc are stainless.

I am seeking advice for the easiest method to clean this thing. I have a pump can recirculate from the pot through the output and back while heating (electric) or just soak all the parts in a solution before doing a vinegar run and then a sacrificial run. I won’t lie, it was pretty bad and I am kind of ashamed of myself but we moved from So. Cal to Montana and I was more concerned about getting to Montana then prepping the still for long term storage.

Any advice on what I should use and how to go about it would be appreciated. I searched the forum and read many threads and vinegar with salt and or citric acid often come up but this thing is pretty bad inside and this goes beyond the initial cleaning. I have read citric acid, vinegar etc. I have plenty of citric acid and can get lots of vinegar. I could probably get some Caustic Soda but that may be too drastic. Thanks in advance!

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Re: Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of still after long storage

Post by shadylane » Mon Apr 05, 2021 6:50 pm

Clean up every thing you can get to.
Start a sacrificial wash in a container that your copper parts will fit in.
Once the ferment is almost done. Dump in the copper parts.
The next day, remove and rinse the copper in clean water.

Plan B
Assemble the column and cap off the bottom.
Fill it with backset or a finished wash.
Leave it in there of a day or so :thumbup:

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Re: Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of still after long storage

Post by Nunyo » Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:11 pm

shadylane wrote:
Mon Apr 05, 2021 6:50 pm
Clean up every thing you can get to.
Start a sacrificial wash in a container that your copper parts will fit in.
Once the ferment is almost done. Dump in the copper parts.
The next day, remove and rinse the copper in clean water.

Plan B
Assemble the column and cap off the bottom.
Fill it with backset or a finished wash.
Leave it in there of a day or so :thumbup:
Plan B would be out since I don’t have any backset. I could do the sacrificial wash and fill it and cap it or soak the parts in the 55g drum . You don’t think running a 50% vinegar/Water mix through it while heating it up a bit and using an pump to circulate the solution from the boiler down through the column would be a good idea or a citric acid solution?

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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by Nunyo » Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:21 pm

Here is the still I am trying to clean.
9118C3B5-5C9D-4B33-BB81-423E25478B9E.png

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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by shadylane » Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:21 pm

I was thinking something a little smaller than a 55g drum
All you need is to clean the inside of a 4" column. :lol:

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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by hypnopooper » Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:27 pm

I would buy a 4" end cap and fill the column all the way to the top with a hot citric acid solution and let it soak for 30-60 minutes then break it down and rinse out with clean water then do a a sacrificial sugar run.

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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by NZChris » Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:30 pm

Hot Citric acid works for me. A few minutes is usually enough.

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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by Nunyo » Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:36 pm

shadylane wrote:
Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:21 pm
I was thinking something a little smaller than a 55g drum
All you need is to clean the inside of a 4" column. :lol:
Yeah, I was just thinking I could do a small wash and not fill the drum all the way up but there are a bunch of components and several bundles of copper mesh. I also have starsan and PWB cleaner. Not sure if those would be effective. And it might actually not be as bad as I thought. There is some green tarnish inside but the inside is more black then anything else. Your not a fan of recirculating a cleaning solution inside the still? I had actually set my still up so I can connect a high flow pump up the drain on my pot and return it up through the column This is my recirculation setup.
hypnopooper wrote:
Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:27 pm
I would buy a 4" end cap and fill the column all the way to the top with a hot citric acid solution and let it soak for 30-60 minutes then break it down and rinse out with clean water then do a a sacrificial sugar run.
I could add a water citric acid solution to the pot and circulate it from the pot up to the column and then back down to the pot and do it with the heating element on at a low temp.
5471D5AC-4FF3-4023-B5E0-B5CCD70CD5CC.png
81B54C26-4C3F-45F2-BA2E-5843959AE777.png

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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by cob » Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:55 pm

Will those copper parts fit inside your boiler?

other wise I use a wallpaper tray for similar parts.
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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by Nunyo » Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:59 pm

cob wrote:
Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:55 pm
Will those copper parts fit inside your boiler?

other wise I use a wallpaper tray for similar parts.
Good question. They will. Just not sure if I can get them all in there at once.

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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by cob » Mon Apr 05, 2021 8:15 pm

Actually i like hypnopooper's suggestion the best because you could use any

kind of stopper and clean the inside only and keep your outside patina.

your pump idea doesn't give you any control of what gets coverage your

fluid might give. just spitballing.
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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by Deplorable » Mon Apr 05, 2021 8:43 pm

You should be able to get all of that in the boiler. I can get my entire CCVM in my 13 gallon milk can.
Break it down, and put all the pieces in there and pour in some hot citric acid solution. Let it soak a couple hours and it'll all come clean with a little gentle scrubbing with a used up scotch-brite pad at the most.
Use all your senses, and its not that hard. You just have to pay attention.

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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by WithOrWithoutU2 » Mon Apr 05, 2021 8:51 pm

use your boiler with hot water and citric acid. It is cheap and easy to do. Once it is in there all you have do is wait. Even if it all does not fit, doing it in 2-3 batches would still be very easy.

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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by Windy City » Mon Apr 05, 2021 9:26 pm

Your pump idea will work very well.
All my equipment is set up with CIP (clean in place) and allows me to pump whatever solution I make in the boiler through my system. You can turn on the heat so that you have a hot citric acid solution pumping through but leave that 2” fill port cap off so you don’t build any pressure
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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by jonnys_spirit » Mon Apr 05, 2021 10:24 pm

Yeah i think use boiler full of hot citric solution or acidic backset as your washer/soaker. Cheap easy and the right size. Then rinse everything and do a vinegar/sac run and perhaps any seasoning runs you might enjoy. BUt keep stripping and spiriting :) nasty sugar wash backset is easy to make and a pound of citric acid is like $5 at the lhbs.

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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by Windy City » Tue Apr 06, 2021 2:59 am

I get my citric acid from these guys
https://www.bulkapothecary.com/raw-ingr ... tric-acid/
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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by Nunyo » Tue Apr 06, 2021 5:54 am

Thanks guys. I will use citric acid as I have plenty of it and will likely go the CIP route initially to see how that works since I set my still up for CIP. If it doesn’t work I can always put the parts in the boiler and let the soak for a bit. Heck, I might just do that as well to get the outside clean again. Any suggestions on how much citric to add per gallon? I was thinking about 1.25 cups per 5 gallons.

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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by Windy City » Tue Apr 06, 2021 7:37 am

This is a helpful chart for dillution of citric acid to water (even though it is calling for RO water it still works

https://mail.rpc-rabrenco.com/TSI/DILUTION.pdf

I normally make a 10% solution
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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by rubberduck71 » Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:43 pm

You could try 5-5-1 solution:

500 mL distilled water
50 mL Hydrogen Peroxide
5 g citric acid (basically a couple teaspoons)

scale up to a bin large enough for each piece to completely submerge. Or maybe in a spray bottle for the larger stuff???

Good luck!

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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by Saltbush Bill » Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:52 pm

rubberduck71 wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:43 pm
50 mL Hydrogen Peroxide
Can you explain why the Peroxide is needed.
Citric alone should be more than sufficient should it not?

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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by cob » Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:15 pm

Windy City wrote:
Mon Apr 05, 2021 9:26 pm
Your pump idea will work very well.
All my equipment is set up with CIP (clean in place) and allows me to pump whatever solution I make in the boiler through my system. You can turn on the heat so that you have a hot citric acid solution pumping through but leave that 2” fill port cap off so you don’t build any pressure
If Windy City says your pump idea will work, you can count on it.
be water my friend

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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by rubberduck71 » Tue Apr 06, 2021 4:10 pm

Saltbush Bill wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:52 pm
rubberduck71 wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:43 pm
50 mL Hydrogen Peroxide
Can you explain why the Peroxide is needed.
Citric alone should be more than sufficient should it not?
Saw it on a forum someplace. I've tried just citric, but the peroxide addition actually bumped up the performance of reconditioning the copper.

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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by Saltbush Bill » Tue Apr 06, 2021 4:14 pm

Put more citric powder in and you wont need the Peroxide.

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Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by Brew bama » Wed Apr 07, 2021 7:29 am

rubberduck71 wrote:You could try 5-5-1 solution:

500 mL distilled water
50 mL Hydrogen Peroxide
5 g citric acid (basically a couple teaspoons)

scale up to a bin large enough for each piece to completely submerge. Or maybe in a spray bottle for the larger stuff???

Good luck!

Duck
I’ve used this to clean an immersion chiller. Works great. ‘Stuff’ hosed right off after a soak.

Never tried it w/o the hyd peroxide

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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by Saltbush Bill » Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:19 pm

It will wash right off without the peroxide.........it will wash right off using dunder which is free as well.
The peroxide thing originated on Youtube as far as I know....wont mention exactly where.

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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by Nunyo » Fri Apr 09, 2021 5:33 am

Thanks for all the advice. My tentative plan will be to mix some citrus acid and water into my boiler and then heat it up and use my CIP pump to run the solution through it. I might toss a bottle of peroxide in there for good measure. I am honestly half way tempted just to toss all the parts and copper mesh into a bin with the solution but wasn’t really concerned about the outside of the sections as much as I was about the insides. That said, it might be nice to have the outsides looking new again.

I also picked up 4 gallons of vinegar (don’t need it all) to do a vinegar run after that followed by a sacrificial run using a sugar wash. I am hoping to get the cleaning done this weekend. I have the still reassembled and ready for CIP but might break it down if I decide to soak the parts instead.

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Re: Help! Cleaning heavy tarnish from inside of copper still after long improper storage

Post by zed255 » Fri Apr 09, 2021 5:44 am

The peroxide makes the acid much more aggressive. An example:

Etching a prototype circuit board with even very strong Hydrochloric Acid (HCl) takes so long it is not practical, but add some Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) and the board is fully etched in minutes. I'm not a chemist and as such I can't give you the reactions involved, but I can tell you from hands on experience that having a the peroxide in the solution makes a huge difference.

Personally, for cleaning purposes the straight acid is preferred. I'm not looking to etch or dissolve my copper, I just want oxides and sulphur compounds cleaned off.
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