Need Advice on Boiler

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What makes the best boiler?

Poll ended at Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:52 pm

Beer Keg
Stock Pot
Total votes: 26

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Need Advice on Boiler

Post by Medic157 » Fri Mar 28, 2008 1:52 pm

New guy here. Don't roll your eyes yet, I have done about 40-hours of research over the past few weeks and I think I'm ready to start construction. I haven't made a final decision on what kind of reflux column I want to build yet. After spending hours upon hours at this forum I think y'all have helped me decide against the tilt reflux design and to go with a verticle reflux column.

I want to make 96% pure/clean ethanol. I can't decide what to use for a boiler. I have been trying for 3-weeks to find a 15.5 beer keg, but no luck. I don't want to spend a lot of money either. From a posting I saw here on this forum I went to local scrap yard and asked to buy a keg. You'd think I had asked for a kidney! I called a local beer distribution center and almost got slapped over the phone just for asking. I looked at the classifieds here and couldn't find a keg for sale, only other people like myself looking for one also.

I would like to go with a stainless steel stock pot but used ones can't be found and new one's are very expensive for the size I wanted. However, I think I may have talked myself into a smaller one but wanted some advice before spending the money on a new ss stock pot.

I am considering a 32 quart (8-gallon) which is about a 30-liter size ss stock pot. The reason I am considering this size is becuase at it said the following:

"For home distillation, the most practical batches consist of about 25 liters ( 6.6 US gallons) of wash. The fermentation vessels and prepared packages of yeast for these size batches are readily available at most brew shops."

From my research I found this to be true. But before I shell out the cash to buy a pot this size to use as a boiler could anybody answer some questions for me please?

- Is 25 liters an average size wash like I think it is?
- Would a 30 liter pot be a good sized to start with?
- Do most of you prefer kegs? Where can I get one for cheap.
- Is it possible, feasible, cost effective to make a boiler from copper?
- In your opinion what is the best reflux still design?

I'm just trying to run my first batch with about a $200 - $250 investment in equipment and supplies to get started. Just the pots alone are that much. Any advice on boilers, designs, and cheap materials would be greatly appreciated.

I love this site! You guys rock! Thanks for the great advice.


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Post by rad14701 » Fri Mar 28, 2008 2:03 pm

This topic was just covered several weeks ago... Which to use for a boiler is subject to personal preference... For a keg, rent a keg of beer, paying the deposit, drink the beer, and don't return the keg... A 25L fermenter will not yield 25L of wash, so a 25L stock pot would suffice and they are available for about $45USD... The deposit on a keg is gonna run $35 - $50, depending on the distributor... Ends up about the same, but the keg will hold more wash...

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Post by GingerBreadMan » Fri Mar 28, 2008 2:06 pm

I always thought the last resort, if you can't find a keg cheap was to

1) Get a keg full of beer
2) Invite lots of friends over to help empty keg
3) Ooops, forget to return empty keg.

:lol: :lol:
I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it left.

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Post by Jetzon » Fri Mar 28, 2008 2:11 pm

I have a 15 gallon keg with two water heater elements in it.. That works for me.
How big is your kitchen? Is the Mrs. gonna Allow you to take over it for hours?:lol:
If you have enough room in your basement, might want to have everything in one place..
The keg you can move around and distill where ever you want.
If you plan on cooking with stove. That only leaves you to the kitchen.. You could always use a Hot Plate or gas heat. Water heater elements seems easier, But again that just my opinion..
Just a few things to consider...
Keep on Keeping on...

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Post by Jetzon » Fri Mar 28, 2008 2:13 pm

Scrap yards sell them cheap too. Check that route out also.
But the keg party sounds more fun :lol:
Keep on Keeping on...

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Post by BW Redneck » Fri Mar 28, 2008 3:27 pm

I'm in the same boat as you, Medic. Ohio has a few keg laws in place because people were stealing kegs for scrap. I think that they've made it illegal for scrap yards to take 'em now. I've been using a 22qt stock pot and it does just fine, but batches are not as large as I'd want them to be. If you plan on getting a stock pot, get a thick-walled one with a heavy bottom. Mine has an aluminum disc stuck to the bottom. My first one was so cheap and thin that the sides split when I tried to move the thing when it was full. :(

I'm thinking about emptying a keg with my friends, too, although they've told me that you can buy them straight from the company, but it's more expensive than the deposit.

I hear that a keg is one of the best investments you can make in this art. They are just about bulletproof and will last a lifetime.

As for a reflux design, I hear that the Bokakob Inline is a good, simple design. But, If you are going to use it a lot, a VM outfit will be one of the most reliable systems for you.
"If you can't dazzle them with brilliance... baffle them with bullshit."
"Don't steal. The government hates competition."
"Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see"

20lt small pot still, working on keg

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Post by As-Ol-Joe » Fri Mar 28, 2008 3:59 pm

My only reason for voting for the stock pot is that you cannot get beer kegs in Arkansas anymore or anywhere within a reasonable distance.
You WILL get addicted to this forum.

The Parent site is REQUIRED READING!!!

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Post by tracker0945 » Fri Mar 28, 2008 4:08 pm

With my reflux column I run 10 litres of wash at a time.
With this quantity, I can go through the heat up, distill, clean up stages in about 4 hours.
This to me is just a nice session length.
I do not feel inclined to have to look after my still for a full day at a time, did that once and got sick of it.
Pot stills run faster so larger boiler sizes are quite OK there.
JMHO for what it is worth.
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Pot still with Leibig on 45 litre boiler

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Post by Rudi » Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:21 am

I run two 30l fermenters at a time and get a bit over 40l of wash wich fits in my 50l keg just nice.

For a single 30 l fermenter a 30 l stock pot would be Ok

I prefer the longevity and durability of a keg. I have three kegs all from a scrap dealer who said he never gets them.
I found a negative response at the scrap yard until I made myself known pick up a bit of copper here a stainless fitting there bit of a chat and before you know it you'll have a keg.

See Pinto's sticky 6gallon copper pot still to see how to make a still/boiler from copper sheet

I built a valved reflux still similar to the one from moonshine stills and let me tell you I wish I had built a bok slant plate :!: a Vm still is also a good choice

Such is life

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Post by runingkind » Sun Mar 30, 2008 8:30 am

I got my kegs from a friend that runs a bar.The beer suppliers charge a $30.00 deposit on kegs.I pay that.Scrap yards in my area will not take kegs.
I ask why and they said there was a deposit on them a you had to prove it had been paid. Don't know if they are all like our scrap yard.
good luck
bought wisdom don't come cheap,but it is a good teacher

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Post by DocJohn » Sun Mar 30, 2008 11:22 am

I too am having trouble locating a keg. My buddy owns a bar but he said all the kegs he sees now are aluminum and have rubber linings. I would do a beer party/no return if I knew what brand came in SS.... anybody in US have any idea?

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Thanks / Funny Story

Post by Medic157 » Sun Mar 30, 2008 11:56 am

Thanks to all who voted on the poll and offered advice. I learn more every day from this forum and those of you willing to share your knowledge. Thanks again!

Funny story about me:

As a fat, small town, medic, I was an amatuer beer drinker on my days off. A surgery in 2001 to repair a hiatal hernia left me without the ability to burp anymore making carbonated beverages difficult to handle. I was unable to find uncarbonated beer, so my partner at work, (a Kentucky native) suggested I try moonshine. He was making a trip back home to Kentucky and was going to get me some to try. (We're in a state where spirits of this proof are not available). Well he couldn't get any moonshine but he brought me a bottle of Everclear (which is readily available in Kentucky but not available in our state).

Long story short- for the past couple years my daily beverage of choice is a beer with one shot of Everclear mixed in. But to have it shipped to my state from states where it is legal costs about $25/bottle with shipping.

Thus my interest in producing my own. :)

I know this is off the topic a bit but thought some of you might enjoy the humor here. I'm still looking (no pun intended) for a keg to use as a boiler to start construction. Otherwise keep the good advice coming. Every bit of it is appreciated!

Cheers, Medic-157

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Post by GingerBreadMan » Sun Mar 30, 2008 12:50 pm

There's always this, if it's not out your price range ... 003000.htm" onclick=";return false;" rel="nofollow


Comes with a tri-clamp fitting, ready to go.

Never seen one myself, so I can't comment on the quality or suitability to be used as a keg. Looks like it would do the same.
I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it left.

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Post by Medic157 » Sun Mar 30, 2008 1:40 pm

I found this article posted a few months ago in a big city newspaper. Explains why we're having trouble getting kegs. ... 146920.xml" onclick=";return false;" rel="nofollow

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Post by DocJohn » Tue Apr 01, 2008 6:46 am

Nice post Medic, damn shame really, we aint scrappin', we are trying to boost the economy by purchasing grian and driving down fuel costs.. lol

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Post by EuroStiller » Tue Apr 01, 2008 4:19 pm

The reflux still I just got has a stainless steel stock pot as it's boiler. The lid attaches quite easily with Teflon tape, for an airtight seal, and butterfly clips all the way around. I have good faith in even though I have not used it yet and I'm out to make clean ethanol too! Hey, guys, how ho I post a picture?

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Post by Medic157 » Wed Apr 02, 2008 7:54 am

I have no problem with ss stock pots except the price. I have wasted enough days off searching the internet and wasting time and gas by driving to stores in search of a ss stock pot. A ss keg is HALF the price of a stock pot and I can't find a keg. So...

I give up! I'm outta here! I'm going to find a new hobby. BYE!!!

No. Just kidding. :wink: I'm am done wasting time though. I'm going to go get a keg. Invite friends over. Drink myself retarded. And when its empty I can FINALLY get started on this project.

I've been planning this for over a month now. I can hardly sleep I'm so excited. I just know that when I get to run the first batch, I'll be giddy like a school girl. I'm gonna be as nervous/excited as a virgin on prom night!

Bye for now, I have to go buy a keg!!!!

Cheers, Medic-157

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Post by EuroStiller » Wed Apr 02, 2008 8:37 am

Go for it!!!!

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Post by gs_moonshine » Wed Apr 02, 2008 9:30 am

These are about a hundred bucks but they got the top already cut out of the keg." onclick=";return false;" rel="nofollow

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Post by Medic157 » Wed Apr 02, 2008 3:50 pm

Nice find, gs_moonshine,

Thanks for the link !!!


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Keg Ahoy

Post by davydangerson » Thu Apr 03, 2008 2:38 pm

I got mine off craigs list for $35.00 (US)." onclick=";return false;" rel="nofollow
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Post by Hawke » Thu Apr 03, 2008 3:32 pm

Thanks GS,
Just cost me some more money.....LOL
Had been checking CL for a while, every keg I found was either gone or just a pony (7.5g)

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