Increase safety

This hobby is fun & enjoyable, but it is not tiddlywinks. Be safe!

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Steve3730
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Increase safety

Post by Steve3730 » Thu Sep 17, 2020 11:13 am

62B92584-E91E-43E6-8491-FA5122CC940C.jpeg
I have moved and have a perfect room down in my basement to make my brewing/distilling room. However with it being in a house instead of garage or backyard, I'd like to increase my safety measures. I run a keg still with a copper head on, 5500w element, I just added a sight glass and will eventually add a plate. I have a 2" fillport on top that I cap when the still is running. My usual process is strip collect and than spirit run so no thumper is used at this time.
A few safety precautions that I take now is
- up to date large fire extinguisher
- 30 gallons of cooling water run with a pump that can be used to extinguish
- never charge the still with above 40% abv
- thermometer in the cooling water to monitor

What I'd add when moving into the basement
-Fillport will have a pressure blow off on it instead of just a cap
-Welding blanket above the still to create a barrier between the still and the wooden joist
- Room that I'll have it in has 2 vent windows I will add fans to to keep any fumes venting outside
-Cutoff switch to 220V line
-Back up fire extinguisher
-Thermometer in cooling water switched to digital with an alarm

Any other measures I should look to take?

I know the dangerous in the hobby and understand things can happen just trying be preventive in case something happens

Picture of still during a cleaning test run in its new spot to give an idea of it and the space
62B92584-E91E-43E6-8491-FA5122CC940C.jpeg

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Demy
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Re: Increase safety

Post by Demy » Thu Sep 17, 2020 1:12 pm

I believe you are on the right track. I only advise you to pay attention to the wooden base, I also use a wooden counter but under my small boiler I have inserted a table covered with sheet metal. With electric, the wood will not catch fire but it is very hot and at times I have seen some signs of burning.

The Baker
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Re: Increase safety

Post by The Baker » Thu Sep 17, 2020 4:54 pm

The cooling water with the pump; maybe set it up with a fine spray.
I think that will disperse/ break down alcohol (maybe hot) vapour.
And have the on/off switch somewhat away from possible trouble, you want to get to it quickly and easily and from a position of safety.

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zapata
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Re: Increase safety

Post by zapata » Thu Sep 24, 2020 1:08 pm

Might rather flood to dilute as much as fine spray though? IDK for sure.

1 thing I do damn near every run that is probably extra, but IDC. I low pressure test the rig while it warms up. A balloon works fine, blow it up a bit, twist it closed, stretch over the condenser or vent depending on setup and seal the other if in reflux mode, and see if it holds. A full balloon is more pressure than needed, an old stretched out well used balloon works fine. I usually just hold and wait and watch, but sometimes will hit the joints with bubbles to see. Just something to do while you're waiting anyway, and I 1000% do not want a vapor leak when running inside.

The other is to have a definitive way to confirm cooling. Mid run coolant failure is probably the biggest threat for many of us. I like to setup coolant so I can hear it. At least once I've had a coolant failure because the outlet got warm and gravity kinked the hose shut, but I heard the trickle stop. Sounds like you recirculate, so you can just let the return fall into the reservoir. And reservoir temp is important, but outlet temp might be more telling. Speaking of, is 30 gallons enough or do you have to swap it out?

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Durhommer
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Re: Increase safety

Post by Durhommer » Thu Sep 24, 2020 2:13 pm

Zap I use a 30 gallon reservoir on an 8 gallon milkcan and at times I feel I need 55 gallons cooling it works but my distillate is warm at the end of my runs on strips.so on spirit runs I'll buy 15 dollars in ice and cool my water back down.i dont like my cooling water over 75 degrees but that's me and how I do things
You have two ears and one mouth for a reason....

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Expat
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Re: Increase safety

Post by Expat » Thu Sep 24, 2020 2:57 pm

Steve3730 wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 11:13 am
Any other measures I should look to take?
Two major areas for me, both around electrical.

First one is easy, try to organize your cables to reduce tripping hazards and also stay as far as possible away from the water, particularly where connections are involved.

Second, as you're using high voltage and water together I'd strongly recommend to add a GFCI to your supply connection. They aren't cheap as some safety equipment, but they're cheaper than a casket. If you can find someone getting rid of a hot tub you might find a used one, for a fraction of new.
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NZChris
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Re: Increase safety

Post by NZChris » Thu Sep 24, 2020 5:06 pm

What comes out of 'a pressure blow off' if something goes wrong when you are distilling? I suggest you make sure that it is vented safely, preferably to outside the building.

A latched relay switching the element can be daisy chained with as many safety features as you wish, each switch cutting the power if triggered; timers, dead man switch, pressure, condensate temperature, cooling water temperatures, float switches, boiler temperature, whatever takes your fancy.

Steve3730
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Re: Increase safety

Post by Steve3730 » Fri Sep 25, 2020 4:39 am

zapata wrote:
Thu Sep 24, 2020 1:08 pm
Might rather flood to dilute as much as fine spray though? IDK for sure.

1 thing I do damn near every run that is probably extra, but IDC. I low pressure test the rig while it warms up. A balloon works fine, blow it up a bit, twist it closed, stretch over the condenser or vent depending on setup and seal the other if in reflux mode, and see if it holds. A full balloon is more pressure than needed, an old stretched out well used balloon works fine. I usually just hold and wait and watch, but sometimes will hit the joints with bubbles to see. Just something to do while you're waiting anyway, and I 1000% do not want a vapor leak when running inside.

The other is to have a definitive way to confirm cooling. Mid run coolant failure is probably the biggest threat for many of us. I like to setup coolant so I can hear it. At least once I've had a coolant failure because the outlet got warm and gravity kinked the hose shut, but I heard the trickle stop. Sounds like you recirculate, so you can just let the return fall into the reservoir. And reservoir temp is important, but outlet temp might be more telling. Speaking of, is 30 gallons enough or do you have to swap it out?
I swap out during the run as needed. I'm in the middle of building a heat exchanger that will be air cooled to help reduce the amount of swapping. Maybe I'll put the temp gauge on the return of the heat exchanger. That will give me a better picture of how hot the water is.
Expat wrote:
Thu Sep 24, 2020 2:57 pm
Steve3730 wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 11:13 am
Any other measures I should look to take?
Two major areas for me, both around electrical.

First one is easy, try to organize your cables to reduce tripping hazards and also stay as far as possible away from the water, particularly where connections are involved.

Second, as you're using high voltage and water together I'd strongly recommend to add a GFCI to your supply connection. They aren't cheap as some safety equipment, but they're cheaper than a casket. If you can find someone getting rid of a hot tub you might find a used one, for a fraction of new.
I keep electric tight to the left and water on the right. running a gfci is smart I should of had the electrician do it when the 220 line was ran maybe I'll add it in the future. 220v scares the shit out of me so I do like to be extra cautious.

I don't think I'll add a pressure set up right away. now that i have the sight glass and can see a puke that should really be the only way to clog my line and even then my piping is 3" that eventually reduces down to 3/4" and I never run column packing.

J0hnni3
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Re: Increase safety

Post by J0hnni3 » Fri Sep 25, 2020 12:14 pm

A vent fan capable of handling the vapor.

In a worst case scenario, the vapor is still hot enough that it rises. Having vent fan and possibly even a hood that you simply turn on whenever the still is on, gives the vapor a relatively safe place to go inside and then evacuates the vapor from the danger area. I'd seriously consider it if you're in a house. Heck I consider it indispensable even in a stand alone distillery. Something will eventually go wrong. It sounds like you're already aware of that, and taking steps, but just think what you want to happen to the vapor when the fluke event does eventually happen.

I'm at twice. Once in my learning phase, when I had a still with too small an output which allowed pressure to build up. once on a professional still when the cooling water hose developed a kink as it heated.

zapata
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Re: Increase safety

Post by zapata » Sat Sep 26, 2020 6:27 am

I'd rethink that GFCI situation. If we were friends in real life you'd get one just so I'd shut up about it. For real, show of hands, who has never had a mishap in the still room, say a suddenly squirting hose, spill or splash?

It's totally a DIY able job, maybe not legally depending on where you're at, but it was one of my earliest electrical projects. If your panel is modern, it's probably $80-$120 bucks, and 5 minutes to swap out (and 15 making damn sure you killed the MAIN breaker first!). If you have an old panel, it sucks, ones for my panel are like $500, when you can find 'em :(.

Or you can probably pick up a spa panel with a GFCI breaker for $100 at your local hardware store. You can wire it right before your existing outlet, or wire it to a plug. Ironically wiring it with a plug makes it legal in my jurisdiction, hard wiring it requires a pro and a permit, but the plug makes it an appliance not an improvement. $100 and 2 feet of wire, you're worth it. And since you just want it for the GFCI function you don't have to match the amperage, EG a 50 amp GFCI spa panel works just fine downstream on a 30 amp circuit. The 30 amp in the panel protects the load and the wiring, the oversized spa panel just protects yer ticker.

Heck, the builder oriented thrift stores around here have a box full, but they never had my lame brand, but you might get lucky for $5!

Honestly, I'd drop down to 120v GFCI before I'd run without, but that's me, and we all make our own choices.

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