My first still

Many like to post about a first successful ferment (or first all grain mash), or first still built/bought or first good run of the still. Tell us about all of these great times here.
Pics are VERY welcome, we drool over pretty copper 8)

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mrplow
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My first still

Post by mrplow » Thu Sep 24, 2020 10:25 pm

Moved from viewtopic.php?f=27&t=78436&p=7631186#p7631186


New 38L boiler has arrived!

I had been in contact with Broken Oar a few times. Unfortunately they're very low on stock since covid and weren't sure when the boiler I was interested in would be available. They only had keg versions in the store, which were out of my price range.

I went with the AliExpress 38L boiler from Distillex with the 2" tri-clamp lid linked below
https://aliexpress.com/item/4000128001853.html

I must say, after reading some things online about cheap Chinese stills I was afraid it'd be a thin, dented junker that wouldn't last very long. Boy was I wrong.

It is solid and heavy. I don't think I could dent it by hand. The tig welds look great. The only issue with it, as far as I can tell, is the silicon seals will need to be replaced with PTFE ones, which I knew about before hand.

My well water here isn't the best in the world and I tend to boil it before putting it into water cooler jugs for drinking. Using this new pot on the stove to boil the water (after a thorough cleaning) is a heck of a lot easier than 3 sessions of boiling it in my old chili pot

My eventual goal is a vodka. But I'm planning on setting it up a pot still initially and get use to running it. Later down the road I'll get a longer column and a reflex condenser for neutral runs. All 2" tri-clamp pieces so it'll be very modular.

I'll be running it in my shed and 240v isn't an option as it's quite far from my electric panel and I expect the cabling alone (and conduit, and running it over a cement pad) would be pretty pricy. So 120v it'll have to be.


Oooo shiny
fd78bc24-5214-46ae-af02-ffb5e7402158_1.jpg

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Swedish Pride
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Re: My first still

Post by Swedish Pride » Fri Sep 25, 2020 2:29 am

looks well made.
what are you doing for still head?
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Re: My first still

Post by Demy » Fri Sep 25, 2020 3:36 am

Great, you could make a modular head that does both pot still and reflux.

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Re: My first still

Post by mrplow » Fri Sep 25, 2020 7:24 pm

Swedish Pride wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 2:29 am
looks well made.
what are you doing for still head?
Demy wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 3:36 am
Great, you could make a modular head that does both pot still and reflux.
I'm actually waffling between a CCVM and a water managed dephlagminator.

I was initially thinking of getting a short column and 2 x 90° elbow fittings for the pot still and to use those with a dephlag along with another longer column later on when I try reflux. But now I'm thinking maybe I'll get a tee fitting with a top cap and 1 x 90° fitting so I have the option of a CCVM. Might be overthinking it.

Regarding the condenser, since I'll be using 120v and I'll only be able to push 1500w I'm not sure exactly sure how powerful of a condenser I'll need. I know there are a lot of considerations, water temp, vapor speed, etc. But I think something like this 8 pipe 2" shotgun type condenser that's 450mm long should do the trick. It's about $100 Canadian shipped. I can find some that are a bit cheaper but they're only 200mm long.
https://aliexpress.com/item/4000344959768.html

Then again, there are options like this which have all the condensers, columns and fittings I'd need for both pot and reflux at $220 shipped...
https://aliexpress.com/item/32914844162.html

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Re: My first still

Post by Swedish Pride » Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:53 pm

I reckon 2" will be the max your able to run with the power you have available. Looks an ok option for off the shelf. Might want to add an other packed section as 500mm isn't that big.
Add some copper to the packed section to help with sulphur compounds
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Re: My first still

Post by mrplow » Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:38 pm

Swedish Pride wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:53 pm
Might want to add an other packed section as 500mm isn't that big.
Add some copper to the packed section to help with sulphur compounds


Cool beans, I was planning on getting copper packing.

Think 1m would be pushing it for a 2" column @ 1500w?

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Re: My first still

Post by Swedish Pride » Sat Sep 26, 2020 12:05 am

I think it would be ok.

This is only based on gut feeling and reading as I have never ran a 2inch column nor have I ran 1500w.

Hopefully someone will chime in on that else raise the q on a new thread
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Re: My first still

Post by ShineonCrazyDiamond » Sat Sep 26, 2020 4:30 am

First, on 120v you can get a 2000w element. I ran a 6 gallon leg on 2000w, a 3ft 2" riser with a 5 gal bucket worm for years. It's still running well in a different shed to this day.

First, riser length has nothing to do with power on a pot still. My only concern would be 10 gallons boiling hard enough with 1500w. You could do it, it may just strip slower. Spirit runs will be no problem. I pot spirit at 50%.

Second, build a much as you can at the beginning. Biggest, most modular possible. You will just waste time and money later, becuase you will change it. The ccvm is perfect for options for many years. Make your column 3 feet, put a t on it with the 90. Cap the top. When you want nuetral, add lava rocks the size of dimes or less, and you will have plenty of power to run it.
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Re: My first still

Post by mrplow » Sat Sep 26, 2020 10:44 am

ShineonCrazyDiamond wrote:
Sat Sep 26, 2020 4:30 am
First, on 120v you can get a 2000w element.
At 110v wouldn't that be over 18 amps? I'm pretty sure my breakers are 15 amps.

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Re: My first still

Post by ShineonCrazyDiamond » Sat Sep 26, 2020 11:08 am

Well, yeah that sucks. Didn't catch that. In US, it's 120v and 20 amp breakers. So we can get 16.6 on a 20, leaving just enough head room.

Edit. Your op said 120v. I assumed you had 20amp gfci network set up.
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Re: My first still

Post by mrplow » Sat Sep 26, 2020 11:53 am

I just checked, my shed's breaker is indeed 15A.

Sorry about the confusion between 110/120v, I just checked with my multimeter and it's reading 112.4v.

I could probably run an extension cord to the shed from a separate breaker for a hot plate for stepping runs. I already have a nice long cord I use to mow my front yard and a crappy hotplate.

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Re: My first still

Post by CikCikCikPogodi » Tue Sep 29, 2020 1:04 am

Well it's not the first distiller, but it's new one. Bought brand new few days ago. It's made by DES Subotica. This is 60l model. Who ever is interested I can post email of the distributor here in Sarajevo who exports them to Europe. He did not mention USA, so you should ask them.

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Re: My first still

Post by Rich73 » Sun Nov 08, 2020 1:15 am

Hello, How are you getting on with the DES Subotica still? I’ve looked at their site and wondered how the quality is?

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Re: My first still

Post by seamusm53 » Sun Nov 08, 2020 4:45 am

You boil your drinking water because it ?tastes bad or because you are worried it has bacterial contamination, i.e., for safety? The boiling certainly helps with the latter as when a municipal water supply issues a 'boil water notice' because they're concerned about possible fecal contamination. I am curious whether boiling would alter chemistry much or taste - not sure boiling does much else except use up time and energy.

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Re: My first still

Post by tiramisu » Sun Nov 08, 2020 9:56 am

mrplow wrote:
Thu Sep 24, 2020 10:25 pm
Moved from viewtopic.php?f=27&t=78436&p=7631186#p7631186


New 38L boiler has arrived!

I had been in contact with Broken Oar a few times. Unfortunately they're very low on stock since covid and weren't sure when the boiler I was interested in would be available. They only had keg versions in the store, which were out of my price range.

I went with the AliExpress 38L boiler from Distillex with the 2" tri-clamp lid linked below
https://aliexpress.com/item/4000128001853.html

I must say, after reading some things online about cheap Chinese stills I was afraid it'd be a thin, dented junker that wouldn't last very long. Boy was I wrong.

It is solid and heavy. I don't think I could dent it by hand. The tig welds look great. The only issue with it, as far as I can tell, is the silicon seals will need to be replaced with PTFE ones, which I knew about before hand.

My well water here isn't the best in the world and I tend to boil it before putting it into water cooler jugs for drinking. Using this new pot on the stove to boil the water (after a thorough cleaning) is a heck of a lot easier than 3 sessions of boiling it in my old chili pot

My eventual goal is a vodka. But I'm planning on setting it up a pot still initially and get use to running it. Later down the road I'll get a longer column and a reflex condenser for neutral runs. All 2" tri-clamp pieces so it'll be very modular.

I'll be running it in my shed and 240v isn't an option as it's quite far from my electric panel and I expect the cabling alone (and conduit, and running it over a cement pad) would be pretty pricy. So 120v it'll have to be.


Oooo shiny
fd78bc24-5214-46ae-af02-ffb5e7402158_1.jpg
I keep looking a chinese boilers but doubling the price for the shipping always makes me shy away.
Is there any secret to getting the ship prices down?

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Re: My first still

Post by mrplow » Sun Nov 08, 2020 6:52 pm

Rich73 wrote:
Sun Nov 08, 2020 1:15 am
Hello, How are you getting on with the DES Subotica still? I’ve looked at their site and wondered how the quality is?
That's not my still, I'm not exactly sure why it was posted to this tread...
seamusm53 wrote:
Sun Nov 08, 2020 4:45 am
You boil your drinking water because it ?tastes bad or because you are worried it has bacterial contamination, i.e., for safety? The boiling certainly helps with the latter as when a municipal water supply issues a 'boil water notice' because they're concerned about possible fecal contamination. I am curious whether boiling would alter chemistry much or taste - not sure boiling does much else except use up time and energy.
I'm boiling it because I'm on well water and I don't trust the morons who treat the water (think Mr Lahey and Randy from Trailer Park Boys).
tiramisu wrote:
Sun Nov 08, 2020 9:56 am
I keep looking a chinese boilers but doubling the price for the shipping always makes me shy away.
Is there any secret to getting the ship prices down?
Yes! Add an item to your cart and go to checkout, when asked for a payment method select other (PayPal, Western Union etc) and checkout. Don't fill anything else out (ex. don't login to PayPal when asked). You'll then get an invoice #, contact the seller and give them your inv #, ask if they can reduce the shipping.

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Re: My first still

Post by mrplow » Sun Nov 08, 2020 7:19 pm

This should work fine for my still right?
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4001014869891.html

It's just a simple 2" TC adapter for a standard water heater element

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Re: My first still

Post by Tummydoc » Sun Nov 08, 2020 8:53 pm

That enclosure will work fine. And I agree with SOCD that I'd go with a CCVM reflux design. Less temperamental than a coolant management column.

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Re: My first still

Post by mrplow » Sun Nov 08, 2020 9:08 pm

Tummydoc wrote:
Sun Nov 08, 2020 8:53 pm
That enclosure will work fine. And I agree with SOCD that I'd go with a CCVM reflux design. Less temperamental than a coolant management column.
Thank you sir, I'm leaning CCVM now too.

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Re: My first still

Post by mrplow » Wed Feb 24, 2021 2:50 pm

Well I ended up ordering a CM column from alibaba, the price was too good to resist.

I did a custom order, added an extra 500mm spool, and got them to knock the shipping down.

So, in the end it's a 1m column with a sight glass, a reflux condenser and a product condenser. $155 USD shipped to Canada, not too bad since the original quote was $178 USD shipped without the extra 500mm spool. Chatting with their reps is definitely worth the extra time to knock the shipping down.
https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/ ... 92287.html

Since it's all modular it should be easy enough to convert it to a CCVM down the road.

I've been reading up on column packing materials, a lot of info in these boards ;)
SS packing seems to be a safe bet, the neverending marbles thread was interesting but the results seemed to be inconsistent, lava rock is interesting too. I'm leaning towards SS scrubbies to start with. The column comes with some copper mesh so I'll probably put that in the bottom of the column.

All the parts for my SSVR controller were ordered a while ago and some have arrived but I'm still waiting for a few more.

I have yet to buy pumps, I'm planning on getting two aquarium pumps to cool each condenser separately.

I also still need to get a hydrometer and alcoholmeter too. In reading it seems it's best to get two of each so that murphy's law kicks in and prevents either from breaking.

I'll also need to order some teflon gaskets as the ones that come with my column are silicon.

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Re: My first still

Post by mrplow » Wed Mar 03, 2021 2:41 pm

It arrived today!

Fast shipping too, 10 days from payment.
23jokruiodv.jpg

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Re: My first still

Post by Butch27 » Wed Mar 03, 2021 4:24 pm

mrplow wrote:
Thu Sep 24, 2020 10:25 pm
...
I'll be running it in my shed and 240v isn't an option as it's quite far from my electric panel and I expect the cabling alone (and conduit, and running it over a cement pad) would be pretty pricy. So 120v it'll have to be.
...
How far is it to the shed from the house?

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Re: My first still

Post by mrplow » Wed Mar 03, 2021 4:39 pm

Butch27 wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 4:24 pm
mrplow wrote:
Thu Sep 24, 2020 10:25 pm
...
I'll be running it in my shed and 240v isn't an option as it's quite far from my electric panel and I expect the cabling alone (and conduit, and running it over a cement pad) would be pretty pricey. So 120v it'll have to be.
...
How far is it to the shed from the house?
Around 20 meters.

I'm thinking about getting an inductive hot plate and running it on another extension cord to a separate breaker. I know how the modern ones have a built in thermostat that wouldn't be ideal, but a lot cheaper and less work than running 240v. I'm hoping I'd only need it for heat up and stripping runs and I could use my control box (yet to be built) with my internal 1500W element for reflux.

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Re: My first still

Post by Butch27 » Wed Mar 03, 2021 4:51 pm

mrplow wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 4:39 pm


Around 20 meters.

I'm thinking about getting an inductive hot plate and running it on another extension cord to a separate breaker. I know how the modern ones have a built in thermostat that wouldn't be ideal, but a lot cheaper and less work than running 240v. I'm hoping I'd only need it for heat up and stripping runs and I could use my control box (yet to be built) with my internal 1500W element for reflux.
The inductive hotplate may work if the bottom of your boiler is magnetic. If a fridge magnet sticks to it you should be good to go. The inductive hotplates that I have used do have temperature control but you can also just use a straight power setting which is what you would want to do.

Costco has 30 meter 12 gauge cords for about $45.

I'm not sure how handy you are with electricity but if you have a plug at the house that is powered from the opposite phase that the shed is on you could produce 240v by combining the shed power and the extension cord power with some creative wiring.

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Re: My first still

Post by mrplow » Wed Mar 03, 2021 7:40 pm

Butch27 wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 4:51 pm
The inductive hotplate may work if the bottom of your boiler is magnetic. If a fridge magnet sticks to it you should be good to go. The inductive hotplates that I have used do have temperature control but you can also just use a straight power setting which is what you would want to do.

Costco has 30 meter 12 gauge cords for about $45.

I'm not sure how handy you are with electricity but if you have a plug at the house that is powered from the opposite phase that the shed is on you could produce 240v by combining the shed power and the extension cord power with some creative wiring.
Yes, the bottom is magnetic. I just checked with a magnet.

Although I'm fairly confident with some electronics, I'm not super comfortable with that combined 240v wiring (and I'm sure my wife wouldn't want me to give it a go either.)

Also, at some point I may want to bring it to a friend's and I don't want to have to run it in his laundry room :roll:

Not the best reasons, but Costco has a Salton model ID2066 for $55 CAD. I'd rather spend the extra $10 for the piece of mind that I didn't wire something in a dangerous way.

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Re: My first still

Post by mrplow » Wed Mar 03, 2021 7:49 pm

Earlier I realized that one of the house adapters is damaged. If one thing had to be damaged in shipping, I'm sure this is the cheapest piece :clap:

The seller is sending a replacement, but couldn't answer my questions for the sizing if I wanted to pick it up locally.

I measured with my calipers and the screw thread is 9mm diam. and a McDonald's straw fits into the house clamp end air tight, the straw is 8mm.

My google foo is failing me and I'm not sure what they're called. Could somebody poke me in the right direction? I suppose I could just take it to Canadian Tire and ask too.
d00b40fd-37de-4da0-9f0d-17736de1b60a.jpg

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Re: My first still

Post by Butch27 » Wed Mar 03, 2021 8:31 pm

I am not 100% familiar with that part but I am thinking it would still work. I'm thinking that the threaded end screws into the condenser(use teflon tape on the threads) and then the hose pushes into the other end of that connector. The blue part is used if you want to pull the hose out. you would push the blue part in and it would spread the silver barbs allowing the hose to be pulled out. Just put the blue piece on the hose with the tapered end towards the connector and push the hose in the connector. Of course without actually having it in my hands, I could be wrong.

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Re: My first still

Post by mrplow » Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:05 pm

Butch27 wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 8:31 pm
I am not 100% familiar with that part but I am thinking it would still work. I'm thinking that the threaded end screws into the condenser(use teflon tape on the threads) and then the hose pushes into the other end of that connector. The blue part is used if you want to pull the hose out. you would push the blue part in and it would spread the silver barbs allowing the hose to be pulled out. Just put the blue piece on the hose with the tapered end towards the connector and push the hose in the connector. Of course without actually having it in my hands, I could be wrong.
Yup, that's exactly what it is.

The one in the pic is damaged. The metal is bent and the brown plastic piece is snapped. It does seem to still work but I'm happy they're sending a replacement.

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Re: My first still

Post by greggn » Thu Mar 04, 2021 8:03 am

mrplow wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:05 pm
The one in the pic is damaged. The metal is bent and the brown plastic piece is snapped. It does seem to still work but I'm happy they're sending a replacement.

Replacement or not, I'd ditch those in favor of a true quick-disconnect or, at the least, a male-threaded hose barb. The connectors provided aren't really intended for repeated connection/disconnection and those metal teeth are going to bend and break before long ... and then you have leaks.
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Re: My first still

Post by mrplow » Thu Mar 04, 2021 8:23 am

greggn wrote:
Thu Mar 04, 2021 8:03 am
Replacement or not, I'd ditch those in favor of a true quick-disconnect or, at the least, a male-threaded hose barb. The connectors provided aren't really intended for repeated connection/disconnection and those metal teeth are going to bend and break before long ... and then you have leaks.
Thanks for the advise. I can see how the tubing would become damaged after repeated connections/disconnections with the provided connectors.

"9mm male-threaded quick disconnect hose fitting" is coming up with some results in google. Gotta work now but I'll do some more research tonight.

Thanks again for taking the time to respond.

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